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Stuck in a Situationship?

7 signs you are in a non-committal relationship.

Key points

  • Noncommittal romantic relationships, referred to as situationships, have increased in prevalence.
  • A situationship is a romantic arrangement that lacks commitment and the traditional norms of a partnership.
  • While benefits like freedom may be beneficial, situationships may cause emotional turmoil.
stock-eye/ iStock
Source: stock-eye/ iStock

If you find that your partner avoids defining your relationship, is reluctant to discuss the next steps, keeps you on read, and constantly feels confused about the status of your relationship, you might be stuck in a "situationship.”

A situationship is a romantic arrangement that lacks commitment and the associated traditional norms and expectations of a partnership. This phenomenon has been amplified by online dating apps, which have made it easier to ignore advances in a sea of perceived relationship options.

“Although we were laughing about the impossibility of our relationship, it still felt nice” ―Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends

7 Signs You Might Be in a Situationship:

  • Your relationship has no title: Although you may have all the aspects of a partnership, your relationship feels ambiguous and undefined.
  • You haven’t talked about the future: Most of your plans are at the last minute, and you make no long-term commitments.
  • You haven’t introduced each other to family or friends: The relationship is compartmentalized, and other social relationships are not integrated.
  • Communication is inconsistent: Your communication is mostly over text, sporadic, and you never know if or when they will respond. You never know when you are going to see them next.
  • Your relationship is mostly based on convenience: You meet only when it is convenient, and any excuses given are vague and generic, such as "work is busy this week."
  • You don’t know if your relationship is exclusive: Even if neither of you is dating other people, there is no communication or labels about being in an exclusive partnership. Your connection feels inconsistent and unreliable.
  • You may perceive a lack of emotional connection: Your relationship may be strictly sexual, and the person might not even be in the loop on your personal life, needs, or struggles. Even if there is vulnerability and deep conversations, there are no guarantees of emotional intimacy.

Although noncommittal relationships may have some benefits, can be liberating, sexually fulfilling, and give you the opportunity to get to know one another without any strings attached, they also can also have downsides. These types of relationships, especially in the absence of clear communication, can quickly deteriorate when one person begins to feel more emotionally committed, which may lead to feelings of abandonment, rejection, or resentment when the feelings aren’t reciprocated.


A situationship can alleviate the pressures of monogamy and the demands of an exclusive relationship. It may give you more freedom and more opportunity for self-discovery. It can provide a chance to get to know the person before committing. It can also allow for more time for self-growth, such as focusing on school or one’s career. Additionally, it can present an opportunity to meet a variety of people and explore various relationship dynamics to understand which best meets your needs and desires.


The ambivalence of a situationship can be unsettling, can feel impersonal, and cause emotional turmoil. It may be difficult to regulate emotions in the face of ambiguity. A situationship can interfere with the sense of equilibrium and create imbalance in the relationship, triggering feelings of rejection, abandonment, and mistrust.

Negotiating relationships is complicated and often involves navigating too many variables. What will work for everyone will vary, and there are no set rules as to what a healthy couplehood looks like. However, if boundaries are left for interpretation, it will set the premise for betrayal, miscommunication, and mistrust.

Do I Have to Have “The Talk?"

As much as it feels risky, open communication is the foundation of healthy relationships. Being clear is not always easy but could be as simple as “I’m really happy with our relationship, but I am not sure what I should refer to you as when I talk to my friends—what do you think?”

Of course, rejection is a possibility and can be difficult and scary, but ultimately, honesty and open communication are the starting points of a healthy partnership.

"The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt but in spite of doubt." —Rollo May


Canevello A, Crocker J. Creating good relationships: responsiveness, relationship quality, and interpersonal goals. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2010 Jul;99(1):78-106.

De Netto PM, Quek KF, Golden KJ. Communication, the Heart of a Relationship: Examining Capitalization, Accommodation, and Self-Construal on Relationship Satisfaction. Front Psychol. 2021 Dec 13;12:767908.

Weger, H, Cole, M, Akbulut, V. (2019) Relationship maintenance across platonic and non-platonic cross-sex friendships in emerging adults, The Journal of Social Psychology, 159:1, 15-29

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