In my 20s, I frolicked through many situationships. It was usually due to me wanting a relationship with a guy but him stringing me along to avoid commitment. We were doing everything people in relationships do but we weren’t in a committed relationship. Sounds extremely confusing right? Because it is. It is pure nonsense. But most people who end up in situationships don’t set out to be in them. Situationships just sort of happen. Before I jump in, let me give a clear definition of a situationship.
Situationship: A romantic relationship where you spend a lot of time with someone, have fun with them, you may even be intimate but you haven't discussed a commitment or a future.
Speaking from my own experience, my goal was always a committed relationship. I wanted to be somebody’s girlfriend, not somebody’s situation. But due to an eagerness to attach to men I thought were decent humans, I fell into this trap over and over and over. I would meet a guy and we’d start hanging out consistently, going on dates, and having sex, all without discussing what the goals of our scenario were. My feelings would get involved after so much time spent and I’d ask “What are we?” and he’d say something along the lines of “You’re cool and I enjoy the time we spend together but I’m not looking for anything serious right now.” I’d then die inside but create false hope that one day, he’d come around and see me as more than just a situationship. But that would never happen and eventually, I’d have to choose myself and walk away with the little dignity I had left.
After years of repeating this nonsense, I told myself I would never subject myself to that tomfoolery again and I made good on that promise. Here’s what I do now to avoid situationships.
Know What You Want and Say It
One of the main issues in dating today is a lack of self-awareness. Most people have no clue what they want so they just go around using other people until they figure it out. This is why you have to know exactly what you want to 1) avoid being used and 2) know exactly what needs to be said upfront. The reason most people fall into situationships is that intentions aren’t stated early on. When you don’t say what you want or what you need, your needs and wants will go unmet. This is why you must develop a habit of being entirely sure about what it is that you need and want. You must then practice saying these needs and wants out loud.
Many people avoid expressing their needs because they feel it’ll scare the people they like away. But isn’t that what you want? I feel like too many times we get so focused on the person that we fail to recognize that they can’t provide the relationship that we want. If your goal is a commitment, why would you emotionally invest in someone who doesn’t want that? It’s best to know where they stand in the beginning. Don’t waste time trying to convince someone to want what you want. Just wait for the person who does.
Understand the Risks
When people settle, it’s never because they woke up one day and said “let me accept less than what I want”. Most people just get tired of waiting and being alone so they just accept the next best thing. A situationship looks really appealing when you’re tired of being by yourself. You’ll start only focusing on the pros of having someone around, even if it’s at a limited capacity.
You’re thinking things like…
- I finally have someone to go places with
- They’re so fine
- I can Netflix and chill
- I can finally get some affection
But you’re ignoring the risks involved in entertaining someone that doesn’t fit your wants or needs. It’s truly a setup for disappointment. When you know you want a relationship, but you date someone who doesn’t you risk…
- Investing more effort and emotion than the other person
- Unrequited love
- Bitterness after realizing that person will never be who you want them to be
- Feelings of unworthiness after trying to figure out why you’re not “good enough” for them to commit to
Why would you want to subject yourself to these cons just to get a small dose of the pros?
Commit to Your Standards
A lot of people have standards, but only a few stand on them. Standards only work when you work them. I see too many people ignoring their standards because they like a person. Chemistry and feelings are great but that’s temporary. The reason most of us establish our standards is to avoid pitfalls from our past. I don’t date men who haven’t been single for longer than 6 months because I need to know I’m not a rebound. That’s a standard. I also don’t date men who refuse to go to therapy because that tells me he doesn’t take his mental health and growth seriously. That’s a standard. If I said “Let me ignore this boundary because he’s cute” then I’d be putting myself at risk for disappoint. The best way to avoid situationships is by committing to not engaging in a situationship. That is a standard.
Be Willing to Walk Away
This is the most important part of dating. You have to be willing to walk away. You don’t have to threaten to leave and boast about your ability to move on but you do need to have limits. These internal limits say “If he/she does xyz, then I walk.” In order to avoid siatuationships, you have to be willing to walk away when you find yourself in one. Unfortunately, people lie. You can follow all the tips I’ve listed and the person can seem to be on the same page as you but you still end up in a gray area. As soon as you sense uncertainty, bring it up. If you can’t get clarity or concrete answers, leave. It’s that simple. If they can’t commit to you, re-commit to yourself because you know you want more. You will find someone who wants what you want but you can only do that when you release yourself from the shackles of situationships.