Why so many people are suddenly embracing ‘situationships’ for 2023

Why so many people are suddenly embracing ‘situationships’ for 2023

Written by Amy Beecham

After years of rejecting them, why are more of us actively looking for situationships right now?

Andie Anderson and Ben Barry. Ross and Rachel. Andre and Sidney. Chuck and Blair. A classic will-they-won’t-they full of dramatic twists and turns makes perfect romcom fodder, but uncertainty in our own relationships is much harder to live through.

The ‘situationship’ – more than a hookup, but not quite traditional dating – has long been considered the ultimate, agonising dating purgatory. The time spent waiting to text back so as not to seem too keen. The pangs of jealousy every time they like someone else’s picture. The fateful “What are we?” question just hanging on your lips.

At the start of the year, dating app Hinge went so far as to predict the death of situationships, based on the fact that one in three Hinge users experienced a situationship in the past year, and 62% reported feeling disappointed about it. In response, it said, more singletons had vowed to be upfront about their goals from the outset and move on swiftly if people don’t match their dating intentions. But it appears attitudes are changing.

According to Tinder’s annual Year In Swipe report for 2022, young singles are now owning the situationship as a valid relationship status. 

“Young singles were still down to play the field this year, but they opted for a high-quality roster where everyone was on the same page,” the dating app states. “More than a hookup, but not quite a traditional relationship, the ‘situationship’, a casual yet clearly defined relationship came to rise in 2022.”

In fact, Tinder saw a 49% increase in members adding the new relationship intention to their profiles, with over one in 10 young singles surveyed saying that they preferred situationships as a way to develop a relationship with less pressure.

After being something daters have actively tried to avoid for so long, where has this embrace of the situationship suddenly come from? And more importantly, should it even be happening at all?

Should‘situationship’ really be an official relationship status? Daters right now seem to think so

“A situationship is now being viewed by many younger singles as the dating equivalent of taking your foot off the pedal, giving time for the relationship to develop,” Michelle Begy, founder of Ignite Dating, tells Stylist, explaining why the trend has suddenly risen to such prominence.

“There is a connection there, but you’ve both decided it’s not quite time to become serious yet. Some see it as a good opportunity to see what else happens in their love life without the tie of being properly committed to somebody else. They get the benefits of a relationship while also retaining their single status.”

It’s true. A situationship may help set you up for success in those early days because it removes those early pressures on navigating a blossoming relationship.

“Situationships can fit into hectic lives and remove that early stress of wondering where you are going precisely because you are keeping the stakes low,” Begy continues. “You can grow closer in a more natural way without all of the expectations that come with early relationships. A situationship can give breathing room to an emerging romance, and this might be just what you need to decide that, actually, this person is right for you.”

“Situationships get a bad rap but when managed in the right way, they can be positive and fulfilling for both parties, both in the short-term and the long-term,” agrees Jessica Alderson co-founder and relationship expert at So Syncd.

“It’s not uncommon for situationships to turn into something more serious, but it’s not something you should count on either. There are a number of benefits to situationships, most of which involve people having their needs fulfilled and getting to know each other in an authentic way, without the pressures of a committed relationship.”

But of course, like any relationship stage, situationships aren’t always plain sailing. The tricky part often comes when one side wants to move things along into a full-blown relationship and can end up feeling like they are in limbo, waiting to see if the person they are seeing is on the same page.

“Situationships can also lead to confusion and a lack of clarity. Boundaries may not be set in the same way as if you were in an official relationship because people may not feel like they have the power to do so,” says Anderson.

“There also tends to be less frequent communication in situationships, which can lead to confusion, frustration and, in some cases, hurt feelings due to misunderstandings or miscommunications,” she adds.

So if this compartmentalised approach is not for you, it’s worth considering whether you should walk away before you become too invested emotionally. Because it’s important to remember that while some situationships are just transitional periods before things get serious, many others fizzle out or were only ever there because they were convenient.

As always, honest and open communication is key here to help you navigate any uncertainty. “This is where it is time to speak up, otherwise staying in a situationship will just before a frustrating and, frankly, soul-destroying experience if there are clear signs the person you’ve fallen for hard wants to keep things strictly casual,” advises Begy.

Overall, situationships are complex and there are risks associated with them. But if you are both open and clear about your expectations, you can maximise your chances of things playing out in the best possible way, whether that means staying in the situationship, transitioning into something more or maybe even parting ways.

Images: Getty

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