Are You in a Situationship? Read This Immediately.

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I learned a new term this year: “situationship.”

Okay, it’s not that new. It’s been around for a few years at least, but it’s relatively new to this old married gal. As of 2022, Tinder supported the term as well, officially introducing it as an official relationship status on their dating site.

If you’ve been living under a rock (or you’ve had one on your ring finger since before Tinder was a thing) let me fill in the gaps. A situationship is a relationship that isn’t quite a relationship but also isn’t just sexual in nature.

Confusing? Absolutely. Situationships are, by their very nature, extraordinarily befuddling, and being in one is akin to being in a gigantic, mostly un-fun hedge maze.

While the idea of a situationship has been reintroduced as a social media trend in recent years, a “new thing,” like so many Gen Z “things,” it simply is not. It’s been around for decades. I know this because I was involved in more than one well before the days of social media — unless you count MySpace as social media, which I suppose counts too.

Yep. I’m that old. Let’s move on.

I can think of no less than three situationships that destroyed me in my twenties, and I wasn’t alone in my heartbreak. These non-relationships of mine were toxic, dangerous, and hurtful. They did nothing to empower me, nor did any of them ever become real relationships, either by my choice or his.

Worse than friends with benefits, in which (in theory) there are no romantic feelings beyond the sexual urges between two people, situationships are muddied up with real feelings and expectations that will likely never be met by a partner who is happily spreading his seed wherever he pleases.

If you find yourself in a situationship, consider it a huge red flag because this is not a partner that is willing to commit — or maybe you’re the partner unwilling to commit. A situationship is usually one-sided, ambiguous, and the ultimate stagnation in your journey to find a companion for life. They’re a gigantic waste of time because while you both behave, in many ways, as though you are in a real relationship, one or both of you aren’t dating with intention. There’s no thought to the relationship’s future, let alone your own happiness or even your well-being, because it’s ultimately temporary.

The good news is that you don’t have to stay in a situationship if you don’t want to — and you shouldn’t want to. What has been pushed in today’s society as a healthy way to approach dating, and one that will open up a world of choice for you, is really just giving your partners a free pass to take you for granted; to see what else comes along while they keep you in the wings. So how do you leave your situationships and avoid them in the future?

Read on, friend. I’ve got you.

The Situationship Situation

As I said, I’m no stranger to the situationship-thing. Sure — I’ve been married for going on 11 years. But I had a solid decade of both relationships and situationships under my emotional-availability belt before I finally figured it all out.

And honestly, it even took a little time post-nuptials to really figure it all out.

One of my own situationships was a matter of poor timing. Or rather, that’s what we always said. “Two ships passing in the night,” we’d naively said. Or one of us would become single and ready while the other was in another relationship — or situationship. In reality, we were just plain wrong for each other. In that way, a situationship is a handy tool that gives you a great opportunity to weed out those who ultimately aren’t your person.

Situationships seem to be growing in popularity alongside hookup culture, and in many ways, I can understand the appeal. Commitment is a tough thing to find and even tougher to reciprocate. The world is your oyster, too, when you consider dating apps like Tinder and Bumble and the like. The allure of choice and variety can be intoxicating.

I get it.

While dating around can be a lot of fun, though, it’s not very intentional and you’ll often find yourself in a messy situationship, and likely in love with someone who is decidedly not in love with you. I don’t need to tell you how much that sucks.

So why does the situationship continue to trend if it’s so craptastic? According to therapist Travis McNulty of Florida, situationships lack the traditional pressures that relationships put on, so the relatively lower pressure situationship becomes more appealing and makes it easier for people to form natural connections.

But when that super low-pressure arrangement shifts for one party into a wish for a more serious commitment, anger, resentment, jealousy, and heartbreak can — and often do — develop, because it’s often one-sided.

A Sinking Ship

Situationships can really cause you a lot of harm, emotionally, especially when they end fruitlessly. If you’ve spent months or even years nurturing a situationship, you’ve spent a lot of time, energy, and possibly even resources on maintaining it or trying to change it.

When they end without a commitment ever having been agreed upon, or when one person’s feelings were put below the other’s on a regular basis, resentment is not only possible, but it’s plausible. As far as romantic situations go, it’s the worst situation you could find yourself in.

If you’re not sure that you’re in a situationship, consider these signs:

  • You’re not the only ship in his yard, if yaknowwhatImean. If he slides into other girls’ DMs faster than he slides his hand into yours, you’re in a situationship — a toxic one, at that.
  • You’ve been “hanging out” for months and you still don’t know where you stand. You can’t make plans with this person more than a week or two in advance, because, very simply, they aren’t “yours” and might meet someone else.
  • There’s no consistency. Sometimes you text everyday and spend the night so often you might as well live there, while other times you barely speak from week to week.
  • Your connection is fun-based and not truly intimate. Intimacy doesn’t just mean sex, and if an intimate connection hasn’t developed after a few months, the relationship is shallow. And shallow pools dry up fast.
  • You haven’t met the fam or other loved ones. ‘Nuff said.


All signs of a situationship, and all glaringly red flags. Get. Out. Now.

I get it — dating can be really hard. I can’t imagine trying to find a suitable husband, father, and friend in our current culture. Differences in political opinion, for example, can be downright vitriolic and therefore impossible to build connections upon, and it’s somehow so easy to fall for people who are wrong for us, despite those differences.

Situationships are so much easier by comparison, especially when you don’t have to give yourself over to another person, remain faithful, or consider a future with someone who either can’t or won’t meet your needs.

If you stamp out all of that, a situationship can almost be fun.

But there’s a good chance that you’ll be on the crap end of a situationship — the end in which you want a real relationship but your counterpart is more interested in sowing some wild oats and testing the proverbial waters with everyone else in town than he is with considering spending a life with you. I speak from experience here — it just plains sucks to be left dangling in limbo while the guy you’re in love with “just wants to have fun.”

News flash: actual relationships can also be a lot of fun, if you have them with the right people, and it’s even possible to turn a situationship into a real relationship.

Shifting Your Values (and Realizing Your Own Value)

Let’s try a thought experiment.

It’s a random Saturday morning. You’re sipping on freshly made coffee at the breakfast table, reading a favourite book or checking the news on your feed. You’ve slept well and your mind is clear.

You look across the table and find the person you want to spend all your mornings with; the person who made your coffee. The person who brought you a croissant with jam and never requested a thank you. The person who annoys you the least in the world and with whom you want to raise a family.

Their hair is still messy from sleep, and they don’t notice you looking at them. They have a tiny bit of jam on their lower lip, and you love everything about that person, jam and all.

Is the person you are in a situationship with that person? Do they even compare to that person?

If they’re not the person you want in this experiment, break things off. Do it gently but be firm, and make it easier on both of you — cut them off completely, at least for a while. The more time you try to turn your ex-situationship-partner into a friend, the more likely you’re going to confuse — and hurt — them.

If the person you are in a situationship is who you want, you need to let them know that you need more. If they’re right for you, they’ll be just as on board as you are, but they might need some gentle nudging. There are a few simple ways you can approach this:

  1. Invite them out with your friends or to a family thing. You don’t need to label them as your partner when your people meet them; just let your situationshipper see your world up close and personal, for a change. Hopefully they’ll follow your lead and you’ll be allowed into their world, too.
  2. Go on actual dates. Cut back on those casual “hang out” sessions and plan a few genuine dates; spend time really getting to know each other.
  3. Prove your seriousness about your partner. Ditch your other “ships.” Delete your Tinder profile. Let your partner know that you’d love to spend more time together, and show your genuine affection. Actions often speak volumes.
  4. Tell them how you feel. There will come a time when direct honesty is your best way forward. By the time you’re ready to talk about real stuff, they’ll have seen you with your family, they will know how you feel, and they’ll know what you want. It’s time to be honest about what’s next for you and to find out how much they really want to keep you around.
  5. In or out — they must decide. Time is an understandable request for anyone who is comfy in their situationship and not sure if they’re ready for more, but there’s a limit to what is fair to you, too. Give them some time to think it over, but take care — it shouldn’t take too long for someone you’ve been involved with for months (or longer) to decide how much they want you in their life.


Those steps should help you learn where you stand with your partner, and hopefully, they’ll meet you halfway. I know from some experience, however, that not all situationships end up that way. Sometimes, it’s just better to let go.

And letting go is one of the hardest things you might ever have to do, but remember: you deserve better. You deserve someone to return that same love back to you, and you definitely deserve to be more to someone than a convenient midnight hookup.

Movin’ On, Movin’ Up

By now, you’ve hopefully seen a few fatal flaws in hopping from situationship to situationship, and are looking for an out.

You know now how to get out of a situationship, and I hope that going forward, you’ll date with intention and avoid being a convenient partner for someone undeserving. Situationships can be fun, but they’re almost always temporary and unreliable. Trust me: that “fun” that keeps you coming back for more has a limited supply.

A committed relationship with someone you love and trust, on the other hand, is a beautiful thing. Knowing someone completely and sharing a life with that person is something to cherish. Don’t rob yourself of that experience — the chance to love and be loved right back — for a situationship that will likely lead to heartache.

You’re worth so much more than a few months of utter confusion and loneliness. Heaps more. Date with intention, don’t spend any more time in romantic stagnation, and above all, don’t board that situationship.

The destination is not worth the trip.

This post was previously published on


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