Situationships: Is It the New Normal?

The dating landscape in modern society has changed quite a bit over the years. From the way we approach relationships to start a family, there are so many different versions of normal that exist from one person to the next. A new norm has emerged in our social conversations about dating and sex termed ‘situationships.’

Key takeaways:
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    Situationships can be confusing when both parties are not in alignment or are unable to openly and honestly communicate their wants and needs with one another.
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    There are a variety of pros and cons that come with being in a situationship and these vary depending on whether the parties involved are on the same page, and how each individual is approaching the situation.
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    To keep a situationship from having a negative impact on you and the other person involved, openly and honestly communicate your wants, needs and expectations of the other while setting strong, clear boundaries.

This term defines relationships that are more than sex, but not quite committed relationships. Let’s go over the pros and cons of this new normal.

What is a situationship?

A situationship is a term used to describe being in a sexual relationship that involves more of an emotional charge than a typical casual fling. However, there is no official title or agreement of being in a committed relationship.

A situationship can be beneficial for people when they desire intimacy with another person beyond the physical. They might be unsure of the partner they are with, or are taking time to get over another relationship. As comfortable as this may feel for at least one of the parties involved, it can present a variety of issues at the same time. Let’s go over the pros and cons of such situations.

Pros of situationships

There are a variety of pros and cons that go along with being in a situationship. There are also cultural and gender factors that come into play, as research shows. Let’s go over some of these pros and cons and discuss how they can vary between the sexes.

Potential progression into a committed relationship

While a situationship can be comfortable for at least one party involved, it may also present some hope of progression into a committed relationship. When both parties are on the same page this can be a great benefit, allowing each person to see what a relationship with the other may be like without making a full commitment. This may be good for those who have had negative relationships in the past and simply need to test the water before diving in.

The opportunity to 'have your cake and eat it too'

Sometimes a situationship offers a person the opportunity to experience the benefits of being in a relationship without restrictions. This is only a benefit when both parties are on the same page. When both are okay with this type of arrangement, they can feel like they can 'have their cake and eat it'. One party can also experience this benefit regardless of how the other person is looking at the situation.

Cons of situationships

While a situationship may offer some of the benefits that being in a relationship can bring, it’s often not the most secure way of relating. When both parties are not in alignment, this can be very confusing for a variety of reasons.

False sense of security

This type of situation can offer someone a false sense of security with a person who may have commitment issues. One person might just want intimacy without making any commitments to become exclusive. They may also not want the responsibility that comes with being someone's partner. This can become damaging when one person’s goal is to end up in a committed relationship.

One party benefit

When both parties are not on the same page, the benefits of being in a situationship may only affect one person involved. This is typically the person who is not able or willing to commit to being in a relationship. According to research, many women find themselves in situationships because of the possibility and desire that it could turn into something more. When a situationship doesn’t turn out the way the person wanting a commitment hopes, it can be just as hurtful and harmful as a breakup from a committed relationship.

Detrimental or oppressive to sexual agency

Research shows us that gender roles play a part in how situationships occur and are carried out. Often, women are attracted to a situationship where the other person does not want to commit. Believing that they can change this person, they will invest emotionally, hoping that with enough time a relationship might blossom. This is rarely the result and can have a detrimental or oppressive impact on a woman’s sexual agency. The ability to identify and effectively communicate sexual needs is suppressed, favoring the needs of the non-committed partner.

In several ways, it places the power in only one person’s hands. This is typically the person who is unwilling to commit. Research shows this tends to be a male counterpart, though it's not always the case. Not every relationship or situationship is comprised of one male and one female, so this does fluctuate from one unique situation to the next.

Negative self-view in the societal culture of dating

Being in a situationship while wanting something more with the other person is risky. There is a chance that it will not lead to a relationship and will cause a person to feel rejected and like they wasted their time. This can have a negative impact on how a person views themselves within the societal culture of dating.

They can begin to see themselves as unworthy of commitment, becoming more likely to settle for less than what they give or believe they deserve, from a romantic partner. Once this happens, the likelihood of being in a healthy, committed relationship in the future and having a positive sense of self-worth begins to decline.

When it comes to dating and situationships, it’s always best to be open and honest about your feelings and how you wish for the relationship to progress. Should you find that you and the other person involved are not on the same page, establish clear and strong boundaries so that one person does not end up getting hurt.

When both parties are in alignment, this can be a great way to experience the benefits of a relationship without the commitment, and to see if the person you are involved with is someone you would like to commit to further.


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