Are you in a situationship? I promise, I didn’t make up that term. Psychotherapist and author Jonathan Alpert defines it in this way, “Less than a relationship, but more than a casual encounter, a situationship refers to a romantic relationship that is, and remains, undefined.
A situationship is that space between a committed relationship and something that is more than a friendship.” This isn’t the only way to describe this type of relation. Maybe, just like the Korean dating trend, you have become someone’s, “Some.” Based on the song from SoYou and Junggigo, it portrays a relationship where the ambiguity is clear. If you’re not sure, check out their video. Does that sound familiar?
If it does, you are not alone. Many of the clients I’ve met with have described a similar scenario. You haven’t had the DTR (define the relationship) talk, but you are spending time together, you are flirting, you are parking your cars near each other. They are the first people that you contact when there’s news to celebrate and the first person who offers you a shoulder to cry on. You have emotionally, spiritually, and maybe even physically, felt connected to them and yet, the relationship remains undefined.
So What Do You Do?
It starts in the same place that change always occurs: with acknowledgement and noticing that that is where you are in your relationship. There’s no judgement, friends. Most, if not all of us, have been in a situation-ship. You are ahead of the curve just by naming it for what it is.
Next, I want you to consider, are you comfortable with this level of ambiguity? For some, ambiguity is your jam. It comes with low commitment, low expectations and minimal pressure. You are free to “be you.” My clients who are more avoidant in their attachment style may flourish with this arrangement. They can maintain their sense of independence without having to worry about the closeness of the relationship.
If ambiguity is unsettling to you, you get to decide how long you can manage to be in that space. All relationships, especially in the beginning, have some level of unsteadiness while you’re getting to know one another. It’s important not to hold too tightly to defining the relationship before it’s time to define it. However, if your intimacy level in your friendship seems to be increasing, but the commitment level isn’t matching it, it may be time to have a DTR.
How To Have a DTR
Okay, there’s usually no way to avoid the awkwardness and vulnerability that comes with speaking your feelings and intentions out-loud. Yet, even with that glowing recommendation 🙂 it is still worth it to be clear in your mind and heart to the best of your ability if you are hoping for this situation-ship to become a lasting and sustainable relationship. So, be brave and consider starting the conversation off in these few ways:
- “I have really enjoyed our time together. I’d like to take a few minutes to see if we are on the same page with the closeness that we seem to be forming…”
- “I’m so glad that we are getting to know each other better. You’ve become an important person to me. Would it be ok if we took a couple of minutes to discuss where we think this relationship is headed?”
- “I’ve noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time investing in our relationship. Things happened so fast! Can we talk about where we think we are in our friendship?”
Once you broach the topic, be prepared that their response may be different than what you anticipated. It may in fact, be different than what you need, and that’s okay. Feel free to cut your losses at that point and keep moving forward.
“I Don’t Want To Come Off Too Pushy”
For those who are hesitant to have that conversation, maybe as a female, you feel that the male should be taking the lead. Maybe as a male, you do not want to come across “too desperate.” Or, maybe you feel that it’s just not the right timing. I certainly respect that, and I mostly operated under a similar principle of letting the guy take the lead. However, you still have power or control to protect your heart.
So in the meantime, do your best to have your behaviors, emotions, time and physical actions match where you think the level of commitment is at. For instance, you don’t need to meet that person’s parents right now. You don’t have to go as their plus one to an event. You don’t need to be available to them instantly when they reach out to you. This isn’t a blog about how to “follow” the rules, but more so to show you that you can be empowered, even in a situation-ship.
If you’d like more help discerning if what you’re in is a situationship, or want someone to help you process through this confusion, know that I am here. Just reach out and call.
Written by therapist Pamela Larkin
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