In today’s dating landscape, it’s easy to end up in endless limbo with a guy you have not explicitly defined as a relationship. Yet there’s a sliver of hope you cling to that it could turn into something serious and exclusive. There’s just one problem – it never does. Welcome to a situationship.
You might have convinced yourself that nobody dates exclusively anymore or puts a label on anything. That not having a clue where you stand at any given time is the status quo for dating these days. But that’s not true.
At first, a situationship can feel fun and exciting. But if you’re looking for something long-term, it will become incredibly confusing and unfulfilling really fast. So, what are some of the red flags you need to look out for that you’re in a situationship, and how can you detach from it and move on?
What is a situationship?
A situationship describes that phase between dating and an exclusive relationship. The term “situationship” hit an all-time high in Google’s search traffic in 2022 as more and more people find themselves in this relationship purgatory, not knowing where they stand but trying to stay cool about it.
In a situationship, you get none of the perks of being single or in a committed relationship. It doesn’t quite feel like you’re single, and there’s a huge part of you that is waiting for this to develop into something more. At the same time, you’re not in a relationship because you have not sat down with this guy and had the DTR (defined the relationship).
Even if you are acting like you’re in a relationship, he is probably acting like he’s still single. And yes, if you haven’t had the DTR, you should assume he is still seeing and sleeping with other women.
It’s this weird transitional stage full of uncertainty, and you have no idea if you’re coming or going.
Should you update your relationship status on Facebook?
Should you tell people you have a boyfriend?
Nope, you don’t.
Okay, well, what the heck should I do, Adam?!
The key difference between something causal and a situationship
There is no difference.
“Situationship” is a fancy way of saying “a casual, no-strings-attached relationship.”
The only difference is you hope it will become something more serious soon. But the truth is, this rarely happens. If a man wants to commit to you, he won’t waste any time doing so. You will not be confused about his intentions because he will make them clear.
12 Situationship red flags to watch out for
1. You never know where you stand
One of the biggest red flags that you’re in a situationship is if you never know where you stand and are constantly asking yourself, “what are we?”
As I said, there should not be confusion in a healthy, committed relationship. If a man wants to be in a relationship with you, he will make it very clear, and you will know where you stand.
Confusion happens when there’s a disconnect between what’s happening in reality and what you tell yourself in your head. Are you lying to yourself? Are you making excuses for his hot and cold or flaky behavior?
It’s time to disregard what this guy tells you (the audio) and start paying attention to his actions (the visual). If he tells you he wants to be with you but then goes out every Friday and Saturday night, and you don’t hear from him until Monday morning, that’s a clear sign that he isn’t as committed as he tells you he is.
2. He makes plans with you last minute
It requires effort to plan dates in advance, even for something simple like dinner or a movie. This shows that this guy cares about you and likes you enough to ensure you see each other regularly. A man who does want to pursue things with you and be in a relationship will make plans in advance with you, whether it’s a week, a month, or even more into the future.
But if this guy only hits up your phone last minute and asks to see you that same evening, it’s a situationship red flag.
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Don’t be that available for anyone! A high-value woman has an incredible life on her own and does not have time in her busy schedule to see some guy last minute like that. Be too busy with your career, friends, hobbies, and passions that when a text like that rolls through, you laugh at the audacity of it.
“Homeboy thinks I have nothing better to do than wait around for him to take me out…”
3. You don’t go out on actual dates
Is he trying to plan fun, exciting dates for you, dress up, take you out, and show you a good time? Be honest with yourself.
Casual “hangouts” where you chill in his bedroom or Netflix and chill do not count and are red flags of a situationship.
Another sign is if you have a warm, naked body to cuddle at night, but when it comes to your friend’s birthday parties, engagements, or weddings, you’re always flying solo. You see this guy all the time, but when it comes to important public events, he’s a no-show.
4. You only see him at night
Do all your “dates” happen late at night, like he hits up your phone at 2 AM asking what you’re up to and if he can come over?
But when it comes to the day, you never see him. Is he a vampire? What does he even look like with the sun on his face? Who knows?!
Sure, many dates happen in the evening, after work, and over dinner. But what I’m talking about is that after dinner, you only spend with someone if there is a cheeky sleepover on the cards.
5. And you always end up in bed
If you only see this guy at night and always end up having sex, you can bet you’re in a situationship.
You’re still in that early phase of getting to know someone, and this is when people are eager to date, share new experiences, and build memories together, which definitely includes activities out of the bedroom. So if sex is the only regular activity you engage in together, it’s not a relationship; it’s just sex.
You might be hoping that things will gradually progress into something more, but the more this continues, the more the chances of that happening decrease. He already has you in the palm of his hand and hasn’t had to do much work or make any commitments. Why would he want to change that when he can enjoy all the perks of being single when he’s not with you and of having a girlfriend when he’s with you?
6. Your connection is shallow
In a healthy, mature relationship, a deep emotional and intellectual connection will be present and always growing. You’ll be able to have serious conversations about all kinds of things, seek advice from one another, and be open and vulnerable.
One of the red flags you’re in a situationship is if your connection feels shallow and purely physical. There’s a lot of small talk and conversation centered on what you do in bed but not much else. Maybe you always try to steer the conversation in a different direction and build a deeper connection with him, but it never seems to lead anywhere. This is because he is not looking for anything serious with you. He wants sexual intimacy minus the commitment and responsibility of a relationship.
7. He is breadcrumbing you
Breadcrumbing is when someone gives you just enough time, attention, and affection to keep you interested but not nearly enough to qualify as relationship intent.
They might make a vague plan with you but never follow up with details. And they keep you holding on because they tell you they’ll “let you know soon” or will “talk about it later.” But there’s always a reason why it never happens.
It’s common for them to disappear for days or weeks at a time, then drop you a “hey, how are you?” text as if it was only yesterday you were sipping on a cool glass of rosé and chowing down on a bowl of spaghetti carbonara together.
Is this guy for real?
People do this because it creates an illusion of intimacy. But if you pause and think about it, you usually realize that you don’t know anything meaningful about this person.
8. You are the one putting in all the effort
When it feels like you’re putting in all the time, effort, and compromise to make it work, it’s one of the clear red flags that you’ve got a situationship on your hands.
If, nine times out of ten, you are texting, calling, making plans, and bending to his needs and schedule, that’s not a good sign. Relationships are two-sided. Situationships are one-sided.
And if you’re being honest with yourself, you keep making all the effort and don’t pull back because you know deep down that things would probably fizzle out. You are doing anything to prevent that from happening, including forgiving him when he bails on you at the last minute for the twentieth time and dropping everything (including your best friends) to see him when he messages out of the blue and says, “wanna come over to my place?”
You deserve so much more than this. It’s time to say, NEXT!
9. You haven’t met his world
If you’ve been seeing this guy for a few months, and you still haven’t been introduced to his close friends or family, that’s another red flag that you’re in a situationship. Does he even have any friends or family? Has he told you all his loved ones moved abroad to Australia when really they all live right around the block from him?
When a man wants to commit to you and make things exclusive, he will want you to meet what I call “his world.” He wants you to get to know the people he’s closest with, and he wants them to get to know you, too. This is a really important step in any relationship because you’ll spend much more time together if the relationship progresses.
If he’s stalling and giving you all the excuses he can think of to prevent you and his friends and family from meeting, it’s because he doesn’t see you in his future.
10. You’ve been dating forever and still haven’t had the DTR
I briefly mentioned the DTR earlier, a key part of Little Love Step #6, and setting boundaries for a committed relationship.
Maybe you’re too afraid to have “the talk” because you’re scared of being disappointed, or perhaps you keep trying to have it, but he’s giving you unclear answers and avoiding commitment like the plague.
Here’s what you need to know: if you have not sat down and explicitly said that you are in an exclusive relationship, you must assume that you are not. You are both still single. Assume that he is dating other women, and I encourage you to keep your options open and date other guys too.
It’s natural for the DTR to come up after you’ve been seeing each other for around three months. If that milestone came and went a long time ago, you’re in a situationship.
11. There’s no growth
In a healthy, committed relationship, you grow as individuals and together. Over time, you will build intimacy, physical attraction will fade and be replaced by emotional attraction, and you will get to know each other on a deeper level.
But in a situationship, this doesn’t happen. Your connection, at least for one of you, is probably purely physical. You spend more time together, but nothing changes. You don’t know him better than you did a month ago, and he doesn’t know you. It can feel like you’re going around in circles rather than moving up the stairs, which can be frustrating. Especially if you see other couples thriving and evolving around you, and you’re stuck in the mud with this guy.
12. You don’t ever talk about the future
In a relationship, the future always crops up. There’s a gourmet food truck festival next month in town, and he asks you if you’d like to go (and you’re a total foodie, so you say, “heck yeah!”). You’re looking to the summer ahead, planning vacations with the girls, and maybe a fun weekend away with him. You get an invite to Sally’s wedding and invite him as your plus one.
These are all normal things that happen when you progress your connection with someone.
On the other hand, if a guy always spouts vague lines like, “let’s just enjoy things how they are… why worry about the future?… let’s see what happens…” it’s because he doesn’t want to talk about the future and doesn’t think he needs to because this is not long-term for him. Or, you’ll also notice on the rare occasions when the future does crop up in his conversations, there’s a lot of “I” and no mention of you.
When should you end a situationship?
Now that you know the red flags that you’re in a situationship, let’s talk about how to navigate it if you find yourself in this position.
For some people, casual situationships suit them and their lifestyles. They’re not looking for anything serious or long-term and want to enjoy a bit of companionship and sex. And that’s cool – as long as that’s what you want and you’re both on the same page.
But if you end up in a situationship without intending to be in one, you want the commitment of a serious relationship, and this is starting to affect your mental and emotional health; it’s time to call it quits. It’s normal to feel attached to this guy, but he’s not worth the anxiety, frustration, and worthlessness you feel because of him.
Remember that situationships rarely progress into healthy, committed relationships. So if you’re burying your head in the sand, hoping you’ll get your happily ever after, it’s time to come down from the clouds and be real with yourself.
How to emotionally detach from a situationship and move on
If you’ve realized you’re in a situationship and want to know how to detach from it and move on, here’s my advice.
Think about the kind of man and relationship you’re looking for (this is what I call Little Love Step #2). Do this guy and the situation that you’re in match this? Do you want monogamy, or are you happy with an open relationship? Do you want the labels of boyfriend and girlfriend and to be able to make your relationship official, including on Facebook? Or are you happy keeping things secret and never holding hands together in public?
If you realize you want an exclusive, committed relationship that is constantly growing and feels two-sided, then it’s time to break up with this guy. Sit down, be honest about where you stand, and let him know that whatever you’re doing right now is no longer working for you.
Don’t give him an ultimatum hoping it will make him commit – it won’t because he has had plenty of time to commit if he wanted to. But stay strong with your position. Cut all contact with him, and move on. Give yourself some time to process the breakup and heal from it. And when it feels like enough time has passed, start dating again.
Are you stuck in a situationship that is going nowhere? Share your story with me in the comments below! Tell me what your next step will be to help you move toward the man and relationship you know you deserve.