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In a friends-with-benefits scenario, you start out as actual friends and go from there. In contrast, a situationship often begins with one or both people finding each other attractive, but you might not really get to know each other on a deeper level. The meaning of a situationship is when you get the physical benefits without any of the emotional baggage — or support — of an established relationship.
In this ambiguous scenario, things can get complicated fast. Here are 10 signs you’re in a situationship.
1. The Relationship Is Compartmentalized
In a romantic relationship, most people eventually introduce their partner to their friends and family. In a situationship, you may keep your partner separate from other aspects of your life. This is called compartmentalization.
For example, you might only see your partner on Friday nights at their house. You don’t go shopping together, visit each other at work, or even text each other throughout the week. They don’t meet your friends or family.
Compartmentalization is a sure sign of a situationship — say that five times fast!
2. You Don’t Make Long-Term Plans
There’s no talk of taking a vacation together six months down the road. You don’t invite them to your sister’s wedding next May, and they don’t tell you about the Phish concert they plan to attend in a few weeks. A situationship is all about last-minute meetups and short-term plans.
3. Other People Are Involved
If you or your partner are dating other people, that’s another giveaway of a situationship. Your partner might not clearly communicate that they’re seeing someone on the side — you could find out through social media or from your friends. Or, you might be the one casually seeing someone else and automatically assume your partner is OK with it.
In contrast to a romantic relationship, where you talk about your boundaries, a situationship has no clear rules about whether you can or cannot date other people. There is very little communication overall.
4. Your Conversations Are Shallow
Weather, sports, and work are your main topics of conversation outside the bedroom. You don’t know your partner’s deepest fears or their wildest dreams. They don’t confide in you when they need advice or make a mistake — not that you’d be comfortable giving them advice, anyway, since you don’t know where they stand on any major issues. What’s their middle name, again?
5. The Relationship Is Stagnant
Romantic relationships all move at different rates, but they do progress naturally over the years. You might see each other for a while, decide to become official, and move in together. You adopt a dog — or three! — and get engaged. Eventually, you may get married and decide to start a family.
Situationships don’t evolve. In fact, they usually don’t make it to the first milestone where you decide to become a couple. You’re stuck perpetually in the early dating phase. You may or may not even go on dates outside the house, which can lead to the relationship getting boring over time.
6. They Want to Keep Things Simple
“Keeping things simple” is code for, “I don’t want a serious relationship.” The truth is that committed relationships are complicated at times. You have to be there for each other when your grandparents die. You have to decide whose family to visit on Christmas and clean up after each other when you get food poisoning.
Of course, true relationships also offer an incredible sense of safety, love, and friendship that situationships don’t. It’s fine to keep things simple, but don’t expect your situationship partner to be there for you when times get tough.
7. There’s a Lot of Conflict
Although you like this person’s physical side, you have little to nothing in common when it comes to your life values. You may disagree on topics like religion, finances, or whether you want kids — if you broach these subjects at all. Consequently, a situationship is either extremely shallow or characterized by frequent arguments. It can lead to a great deal of anxiety and resentment for both parties.
8. You Don’t Use Labels
Calling someone your girlfriend, boyfriend, or even just friend helps clarify the meaning of the relationship. By its very nature, a situationship remains undefined.
Is this person interested in you as an actual romantic partner? Do they see themselves dating you in the future, or do they want a sort of friends-with-benefits relationship? You have no idea — and, frankly, you might not know what you want from them, either.
9. They Make Excuses
In a situationship, one or both of you avoids the conversation where you define what’s going on. If you express that you want to get more serious, they may dodge the topic or come up with excuses as to why they can’t commit. For example, they might say they’re too busy with work or that they travel too much to settle down.
10. You Feel Emotionally Unfulfilled
Because the focal point of a situationship is about getting physical, you might find your emotional needs are going unmet.
Your partner doesn’t tell you they appreciate you or make you feel secure about your quirks. They don’t call to wish you a good morning just for the sake of it. You secretly wish they’d ask how you feel about your recent health struggles, but neither of you has ever broached the subject.
In a situationship, one or both of you shows little interest in the other person’s complex emotional life. This can lead to you feeling frustrated or unfulfilled.
Living Your Best Life
There’s nothing wrong with being in a situationship if you and the other person like the arrangement. Some people are perfectly fine with keeping it casual, and that’s OK!
The important thing is to clearly define the relationship so you both know where you stand. If you make it through this tough conversation and agree you want to keep seeing each other, more power to you. If you decide to break the relationship off, there’s no shame in that, either. Find what makes you happy and go after it — whether that’s a situationship or something more serious.
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