What To Do If You Aren't Happy In Your Situationship

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Relationships have always been a little complicated, but these days, the rules are even fuzzier. For one, fewer people are coupling up than in the past. Over half of young American adults are single, according to a 2018 General Social Survey (via The Washington Post), more than in previous years. Millennials are also leading the way in bucking tradition and saying no to marriage — or at least delaying it until later — according to Bentley University lecturer, Clarissa Sawyer.

Dating apps have also blurred the lines when it comes to dating norms, and even apps designed for serious relationships are often used for flings. "On online dating platforms, you see people meeting a lot of sexual partners ... These are people who you do not know from elsewhere, that you do not need to see again," sociologist Dr. Marie Bergström explained to The Guardian.

This murky, modern dating culture has spawned a new type of relationship in recent years, called a "situationship." In a situationship, couples don't clearly define the relationship, yet they behave like romantic partners (per Verywell Mind). While situationships may work in some cases, they can also create a lot of frustration and stress. Here's what to do if you're caught in a situationship and feeling dissatisfied.

How to turn a situationship into a relationship

One of the top reasons why situationships break down is because one person wants a clearly defined relationship while the other doesn't. Jenna Birch, CEO of the Plum dating app and author of "The Love Gap" told Cosmopolitan, "[Situationships] can become painful if you want something more from the person you're seeing, and they're simply not on the same page ... If you want a commitment, having someone slot you low on their list of priorities is not going to feel fun."

If you're unhappy in your situationship and wish you had a committed relationship, don't settle. According to Marriage.com, there are ways to transform an "it's complicated" situation into something more. One way is to increase emotional intimacy by discussing your feelings and individual needs. You can also stop meeting up for spontaneous hookups and instead start scheduling more romantic dates that allow for serious chatting.

Relationship expert Elizabeth Overstreet also told Bustle that it's essential to be honest about your feelings for your situationship partner. Explain what kind of relationship you really want, and continue having transparent conversations about your shared future. This dialogue gives the other person a chance to reciprocate your feelings — or decline if they're not ready to commit.

Ending a situationship that isn't working

If you want a committed relationship and the other person doesn't, or if you just need to free yourself of your situationship and embrace the single life, it's better to call it quits sooner than later. Start by scheduling an in-person talk, rather than breaking up by text, as licensed professional counselor Shelley A. Senterfitt suggested to Insider. "We lose so much when we rely on texts for significant communication. We misread the intent behind written words and we fill in gaps, often with inaccurate stories," she explained.

As for exactly what to say, Healthline notes that honesty is usually the best policy. If you're looking for something more serious and need to move on, or if you're not interested in continuing the situationship for other reasons, be clear and direct.

Once the situationship is over, give yourself space to grieve just as you would for any other breakup. Self explains that ending a situationship can trigger a range of uncomfortable feelings, similar to ending a committed relationship. Let yourself experience these emotions, and wait before dating again until you've processed and learned from the situationship.