Noncommittal relationships are so common, it seems that every day a new Urban Dictionary term is coined for something casual or something else. First, there was "booty call". Next: "friends with benefits." And now: "situationship."
A situationship is essentially a relationship that is not defined. So everything that precedes the DTR conversation (define the relationship), but the first few first dates follow.
Considering that all of these labels are (ironically) used to define otherwise label-free relationships, what's the deal?
"Online dating apps have created this paradox of choice," says Christie Tcharkhoutian, PhD, LMFT, a senior matchmaker with Three-day rule in Los Angeles. "We have so many options, it's hard to submit to that person, because when they go to the bathroom, we can just sweep." (Guilty as charged.)
Sometimes having undefined relationships is completely cool. It can be fun, sexually satisfying, even liberating. In addition, a situation ship gives you time to get to know someone without feeling compelled to make a decision, & # 39; Tcharkhoutian says.
The problem is that more often than not at least one partner captures & # 39; feelings & # 39 ;. And in a heterosexual relationship, it's usually the woman, says Abby Medcalf, PhD, a relationship expert, author, and speaker in Berkeley, California.
There is an actual physiological response that takes place when you are intimate with someone. More specifically, oxytocin is released when you have sex, hugs or even hugs, Medcalf says, and you cannot overrule it. Dang biology.
Once the emotions are built up, it blows completely into a situation shot. "You start feeling rejected because the person does not want you completely," says Medcalf.
So here's how you can see if you are actually on that road – and how you can stop in front of you crash and burn.
Signs that you are definitely in a situation ship
1. You only make plans for the short or the last minute.
People in relationships make plans weeks, months, sometimes years in advance. (I know … mind-blow.) People in situations use a more hourly and daily timeline.
"You are in a situation where you are not invited to meet family, and it is not obvious that you will see each other on the weekend or on vacation," says Medcalf. If all you get is invitations at the very last minute, take the hint: Dating that you are not their first priority.
2. There is no consistency.
An important attraction of a legitimate relationship is that you can count on seeing your person regularly and talking to him. Situation ships miss that.
"They don't ask you to hang out three times a week," Tcharkhoutian says. Or, even if they are a week, don't expect this to happen next.
Another day, another annoying dating trend that you cannot avoid:
3. They always have the same (vague) excuse.
"The work is really busy." "I have to go to the gym." "I am travelling." Sounds familiar?
These are excuses in a situation ship. In a relationship they lead to a plan B: "Let's celebrate when my presentation is last Thursday." "Do you want to run?" "I'll call you off the road."
If you have a relationship, you make time for your partner, regardless of what other life events are going on, says Tcharkhoutian. But in a situationship, she adds, there is no urge to solve problems. (Since that requires, you know, trouble.)
4. You usually speak small (and dirty).
Of course you know where the person lives and works, and maybe some general actions such as where they grew up or if they are a cat or a dog. But let's be real: you are more comfortable talking dirty than talking about your fears, uncertainties or lessons from previous relationships.
"Without confidence there is no vulnerability and without vulnerability there is no emotional proximity," says Medcalf. And silver emotional proximity is what situations are about.
5. You don't talk about the future.
Similarly, conversations in situation situations relate almost exclusively to the present ("What do you want to watch?" "Pizza or Thai?"). The logic here is pretty simple: if you don't take it long, why would you talk about it?
If you have not had a discussion about the future and what you are looking for, that could be a sign that you are in a situation, says Medcalf.
A situation ship is actually & # 39; just shared activities – hanging around here & there & # 39 ;, Medcalf notes. "It feels directionless."
6. They tell you they don't want to get serious.
The easiest way to know that you are in a situation ship: the person tells you that you are one, especially if the other person is a guy.
"Believe what they say," Medcalf explains. "Men are not complicated beings." (And, hey, at least they told you that.)
7. They show you who don't want to take them seriously.
When in doubt: open. Your. Eyes. "People will show you what they think of you through their actions," says Medcalf. "If they don't call, they just aren't in you like that." Some things never change.
8. You are often anxious.
Only because situations are expectations-free (Do you want to cancel plans? Nbd. Don't want to bring soup when they are sick? Not necessary!) Does not mean that they are stress-free.
"You know that you are in a situation where you feel anxious because there is uncertainty, ambiguity and ambivalence," says Medcalf.
9. You are bored.
Research shows that new and different things stimulate the brain's reward system and flood it with feel-good chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine). That neurological reward system happens to be the same part of the brain that lights up in the early stages of romantic love.
Every relationship expert will tell you that keeping a relationship alive means that you constantly have new experiences with your partner. But in a situationship you probably do the same thing over and over again – Netflix and chill – and yes, even that can get old.
"If it is vague, has no direction and has no structure, it will grow old and it will no longer be fun," Tcharkhoutian confirms.
Okay, so you're definitely in a situation. What now?
If you are cool with what you have and want to keep it that way, first ask yourself: Am I really?
"In some respects we may be fine with an accidental situation, but we may also think:" If this is what they need, that's fine, I can adapt to that, "says Tcharkhoutian.
Make sure that you do not depress your own needs and wishes just because you want to satisfy someone else. (Or because you think their feelings might change … maybe never.)
If you are really aware of the sitch, set some limits. Are you going to talk about who else you sleep with? Are you going to do overnight stays? Are you going to hang out just the two of you or with each other's friends? "Be clear that you are both on the exact same page with the same expectations," Medcalf advises.
And if you really want more, speak. Say: "I enjoyed spending time with you," says Tcharkhoutian. Then tell them what you like or appreciate them and finally ask about their thoughts on where things can go.
If they come up with an excuse for the coincidence scenario without an end date – "Work is crazy" instead of "After my real estate exam I could record more" – don't expect things to change.
Anyway, "go in with a very clear limit of what you can and cannot accept," says Medcalf. "You call the shots."
Yep, you heard me: YOU have control of this & # 39; ship.