by Brianna Allison
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Brianna Allison. Find her on Instagram at @ballison7. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commitment can be scary, especially when you’re trying to figure out who you are in your 20s. During this time in your life, it can be hard to even commit to where you’ll be next year… so how are you supposed to commit to a long-term relationship?
With situationships, you don’t have to worry about that! You get to experience the companionship and some of the other perks of dating but in a much more casual and relaxed way.
Although this may sound perfect, there are plenty of situationship red flags to keep in mind!
What is a situationship?
Situationships are often defined as dating without the relationship label. To better understand it, psychotherapist Johnathon Alpert describes it as, “that space between a committed relationship and something that is more than a friendship.”
Saba Harouni Lurie, a marriage therapist, explains that the cultural trend is likely a result of young people choosing to prioritize themselves before getting married and starting a family. Situationships can allow people to continue to find themselves and achieve their personal and professional goals, while the commitment of a traditional relationship may hold them back.
When both parties enjoy each other’s company but are looking for casual instead of commitment, situationships can be the perfect solution. However, there are plenty of opportunities for disaster to strike, especially if you learn your relationship was really a situationship all along.
What are the red flags that show you’re in a situationship?
Sometimes, it isn’t easy to recognize that you’re in a situationship until someone is waving red flags in your face. So, let’s take a look at some of the telltale signs that indicate that your relationship is actually a situationship.
Your relationship isn’t defined…and it’s been a while
The first and largest red flag is if you’ve been hanging out together for months and months… but you’ve never defined what you guys are. No one enjoys this conversation, but it needs to happen at some point. Maybe you’re assuming that you guys are in an exclusive relationship, while they have 3 more dates planned for the week. Having this conversation will save you some time and heartbreak.
Although you need to have it at some point, I wouldn’t recommend having it too early on; you shouldn’t rush it! Once you’re spending more time together, developing an emotional connection and are still unsure of where you two stand, then it is a valid conversation to have. After you’ve been seeing each other for a while, you should naturally start to discuss your intentions, dating history, and future goals with one another. If that conversation seems long overdue, they may be trying to avoid the label.
You don’t go on real dates
You may be in a situationship if most of your “dates” aren’t really dates. If they never bring you around friends or family and the majority of your date is spent on the couch or in the bedroom, you may be in a situationship.
If you’re looking for something more fun and casual, there’s certainly nothing wrong with this! However, if you’re hoping for real dates and getting to know more about the people they’re closest to, this may be a red flag. You shouldn’t have to beg them to put in effort! If they’re not taking initiative to plan dates or bring you around their loved ones, they probably don’t see a long-term commitment with you.
Your plans are always last minute
It’s important to pay attention to how your plans are being made! It’s a red flag if you try to make plans for next week, and they reply “I don’t know, I’m not sure what my schedule is yet.” Or even worst, they make the plans with you and then cancel last minute. If you’re in a relationship, they’ll be prioritizing spending time with you.
If you’re in a situationship, on the other hand, they’ll be prioritizing other things instead. Most of the time, this will mean you’ll get a text from them in the morning asking you to come over later that day, or you’ll even get one at 7 o’clock telling you to be at their house in an hour. I’ll say it again: you shouldn’t have to beg for them to put in the effort.
You’re not sure when you’ll hear from them or see them again
A big part of situationships is inconsistency. When you like someone and want to be in a relationship with them, you’ll gradually start spending more time together and talking to each other more frequently. However, in a situationship, communication is much more unexpected. You may not know when you’ll hear from them or when you’ll see them next – it could be 3 days or it could be 3 weeks. If this is the case, then wave the red flag. They’re making it obvious that you’re not a top priority.
You don’t talk about the future
As we talked about earlier, the beauty of a situationship is that you get to plan for your future without having to account for anyone else. But in a relationship, you should be committed to creating a future together, or at least a future that you see the other person in.
If you ask where they see themselves in the next couple of years and they seem to have little regard for factoring your plans into it, you’re probably in a situationship. This is not to say you can’t prioritize yourself or your goals when you’re in a committed relationship, but you should still respect your partner’s goals. You both should be willing to make some kind of compromise, whether that’s being open-minded about where you’ll live, your career plans or even if you want to start a family.
You’re getting bored
Relationships are supposed to be a new and exciting journey of getting to know someone! If you find that you’re bored when you’re together, you could be in a situationship. Maybe you’re tired of having surface-level conversations because they never want to talk about anything deep. Or maybe you’re tired of doing the same thing each time you make plans because they don’t want to go out in public together and try new things.
This is not to say you may not be experiencing this same feeling of burnout in a long-term relationship. But in a long-term relationship, there should be a mutual effort to try new things and keep your spark going. If you’re experiencing this early on and there is no effort on their end, this may be nothing more than a situationship.
They’re leaving you hanging on
Now for the last red flag. They give you just enough attention and affection to keep you coming back for more. Maybe you know you should quit them, but every time you try to have that conversation, they know exactly what to say to keep you around. Whenever you try to talk about labeling your relationship or your future together, they may get uncomfortable, dismissive and start talking about something else. Remember, communication is key in any relationship (or situationship), so it should never be something to avoid.
Alternatively, if you’ve asked them questions about defining your relationship, and they’ve told you they want to keep things casual, don’t just stick around and hope that they change their mind. You don’t have to pretend to be cool with a situationship, especially if you’re putting in the amount of effort you would for a committed relationship. It’s important to be self-aware and know exactly what you want, even if it may be different than what they do.
Situationships can be tricky, but sometimes they may be exactly what you’re looking for for the time being. So, if you’re in one and you’re happy with it, then keep doing it! Just make sure that it is truly what you want. Do it for yourself, not because you want to make the other person happy!
If you think you’re currently in a situationship but don’t want to be, then don’t be afraid to communicate that! They’ll either step up and decide that they want to label your relationship, or they’ll tell you that’s not what they’re looking for, and you’ll go your separate ways. Or maybe they’ll give you an excuse and say things will change (but they probably won’t), so then you’re just left hanging on. But don’t stay in a situationship if you’re unhappy – let go! I know that it’s easier said than done, but if someone wants to fully commit to you, then they will.
But either way, just remember that you’re in control of your relationship…or I guess situationship.
Have you ever been in a situationship? What was your experience like? Let us know down below if you have a situationship red flag that you think we should add to our list!