Why are situationships so complicated?
In the area of romance, there’s a lot of room for grey areas and the term “situationship” is a great way to define them! What makes these non-relationship so complicated and so hard to leave? We tend to idealize the good ole’ days in which either they were into you – and showed it! – or they didn’t and after the subsequent disappointment, you were out and about in a few weeks without having to carry the weight of doubt wherever you go.
What is the cycle of situationships? How can they be identified? Any red flags? And most importantly: Why is it so hard to let go of them?
Let’s face it, the vast majority of situationships end in disappointment. Yes, sometimes, someone hits the jackpot and their indecisive, hot and cold lover ends up becoming their forever partners, or so I’ve been told! However; rather than focusing and hoping for the exception, let’s take a look to the most common scenario.
The beginning of a situationship.
The beginning of a situationship doesn’t differ much from the beginning of a relationship, except that’s all that it is. A permanent beginning, and this is when it gets hard for the person that wants more.
The first stages of a relationship are always filled with charm and we tend to give our best face, and this is the ideal situation for expectations to grow and idealization to happen. You have been charmed by the best side of your romantic interest, and that’s all that you know. You know how sweet they can be, you know their potential to be absolutely adorable, and this is usually mixed together with the best sex you’ve had in a while! So you keep on trying to bring them back to their “true selves”; That amazing knight / or knightess in shiny armour persona that they bewitched you with.
The truth is, that it is not until we relax in a relationship that we start to show our true selves. Sometimes this translates in hair growing in places where there wasn’t any before, and the occasional open door in the bathroom with all of its sounds! But many others, it translates into lack of interest, disengagement, withdrawal of attention and apathy.
In this permanent beginning, more often than not, we don’t get to really know in depth the person that we have in front of us. There’s not a real intimacy, not a real closeness. And it is as well extremely common to find that when one of those “open up” moments occurs, the person on the other end will start talking about their inner issues, what we will understand as a call for help instead of what it is: A person trying to tell us that they are not interested in making this a relationship.
Identifying a situationship.
Identifying a situationship can be hard, and let’s face it, we are too happy in our blindfold to dare to take a look, but if we do, we will very likely discover that “our boyfriend” doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that they are in a relationship with us.
These are the most blatant signs that you are in a situationship.
– You call them your boyfriend / girlfriend / partner but you would shoot your foot before referring to them as such in front of them. (Accept it, if you can’t call them your partner in their presence, chances are they are not your partner.)
– You find yourself making a shitload of excuses for them. “They just got out of a relationship”, “Work is being too stressful” or my favourite “They are scared”. You can be scared of not making it to pay your rent in time, not a good morning text!
– Your planner is all clear, making room for them to show up, yet you haven’t seen them in weeks.
– They are really nice in person, but as soon as the meeting is over, the attention is over too.
Why is it so effin’ hard to let go of a situationship?
The genius “How I Met Your Mother” defined it as “The Hook”. The Hook is your worst enemy, and the best friend of the emotionally incompetent. The Hook is a wonderful tool that allows you to keep a person hanging on, like that jacket that you never wear on the wardrobe, waiting for you to decide to take them out.
The mechanism of The Hook.
The mechanism of The Hook is actually as simple as an actual hook. It keeps you at hand without much actual effort. Its purpose? To keep you there for whenever you come in handy, of because they don’t have what it takes to be clear about their intentions. However; It’s not all their fault, sometimes, we are told in many different ways that they are not into us that way, yet we continue to insist and stay around just in case they change their minds.
Signs you’re in The Hook:
– If they cut communication, they can go for weeks without saying a word or responding to your texts. If you stop communicating, though, they will make sure you receive a non-commital text that keeps your interest going.
– They don’t go out of their way to see you or spend time with you, they will claim to have lots of work and won’t offer to reschedule when you suggest a date, but they will make other plans. Your meetings are almost always rushed, like a last minute thing and usually in their terms.
– In the event that you’re speaking about feelings or the relationship, they use very vague statements: “We’ll see where it goes”, “You’re a great girl / dude / person”, “You’re the best!”, “Thank you for being there” and “Let’s not label this”.
– They do things to prevent you from leaving, but not for getting you closer. They are offering you crumbs that keep you there, but they won’t go out of their way to actually make room for you in their life.
Why do they keep us in The Hook?
I’d like to speak about three different reasons why someone keeps us in The Hook. Spoiler alert: You can keep yourself in The Hook.
- Our romantic interest is emotionally incompetent: There’s no twisted thinking behind this, just an incredible fear of making others feel bad because these folks are people pleasers. They feel really uncomfortable saying “no” or they do care about you on a personal level and they don’t want to hurt your feelings, even though they do not have interest in the relationship. They are hinting with their conversations that they are not interested, but they won’t say straight away that they don’t want it.
Some signs that you are dealing with one of these are:
– Sentences such as “I wonder if I will ever find the right person for me…” when you are right there, “I have never been in love…” or “I don’t think I am in the right emotional space for doing this” all have the same hidden message: “I wonder if I will ever find the right person for me, ‘cause clearly it’s not you!”, “I have never been in love and it doesn’t look like you’re going to change that!” or “I don’t feel butterflies for you, I’m sorry.”
– They say that you are a wonderful person, that they appreciate you, that they should be in love with you but that they are not. What do you understand from this? Usually it’s something along the lines of “Oh, this person is so scared about their feelings…” while the truth is more along the lines of “Look, I appreciate you as an individual but I don’t have romantic feelings for you.”
– They are kind and friendly towards you, but moments of romance and intimacy feel awkward.
- Our romantic interest is a narcissistic psycho: Because yeah, there are jerks everywhere and this is no exception. This person is completely conscious that they are keeping us hooked and they are doing so because they want the benefits of our presence without having to give anything in return.
– They’ll drop a long-term plan that never actually happens and makes us think that there’s a future there. “We could make a trip in winter.”
– When you think about it, you see how they are getting so much from you and enjoying it, without actively doing anything to attempt to stop your efforts, yet they won’t do anything for you.
– Dates will usually be on a schedule – theirs – and end abruptly. If you or they spend the night, it’ll be over right after breakfast if you’re lucky.
– You know plenty of things about them, yet they don’t know very basic things about you.
– Your social circle knows all about them, yet they seem to be keeping you secret. You know little about their environment and they probably don’t know that you’re in the picture.
- You would rather take your eyes off their sockets yourself than admit defeat: And this one is also very common. Don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there, the secret is to acknowledge it and change it!
– They have repeatedly told you that they don’t want more than it is. Yes, when you insist you may go on a date, you may even have sex, they may text you, but it is not partner style and you know it.
– You find yourself lying to your friends and family about your relationship. You may even say that you’re going to meet when you aren’t, you call them your partner when you know they’re not your partner, you lie about the frequency of your communication and in general, deep down you know that you’re living a fantasy.
– You hope that the magical super powers of your love, patience and sacrifice will make them bend the knee and offer you a ring, although you suspect that’s about as likely as winning the lottery.
The conclusion is, and forgive me for using a lame meme sentence for this: Ships are meant to take you places! So if your relationship, friendship or partnership isn’t making you move forward, it’s time to hop off! Situationships rarely if ever go anywhere, and you can be sure that in the event they end up regretting their decision, they will most likely let you know. So lose your fear to say “Next!” and if you identify yourself in this pattern, be quick to act on it!