Have you found yourself in a romantic situation where you’re thinking, “Am I single or not?” You might be experiencing something fittingly called a situationship. Not sure what that means or even whether you’re in one in the first place?
We’re here to help you identify the signs of a situationship, how it’s different from other dating relationships, and what to do if it’s just not right for you.
What Is a Situationship?
A situationship falls somewhere in between a casual and committed romantic relationship, when you’re involved romantically with someone but you don’t have the label of an established relationship.
As you can see, a situationship can lie in that often murky territory of “sorta single” and “sorta not.”
Situationship vs. Casual Dating
To help further define situationship, let’s talk about how it’s different from casual dating.
While there is a lot of overlap between the two (like lack of exclusivity, commitment, and expectations), the main difference is that with casual dating, there is often some sort of label. For example, someone might say, “I’m not looking for anything serious,” or you’ll both lay the ground rules for a friends-with-benefits situation.
With a situationship, on the other hand, there’s typically a lack of communication about what it actually is.
Situationship vs. Dating Relationship
As you might guess, the differences between a situationship vs. dating relationship are quite vast. Dating relationships typically have intention behind them, where one or both people are dating with the intention of finding something long term. These types of relationships also usually involve guardrails, like commitment, exclusivity, certain dating expectations, and more, whereas a situationship might not have any.
Are Situationships Toxic?
No, situationships are not necessarily toxic. They’re neither “good” nor “bad”—because how you view them depends on what you’re looking for. We’ve listed some pros and cons of situationships to help you decide for yourself:
- Con: It can lead to anxiety in some people, as it might be hard for one person or the other not to want to put a label on it. The ambiguity or lack of commitment can make some people uncomfortable or, worse, lonely or alone.
- Pro: You can enjoy many of the benefits of a dating relationship without the confines of one, like commitment, emotional availability, or exclusivity.
- Con: Someone can eventually catch feelings, putting more pressure on both people to figure out what “this” actually is.
- Pro: There’s typically total independence and flexibility. With a situationship, you can do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, making the entire experience quite liberating for some.
Signs of a Situationship
We’ve briefly touched on some of the signs of a situationship, but let’s clearly outline them here (because any clarity in these situations is helpful, right?). Here’s how to know if you might be in a situationship.
Situationships usually mean that one or both people are emotionally unavailable. You’re both physically intimate but not emotionally so, and you talk but maybe not about anything of substance. When anything remotely vulnerable comes up, perhaps one of you shuts it down or moves on quickly to another topic. Maybe you feel like you want to give more but that they simply don’t want to receive it, or vice versa.
Maybe you started texting a new love interest and things got hot and heavy, and now it’s just a once-in-a-while thing. Perhaps you only see each other when one of you is in town for a work trip or start communicating on the phone or social media every couple of months. Maybe sometimes it feels like a deep connection and other times it’s just physical.
With a situationship, communication is probably irregular.
Lack of Commitment/Exclusivity
There’s no expectation for commitment to each other. And while you might not talk about dating other people, there is definitely no expectation to be exclusive.
Here’s one of the big signs of a situationship: it all feels loosey-goosey (yes, that’s a technical term). There isn’t a status or a label to put on it, and it feels very “gray area.”
Instead of being dynamic, situationships often have a static element, meaning that everything seems to be the same, like the same surface-level convos, the lack of emotional vulnerability, or even where and when you hear from each other.
There’s a start to the situationship, but there doesn’t seem to be an end. There’s no talk about the future or where things are going—they’re just going.
Another telltale sign of a situationship is unclear boundaries. You don’t really talk about whether to meet each other’s friends, parents, or kids; whether to sleep over after sex; or even things as small as getting a ride to the airport.
While these types of scenarios might be unspoken boundaries in many situationships, the key word here is “unspoken.” When something is unspoken, both parties might be left with the “do I or don’t I?” questions.
What to Do If a Situationship Isn’t Your Thing
If the list about the signs of a situationship has you thinking, “Help! I’m in a situationship, but I’m not sure I want to be. What do I do?!” we’ve got you. Many people might find situationships nice for the current chapter of their lives, while others might want something more.
Here’s what you can do if you find yourself in a situationship and aren’t sure if it’s right for you.
Notice Any Situationship Red Flags
If you’re feeling uncomfortable in the situation, see if you can identify these situationship red flags. If you can, it might be time to take action, like telling them how you feel or taking a step back.
- You’ve started to develop feelings for them. You want something more romantic, but it seems that they don’t feel the same way.
- You want to trust them with your thoughts and feelings, but you can’t. Maybe you don’t necessarily feel like you want a romantic relationship, but you do wish you could tell them some of your innermost thoughts, fears, and emotions, like you would to a friend. They’ve either shown you that they can’t be trusted, or maybe you just don’t feel comfy sharing these things.
- You don’t like the lack of clarity. Maybe you were okay with not slapping a label on anything at the beginning, but now things are too murky for your liking.
- The inconsistency is like an emotional rollercoaster. You feel like they’re hot, then cold, then they ghost you, then they’re hot again—and the cycle keeps going. The inconsistency might be too much to handle.
- You don’t feel valued. This is a big one. If they don’t seem to truly care about you as a person (not just as a potential partner), that’s a big situationship red flag.
Ask Yourself What You Want
If a situationship works for you, great! Maybe you just need some independence and flexibility and don’t want the commitment of a relationship.
But if you do realize that you want to find a lifelong partner, don’t tamp down that desire. Let that realization guide your decision about what to do.
Have a Frank Conversation About Where Things Are Going
Once you’ve decided what you need and want in your romantic life, it’s time to communicate it. Don’t let your emotions simmer—because that affects both you and your situationship partner.
Ask the other person to sit down with you or hop on FaceTime and have a conversation about where the situationship is going. What are their relationship goals and values? Do they see whatever-this-is moving into a committed relationship? Try to understand their point of view, if it’s different from yours.
Having this conversation will help you define the relationship. Doing so might not be important for them, and keep this in mind before bringing it up. But at least getting clarity on where both of you stand will give you the closure you need and help you decide whether to stay or move on.
Maybe It’s Time to Move On
If your situationship partner doesn’t feel the same way that you do (let’s say, about moving into a committed relationship), it might be time to break up. Even though you may never have put a label on what you two had, it can still feel like you’re having to move on from an ex. After all, you shared some type of connection, and that is meaningful.
To help you move on, read our tips on how to get over someone you never dated.
Noticing the signs of a situationship and determining whether or not it’s right for you is a healthy step toward understanding what you want. If you decide that a long-term partnership is more for you, Tawkify can help you find your person.