9 Signs You’re In A ‘Situationship’ — And How To Get TF Out Of It

It's not the same as friends with benefits...


Anna Medaris Miller |

  • A situationship is essentially a relationship that hasn’t been defined.
  • The problem is, more often than not, at least one partner “catches feelings”.
  • Signs you’re definitely in a situationship…

Non-committal relationships are so common, it seems like a new Urban Dictionary term for a casual something-or-other is coined every single day. First, there was “booty call.” Next: “friends with benefits.” And now: “situationship.”

A situationship is essentially a relationship that hasn’t been defined. So anything that precedes the DTR (define the relationship) conversation but follows the initial first few dates.

Considering all these labels are (ironically) used to define otherwise label-free relationships, what’s the deal?

“Online dating apps have created this paradox of choice,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Dr Christie Tcharkhoutian. “We have so many options, it’s hard to commit to that person in front of us because when they go to the bathroom, we can just swipe.” (Guilty as charged.)

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Sometimes, having undefined relationships is totally cool. It can be fun, sexually satisfying, liberating even. Plus, a situationship “gives you time to get to know somebody without feeling pressured to make a decision,” Tcharkhoutian says.

The problem is, more often than not, at least one partner “catches feelings.” And in a heterosexual relationship, it’s usually the woman, finds relationship expert Dr Abby Medcalf.

There’s an actual physiological reaction that happens when you’re intimate with someone. More specifically, the bonding hormone oxytocin gets released when you have sex, cuddle, or even just hug, says Medcalf, and you can’t override it. Dang biology.

Once emotions build, being in a situationship totally blows. “You start to feel rejected because the person doesn’t want you fully,” Medcalf says.

So here’s how to tell if you’re actually on that road – and how to pull over before you crash and burn. Signs you’re definitely in a situationship…

1. You only make short-term or last-minute plans.

People in relationships make plans weeks, months, sometimes years in advance. (I know… mind-blow.) People in situationships operate a more hourly and daily timeline.

“You’re in a situationship when you’re not getting invited to meet family, and it’s not a given that you’re going to see each other on the weekend or a holiday,” Medcalf says. If all you’re getting is last-minute invites, take the hint: Dating you isn’t their first priority.

2. There’s no consistency.

One major appeal of a legit relationship is that you can count on seeing and talking to your person regularly. Situationships lack that.

“They’re not asking you to hang out three times a week,” Tcharkhoutian says. Or, even if they are one week, don’t expect that to happen the next one.

3. They always have the same (vague) excuse.

“Work’s really busy.” “I need to hit the gym.” “I’m travelling.” Sound familiar?

In a situationship, these are excuses. In a relationship, they lead to a plan B: “Let’s celebrate when my presentation is over Thursday.” “Want to go for a run?” “I’ll call you from the road.”

When you’re in a relationship, you make time for your partner, no matter what other life events are going on, Tcharkhoutian says. But in a situationship, she adds, there’s no urge to problem-solve. (Since that would require, ya know, effort.)

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4. You mostly small (and dirty) talk.

Sure, you know where the person lives and works, and maybe a few general deets like where they grew up or if they’re a cat or dog person. But let’s be real: You’re more comfortable talking dirty than talking about your fears, insecurities, or lessons from past relationships.

“Without trust, there’s no vulnerability, and without vulnerability, there’s no emotional closeness,” Medcalf says. And zilch emotional closeness is what situationships are all about.

5. You don’t talk about the future.

Likewise, conversations in situationships pretty much only involve the present (“What do you want to watch?” “Pizza or Thai?”). The logic here’s pretty simple: If you’re not in it for the long haul, why talk about it?

If you haven’t had a discussion about the future and what you’re looking for, that could be a sign you’re in a situationship, Medcalf says.

A situationship is basically “just shared activities – hanging out here and there,” Medcalf notes. “It feels directionless.”

6. They tell you that they don’t want to get serious.

The easiest way to know you’re in a situationship: The person tells you that you’re in one – especially if that other person is a dude.

“Believe what they say,” Medcalf explains. “Men are not complicated creatures.” (And, hey, at least they told you.)

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7. They show you that they don’t want to get serious.

When in doubt: Open. Your. Eyes. “People will show you through their actions what they think of you,” Medcalf says. “If they’re not calling, they’re just not that into you.” Some things never change.

8. You’re frequently anxious.

Just because situationships are expectation-free (Want to cancel plans? Nbd. Don’t feel like bringing soup when they’re sick? No need!) doesn’t mean they’re stress-free. “You know you’re in a situationship when you feel anxious because there’s uncertainty, ambiguity, and ambivalence,” Medcalf says.

9. You’re getting bored.

Research shows that doing new and different things stimulate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with feel-good chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine). That neurological reward system just happens to be the same part of the brain that lights up in the early stages of romantic love.

Any relationship expert will tell you that keeping a relationship alive means continuously having novel experiences with your partner. But in a situationship, you probably do the same thing over and over – Netflix and chill – and yes, even that can get old.

“If it’s vague, doesn’t have direction and doesn’t have any structure, it’s going to be stale, and it’s not going to be fun anymore,” Tcharkhoutian confirms.

READ MORE: 9 Signs You Might Be In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Okay, so you’re definitely in a situationship. What now?

If you’re cool with what you have and want to keep it that way, first ask yourself: Am I really?

“In some ways, we might be okay with a casual situation, but we might also be thinking, ‘If this is what they need, that’s fine; I can accommodate that,'” Tcharkhoutian says.

Make sure you’re not pushing your own needs and wants aside just because you want to satisfy someone else’s. (Or because you think their feelings might change… they may never.)

If you’re truly down with the sitch, set some boundaries. Are you going to talk about who else you’re both sleeping with? Are you going to do weekday overnights? Are you going to hang just the two of you or with each other’s friends? “Be clear you’re both on the exact same page with the same expectations,” advises Medcalf.

And if you actually want more, speak up. Say: “I’ve enjoyed spending time with you,” suggests Tcharkhoutian. Then tell them what you like or appreciate about them, and finally ask for their thoughts on where things might go.

If they come up with an excuse for the casual scenario without an end date – “Work is crazy” instead of “After my real estate exam, I should be able to commit more” – don’t expect things to change.

Either way, “go in with a really clear boundary of what you will and won’t accept,” Medcalf says. “You call the shots.”

Yep, you heard me: You are in control of this ‘ship.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

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