Situationships are this flexible stage of a relationship that often get a bad rap because they may be layered with ambiguity and confusion. They do however work for a lot of people. Loosely described, a situationship is a phase between talking and being in a labelled relationship. It brings with it a lot of closeness, consistency, and fun. It also has the potential to bring uncertainty, confusion, and stress. At its very core, it is a dissipation of the inherent responsibility for each other’s emotional, physical, mental, and social support that a relationship carries. It is typically seen as a lite version of a relationship.
Q. I’ve been in and out of situationships because I don’t think I can commit at this point in my life. But nobody really knows much about it or talks about it enough and despite doing this for years I still don’t know how to handle situationships. Help!
Situationships are great when you know you don’t have enough emotional space to care and hold another person, but you still enjoy their company and want to keep them in your life. The word ‘relationship’ has also evolved into something laden with a deeper sense of responsibility and commitment, which not everyone may want to partake in. If you’re in a situationship, make sure that you’re okay being in one. Your expectations have to be appropriately balanced. Being in a situationship, while expecting the treatment of a relationship creates room for hurt. A situationship, like any other phase, requires the consent of all involved. Explain what the boundaries of your paradigm are - communication is incredibly important - any partnership is fluid and dynamic, and everyone needs to be on the same page. If you are not comfortable, reflect on what your needs are and express them. Being on the same page with your needs and expressing your feelings helps you and your partner avoid the more ambiguous parts of your partnership. Create spaces for you and your partner to share expectations and navigate your time together. Any romantic entanglement does carry with it a sense of ownership and responsibility - understanding each other’s take on your status will help you get more direction on where this is going.
Q. I’ve been in an all-consuming situationship for the past 3 years while I’m in a healthy relationship. I’ve been trying to end it, but I can’t seem to do it. How do I get out of a toxic situationship and move on?
It can be challenging navigating between two types of relationships with different people. Relationships are unique and none look like each other. Identify for yourself the aspects of your healthy relationship that make you feel fulfilled. Do the same with your situationship. Just because something isn’t perfect, or even great - doesn’t mean there isn’t something you’re receiving from it, that you want in your life. Taking the time to reflect on your needs will help you identify what makes it hard to step away.
A toxic relationship needs to be treated like a bandaid. You need a firm, decisive action, and a quick pull. Boundaries are typically the first to go - those need to be re-established. Once you’ve decided what you want out of this, make a plan. What communication channels, if any, do you want to remain open? If you see each other regularly, come up with suitable behaviours for you, as well as a back-up in case your boundaries are not respected. If there is a desire to stay friends, give yourselves a communication gap for a few months, before speaking again on a preset date. This will help you get some distance and the space you need to reevaluate.
If this is feeling draining, or even if you’d like some more insight into techniques you can use - consider speaking to a therapist who specialises in relationships. Toxic relationships are characterised by a power imbalance, emotional abuse, and manipulation - leading to feelings of being trapped, helpless, and unable to be assertive. The most common experiences are feelings of low self-worth, shame, and guilt.
A healthy relationship will be supportive and uplifting; people who take away your power do not make good partners. Each relationship has its own road, and sometimes things get rocky. It’s helpful to know how to keep going, or how to turn back.