17 Things You'll Understand If You've Ever Been In A Situationship

It’s more than casual, but less than serious.

Blame it on "hookup culture," blame it on us millennials being "millennials," or just blame it on our crippling fear of commitment: situationships might just be the new relationships. 

More serious than casual dating, yet less serious than actual couplehood, a situationship is the limbo between being with a partner for awhile and defining the relationship in the conventional sense. 

A lot of times such label-less romances happen by chance. You go on one date, then a second date, and then a third. Pretty soon, you're eight months in "Netflix and chilling" with someone who acts like a significant other without the title. But regardless of if your situationship leads to a long-term defined relationship, or not, if it's working for you in the interim, enjoy it.  After all, for some couples (or non-couples rather), a situationship can be just the thing they're looking for. 

That said, not all situationships are born out of a lack of interest in commitment. According to Match.com's seventh annual Singles in America survey, in 2017 millennials are 30 percent more likely than any other generation to want a relationship. 

If a relationship is desired, Marriage and Family Therapist Gracie Landes tells A Plus it's essential to say what you do and don't want, and what you are and aren't willing to give. "Most people stay in situations (of any type) when they are getting at least as much out as they put in," she says. "It's important to know what you are getting out of a situationship, if it's really worth your effort and opportunity cost." 

Whether your situational relationship is going swimmingly, or you think it's time to have "the talk," you've likely experienced some of these dating moments during your situationship. 

1. You’re never sure if there's a right time to talk about taking the next step (or not taking the next step).

"Too many people enter into situationships hoping things will change;  that if it goes well, the other person will want to take it to the next level, or start to look better to you, " Landes says. And when things get comfortable, you might not want to rock the boat. 

But at some point, someone is going to want something more (or something less) than what you want.  No matter how awkward, you're better off being transparent about your intentions and feelings when things start to get serious with your partner. Communication is key. 

2. You're unsure how to introduce your partner to others.

My friend? My boo? My cuddle buddy? What do you call them? There's no realer reminder that you two aren't official until the moment of introducing each other comes along. To prepare for such scenarios, Landes suggests "setting up clear boundaries and expectations, so you don't wind up in uncomfortable ambiguous social situations, like going to a wedding or significant social function together and not being able to explain who you are to each other."

3. Holiday season can be an extra confusing time.

Are we celebrating Valentine's Day? Do we gift each other for Christmas? Should I invite them to my birthday party? The questions are endless. Situationships can be tricky if you're not comfortable enough to openly discuss such topics, making it hard to gauge the level of closeness and significance of your relationship.

If it was just a friend with benefits, there's already an understanding that the extent of your relationship is mostly physical with no strings attached. But, when you're in between casual and serious, expectations can get a bit fuzzy. If you are bothered by not knowing how to treat your situationship partner around a holiday, that can be a good indication it's time to talk about it. 

4. You love the non-commitment level of commitment.

You guys check-in with each other sure, but you can definitely go a few days without speaking. Even better, when you two finally do reconnect, there's no drama. The space between dating and a relationship can be a happy medium.

5. You both are comfortable enough to contact each other at any time.

Way riskier than the late night text, is the midday text. Contact before 8 p.m. insinuates genuine interest, usually unrelated to sexual desire. Most assume midday texts are reserved for relationships only, but 'tis not true. Situationships are fair game for afternoon check-ins. Because like any type of significant relationship you have, it is hopefully built on friendship.  

6. You even feel comfortable having occasional date nights.

Because you two are pretty significant in each other's lives, you may have a date night every now and then. 

7. You guys know enough about each other's schedule and happenings ... but you aren’t official enough to ask why they didn’t text back last night.

No one wants to appear to be the "needy" one, even though there may be the desire for deeper connection. This, of course, is very normal and valid. 

8. You're more than "friends with benefits," but it's unclear how much more.

You're not exactly friends, but you're also not exactly together. Things are a little too hot and heavy, for it to just be no-strings attached. You're getting to know them, but there's still so much to discover. You don't know anyone important in their life, you've never met their folks,  you don't even know their innermost thoughts. But, you guys like each other a lot, and are progressively learning more about the other. 

9. You are wary of catching deeper feelings.

No one wants a broken heart. In a world where we document the happy moments of our lives publicly, many people are more cautious about tarnishing their picture-perfect image with a sudden breakup. The agony of explaining what happened to that special someone you'd been taking selfies with can be too much to bare. Perhaps that's why situationships are so prevalent as they can sometimes function as official relationships without the pressure of a relationship title.  

10. Sometimes you wonder whether or not you’re falling in love.

Raise your hand if you've ever felt yourself falling in love with someone you weren't exclusive with. *Continues to type with one hand* Maybe you even mouthed "I love you" when their backs were turned. But, are you really in love with the person or just the affection?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

11. You convince yourself that this person is only a placeholder until you finally meet “The One.”

Maybe you even pray you never actually end up with this person. Mr/Mrs Right Now just can't be Mr/Mrs Right. Especially when your situationship isn't looking like your ideal relationship, it's natural to hope for something better. That said, you must consider the way your actions might be affected your partner. 

"Be honest with yourself and the other person," Landes suggests. "If you are spending a lot of time with someone you wouldn't be willing to officially date, consider the impact that lack of recognition and respect has on both of you." 

12. You also wonder if you’re their placeholder.

You're a total catch though!

13. You wonder if you're both commitment-phobes of if there's something else going on.

According to a 2014 Pew Research study, "Just 26 percent of this generation is married. When they were the age that Millennials are now, 36 percent of Generation X, 48 percent of Baby Boomers and 65 percent of the members of the Silent Generation were married. [...] Most unmarried Millennials (69 percent) say they would like to marry, but many, especially those with lower levels of income and education, lack what they deem to be a necessary prerequisite — a solid economic foundation." I guess we're not simply commitment-phobes — we're afraid. 

14. You might find yourself getting jealous at the thought of them dating other people.

"This is a culture that does not tolerate the emotion," Esther Perel, a therapist and author of Mating Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence tells Psychology Today. "The majority of people don't have a conversation about jealousy, because the feeling itself is taboo." That conversation is even harder when it comes to someone who isn't exactly committed to you. If you are starting to experience these feelings however, it's important to talk them out with someone, even if it's not your partner. Working through jealousy is hard for anyone, and if it's too much to handle, it could mean it's time to leave your situationship behind, or work toward defining it in a way that makes both you and your partner comfortable. 

15. You're free to date, but sometimes being with another person feels a little like cheating.

You may even wonder if it's time to end it. But how can you break-up with someone who you aren't actually with?

16. You question whether or not you respect yourself for being in a situationship.

What starts out as casual has now become a six month "thing."  Because of sexist, patriarchal, judgmental ideals imposed upon us our whole lives, we can sometimes second guess our decisions based on what is expected of us. On the other hand, you may also feel this way because you're ignoring what you actually want out of the relationship. Communicating what your needs and intentions are with your partner can help you both gain some clarity.

17. But then remember you’re a badass who CHOOSES to be single-ish!

There's so much expectation of what is and is not a normal relationship. Don't feel pressure to make decisions based on some invalid universal relationship rule. Do what makes you happy. If you're comfortable being in a situationship, enjoy it. If you want something more, you deserve to find that — whether it's with your current partner or someone else who is looking for the same thing.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comments from Marriage and Family Therapist Gracie Landes.

Cover photo via Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

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