Whether you are in a situationship or relationship may be a matter of timing and progression.
Situationship is another the current term for ‘hanging out’ or when two people who are exploring a ‘thing’. It’s considered a casual relationship without a label.
Relationships in contrast, usually start out serious because two people have strong feelings for one another. As a result of this close connection, they agree to a monogamous relationship.
As a psychologist, I’m ambivalent about casual relationships. While casual dating is the new norm, on the other hand, for a woman or man who hates the uncertainty of the situationship it feels like a game. You lie in bed at night wondering what the heck am I doing? The ambiguity of your current situation drives you crazy.
In this post, I want to look at gender differences and help you navigate this precarious situation.
A woman’s perspective:
Ask most women how she feels about the casual relationship and unless she is Samantha from ‘Sex in the City‘ she’s probably not a big fan. Most often she was in casual relationships that didn’t work out in the past and she may have been hurt.
A man’s perspective
Men, however, view causal relationships as a way to ‘test drive’ a person to see how compatible they are before committing. From the man’s perspective, he gets to know a woman with less pressure. In many ways, it’s cheaper too, either you go dutch so you don’t have to spend money on dating.
Given the gender differences and preferences, awkward moments happen when one person catches feelings before the other. The person who has the strongest feelings is then unsure what to do?
You wonder, “do I say anything? or should I be patient and hope it naturally progresses? Do I move on to someone who is certain about me to avoid having an awkward talk? If I do bring up how I feel, might I risk losing my current situation or worse yet, get rejected?
What do you want?
You have to ask yourself, what do I want? Only you can decide whether the relationship is worth it to you.
Women often have the fantasy that if a man felt strongly about her, she wouldn’t be in her current situation, however, given the gender differences, this may not be true. The guy thinks, well if she wants more from me she just has to ask. Unfortunately, if neither person comes forward, the relationship dies a quiet death.
Fear of Conflict
Underlying the silence is usually a fear of conflict. Some people have so much fear they would just assume say nothing than risk a confrontation. Egos get hurt and neither person feels worth fighting for. Some 80% of Millennials report that the biggest problem in casual relationships is that they have been ‘ghosted’. People think it’s easier to start fresh than to confront difficult feelings. However, when you ask people what they would have preferred instead and 90% said they would rather know directly.
What are my chances?
In real life, many relationships can progress from casual to serious relationships but if this is not something you are interested in you have to know your boundaries.
If you want more?
If you’ve decided you want more, the question is what can you do? You might have even agreed to be casual but that is no longer what you want. The question is, how do I move things forward?
Your options are:
- wait to see if your relationship develops naturally.
- bring it up and speak openly about your goals.
- walk away and hope that he misses you and comes back.
Deciding to have ‘THE TALK’
If you decide to bring things up, you’ve waited long enough, ask yourself, “what is the worst-case scenario?” If your feelings are not reciprocated, can you live through it?
WHAT TO SAY?
Before talking to your partner try to be calm and rational. Keep your self-esteem in check so your worth is not tied to their reply. A man can get freaked out by the words, “we need to talk.”
Here are some possible scripts for you:
- Say something like, “I think we are good together. I really like hanging out with you, but I want to see what a relationship with you would be like. What do you think?“
- If the person is still not sure, scared, or ambivalent, try digging deeper. “I know when we met you said you were not looking for anything serious and you didn’t have the time. However, we do spend a fair amount of time together. and you do treat me like your girlfriend. Have you changed your mind “What is it about a commitment that scares you?”
- Join with the feelings. “I’m scared too, but being in a relationship doesn’t mean we have to get married.“
- State the benefits of being more serious. “I know myself when I’ve been in a committed relationship I can relax. I don’t have to worry about what else you are doing. We can see what we really have here.”
Summary: Casual relationships are very common, however, not impossible to negotiate. Even if a ‘thing’ starts out with no title, rules, or expectations, people are not robots and can change how they feel. Before you give up on your current situation or ghost them, why not take a risk and ask for what you want? Most men say they would prefer a woman to be direct instead of being quiet or suppressing her needs. He may not know how she feels or what she wants unless she tells him. What is more important than a label is how two people treat each other. Two people have to be sensitive to one another but also authentic.
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