April 12, 2024

What Is It And How Do You Avoid It

We’re definitely not new to the idea of a «situationship», which first rose to prominence courtesy of Love Island, but it still seems to be doing the rounds in the dating world and we still can’t quite get our head around it.

Not familiar with the term? According to Urban Dictionary, it is the state of confusion surrounding a couple who may be sleeping together, and/or have romantic feelings towards each other – but they aren’t, in fact, together. It’s a situation, not a relationship – and it probably sounds worryingly familiar.

The term is a hangover of the much-loathed Covid era. During the pandemic, some relationships escalated much quicker than usual – to varying levels of success – but an increasing amount lacked the definition needed to take off in the first place. In fact, dating app Hinge found that after speaking to 12,000 users, 34% (i. e, one third) defined themselves as having been in a situationship during the pandemic — and it seems a lot of people are still stuck in them as singletons ‘shop around’ now that IRL dating is back.

And it’s easy to see how this problem has arisen. When the world was in such a state of crisis, flux and emergency back in March 2020, I was certainly reluctant to define any romantic relationships because – quite frankly – I couldn’t afford for anything I truly invested in to fall apart while I was trying to hold myself, my career, my friends and my family together throughout a pandemic.

For me, it became easier to never ask the big questions, no matter how much I might have wanted some form of definition or clarification. My silence on the subject then morphed into a very weird attempt at self-preservation. Before long, I found myself in some form of a relationship purgatory.

If you’re in a situationship, you might be talking on the phone every night, but haven’t agreed if you’re exclusive. You might have already embarked on some form of emotional investment in this person – something we might be a bit more prone to jumping into during a traumatising time – without even agreeing what you mean to each other. Then, things can get messy. Expectations are all over the place, as are your feelings.

I couldn’t afford for anything I truly invested in to fall apart while I was trying to hold myself, my career, my friends and my family together throughout a pandemic

It’s no better when someone else is refusing to define your dating dynamic to you. One of my best friends, Daniella, also found herself in a series of Covid-era situationships over the last year. While each partner was different in some ways, as I watched her go through each one I noticed the dynamics of these “relationships” shared key characteristics.

They started out with a fairly sound emotional connection, then moved into a lack of communication about what each partner wanted out of the relationship, and eventually a general lack of definition around what was happening between them.

It was horrible to watch her struggle with this lack of definition, as she told me that she felt “disappointed and messed about” because these partners weren’t being honest or communicative enough about what they wanted, or how they viewed what they were doing together. Perhaps it was because they didn’t know themselves; perhaps it was because they didn’t care.

“I tried to be more cool and laidback than I normally would be, but then realised I was settling for something lesser and different than what I was looking for, to try and suit someone else,” she told me. During a time when we were being thrown in and out of lockdown, feeling a new kind of fear for her health and our futures, this emotional turmoil can be really hard to handle, and isn’t something you want to be inflicting on another, equally.

Dating and relationship coach Kate Mansfield says that a situationship can be “really destructive”.

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