Whether you are in a situationship or relationship may be a matter of timing and progression.
Situationships are another term for ‘hanging out’ or when two people who are exploring a ‘thing’. Its considered a casual relationship without a label.
Relationships, in contrast, usually start out serious because two people have strong feelings for one another. As a result of this close connection, they agree to a monogamous relationship.
As a psychologist, I’m ambivalent about the casual relationship. On the one hand, casual dating is the new norm, on the other hand, for a man or a woman who hates the uncertainty of the situationship it feels like a game. You lie in bed at night wondering what the heck am I doing? The ambiguity of your current situation drives you crazy.
In this post, I want to look more objectively at casual relationships. The truth is many relationships that start out as casual do become more serious. The causal relationship allows two people to ‘test drive’ a person to see how you compatible before committing. You get to know each other in an organic, less pressured situation. The trick is to figure out what type of situation you are in? Everyone’s situation is unique and if you do decide you want more how best to have ‘the relationship talk.’
PROS OF BEING CASUAL
Casual relationships are the new trend. They have become more popular for the following reasons:
- a cure to loneliness
- the benefits of sex without the responsibility.
- usually, require less time.
- a good way to practice relationships.
- you don’t have to worry about missing out on other potential partners.
- you can text someone when things suck and get support.
- a cheaper solution to dating.
Another reason that the situationship has become so popular is the need for more information and time to see if deeper feelings develop? Both men and women can worry, sure they might be cool up front, but what are they really like? The causal relationship allows two people to ‘test drive’ a person to see how compatible they are before committing.
CONS of a relationship
While it may sound like a #relationshipgoal to become more serious, might there be some disadvantages as well? Once in a relationship, a partner can easily relax into their role and as a result they lazy or sloppy. They can take you for granted and start making assumptions. “Hey, you are my girlfriend,” you should put up with my bad behaviors.
The tricky part about the casual relationship is when one person catches feelings before the other. The person who is struck by cupid’s arrow is then not sure what to do?
You wonder, “do I say anything? or should I be patient and hope it naturally progresses? Do I move on to someone who is certain about me to avoid having awkward talks? If I do bring up how I feel, might I risk losing my current situation or worse yet, get rejected?
FEAR OF CONFLICT
For many people, they have the fantasy that if this person was perfect then things would progress naturally and there would never be a need to talk about it. This also presumes that two people are on the same page, which is seldom the case.
A person can be so afraid of conflict or talking about their situation that they leave without any explanation. Hey, that’s part of the deal, I’m not responsible for your feelings. Some 80% of Millennials report that the biggest problem in casual relationships is that they have been ‘ghosted’. People think it’s easier to start fresh than to confront difficult feelings. However, when you ask people what they would have preferred instead and 90% said they would rather know directly.
what are my chances?
In real life, many relationships do start out as casual and do progress. You probably know many couples who have successfully managed the transition from casual to serious. Despite what people think of relationships as not working out, people do commit, get married and have good relationships.
No one knows whether your situation is going to turn into a relationship except the two people involved. Are your odds, 50/50 or 80/20?
In order to get a better assessment of your unique situation, you must keep your eyes open. Stay alert and aware. Watch what a man says to you and what he does. His behaviors are more telling than his words. He might tell you that he wants a relationship but he only calls you late at night and isn’t making time for you.
In order to find out more about him, you can ask about his history, like how many relationships he has had in the past. But be careful, just because he has had girlfriends in the past doesn’t mean you will be next. It’s easy to get caught up on his words or his past, but if he never catches feelings for you, it won’t matter what he says he wants.
deciding what you want?
The problem is when the person who has more feelings now feels trapped. They started out agreeing to be casual but now they feel jealous and possessive. You might have even agreed to being casual but that is not what you wanted. Your question is, how do I know they aren’t having a situation with someone else?
If this is you, and you now have enough information about your partner that you want a relationship, you have the following options:
- wait and see if it develops naturally.
- bring it up and speak openly about your goals.
- walk away and hope that he misses you and comes back.
Deciding to have ‘THE TALK’
While secretly you hoped that your situation would progress naturally and you wouldn’t be in this situation, but here you are.
If you have enough information that you are a good team, that he may be open to a relationship and that this is what you want, ask yourself, “what is the worst case scenario?” If my feelings are not reciprocated, can I live through it? Only you can weigh out your options. While you may have strong feelings and feel trapped you do have options, you can wait, bring it up or leave.
WHAT TO SAY?
If you do decide to be direct, good for you. Try not to put too much weight on the talk but to bring it up in a way that doesn’t feel like a confrontation. A man can get freaked out by the words, “we need to talk.” By the time you say anything, you are already confused, anxious or feeling resentful. You don’t completely trust him and the talk doesn’t go well because you lead with negativity.
You are responsible for relaxing yourself, approach the topic in a positive way and think of things turning out well. It’s helpful to think through possible scripts. Here is some food for thought:
- Say something like, “I think we are good together. I really like hanging out with you, but I want to see what a relationship with you would be like. What do you think?“
- If the person is still not sure, scared or ambivalent, try digging deeper. “I know when we met you said you were not looking for anything serious and you didn’t have the time. However, we do spend a fair amount of time together. and you do treat me like your girlfriend. Have you changed your mind “What is it about a commitment that scares you?”
- Join with the feelings. “I’m scared too, but being in a relationship doesn’t mean we have to get married.“
- State the benefits of being more serious. “I know myself when I’ve been in a committed relationship I can relax. I don’t have to worry about what else you are doing. We can see what we really have here.”
Casual relationships are very common, however, not impossible to negotiate. Even if a ‘thing’ starts out with no title, rules or expectations, people are not robots and can change how they feel.
Before you give up on your current situation or ghost them, why not take a risk and ask for what you want?
Most men say they would prefer a woman to be direct instead of playing games. What is more important than a label is how two people treat each other. Two people have to be sensitive to one another but also authentic.
If you are willing to share your time and your body with someone they deserve your respect and sensitivity.
All you can do is to be responsible for is your end of things. Ask yourself, how did I handle myself? At least if you feel good about your end you can move on and keep looking for what you want. Even if this particular situation doesn’t work out remember your future relationship will benefit from you having good communication skills. Good for you!