The gray area between being in a relationship and just casually dating someone can be one of the most confusing and frustrating dating scenarios.
Have you ever been in a “sort of” relationship with someone? You behave like you’re in a relationship, but the terms haven’t been agreed on. You may have the physical intimacy or the emotional connection or the stellar chemistry, but you haven’t really labeled yourself as being in a relationship. There’s a term for that in our ever-evolving modern dating world: the situationship.
In a situationship, you don’t really feel single, but you also don’t feel like you are in a committed relationship. It is some sort of no man’s land that falls in between. Navigating this grey area can be quite the challenge, even for those who have been in it for a while.
If you go about your situationship correctly, you can get the best result wherein you can transition from just dating to being in a serious relationship. But if you do it incorrectly, you can stay stuck in the grey zone for much longer than you would like.
So, why are you still stuck in a situationship?
Luckily, it is possible to figure out why you are still stuck in that situation. Once you can figure out why you are still stuck, then you can draw a conclusion as to what is the most appropriate course of action to take next.
#1 You have really mixed feelings for the person. Perhaps the person is very physically attractive or mentally stimulating, but you don’t feel a deep emotional bond with them. Partial satisfaction can, at times, prevent you from completely moving on from the person, for fear *or in some cases, hope* that an emotional connection will eventually form.
You get enough of what you want to keep it going, but not enough to really commit to it. In this situation, it may be best to just break it off completely with the person. There is probably someone else out there whom you are fully compatible with. Taking the time to find another, more compatible mate can be a truly worthwhile investment. [Read: 10 ways to read mixed signals and turn the signs into love]
#2 You don’t feel like being completely single. You might have had a bad break up a little while ago, or maybe you were just feeling lonely. But at any rate, you just don’t want to be completely by yourself right now. This can cause you to settle for a situation that you’re not fully into.
But who knows, perhaps after a few weeks or months of the situationship, you may be ready to go back to the single life and start looking again.
#3 You don’t feel like being in a full relationship. If you are a commitment-phobe, this could be why you’re still stuck. You may actually really like the person a lot, and they may, in turn, like you just as much, but you had a bad experience in your last relationship, so you are afraid to take the leap.
If you think this might be you, now would be a good time to reflect on the past, and see if you can find some way to get closure from your past relationship experience. After all, you don’t want to miss out on a great new relationship because you have too much emotional baggage from your previous one. [Read: 10 signs you’ve got the fear of commitment]
#4 You’re too distracted. If your life is extremely busy, you may simply not have the time to process things like dating. You may have set up a friends with benefits situation, without even really realizing it.
With work, school, your family, or other priorities in the way, there may simply be too many demands for your time and energy already. This could be preventing you from taking the next step with the person you’re dating. It may be a good idea to sort out your priorities before settling for a “sort of” relationship that you can’t fully invest in.
#5 You don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Staying in an in-between type situation with someone you aren’t that into may just be your way of not trying to hurt the person’s feelings. Maybe you know you are ready to move on, but you haven’t found anyone better yet, so you think, “why not just spare their feelings for a little while?”
In the grand scheme of things, you’re just holding yourself and your partner back from finding what you both truly want. Kind as it may seem to spare your partner’s feelings, in the long run, you’re just preventing them from venturing out and exploring other options. [Read: 12 signs you’re being selfish in a relationship]
#6 You’re too lazy. Although this explanation is really simple, it may be something that you have overlooked. Once you start hooking up with somebody, you can just get into a routine. If you are feeling a little bit lazy, that routine can be hard to break out of.
It’s true that dating around until you find someone you really like can take a lot of effort, but simply settling for someone who’s readily available will just end up making you complacent. After all, nothing worth having ever comes easy.
#7 You’re afraid that your friends won’t like the one you’re dating. If you are worried that your friends won’t like the person whom you are seeing, you may be procrastinating taking it to the next level. Once you start officially dating someone, your partner will inevitably become more integrated into your life. This often means meeting and hanging out with your friends.
If you know that your friends are most likely not going to accept your potential new partner, the emotional disparity caused by being with someone they don’t approve of can take its toll on your emotions. So in order to prevent the awkwardness of seriously dating someone your friends won’t approve of, you’re just settling for a situationship. [Read: 13 signs your friends are ruining your relationship for you]
#8 You’re worried that the relationship wouldn’t work out. For one reason or another, you may think that entering a full relationship with the person you are seeing just won’t work. It could be because the person has a job that may require them to move far away, or maybe there is a large age gap, or maybe you just don’t have enough in common.
In this circumstance, you may really like him or her, but you know that things won’t get anywhere. Yet you just can’t seem to break up with the person. So you have to ask yourself, should you stay with someone you won’t have a future with or should you break it off to find someone else?
#9 The situation is actually filling some need that you didn’t know that you had. Maybe after years of dating the same type of people, you just needed to have a different experience. So you started hooking up with someone who is quite different from your usual type.
In your mind, you may view it as just a casual fling. But, it may actually be giving you something that you crave, such as validation, a sense of adventure, a shallow but consistent emotional connection, or just really great sex.
In this case, try to see if they can offer you much more than just what you’re craving for. If they can, why can’t you start a real relationship? But if they can’t offer anything else, is being in a situationship with them worth what you get in return?
Being in a situationship with someone would usually eventually progress to a real relationship or a breakup. But if you’ve been in this dreaded grey area for way too long, it may be time to think of why you’re stuck, so that you can either progress as a couple or break free.
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