Navigating Your Situationship — Should You Stay or Go?
We’ve all been there—falling for someone who seems to only want something casual, leaving us unsure of how to progress the relationship or whether it’s best to walk away. Welcome to the world of “situationships”, a term that has gained significant attention in modern dating.
What is a Situationship?
If you’ve ever found yourself asking, “What are we?” and received no definitive answer, chances are you’re in one.
Dating author Helen Chik defines a situationship as that “murky area between casual dating and a committed relationship”. According to Chik, situationships can be seen as “relationship purgatory”, offering both advantages and challenges.
Situationship Pros & Cons:
In today’s fast-paced digital world, situationships have become an unintended side effect of the modern dating scene. It’s a dance of mixed signals, undefined boundaries, and emotional confusion that can leave even the most experienced daters feeling perplexed.
As shared by Kirsty Dunn, Tinder’s spokesperson, recent research conducted by the dating app does however reveal that young singles, particularly female Gen Z, are actively seeking situationships. The study indicates this generation prefers using the term to avoid the premature labelling of relationships before they feel ready to commit.
With this evolving dating landscape in mind, certified life coach Rory Mitchell sheds light on the pros and cons that come with this unique territory:
- Flexibility and freedom: Situationships lack established rules or norms, giving singles the freedom to explore without feeling tied down.
- Emotional connection: Situationships can ignite deep emotional connections without the pressure of defining the relationship.
- Exploration and discovery: Singles can share intimate moments and discover new sides of themselves without the weight of commitments and expectations.
- Lack of clarity: Situationships can get confusing, leaving you scratching your head and feeling emotionally confounded due to the lack of clear boundaries.
- Emotional vulnerability: The mismatched expectations can leave you feeling emotionally exposed, leading to resentment and an unequal investment.
- Potential for imbalance: When one person wants a serious commitment while the other prefers to keep things casual, it’s a recipe for disappointment and heartbreak.
Situationship Signs to Look Out for
When it comes to dating, understanding someone’s true intentions can be a challenging task. Jess Matthews, also known as “The Boy Detox”, emphasises the importance of the “3 Date Rule”, giving yourself enough time to assess the authenticity of the connection before diving in too deep.
To avoid the perils of getting too attached too quickly, Matthews also recommends singles in search of serious relationships to be cautious of the following warning signs:
- Lack of transparency: Might mean they don’t trust you or have something to hide.
- Unwillingness to label the connection: Could mean they’re scared of commitment or can’t prioritise a serious, long-term relationship.
- A non-committal attitude towards plans: Could show they’re not fully invested or unsure about their feelings.
- Mentions of other partners: Could mean they’re not exclusive or open to juggling multiple relationships.
- Hot and cold behaviour: Can be an indication of unclear intentions or trouble communicating effectively.
- Not introducing you to their friends: Could mean they’re not all in yet.
How and When to End a Situationship
The prevalence of dating apps, social media, and endless distractions has made it easier than ever to connect with others, yet harder to establish clarity and define the relationship (DTR). In response, Mitchell emphasises the need to express your relationship expectations early on. If your partner disregards your boundaries and non-negotiables, Mitchell suggests it may be time to bid them farewell.
Matthews advises against romanticising situationships, urging singles to be realistic about their potential for development. If you recognise that a situationship is unlikely to evolve into something more substantial, Matthews believes its essential to accept this reality rather than trying to force a deeper connection. She suggests two options: embrace the situation for what it is or politely sever ties.
According to Chik, if you’re seeking a committed relationship but the other person expresses a lack of readiness and suggests a situationship instead, it’s best to walk away. She cautions against willingly entering a situationship with hopes that it will eventually lead to a serious relationship, as you may be setting yourself up for failure. If you’re open to investing 6-12 months in a relationship that may go nowhere though, you have Chik’s full support.
When it comes to modern love, the old rules no longer apply. Whether you choose to revel in the freedom of a situationship or seek certainty in a committed relationship, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to love. You have the power to redefine it according to your own terms. Whatever you do though, don’t abandon your needs just to keep someone else around. You deserve a relationship that fulfills you completely, whether or not it comes with a label.
Nicole Colantoni is a dating and relationship expert. As POPSUGAR Australia’s dating columnist, Nicole will share updates on dating trends, advice, and answer all your burning questions. Slide into her DMs to share what you’d like her to answer next. Nicole hosts a podcast, Love Uncensored: The Modern Guide to Dating & Relationships, which you can learn more about and listen here.