Updated: APRIL 18, 2024
Reviewed by Jen Mallia
on December 8, 2021

A situationship describes an undefined intimate connection. The bond between people in an intimate situation that is more serious than a ‘friends with benefits’ but is not defined with a rigid relationship structure. The term is a blend of the words situation and relationship. It implies that the connection between people in a situationship is more of a situation than a relationship.

A situationship typically has sexual and romantic components, like a relationship. These elements make a situationship more than a platonic friendship. People in situationships often feel connected to one another. They talk freely and enjoy spending time together. They may go out socially, but these outings aren’t defined as dates. Many people in situationships are more likely to spend time together in private watching TV at home or simply hanging out. However, unlike a relationship, the people in a situationship have no clear commitment to one another. A situationship is informal and often described as ‘complicated,’ because neither party is quite sure what they are to one another.

A situationship also doesn’t progress as a relationship does. During relationships, couples reach certain milestones following a path sometimes called the "relationship escalator". These milestones vary between couples, but may include meeting the partner’s friends and family, traveling together, becoming exclusive, moving in together, and having children. Situationships often don’t progress forward in this way. People in situationships might be ok with this, or they might feel their connection is stuck or stagnant.

Situationships are becoming more common as people choose to marry later or decide long-term commitments aren’t for them. A situationship can give people many of the perks of a relationship without the pressure some people feel committing to someone else. People in a situationship are free to opt out at any time, theoretically without any hurt feelings or other difficulties.

A situationship can lead to a relationship if both parties decide they want more from the connection. This occurs during a define the relationship (DTR) talk. A relationship may also dissolve in time, perhaps after a DTR talk or if someone gets into a relationship. Alternatively, it might remain as a situationship.

More About Situationship

Situationships can be beneficial for certain people or circumstances. They can be a way for people to enjoy romance and sex when they don’t feel mentally ready for or interested in a committed and long term relationship.

A situationship can also be a good way to test the waters and see whether people are compatible enough for a successful relationship. Some people feel liberated in a situationship. As they aren't defining the connection, they can simply enjoy and explore it. Some people say situationships help them understand how they really feel about a person and what they want from the connection. As they don't feel the same sense of obligation to the other person that they do in a relationship, they can be more in touch with what they want. However, situationships can also be challenging.

People in situationships may feel insecure about their connection and wonder where it is going, if it is going anywhere at all. Wondering about the future can lead to anxiety. They may feel low self-esteem and wonder if they are not good enough for the other person to commit to. They may also feel frustrated if they are emotionally invested, especially if the person they’re in a situationship with isn’t available for special events or difficult periods in their life. These feelings can lead people to negative behaviors like toxic communication and passive-aggressive actions.

A situationship can be a great thing if you are looking for something light and casual, but it’s important to take care of your own mental health. If a situationship is making you feel frustrated or insecure, it’s important to talk with the person you’re involved with.

Having a DTR talk can be scary, but it’s essential for transitioning out of a situationship that is no longer working for both parties. You should be honest about your feelings for the other person and what you want from your connection. Through a DTR talk, people in a situationship can learn whether what they want from the connection is compatible with the other person. They may decide to have a relationship, just be friends, or part ways altogether. They may continue having sex and transition into more of a friends with benefits arrangement, but as they both understand what they want it and how they feel about each other it is no longer a situationship.


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