Hands holding up signs with question marks on it

The situationship loop

‘Situationships’ are more than friendships; but less than relationships. They are pretty popular, but not everyone knows how to identify them.

Situationships vs hook-ups

A ‘situationship’ usually occurs when two people, who are physically and emotionally attracted to each other, refuse to commit to a serious relationship. This is not to be confused with a ‘friends with benefits‘ situation. While the latter is more about casual hook-ups, the former has real emotions invested.

In Nigeria, there are many young adults caught in this loop. You see them at the cinemas, beaches, and restaurants. They are enjoying their time together. They visit each other, talk about the individual plans they have for the future, might be intimate, and are vulnerable with the other person.
All the above sounds like a relationship, doesn’t it? So what sets a situationship apart?

The relationship is not defined

Neither of the partners can ‘claim’ the other person in public or even when discussing their lives with friends.

The classic answer to the question ‘Are you in a relationship with this person you are always talking to?’ will elicit the answer, ‘We are sort of seeing where things go’. Or the even more familiar line: it’s complicated.

Does this seem like something you have said before? Once more than thrice?

Here are some of the signs that you might be in a situationship:

  1. Frequent dates have morphed into chilling at home When you first met, there was a lot of getting ready for each other, being excited to see each other, and checking the internet for different activities that could be woven into a date.Now, the excitement still exists but in a watered-down version. You both become so comfortable that there is no real need to make an effort anymore.

    You’ve become complacent.

    Besides, staying at home is easier than dealing with the constant compliments from waiters who think you are a couple.

  2. You haven’t met each other’s friendsIt’s a ‘lips sealed’-situation. Those close to you know that you are spending a lot of time with someone but they have never met the person. There is no conscious effort to bring other people in as witnesses. Sometimes, you even withhold basic information, like their names, so nobody goes snooping on social media. This usually happens because with making it public comes the pressure to make it real.

  3. Routine sleepoversYou hang out, watch TV, play games, and sleep over from time to time. You may even have cooked together. But you can’t leave anything substantial, like a shirt or toothbrush, behind. Because it encourages the idea of permanence: it’s a silent declaration of a possible future. And neither one of you might not be ready for.

  4. No picturesThere is no visual record of the two of you together anywhere. Taking pictures together is simply something you do not do.

    If the memories of both of you are not physically stored, it’s easier to deny the existence of a pseudo-relationship.

  5. You are exclusiveThis is perhaps the most confusing part. Because even though it seems like you are floating in this relationship, you don’t have other partners. You genuinely like this person and if you go on other dates, they are trivial to you.Relationships without baggageThe beauty of situationships lies in its selective way of enjoying the benefits of a relationship without the baggage. Most people fly with it for a couple of months until a partner realizes that the feelings they have are in desperate need of validation.What do you do when you get fed up with the situationship? Have a conversation. It is a very difficult thing to do since you are emotionally invested and the conversation could either be the beginning of something beautiful or the end.Having a conversation where you lay out your feelings should make everything clear for both parties. If your partner would rather stick to the way things are and you are not comfortable with it, move on.
    Tell them how difficult it is for you to put your feelings aside and create physical space from them so that you grow apart emotionally.It will feel very much like a break-up, but with time, you’ll heal.

    If, at the end of this process, you are emotionally mature enough to handle a friendship, it can be initiated. But this time, set your boundaries at the very beginning. Have you been in a ‘situationship’ before? Share your story in the comments below or on our Facebook page, Love Matters Africa.

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