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Relationships

15 Situationship Red Flags and How to end a Situationship?

Situationships are often observed in a bad light; the possible explanation could depend on the massive misconception we have about the term. Regardlessly, a situationship can soon become a troublesome encounter in your life if you don’t observe and restrict these situationship red flags that come along. 

Often, many individuals don’t mind crossing boundaries and red flags because they think they are somehow protected by the term “situationship.” However, a situationship doesn’t give individuals the right to be a douche, disrespectful, or toxic. That’s why it’s necessary to understand the actual definition(s) of a situationship and its red flags before you fall for their famous “Chill, we are not exclusive!” escape. 

girl crying over a situationship

In simpler terms, a situationship can be an exploring opportunity for many individuals who don’t want to commit for the time being. Of course, it should be mutual between partners for it to be an opportunity. Situationship allows individuals to get to know each other better without the fear of nagging commitment. 

That’s not the only definition of a situationship. It can also broadly define a trial phase before an exclusive relationship where individuals get to know each other before stepping into commitment. However, the scarcity of the correct terms to actually define situationship can lead many individuals into toxic connections. 

“We are just casual, I shouldn’t expect a romantic date from them.” 

Absolutely wrong! Casual dating doesn’t mean you settle down for less or boring stuff. Casual dating is supposed to be commitment-free, but it’s also supposed to be fun and exciting! 

What is a situationship? 

A situationship can include multiple situations between non-exclusive couples. 

It can happen between friends or strangers. Situationship lies somewhere between “more than friends with benefits” but ‘not a relationship” when two friends decide to give their undying tension a chance at romance. A serious relationship can rack the friendship between two people, so many choose to get involved in a situationship. 

It can also be called “casual dating” for couples who don’t want to commit. In such an equation, the interaction will include everything a relationship has except commitment. 

For strangers who meet online/offline, situationship is an excellent opportunity to get to know each other before getting into other serious stuff. 

However, in every scenario, it’s necessary to be on similar grounds before starting a situationship— undiscussed expectations can immensely hurt both parties.

Many consider situationship a casual hookup or another synonym for “friends with benefits.” That’s not true! A situationship can and will involve romantic intimacy along with sexual encounters. People would try to hook up with you in the name of situationship and provide you with the bare minimum. If you are in such an entanglement, please know it’s anything but a situationship. 

Signs you are unofficially dating.

  • Situationship can be called casual or unofficial dating.
  • You can go out on dates in a situationship and still keep it casual. 
  • People in a situationship can date others, but they should be transparent about the decision. 
  • It can happen between friends, strangers, colleagues, hookup partners, or one-night stands as long as it’s mutually acceptable. 
  • You talk to each other day and night; it still doesn’t seem enough. 
  • You genuinely enjoy spending time with them. 

15 Situationship red flags to keep in mind while casual dating. 

Treating a situationship like a hookup is one of the biggest red flags I have encountered. That’s not all, situationship can benefit many douches under the pretense. So, staying clear of these 15 situationship red flags is necessary to save yourself from toxic individuals and an unworthy dating experience. 

  1. Treating it like a hookup

A situationship is a phase where you get to know each other better and spend quality time together. While having sexual encounters does offer you quality time, it rarely allows you to actually “get to know each other.” 

There’s only so much you can know about the person while engaging in sexual activities with them. 

It’s a misconception that situationship are back-to-back hookups or a ‘friends with benefits’ sitch. 

A situationship does include commitment-free and passionate sex, but it also includes playful dates, fun meet-ups, romantic/engaging conversations, etc. Treating a situationship like a hookup is a red flag because it leaves you confused, used, and dull. No situationship should steal the “fun dating experience” from you. 

Your current casual partner might not be aware of the concept either. You can genuinely discuss and explain the idea of a real situationship to them. However, if you both have different expectations from the situationship, it’s better to leave and look for someone who’s on the same page as you. 

Situationship vs. friends with benefits

‘Friends with benefits’ solely focuses on a sexual relationship between two friends. On the other hand, a situationship includes romantic connection, non-physical attraction along with sexual intimacy. 

No romantic dates.

People get scared easily— why would anyone want a lifelong commitment right after a couple of dates, especially if you have already discussed the non-commitment deal. (If you haven’t, please learn about each other’s expectations from this connection) 

Romantic dates are a must in a situationship— how else would you get to know each other? Or, how else would you calculate if this “situation” is worth trying? 

  • “I don’t want to go on dates because I want to keep things casual.” 
  • “Please, don’t expect dates or romantic shit from me. We are not in a relationship.” 

A situationship shouldn’t treat you dispassionately— it should be full of compassion, romance, and hot sex(minus commitment). Anything less is below the bare minimum. 

Whether you are trying to work out a situationship or casually dating— romantic dates are a must. I ensure to entertain my date, be compassionate with them, and have meaningful conversations while also being clear about my commitment (or its lack of) 

If your situationship partner doesn’t entertain the night and drives right into sex— why are you even with them? You deserve playful dates and romance! 

It starts in the bed and ends in the bed.

  • Is sex the only highlight of your situationship? 
  • Do all your dates end in bed? 
  • Do all your dates start in their bed? 

“Hey, meeting at my place does count as a date.” 

Of course, it does! However, are all your dates held in your partner’s bed or yours? You should reconsider this situationship. 

Not every encounter with your “situationship partner” should confide within the boundaries of your/their bedroom. They should be more open, exploring, and unique. A house date sounds fun, but is sex the only thing you get offered at their place? Well, it’s a red flag because your partner might be only using you for casual hookups in the name of a situationship. 

A house date can include cooking together, having dinner, playing fun games, and spending the night on the terrace gazing at the stars, along with sex. It should never be just sex. 

There’s nothing wrong in hooking up with someone, but it shouldn’t be done in the name of a situationship. A situationship isn’t a hookup. 

Note how they treat you after having sex. Do they take an interest in after-care or do they leave immediately? Providing after-care after sex is basic decency. It speaks volumes about the type of person you are getting involved with. A situationship shouldn’t make you feel insignificant, less valuable, or a vessel for their desires. 

Avoiding the “where do we stand in the relationship.” 

Many individuals who want to indulge in a situationship often confuse “no commitment with no communication at all.” It’s dumb and ridiculous. 

It’s alright to mutually not want to commit, but that shouldn’t permanently seal your lips from having engaging conversations. It’s necessary to communicate about your boundaries and why you prefer a situationship. 

Do they run away whenever you ask, “where are we in the relationship?” Why run away? Be honest about your needs and expectations from the situationship. 

Not having proper communication can confuse both of you and hurt you badly, especially when you both don’t understand what falls and falls out of the term situationship.

Let me tell you, open communication and being vocal about your expectations is very much necessary in relationships, whether a situationship or not. It’s not a crime to ask your partner “where you both stand in the relationship.” If they make you feel wrong about openly discussing the situationship, that person is one scared cat. 

If I’m not ready for commitment, I let my partner(s) sincerely know without making them feel bad about having feelings. In fact, I always want to know how they feel about this situation to ensure I don’t hurt them unintentionally. 

If you both have different expectations, you should leave that situationship. It’s a red flag when they continue to force you into the situationship despite knowing your expectations and feelings. It shows that they don’t care about hurting you. It’s a red flag when they manipulate you into staying by feeding you false hope or vague details. 

No engaging communication

Again, if deep/engaging conversations remain far at bay in the situationship, what’s the point of being in that situationship? 

“We are not in a relationship, why are you asking so many questions?” 

  • Does your partner take an interest in knowing you?
  • Do they ask you about your days?
  • Do they listen to you attentively?
  • Do they ask engaging questions about your life and what you are passionate about?
  • Do they take the initiative to make the dates more interesting with engaging conversations?

If not, you shouldn’t bore yourself with this trial phase; it will not get better with time anyway.

  • Do they talk about themselves all the time and completely disregard you?
  • Do they only speak to you when they need you?

If yes, the situationship will tire you down sooner or later. Letting go of such individuals is better than expecting romance from them. 

A situationship should be engaging, entertaining, and stimulating. If your partner runs away from exciting conversations, they are not the right person for you. 

Prolonged stay

A situationship becomes a problem when it overstays its welcome. 

It’s alright to have a non-exclusive situationship when you are both into casual dating without a desire for commitment. However, suppose this situationship is a trial period to get to know each other better before getting into an exclusive relationship. In that case, the prolonged stay could soon turn into a red flag. 

As a trial period, situationships are supposed to be short and interesting. Suppose your partner’s been with you for more than 2-3 months and still persists in being non-exclusive. In that case, they might just be trying to buy time to avoid relationship commitment and exclusivity. This is wrong, especially if you have told them about your needs and expectations from this situationship. 

  • “It’s going so well, why to label it?”
  • “I can date other people, we aren’t in a relationship!” Says the person who’s been with you for almost half a year. 
  • “Why do you persist on this, we talked about keeping things casual until we are both ready.” 

If they continue to use the “situationship label” after months of knowing how you feel and what you expect from the relationship, they are simply using you to have the goods of the relationship without commitment or loyalty. 

  • It’s a red flag if they force you to prolong the situationship after months of dating. 
  • It’s a red flag if they disregard your feelings about the situationship. 
  • It’s a red flag if they make you feel bad for wanting more from the relationship after countless dates. 
  • It’s a red flag when they hang you in the middle with fake or empty promises. 

No emotional gravity

Does your situationship make you feel invalid, insignificant, empty, and alone? Not having emotional gravity in the situationship is a major red flag— it shows what you have ahead of you in the relationship. 

It wouldn’t kill your partner to ask how you feel or what’s bothering you. A situationship shouldn’t transform a couple into two blocks of ice. Sharing laughter, tears, joy, fun, and sadness is a part of every connection, whether committed or not. 

  • It’s a red flag when your partner doesn’t care about your emotions or doesn’t express them. 
  • It’s a red flag when they don’t question your mood/day. 
  • It’s a red flag if they make you feel bad about expressing yourself. 
  • It’s a red flag if they don’t express themselves openly. 

A situationship shouldn’t be dull or dead— it should be full of depth and sincerity. 

Taken for granted. 

Situationships can quickly be taken for granted if not monitored. The no-commitment clause makes us wonder what’s the right thing to do when you are in such a casual agreement. Situationship often look chill, laid back, and casual; it may force us to accept whatever bare minimum we are offered. 

  • However, it’s a red flag if your partner takes you for granted and calls over only when they want.
  • It’s a red flag when your partner avoids your schedule and prioritizes their schedule. 
  • It’s a red flag when they make last-minute plans without consulting you first. 
  • It’s a red flag if they make you feel like an option in their long list of situationships. 

Whether a situationship or not, no one should take you for granted— your time and presence are just as equally important. If they don’t value your schedule or ensure you are comfortable— why bother to be with them?

A decent person will value your time and treasure every second you spend with them. 

  • They will put effort into making you feel comfortable. 
  • They will put effort into finding a place that you actually enjoy.

If you feel disrespected and unvalued, leave that situationship. There are a thousand people who’d make you feel unique and significant; you shouldn’t settle for any less. 

Minimum effort

Situationships can soon become messy if you allow your laid-back partner to walk all over you continuously. It’s easy to not put effort into the situationship and still accept a connection or spark— that’s what people consider the hallmark of a situationship. 

It doesn’t make sense, right? How can people accept a thriving relationship/situationship when they are not ready to put in the effort? A situationship without earnest effort is a red flag because your partner doesn’t want to work for the relationship and yet somehow still wants to accept the goods of the relationship. That’s greedy and lame. 

What are the expected efforts in the situationship? 

  • They show excitement at the thought of meeting you. 
  • They go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and happy. 
  • They regard your feelings and your ideal dating experience. 
  • They ensure you are also equally satisfied during sex. 
  • They offer you after-care post-sex and aren’t scared of the thought. 
  • They take the initiative to know you. You’d constantly find them asking about you. 
  • They want to make you smile, laugh, and open up. 

If your partner isn’t doing a single thing from this list, seriously, why are you with them at all? It’s dull and boring to stay with people who aren’t excited about dating you. 

In a situationship, having fewer dates in the month and scarcer calling/texting sessions is alright. However, when you do meet your partner, they should give you their undivided attention during the date/chats/calls. 

Efforts in the relationship don’t mean you call your partner day and night 24*7. It simply means taking quality time out whenever you can. Always choose quality over quantity when it comes to situationships. It allows you to respect each other’s boundaries and yet explore together. 

Inconsistent display of emotions

Who likes the hot and cold behavior of an individual? Not me! I’m honest with my emotions; the least I expect is honesty in return. If your partner switches their feelings back and forth, you may want to reconsider this situationship. 

  • Do they shower you with love and allusion of commitment and then switch to a colder personality, or deny the commitments they intentionally throw at you? 
  • Do they love you like a girlfriend and talk about the future only to treat you like a temporary person later? 

Many individuals will shower you with love only to ensure you don’t run away from the situationship. They will switch back to being cold once you start expecting commitments from them. 

It’s cruel to give someone false hopes and then make them feel wrong about their expectations. 

“Baby, I love you so much. I want to spend the rest of my life in your arms if that’s possible.” 

“Please, we are casual! Why do you always want to talk about the future?” 

If your partner hangs you in the middle with fake promises and hopes, it’s a red flag. 

They breadcrumb you

Breadcrumbing is another type of emotional manipulation that hangs you in the middle of nowhere. It neither turns into a meaningful situationship nor leads you to an exclusive relationship. 

Breadcrumbing can leave you confused and with a lot of mixed signals. A person who breadcrumbs you would often give you just enough attention to keep you around until they are sure. 

  • This usually happens when a person isn’t sure of you but doesn’t want to let you. 
  • Some people may keep you around as the second option if their first option falls apart. 
  • They may simply want to increase their body count number. 
  • They may want to have an extra option in case their other dates bail. 

Breadcrumbing is often vague and empty. Your partner may make plans without being specific about the details. When you ask them about the details, they usually reply with, ‘we’ll see!’ 

They hide you from the world.

It’s alright if you don’t meet your partner’s family since you are still in the trial phase. However, does this situationship feel illicit and secretive without reason? 

  • Do you only meet them at your place or theirs? 
  • Do they avoid acknowledging your presence when you stumble with them on the streets? 
  • Do they hide from the world when with you? 
  • Do they choose zero-crowd places whenever planning a date? 
  • Do they ensure you are far from places their friends would be? 
  • Do they introduce you as a colleague, or do they introduce you at all? 
  • Do they try to keep a low profile when with you? 

It’s alright to have the right to privacy when dating someone new. Still, that right shouldn’t steal away basic fun from the situationship. 

They put you through guilt.

It will be 500 days of summer all over again if your partner doesn’t understand what you expect from the situationship. If you have clearly stated that you don’t want a commitment, and they still put you through guilt over that fact, it’s clear that they don’t understand or respect your boundaries. 

Of course, it’s normal to fall for someone regardless of the situation; we never have control over it. However, blaming the other person for not reciprocating those feelings is wrong, especially when they have clearly stated their situation. 

It can get messy when one of the partners gets attached in a non-exclusive relationship, but it still doesn’t give them the right to put you through guilt over that. Respecting one’s boundaries and decisions is essential. 

It’s wrong to make you the story’s villain when you have clearly stated you don’t want commitment. 

This can also lead the other person to badmouth you. They often think they have the right to badmouth you or make you the villain of their story because you don’t reciprocate their feelings. Don’t take the blame; you are not wrong. 

Crossing boundaries

Situationship rules can be stringent when it comes to boundaries. Most of the time, we don’t know what’s right or wrong in this situationship. 

  • Should we call/text each other, or is it crossing a line in the situationship? 
  • Can we meet regularly or have sex regularly? 
  • Can we facetime?
  • Can we talk for hours, or should we draw a line?
  • Can we tell the other person how we genuinely feel in the moment without wanting commitment? 

It’s confusing, right? It’s like walking on eggshells. Instead of walking on eggshells, discuss your boundaries with your partner and allow them to communicate about their boundaries as well. 

If you have clearly stated your boundaries, and they still continue to break them and put the blame on you in the end, it’s not right! 

  • Do they cling to you 24*7 and get mad when you ask for space? 
  • Do they behave like your girlfriend/boyfriend in the presence of others? 
  • Do they get jealous and act upon it harshly? 

It’s necessary to respect your partner’s boundaries in a situationship. If your partner isn’t comfortable with the non-exclusive clause of the situationship, they should break up with you instead of making you the bad guy of the story. 

Expecting relationship treatment without wanting labels

  • They don’t want you to date other people but they don’t mind dating others. 
  • They don’t want to reciprocate the same dedication towards you in the relationship. 

They want the relationship experience with all exclusivity but avoid putting labels or returning the efforts. They want to have authority over you, but they don’t want you to have control over yourself. 

They act romantically when you are away from the public eye, but they become distant when you are in public. They act like your girlfriend/boyfriend when alone but act like strangers/friends when with friends/colleagues. 

You should know better than to give in to their demand.

How to end a situationship? 

Be honest with your feelings, not only to yourself but the partner involved. If you have developed feelings for your current partner, let them know how you feel! 

I know we all fear losing the relationship. Still, it’s better to be transparent than to rely on false hopes, especially if you are unsure of what your partner expects from this situationship. 

Situationship can become permanent in most cases, primarily if you don’t communicate efficiently. If you think it’s time to move on from this situationship into a more exclusive relationship, talk about it with your partner. 

If they are not ready for a commitment, you should take a break to organize how you feel about this connection. If you cannot continue a non-committing relationship, you should let go of that person before it starts hurting you. 

How to get over a situationship?

It’s okay to want a more stable, committed, and exclusive relationship. If you cannot continue this non-exclusive agreement, it’s better to let go than to hold on to future hopes. 

A person not looking for commitment wouldn’t be ready for a relationship, no matter how much you wait for them!  

  • Accept that it’s not their fault. 

Of course, we want to rant or badmouth our partner for not reciprocating our feelings. However, you cannot change their mind if they are not into it. Start with accepting the reality— they have been transparent about what they need since the start. It wasn’ their fault. 

Accept that it’s not your fault, either. You both are just in two different places with two distinct goals. 

  • Be kind to yourself

We often blame ourselves for relationship failure, but it wasn’t your fault. You are not the reason behind their commitment issues. So, don’t hurt yourself or sabotage your self-esteem because of their decision. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with themselves. 

It’s alright to be sad, even when people tell you ‘it wasn’t even a relationship.’ You developed feelings, and not having someone you like will hurt. So, be kinder to yourself and grieve the loss if you want. It will help you move on faster. 

  • Let go of the ‘what ifs’ 

Stop waiting for that person; they are not going to return. It’s useless to daydream about the ‘what ifs’ of the situationship that wasn’t going anywhere. Make peace with the fact. 

Be proud of your choice. You chose yourself and what you deserve in a relationship— there’s nothing wrong with that! 

  • Some people would love to commit to you. 

It wasn’t the right match for you— you both wanted different things. The good news is; there are still millions of people who have similar relationship goals and expectations like you. You shouldn’t waste your time on someone who cannot commit to you. It’s better to approach what you think you deserve in a relationship than to be stuck in a non-fulfilling relationship. 

Walking away from a situationship that isn’t working for you anymore is the best decision you can make for yourself. You deserve an exclusive relationship if that’s what you want, and nobody should tell you otherwise. 

FAQs

Why do guys like situationships?

Situationship isn’t a gender-based equation. I’m a woman, and I often prefer the concept of a situationship more than exclusive relationships. There can be many reasons individuals (girls or guys) prefer situationships. 

  • They are polygamous, and sex isn’t their predominant loyalty factor. 
  • They believe in emotional connection but don’t understand the social structure of exclusive relationships. 
  • For some individuals, situationship is a great place to start. 
  • They don’t like the complexities relationships bring along. 

Beware, some individuals simply use situationships to hook up with you. Highlight these situationship red flags in your mind to stay away from such people. 

Can you be friends after a situationship?

That depends on whether or not you both are ready for a friendship post-situationship. 

If the situationship doesn’t reach an exclusive relationship, take a break. Life’s not a court, and you don’t have to have instant answers to every dilemma right away. Take your time and sort out your feelings. If you think you cannot be friends with this person, despite spending very little time with them during situationship; it’s alright! 

However, if you think you wouldn’t mind having this person as your friend, there’s nothing wrong with being friends after a situationship. Many strangers who meet online or offline become friends instead of couples. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out, and that’s completely fine. If you think they are great people and you want them around, approach them with a genuine friendship offer. 

How long do situationships last?

For couples trying out a situationship to test whether they are compatible, it can last somewhere between 2-4 months. It can be shorter, but it cannot be longer. Four months are enough to evaluate whether you see a future with them. 

However, if you are into casual dating and your partner doesn’t want anything serious— it can last very long. Whether you are okay with it or not depends on you. Are you alright with a non-commitment relationship where everything is fun, accessible, and exhilarating; then it’s okay. 

However, if you start catching feelings for the other person, a long-lasting situationship will hurt you. It’s better to stop that situationship before it gets more hurtful. 

Wrapping up

Situationship isn’t toxic unless you notice these BOLD red flags flying everywhere around your partner. Don’t allow them to manipulate and gaslight you into staying in a situationship you don’t want. It’s alright to walk away from a beautiful situationship if it’s not ready to provide you commitment and future hopes.

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by Genesis Gutierrez

Genesis is the founder of Harness Magazine, a digital media company that celebrates and elevates the voices of women around the world. A first-generation college graduate, Genesis holds a degree in from UCLA with hopes of going back for a Masters in Social Work.

Through her work as an editor-in-chief of Harness, Genesis has dedicated herself to amplifying the stories of women specifically marginalized communities. She is committed to creating space for those who are often left out of mainstream conversations, and believes that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have for building community and sparking social change.


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