pensive woman in a situationship

You are probably familiar with such concepts as friends with benefits, casual, or no strings attached relationships. While all of these phrases revolve around sex with no emotional bond, there is another term that pertains to a particular type of romantic connection that has more than just a physical aspect. It’s called situationship.

What is a situationship?

You may have found yourself in a situationship and may not even have realized it! So what is the definition of situationship, and what are the situationship rules?

When you start dating someone new, it may seem like a good idea to know them without substantiating any feelings and making future projections. You simply spend time together and have fun. However, as time goes by, you may start thinking of future plans with that person or simply wanting to define your relationship status. But what if your partner sends mixed signals or says they are unsure what they want? You find yourself confused as to where you stand.

A situationship is a type of romantic relationship that remains undefined. It can be caused by several factors, including convenience, commitment issues, and desire for freedom. Situationship is a grey zone that is less than a romantic relationship but more than a friendship.

The main point to note about situationships is that although a clear, committed relationship has not been defined, at least one partner has feelings. And that’s where you can draw the line between situationship vs. friends with benefits.

Now that we know the situationship meaning, let’s try to determine if you ended up in this grey relationship zone.

13 situationship signs to look out for

couple kissing over pool table

Situationships can be confusing, especially if both partners are unsure what they want and how they feel about their future together. Here are thirteen signs that will help you decide if you’ve landed yourself in a situationship.

1. You haven’t defined the relationship

Having “the talk” about your relationship may seem intimidating. If you ask your partner about your relationship status too early, it may scare them off, but if you ask them too late, it may mean they’re not on the same page anymore.

Have you been seeing this person for quite a while (think six months or longer), and you haven’t defined your relationship yet? This is one of the most obvious signs you’re in a situationship. When your partner avoids this conversation at all costs, they are probably not interested in committing to a serious relationship any time soon.

2. You don’t talk about your future together

Are your conversations only about the present and never about the future? This may signal that your partner has no intention of creating plans together. Talking about things you want to do together indicates a certain level of commitment. If this topic is avoided, there is a good chance your partner does not see you two together in the long run.

3. They don’t prioritize you

You and your partner only meet up when it’s convenient for them. There are no routine or concrete plans to meet up. Making actual plans shows an interest in spending time together. The fact that your partner does not prioritize you and doesn’t make time for you in their schedule probably means the relationship you are in isn’t serious.

4. Their behavior is inconsistent

One week you talk for hours and meet up regularly. The next week your partner ghosts you, just to reappear the following week as nothing happened. Inconsistent behavior like that shows a lack of effort and interest. A person who wants to be with you only when convenient for them is probably not boyfriend material.

A person who wants to be with you only when convenient for them is probably not boyfriend material. Click To Tweet

5. Conversations are shallow

Flirt and chit-chat are fun when you start going out. However, if you are serious about the person you are dating, you develop a natural interest in their personality. Are you the only one who is asking questions wanting to get to know him better? Have you noticed that you don’t have deep conversations and that your partner is not really interested to learn more about your life? When your communication revolves around your lives’ mundane parts, it is a sign your connection lacks the depth needed in serious relationships.

6. Your relationship is private

Since you never labeled your connection as a ‘relationship,’ it’s hard to introduce each other to people. Your partner chooses not to take you to their friend gatherings or introduces you as a ‘friend’ when you two bump into somebody they know. They ask you not to post photos on social media and keep everything on the down-low.

7. They say they don’t want anything serious

When your partner tells you that they don’t want anything serious, it is a big red flag that it will never change. When they say it, take it that they mean it and make a decision if you want to continue or not. The biggest mistake you can make, considering you have feelings for this person, is to stay and hope they will come around. You will be wasting your time and energy.

8. You hide your own feelings

When you’re in a relationship with no labels, it’s challenging to show your emotions because you fear the reaction. You may want to avoid coming off clingy and scare your partner away, so you bottle your feelings, but that ends up making the situation worse. A person who would want to be in a relationship with you would be happy to see you like them and reciprocate your feelings.

9. You haven’t met their friends

Holding off from introducing you to their friends probably means your partner doesn’t plan to make your relationship official any time soon. They will have every excuse in the book to keep you away from their social circle as they prefer to stay in this grey zone, and they probably want to keep their options open.

Holding off from introducing you to their friends probably means your partner doesn't plan to make your relationship official any time soon. Click To Tweet

10. They only show affection when you’re alone

Is your partner affectionate only when you are in the privacy of your home, but they are cold as ice in public? If they avoid holding hands or touching you in public, then there is a good chance you’re in a situationship. This gives off a vibe to others that you aren’t anywhere near a couple, and your partner intends to keep it that way. When a person is interested in pursuing a committed relationship with someone, showing affection is a natural manifestation of their feelings and attraction.

11. They’re seeing other people

Have you found out that your partner is casually dating other people? Do they get texts and calls, and they flirt over the phone? You probably try to play cool as you don’t really know where you stand with them, and you don’t want to come across as a drama queen. Even if your partner says they like you and they want to be with you, this type of behavior shows that their feelings are not strong enough to commit.

12. You’re getting bored

Maybe all you do is hook up in your apartment. However, outside of the bedroom, there are awkward silences while sipping tea or driving a car. The feeling that you have not much to say or do with each other is getting stronger. You don’t have hobbies that couples typically engage in. You don’t go on romantic dates, and you feel something is missing. If you are stuck in the same drinks-sex-dinner (or the other way round) routine, even if you’ve been together only for a few weeks or months, things don’t look that promising.

13. You make separate plans

Does your partner talk of moving cities or countries? Do they plan on traveling the world solo for a year? If they make grand plans without you even being in the picture, it means they have no intention of having a future with you. This is a good sign that your presence in their life is only temporary, and the word ‘situationship’ perfectly sums up the situation you are in.

Is a situationship bad?

couple in bed with woman sleeping

The appeal that situationship has is that there is no verbal acknowledgment that two people are in a committed relationship. As long as both partners are good with not labeling the relationship, situationships can feel liberating.

The thing with situationships is that even if both partners don’t want serious commitment at the beginning, feelings can change! You may get into a situationship with someone who you fancy as a lover but then end up falling for this person. When you start developing feelings, not knowing if your partner feels the same way, you may end up brokenhearted. When one partner wants a committed relationship and the other one doesn’t, it can lead to anxiety, irritation, and bitterness.

Since situationship is a grey zone, there is always room for miscommunication and error. You may develop a fear of rejection or losing the partner you’ve become close with. The lack of certainty on your status and your future together may cause confusion and sabotage your personal plans.

Situationships may have some temporary benefits. However, if one person develops a deep emotional connection, while the other is not ready yet, over time, the frustration of not being on the same page can manifest in unhealthy ways.

Toxic situationships often occur when one partner is obviously interested in a committed relationship, but the other partner strings them along. You may hear phrases “I want to be with you, but I can’t commit right now” or “I’ve had a tough past, so I want to take things slow.” When someone says things like this, they are avoiding dealing with insecurities and personal issues. You are their escape and distraction. When you find yourself in a position like this, it is indeed not healthy for your well-being. It might be tempting to wait and see where things go, but is it really worth it?

When one partner wants a committed relationship and the other one doesn't, it can lead to anxiety, irritation, and bitterness. Click To Tweet

Should you end a situationship you are in?

Are you wondering how long do situationships last? It is important to note that the “talking” stage shouldn’t be taking more than six months. Once you pass the six-month mark, you enter a territory called “pseudo-relationship” or “placebo relationship.” This means it is a partial relationship, with a risk that your union will never transition into a committed relationship.

Ending a situationship may be as hard as a relationship, especially if you are the only one who caught feelings. Whatever decision you take, make sure you are not brushing aside your own needs and happiness for the comfort of someone else’s. If you enjoy your arrangement with this person but realize you are not on the same page, it’s the chance to change things.

Does your partner have some kind of excuse and want to continue everything as it is? Then it’s time to recognize that if you don’t get out of this limbo now, you will be stuck in a pseudo-relationship with no direction.

If you decide that you want more than a situationship and it’s been more than six months, then it’s time to be assertive and let them know. Tell them that you’ve enjoyed your time together, point out what you like about them and ask them what they think the future holds.

Ending a situationship may be as hard as a relationship, especially if you are the only one who caught feelings. Click To Tweet

Can a situationship turn into a relationship?

People change, and so do their priorities in life, so there is definitely a chance that your situationship can turn into a relationship. Ultimately, it all depends on the emotional connection both you and your partner share and how much work you are willing to put into strengthening your bond. You need to have the talk and define where you both stand and what you want.

The best policy is to address how you feel about your partner and ask them what they think the future holds for the both of you. Be patient and give them time to collect their thoughts and talk. If they want more time, give it to them. At least now they know exactly how you feel and decide if they wish to go through with it or not.

I will give you a great example of a situationship turning into a relationship from real life. Two of my friends who met at University a few years ago recently started hanging out together. In the beginning, they chose to not post about their outings on social media and not tell about it to their friends. They hid it from most people around them because they knew it would mean labeling what they had going on between them. They didn’t define it as a relationship for four months. Until then, they knew they had passed the friendship threshold but weren’t quite ready to be in a committed relationship. When they realized that maybe they were doing everything an exclusive couple does and shared emotional intimacy without defining the relationship, they decided it was time to take the next step. And now, they’ve turned their situationship into a relationship – because both of them were clear about what they wanted and their feelings for each other.

Being in a committed relationship isn’t a goal for some. Situationship isn’t a bad arrangement if both you and your partner are happy with it. But if you find yourself growing feelings and not knowing where your partner stands, then it’s time to address what’s on your mind. Whether you decide to end this chapter of your life because you can’t see a future together or you want to transition into a relationship, know that you call the shots. You have the power to decide what is best for you!

Mornisha is a Canadian relationship and lifestyle feminist writer. She is currently writing a book on long-distance relationships based on her own experience of five years and releasing a podcast about love, dating, and taboo topics in the South Asian community. You can check out her blog Morni Inspo to see more of her work.