The Situationship Red Flags to Look Out for (and What to Do About Them)

Louis Catania, Patient Navigator, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

Are you hooking up with someone casually, but it’s also kind of serious? Is it starting to feel almost like you’re in a relationship? Are they not your official partner, but they’re not just a friend either? 😜

Well, you might just be in a situationship! We’re talking a romantic connection that’s undefined and unestablished. It can be awesome, exciting, wonderful, and freeing. ❣️ At the same time, a situationship can also be confusing-- or even painful-- if expectations aren’t established.

Let’s talk about why you might want to consider a situationship, what you should keep in mind, and we’ll even point out some situationship red flags 🚩 to look out for.

Why be in a situationship?

So, a big reason why situationships have gotten super popular is that the world is so big, and dating apps have opened the door to meeting people you might not run into in your everyday life. Sometimes, it feels like there’s too many options. You might find yourself wondering, why commit to one person, when there are so many possibilities out there? ??

The thing is, situationships can be an incredible…

  • 🌎 ✈️ way to explore your freedom: You can make decisions and find your passions, allowing you to really define who you are. The choices you make are still just yours.
  • 💪💗opportunity for romantic self-growth: Situationships can teach you how to date or interact with others romantically.
  • 🫂💘 …source of intimacy: Many of us want to feel close with others, but we don’t all want to make commitments that aren’t aligned with our needs and desires. Situationships open the door for having both.

Situationships may be the right fit for you at the current chapter in your life. You might be on the mend after a breakup, aren’t looking to settle down in one place, or any other number of reasons. Remember, if a situationship sounds like it’s exactly right for you, then it might be worth pursuing. 💗

Okay, but what about the bad parts?

Any type of relationship can have struggles. For instance, some of us aren’t built for monogamy, so forcing ourselves into a monogamous relationship will only lead to heartbreak. 💔 On the opposite side, others are prone to jealousy, making polyamory difficult (more on polyamory here, if you’re curious). The same is true for situationships.

Having a more casual, undefined approach to a relationship can lead to a lack of consistent and stable support, which might be super important to you. If you need someone you can rely on when times are tough, that can be tricky when you don’t really know where you stand with the other person. 🤷 Situationships can lead to uncertainty or unmet expectations, and communication is going to be key to get around that.

The point of a situationship is to have a relationship without the commitment of two people aligning themselves to each other’s needs, wants, and future goals. If that doesn’t sound right to you and could lead to problems, then it might not be the right fit. ❤️‍🩹

What makes a situationship work?

The easy answer is when both partners are completely on board. It’s good to be on the same page about how up in the air the relationship will be. Hey, maybe your own life is up in the air… you’re recently single, traveling, moving out, that kind of thing. 🛫

How do you make a situationship work? Here are some recommendations!

  •  🤔 Know what you want: The situationship can be undefined, but your needs shouldn’t be. Define your physical and emotional needs. Establish what your boundaries are.
  •  💬 Talk about your needs: If the other partner isn’t aligned, and you can’t stomach any compromises, then a situationship with that person might not be right for you.
  • 💂Enforce your boundaries: Healthy boundaries reduce codependency while allowing for physical and emotional comfort. It’s key to a successful situationship.

What are some situationship red flags to look out for?

Being aware of the warning signs can be a great way to ease your mind and reduce uncertainty. A little bit of extra knowledge can’t hurt, right? 🦉

Here are some situationship red flags to keep an eye out for:

  • 📢 Lack of communication: Situationships need open and honest communication. There’s a lot of vulnerability, so you need a foundation of trust.
  • 💢 Conflict resolution issues: The other side of a lack of communication is harmful interactions. If a partner is unable to find common ground during arguments or to resolve a conflict in a healthy way, then that’s one of the big situationship red flags.
  • 👀 Jealousy: When one partner (or both) feels jealous, then that’s a sign there’s insecurity and mistrust at play.
  • 🙄 Ignoring established boundaries: One of the easiest ways to break someone’s trust is to ignore their boundaries. It’s a pretty clear sign that the relationship is headed in the wrong direction.
  • ❓Unclear expectations: If you are always unsure of how the other person wants to be treated or what they are looking for, then you’re looking at one of the situationship red flags.
  • 🫂 Codependency: This happens when two people rely on each other and only each other for their support systems—emotional, psychological, or even physical support. It often causes one to become isolated from friends or family.

What if I’m in a toxic situationship?

If you feel like you’ve seen too many situationship red flags and you’re in a relationship that’s going the wrong way, you’ve already taken the first step, by being honest with yourself.

The next thing to realize is that self-care is not optional. 🫵 Addressing your concerns with your partner is going to take tact, honesty, and a willingness for you to respect your needs. Plus, you should be able to have a healthy conversation about all this with your partner. If you can’t, there are always other options. It might even time to leave. 🏃

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be kind to yourself. You’re amazing, and deserve to feel good about who you are, and the decisions you make.

Situationships can end up being confusing, and everyone deserves to have support. Consider reaching out to friends and family, or even meeting with a therapist. If you want more advice on relationships, or if you’re looking for an online community of like-minded people going through similar struggles, why not join the Positive Peers app? Support is out there, and you’re never alone. 🤗