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Man and woman in a "situationship" on a casual outdoor date


No-commitment couplehood can be fun, but are you cut out for it?

M.J. Santos   |   Fri, 25 Aug 2023

Hang on to your hats, elder millennials and beyond, because this week we’re discussing a modern dating concept that’s as vague as the name suggests ...

Meet the situationship.

"Situationship" describes the undefined space between casual dating and a serious relationship ... a weird gray area where you aren't really single but you're also not "taken." Situationshippers don’t discuss labels, exclusivity, or the future. Emotional depth? Uh, don’t know her.

Reader, if you're perplexed, that's kind of the point. Situationships are hard to define because the terms of the relationship fluctuate moment to moment, situation to situation. Some weeks you hang as frequently as a committed couple; other weeks you barely interact beyond late-night booty calls. It all depends on which way the wind blows.

While there is a lot of fun to be had in this in-between type of relationship, you can’t navigate it successfully unless you truly understand – and accept – what it entails. How do you do that? Start by considering the scenarios we present below. A little self-reflection goes a long way in determining if you're cut out for no-commitment couplehood.

Consider the pros and cons of situationships

Before pursuing a situationship, it’s essential to consider the pros and cons of romance in the gray zone. The more neutral you feel about both ends of the spectrum, the better suited you are to this type of relationship.

As I see it, situationships come with two main benefits. The first big perk is that they entail far fewer emotional and logistical expectations than a traditional relationship. You're not required to be an emergency contact, have daily heart-to-hearts, or attend every family gathering. It’s almost like having a “lite” version of a relationship – all the good times without the obligations. Second, being in a situationship doesn’t pin you down. You still have the freedom to date new people, flirt, and keep your options open. It’s the sweet spot for those who like companionship but aren’t quite ready for commitment.

On the flip side, there are two big cons to situationships. For one, uncertainty can be taxing, and situationships sometimes feel like a constant guessing game. “What are we? Where is this going? Is there an expiration date?” While some people find it thrilling to walk this tightrope, others feel the stress is not worth the high. Plus, let’s not forget the potential for heartbreak. Like any romantic entanglement, one person might develop stronger feelings than the other. The casual nature of a situationship means that it can end abruptly, leading to confusion and deep sadness.

Man and woman in situationship. Woman looks over man's shoulder as he texts with another love interest.

Self-reflect and contemplate boundaries before you pursue a situationship

Once you understand the pros and cons of a situationship, you need to ask yourself if you’re emotionally built for a no-strings-attached vibe that lasts indefinitely. (Hi, relationship purgatory!) Can you handle frequent micro-rejections? Long periods of silence? Hot-then-cold behavior? It’s all part of the situationship deal, so if the answer is no, steer clear.

Even if a situationship sounds like your idea of paradise, it’s still important to contemplate what you would and wouldn't accept from a partner. “Undefined” doesn’t have to mean “anything goes.” Understanding your needs beforehand will help you determine if you're ready for a situationship and make it a better experience once you're in one.

Recognize that situationships have an expiration date

At some point, the stakes of your situationship will start to shift. It's inevitable that you or your partner will realize you need more (or less) from your arrangement, upsetting the balance of an already precarious scenario. Ask yourself if you can function and enjoy a situationship while knowing that that day is on the horizon.

Similarly, know that you may need to speak up (or simply walk away) when you notice a change in dynamic. If you start to catch real feelings, own up to it. If the situationship drains more than it replenishes, protect your peace by peace-ing out.

So, are you situationship material?

A situationship can be a joyous and freeing experience for some, especially if both parties are on the same page. But if you’re a person who craves clarity, it will be hard to accept the ambiguity inherent to this type of relationship. Be sure to know yourself first, then proceed with caution.

Bottom line, whether you're navigating the waters of official romance or steering through the fog of situationships, the key is to enter a relationship with your eyes open ... and then insist on a foundation of mutual respect and understanding. (Oh yeah, and have fun. After all, isn't that what dating’s all about?) Whatever your "ship,” make sure you're both aboard with a clear destination in mind. Safe sailing, mateys.


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