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Are You in A Situationship?
By Barrington H. Brennen, October 23, 2017

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Are you in a situationship? Years ago, when I first heard the word “situationship,” I thought it was a made-up word by someone who did not know better. But it really isn’t. Situationship is a relationship that is not really a relationship in the traditional sense. One author says it is “a relationship that has no label on it... like a friendship but more than a friendship but not quite a relationship.” Oops! That’s confusing. Another writer says “a situationship is any problematic relationship characterized by one or more unresolved, interpersonal conflicts, usually confused with dating.”

A situationship is not healthy in the long run. In many cases someone gets hurt emotionally. It is perhaps like “friends with benefits” but you are not really friends. It is people having a reason to get together but no reason to commit to each other. A situationship can also be when a man and woman are “courting” but neither party understands the status of the relationship. These kinds of “relationships” last long and end in pain. I have observed that there are a few situationships that end in marriage and that is when the confusion gets worse. One wakes up wondering “what am I doing here?”

I came across an article entitled: “12 Signs You’re In A Situationship” by Andrea Wesley, that shares a deeper concept. He states: “One of the most grueling things about the modern dating world is the process of courtship turned relationship. In the 1950s, it was simple. It was like, “Hey, want to get a milkshake? Will you wear my letter jacket?” and then BAM — relationship.

Now there’s this grey area before you have “the talk” called a situationship and it’s a land that essentially, no one has figured out yet. It’s the stage of dating that’s more than just dating and almost a relationship, but not quite. The worst part is that many couples get stuck here and end up crashing before it ever turns into anything. Sounds familiar? Chances are if you have dated in modern times, you’ve been in this place a time-or-two before.”


It is appropriate here to share a few of the signs that you are in a situationship listed by Wesley:

  1. You Aren’t Even Going on Dates Anymore. You hang like you’ve been together for a long time, but there’s still a massive elephant in the room.

  2. You Have No Title. When someone asks you what you are, you reply awkwardly with responses like “we’re still just seeing each other” or “we’re taking it one day at a time and going with the flow.” The flow has not yet been interrupted to define what you actually are or intend to be.

  3. You avoid discussing the future. Talking about your long game in life, the five and ten-year plan and relationship goals are practically taboo subjects. You don’t know where you stand, and you avoid discussing it at all costs.

  4. You still attend events solo. Weddings, Christmas parties, birthdays--all attended alone. You don’t ever exercise your right to your plus one and it isn’t that you haven’t thought about it, it’s just that you’ve convinced yourself “you’re not there yet” even though you’re there in every other way.

  5. You have sleepovers routinely. You don’t just leave after sex; you actually spend the night and probably even have coffee and breakfast together in the morning. You might even have a toothbrush at their place.

  6. Texting is your primary form of contact. And it’s pretty casual. There’s no routine “good morning, babe” wake-up, but rather just small talk until you make your next plan for Netflix and chill.

  7. You haven’t met their friends. Your close-knit friends know that you’re seeing someone, and have been for a while, but have never actually met them.

  8. You have no pictures together. You haven’t taken any pictures together or haven’t posted anything to social media alluding to any sort of idea that you’re in a pseudo relationship. Or if you have taken photos it is simply to impress the crowd.

  9. You’re both playing chicken. You’re basically in a Mexican standoff and each of you is avoiding bringing up the actual status of your relationship likely because you’re both scared of what might happen. Either you both will agree to move forward to the next phase, or one of you will back out. We hate to break it to you, but this could go on and on, like the song that never ends. Eventually, one of you is going to need to break the ice and it’ll make or break whatever has been happening. Or you can just keep going as is, that’s totally cool too. At least now you now know what to call your situationship.”

Simply put, a situationship is a kind of relationship that’s going nowhere. Someone is being used either financially, sexually, or emotionally. I have dealt with many couples who say they are “courting” or “dating” but cannot tell me what are the plans for the relationship. For many of these cases, they have been “going” for a very long time—three to ten years or more—and one is waiting for the other to change the direction of the relationship. In cases like these, it is the woman who thinks she is in a relationship. However, for the man, it is a situationship.

Dear reader, if you are in a situationship, I suggest thinking about getting out of it. But you cannot negotiate your way out of it. You are non-negotiable. If you realize there is some ambiguity or feelings of uncertainty, then it’s time to run for your life.

Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragemenet.org  or write to P.O. Box CB-11045, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org  or call 242-327-1980


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