Understanding Relationships Has Always Been Hard, And Situationships Make Things More Confusing. But Are They Bad?
Anyone who has read this blog before will know that I am not a fan of situationships. I like boundaries, communication and honesty, and situationships are famously not places where these virtues thrive. I find it a little strange that someone would want to be in a position where another person could get up in their genitals but not be able to have a clear conversation.
There are some people who love a situationship. Their argument is that relationships can be a lot of pressure, and something casual where you can enjoy the opportunities life brings may well be more fun. I see this, but I would counter that therefore you should figure out an open relationship with respect and understanding. Situationships, to me, usually end in one person drunkenly crying and a lot of (admittedly amusing) gossip for their friends.
Apparently, I am increasingly alone in my views. Tinder’s annual information suggests that more people on their site are looking for causal and undefined relationships. To be fair, this is Tinder and it’s not exactly the place where you go for serious and defined relationships. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a lot of fun, but it isn’t where people tend to go to meet their future spouse.
How do we define situationships?
Perhaps I should backtrack a little. What actually is a situationship? Ironically, it’s a little hard to define and means something different for everyone. As far as I’m concerned, it’s when two people hook up and spend time together without officially formalising it as a relationship or friends with benefits. It’s more than dating, and there’s almost always a sexual component. It could develop into a relationship, or it could not, and for me, that ambiguity is infuriating. It seems to indicate a situation where one person could be promiscuous and hurt the other party’s feelings but use the “get out of jail free” card by not clearly stating any rules.
Life is complicated
The defence, I suppose, is that life is complicated and relationships are messy and some people just do not enjoy rules. Someone who travels a lot might have different paramours in different cities, or single parents might want a little on-the-side stress relief and companionship, or a person might not have the emotional energy for a relationship but still be interested in sex. There’s nothing wrong with any of this. I can also see that without clear communication about what the interaction is, someone would easily get hurt.
Are situationships romantic relationships?
To add another element of ambiguity to the situation, one has to decide whether a situationship is a type of relationship. Linguistically, this is a little difficult. A relationship is any kind of regular interaction between two parties, so I have professional relationships and personal relationships and familial relationships. So in that way, yes, a situationship is a type of relationship. There is also an implied romance inherent in situationships, too, given that there’s some kind of dating, intimacy and sex. Therefore, could one argue that situationships are romantic relationships? Instinctively, I want to say no. Perhaps therein lies the subtlety which offers the grey area that people respond well to.
Sexual liberation and situationships
Situationships are, of course, casual and part of Western culture which creates space for promiscuity and sexual freedom. It feels that it could easily be traced to hippy culture with free love and a desire to not feel trapped by conservative ideals of nuclear families and marriages where there’s one woman, one man and no divorce. I think it’s crucial that we do not unquestioningly accept heteronormative ideals and are allowed to take time and understand ourselves and what we want. I like the idea of living life where you’re allowed to do what you want – provided you understand laws and responsibilities. Here’s the rub: if you spend time with someone, have sex with them and confide in them, do you not have some responsibility to respect them and their feelings? And therefore, isn’t it a good idea to make sure you understand what you mean to each other?
I know that life is not black and white. Things get messy, people make mistakes and we all rely on each other in various ways. Perhaps I try to stick to an ethical code for dating because
- I don’t want anyone to be upset by my actions and
- I’d like to try and have a clear understanding of expectations as I navigate life. For me, situationships are antithetical to these ideas.
Confused boundaries are a recipe for hurt feelings, and that’s not something I want to experience or inflict. So if your situationship works, then great! But I’ve seen too many people crying and confused to trust in a situationship, myself.