July 1, 2020

Why a “Situationship” is so F*cked Up (& How it leads to Emotional Trauma).


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You’ll appreciate this read, next: Cracks in the Armor—Why Perfectionism is Destroying the Relationships of Adult Children of Alcoholics. 


*Warning: well-deserved cursing ahead!

The “situationship” is the no man’s land between friendship and relationship. 

Now, let’s first distinguish between a situationship and friends with benefits (FWB) or fuck buddy. Far too often, it is suggested that they are the same. Let’s be crystal clear here—they are not.

A situationship is something that you fall into; it is not pre-planned or pre-agreed. It is an involuntary position that has no clear definitions nor lines to stay within. A situationship is a place you end up when you have no real clue what the fuck is going on.

It is often something that happens over time—something that is almost impossible to remove yourself from without incurring some form of emotional trauma. And it is usually one-sided trauma.

A situationship is rarely one that ends amicably. It is one where one side of the party has to, at some point, make a decision. It is that transitional period between fuck buddy and full-on relationship—the void, the abyss, the emotional state of purgatory.

Situationships are shit. They are unbalanced and divisive; they are valueless and demeaning; they are a passage to inevitable disappointment and a voyage into the bay of despair. A situationship is not something that is mutual, unlike its sister, the FWB, or fuck buddy. It is something that happens when one person in the equation is unsure, uncaring, or unable to fulfill a relationship, but wants all of the benefits it brings.

A situationship will break your heart. A situationship will deplete your confidence and set a precedent for behaviors that should not be accepted. In short, a situationship is a place where your heart goes to die. (Okay, not so short, but I have a lot to say.)

Too dramatic?

Maybe, but let’s be clear here: nothing good can come from a situationship. 

I’ll tell you why. There are three stages of falling in love: lust, attraction, and attachment. 

You have to have access to all three of these components to form that feeling. In a fuck buddy or FWB situation, you are likely to encounter the first two stages of falling in love but rarely complete the hat trick. It is a prerequisite for you to experience both, but the attachment is usually something you can avoid. That is because you are preprogrammed to understand that this is an arrangement. It is a role, a temporary vocation with clear and well-defined boundaries. You go, you do, you leave.

The situationship leads you straight through the three levels. You go, you do, you stay—you cook dinner, you laugh, you go for walks, you engage with each other’s friends, you bond, you talk, you take a shower, you go to the shops, you develop habits, you develop routines, you discover—and then drive headfirst into level three: attachment. 

Then, to put it as eloquently as possible, you are fucked.

A situationship is having all the benefits of a relationship, without a title or a public unveiling. It’s psychologically giving you every ingredient possible to create a wonderful dinner, but you are given no cutlery to eat it with. It’s not a halfway house; it is a home with an incomplete extension, a landlord with the power to evict, and often one where the tap runs, but the hot water is intermittent. A situationship is emotional trauma in a gift box.

A situationship will lead to love. But based on the fact that this is a situationship and not a relationship from the start, it will always be a one-sided love story. And here is why.

Men are hunters. They are naturally predisposed to go for what they want, full barrel. As with any hunter, they will always be territorial over the animal they are stalking—needing their own egos to claim their patch. If they want you, you will never have to second-guess that. They will ensure they have attached their tag or label quickly and determinedly; they will piss on that tree and mark their position. A man who wants you for keeps will never be happy in a situationship. This is only ever going to end badly. This is a red flag.

A situationship, 9 times out of 10, is developed from a friendship. A deep friendship that has evolved through intimacy and given birth to the situationship at hand. It is true that someone who loves you would never (and could never) put themselves in a position where they could lose you.

Someone who values your friendship will be more aware of your past, emotional state, needs, and concerns. A real friend would never take you down a path that they knew would end in the loss of your bond. This is why a situationship is such a dangerous path; as well as getting your heart broken, you will realize and come to know that the friendship you believed you had was always built on this pretense, this ego, this lack of value for you and your well-being—double blow.

So, why do we do this? That is also physiologically explained. Men know if they love someone pretty early on. However, women have a better capacity to grow in love rather than fall in love (they grow on you). They believe that if they cling onto this position, it will allow the man to “grow to feel the same.” This is rare and usually based on false hope.

Men are also usually ill-disposed to deal with drama and naturally less emotionally aware. So, while you are convinced they will eventually fall for you, they are equally convinced that this is a harmless situation. They have not laid out their intentions.

By default, the situationship tells you they are not interested in a future, and thus far, you are going along with it. They are almost as in the dark as you are. They do not see the error in the situation. They see it as one you are allowing to continue—not waiting to develop. By the time they realize that this is, in fact, more a lose-lose than a win-win, it’s already too late. The damage has been irreversibly done.

Then the aftermath. 

How do you grieve a heartbreak when you cannot even label what it is that you have lost? Let me help you here. What you have lost is a relationship. No label or words can define a relationship; your actions do. It will make the other party feel better not to admit this, and no matter how you try, you will not be able to convince them otherwise.

You do not need them or their sign off to verify or validate how you feel. You had an attachment (which they contributed to). You have the right to mourn that loss—with or without the title. You and only you can define what you had. You do not need their verification nor their approval.

You are not crazy; you did not make up the situation; you are not creating drama for drama’s sake. Yes, it was not defined in a public way, but internally you (and they) know it was more than what they will choose to admit. Do not think that you have no right to feel despair. A loss is a loss. You feel how you feel. Allow yourself that.

The good news? A situationship is usually a one-off. It will allow you to reevaluate your needs, and most often is a lesson you will never repeat. You will develop and grow from this and understand that you are not an option. 

Your value is important and doesn’t depend on someone who cannot see it. You will learn to love yourself again. You will learn that while you lost someone who didn’t love you, they lost someone who truly loved them—that is their tragedy.

If we learn anything from a situationship, let it be that any relationship that brings us love and happiness will never develop from a situationship. Let us learn that lesson and be better women for it.


More mindful reads to inspire your day:

I’ve Retired from the “Good Girl” Game. I’m an Unapologetic, Difficult Woman.

“Positive Vibes Only” is Toxic: the Danger of New Age Spiritualism.

How to Stop an Argument Dead in its Tracks.

Decluttering Negative People: How I Rediscovered Myself at 40.

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