More and more types of relationships emerge as dating becomes increasingly fluid and exploratory. One of the latest examples of this is a “situationship”.
Different than a friendship or relationship, Urban Dictionary defines a situationship as “a relationship that has no label on it... like a friendship but more than a friendship but not quite a relationship.” While often situationships are viewed as unhealthy or complicated, they are growing in prevalence. Often, situationships are associated with fear of commitment, but they can also be productive if the “couple” is transparent about expectations and intentions.
Especially during times of major transitions in life, such as following a divorce or a major break-up, a situationship may provide the light and fun companionship that you need. This “relationship without a label” might be “good enough” for the time being, and appropriate for a notable period or around a milestone in your life.
In this post, we’ll explore three factors that make a situationship work and why it can sometimes be a positive choice.
1. Make intentions transparent
One of the most important things to do in situationship is to make your goals and desires known. Communicate that you don’t intend to make a long-term commitment, at least for the time being, and be upfront with the person you are spending time with. Be honest with yourself about whether you feel the other person also wants a relationships without labels. If one person is holding out hope that the situationship will evolve into a committed relationship, hurt feelings are inevitable. Do you feel that person is hinting at or asking for more than you want to give? If you feel that expectations and needs are misaligned, recognize that more communication about intentions may be necessary. Or, a situationship might not be a good, mutual fit. Commit to having good dating karma by clearly sharing your feelings and reinforcing boundaries to make ongoing intentions clear.
2. Set Boundaries
In order to maintain a mutually successful situationship, it’s important to consider boundaries. These might look like limitations around who you introduce this “partner” to or how much time you spend together. Especially if this situationship is coinciding with a major milestone in your life, like a divorce, continue working on yourself, developing hobbies, and cultivating friendships. As comfortable as it might be to spend time with this person, don’t lose sight of the long-term need to focus on self-care and healing. Consider limiting introductions to family members, kids, or spending lots of time with other couples. If you don’t see a long-term relationship in your future, be respectful to your “partner” by not crossing relationship lines or checking off milestones.
3. Recognize Your Attachment System
Generally speaking, situationships are minefields for anxiously attached individuals, and ideal for those who are more avoidant or securely attached. Learn more about whether situationships are right for you as you examine your attachment system more closely. If situationships are going to leave you feeling inadequate, anxious, and defeated, they likely aren’t a good choice. At the same time, they could be a growth opportunity. As long as there is mutual agreement around expectations, situationships can help you practice the dynamics of a relationship for a period of time. They can provide insight into your needs, and help you communicate more effectively in future relationships.
Situationships aren’t healthy for everyone. However, if there is a mutual understanding and agreement about the ways you are spending time with another person and long-term needs and desires are clear, they can serve an important purpose. On the other hand, if you are repeatedly choosing a situationship and can’t seem to progress past casual partnerships despite a desire for long-term commitment, the team at Center for Shared Insight can help. Our team can work with you as you uncover more about your relationship decisions and desires, and provide tools and insights to help you cultivate the type of relationship you want. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.