Sometimes life needs to lack direction. I think if my past self saw me typing that sentence, she would have a fit. I do believe in this sentiment, especially in the realm of relationships. Countless times I’ve heard the ever-repeated, slightly-existential sentence “you either get married or break-up”, pertaining to relationships. A common factor in this mindset is the focus on the scarily close-yet-distant future, rather than your current goals or stage of life. Whole-heartedly, I believed that relationships had to be a linear progression to marriage, or a linear progression that leads to stagnation, everything blowing up in your face, then, you’re left at square one: wine-drunk on your bedroom floor listening to All Too Well by Taylor Swift on an endless loop. The next thing you know, you’re starting your linear progression to marriage again, with someone either eerily similar to the person who shattered your heart in the first place or the complete opposite. What I’m trying to say during this mangled introduction is that relationships are often more beneficial when they deviate outside the norm. I’m not saying break up with your long-term partner in favour of someone to just “chill” with, I’m saying that a situationship can be an exciting break from the dating mill that most find so appealing (until it isn’t).
The definition of a situationship is totally up to who is actually in it. It’s a unique experience that I believe can cater perfectly to the people in them. They can be more or less committal, there can be certain boundaries in some that aren’t present in others. It totally depends on what’s right for you (and the other person). That’s why it’s also essential to point out that, if this does not sound appealing to you in the slightest, you can try to have another relationship that works well for you and your partner’s needs.
First, in an attempt to not sound like Carrie Bradshaw, I’ll explain how I came to this conclusion through largely anecdotal (but still valid) evidence. I promise not to say ‘I couldn’t help but wonder…’
My dating life previously had a lot of long term relationships. They were great, they were fun, and I definitely learned something from all of them. My problem was that I got in and out of these relationships very quickly. I think my record amount of time single was around a month. Every time I felt a breakup looming, I would look and see who the next contestant was to fill the role as my partner. At the time, I thought that these long term, serious relationships were right for me and fit into my life perfectly. Despite this sentiment during the relationships, hindsight showed that I actually hurt people by doing this, yet I couldn’t stop. I finally broke my cycle at the beginning of the fall semester last year. I was very much single and wanted to heal but still desired the intimate vulnerability that having a partner gave me. At the time, I also wanted something fun yet relaxing, and I believed a relationship was the only way to fulfill this.
Here is where the dreaded situationship comes in. I decided to add dreaded because I feel that the concept of situationships has become overburdened through its negative connotations via word-of-mouth. A situationship has become so dreaded or unwanted because it appears to exist outside the linear progression of a relationship. In the past, I would avoid situationships at all costs, or try to convert them into something that lays along the ‘natural’ progression of a relationship. I fell victim to the belief that you have to meet the love of your life in university. Endlessly hearing stories from friends or even friends’ parents about their whirlwind college romance that allowed them to find their life-long partner made this concept so alluring. But in reality, university is such a diverse and layered experience. I entered university thinking ‘yes, it’ll be four (or more) years of unadulterated drinking and studying, but I also must find the love of my life.’ A little bit irrational, if you ask me. I realize I sound jaded or maybe a bit spiteful, but I’m trying to say that the traditional mould of pressure to find a lasting relationship might not be everyone’s cup of tea in university.
A situationship is something that really does not have a definition (you can tell because I still haven’t really given you a solid definition). I see it as someone who can minutely fill the roles of a traditional relationship, but without the intense pressure to fulfil the end goal of marriage or devastating break up. I’m absolutely not saying that they are without chaos or heartbreak (because I have seen plenty go down that route) but rather there is a mutual understanding that at the end there is no creation of a new crying playlist nor is there the long walk down the aisle. My situationship, after a long string of diving headfirst into relationship after relationship, taught me that relationships can serve to teach you something about yourself or other people. I learned that codependence and plunging into the security of a long term relationship ultimately led to failure and heartbreak. I was getting into these relationships selfishly, not because I genuinely liked the other person as a partner, but just because they were there to quickly fill that role. I knew they would end in utter heartbreak or risk being carried out for a tad bit too long until we ultimately decide that we hate each other when it’s too late.
A situationship is different in my eyes because I could break that selfish security cycle that I found myself in. I saw this linear relationship trend and my firm, headstrong belief that it should be that way, and I used it as a vehicle of change within myself. A good situationship is the mutual understanding of ‘you know what yeah, this isn’t going anywhere, but I’m fine with that.’ I don’t see it as a vestige used for the terminally non-committal.
I asked some of my friends why a situationship actually benefited them. I got a few answers absolutely condemning the concept of situationships, but I reminded them that there was, perhaps, a lack of reciprocity in their expectations. Some of my other friends agreed with my sentiments about how beneficial they can be. After a string of extremely unhealthy and negative relationships, one of my friends just wanted someone to hang out with and take a mental break from constantly being exhausted by their partner. Another friend responded to my question with: “I’m not exactly sure what the appeal of it is. I just like the idea of being able to grow with someone on a friendship based level. They serve their purpose. If it’s right for you at the moment, and the other person is on the same page, go for it.”
I have to agree. Sometimes, life needs to lack direction and if it’s right, go for it. I’m really not trying to force it down your throat, but I believe that situationships don’t deserve the bad rap that they receive. Sometimes they just happen and you learn and you part ways as if you’re two coworkers that are both moving onto other jobs. I’ve learned a lot from being in a situationship. I broke patterns that were hurting myself and others. So you don’t need to dread falling into a situationship, because if you’re alright with it, you can learn a lot. The concept of relationships and dating does not always need to follow a certain direction towards an end goal. Relationships can, and should sometimes, lack direction. And that is always okay.
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: JOE WEBB ART