What you should and shouldn’t do if you’re caught in a situationship

If you have a more-or-less significant other, somebody you’re spending a lot of time hanging out with, maybe going out with on some actual grown-up type dates, and having frequent sleepovers at your place or theirs, and yet you hesitate to define this person as your girlfriend or boyfriend or to call your association an actual relationship, then you are most likely caught up in a situationship. 

There’s nothing really wrong with this, if it’s what the both of you want — situationships, after all, are pretty par for the course in the dating world of the 21st century. Perhaps it’s easier just to live in the moment, after all, for whatever reason — maybe one of you is waiting to hear about an overseas job offer, or perhaps there’s been a bad break-up in the not-so-distant past, or maybe life is just kind of crazy right now and all you want is a little commitment-free fun. Totally cool. However (and there’s always a dreaded “however”), situationships, not unlike relationships, also have their do’s and don’ts that are meant to ensure everybody stays on the same page.

Do realize what it is and what it isn't in a situationship

If you are in a situationship, you are not a partner, romantic or otherwise. If you start acting as if you are — well, this can be seen as overstepping your bounds. As Blavity puts it, “Know your role, then slow your roll!” Meaning? Well, don’t go out of your way to do those special little things for them, like selecting the perfect present or cooking their favorite meal. And definitely don’t expect that the person you’re situationally associating will go out of their way to do anything for you, either.

If you want someone who really gets you, and want to please you — well, you will have to look elsewhere, perhaps to your friends or your family. You’re more likely to get emotional support from a potbelly pig than from your situationship — and the pig is also more likely to appreciate your efforts to please.

Don't read too much into a situationship

Sure, your SO (Situational Other) may act kind of sweet from time to time — but that still doesn’t mean that things are moving to the next level with you two. As Odyssey cautions,  Don’t trick yourself into thinking that [your situationship will] eventually lead into a relationship. Because, nine times out of 10, it won’t.” People just aren’t that complicated — if this person wanted a real relationship with you, they’d already have said something. Unless the two of you have only been seeing each other for a week or two, and/or are just 12 years old, the truth is, you’re not Mr. or Ms. Right, you’re just Mr. or Ms. Right Now.

Do keep it real in a situationship

If the situationship is something that you both want, that’s wonderful, but you need to be sure that you’re interpreting things the same way. And that means — use your big person words. Talk about what you are and are not doing. Do you date other people, or not? And by “date,” do you really mean “sleep with?” If so, what’s the deal with protection? No relationship — much less a situationship — is worth the risk of catching a potentially fatal disease such as HIV/AIDS.

On a less life-threatening, but still serious, note, you should also discuss whether or not you’re going to be meeting/hanging out with each other’s friends, whether you’ll be leaving anything more than just a toothbrush at the other person’s apartment, and when or if you can ever make any plans more than a day or two in advance.

Don't stay in the situationship any longer if it's just not working for you

If you find yourself catching feelings that you know deep-down are unlikely to ever be reciprocated, then it is time to get out and get out now. The reverse is also true — if you’re on the receiving end of unwanted emotions, it’s also better to end things than to ignore the awkwardness. And, should either one of you find you’re just not feeling much of anything anymore — well, why are you still even bothering to hang out with this person? All you’re really doing is holding yourself back from meeting someone who can and will make you happy.

As The Single Woman reminds us, “Do not settle for anything less than you want,” — advice that holds true whether or not you are a woman (or even single). After all, the time you spend with this not-right-for-you person is time you’ll never get back. Decide what you want out of life and out of love, and then head out in that direction, leaving outgrown “situations” in your rear-view mirror.

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