What A Situationship Really Is, According To Dating Experts

It's been three months of casually dating the same person, and you've found yourself in a pattern with no end in sight. You've done the group hang. Split the bill. Yes, and yes. Discussed meeting the parents? Absolutely not. So, what's happening here? You may have found yourself in a situationship. But what really is a situationship, according to the experts? 

Certified dating and relationship coach, and host of the "Finding Mr. Height" podcast, Ali, said a situationship is actually defined by its lack of definition. There's a complete absence of clarity on the end goal of the situation. Sound confusing? Oh, it is. That's the underlying response one gets when they find themselves in this commitment adverse romance. Think friends with benefits, but where feelings are involved; however, no one is saying them out loud. Let's just say, if the term situationship wasn't just coined in 2014 (via Urban Dictionary), Carrie Bradshaw would be extremely familiar. 

The ambiguous romantic relationship isn't just a common theme on "Sex and the City" — it's basically a rite of passage for anyone that has explored the dating scene. According to a 2021 Hinge survey of 4,772 users, 34% of daters reported being in a situationship in 2020, a time when COVID-19 restrictions meant sitting in limbo with your crush watching Netflix. Experts weigh in on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the pandemic's most popular non-status.

Experts reveal the good and the bad about a situationship

Situationships get a bad rap, but they aren't all worthless. Sometimes there's a benefit to starting a relationship slow and taking the pressure off. You can be yourself, take your time, and slowly build a beautiful romance. Also, who says your relationship needs to be the focal point of your life anyway? With a career, friends, family, and hobbies, there's already plenty to live for. Travis McNulty, a practicing therapist, explained this theory to NBC News. "Situationships alleviate the traditional pressures associated with starting a relationship," McNulty said. "This alleviation of anxiety and expectations can help a couple grow closer without the guessing of where each partner is at."

However, the key to any healthy relationship is communication, and usually, situationships lack this vital element. Abby Medcalf, a relationship expert, shared with Women's Health that someone "catches feelings" more often than not, especially when intimacy is involved. Medcalf explained, "There's an actual physiological reaction that happens when you're intimate with someone. More specifically, the bonding hormone oxytocin gets released when you have sex, cuddle, or even just hug." The emotions continue to build, and normally one person starts to feel rejected. To make matters worse, you feel embarrassed bringing it up in casual conversation.

There was mention of the ugly. According to the mental health experts at Talkspace, someone in a situationship might also struggle with a decrease in self-esteem or a sense of loneliness from the potential lack of emotional attachment.