SITUATIONSHIPS: the cheat code to avoid commitment 

How can “situationships” be actually harmful for women?

A few days ago, I went to Brighton for a day out with my friend whom I have certain romantic benefits with. 

(Let’s call him Abel).

 It was everything out of a rom com! We drank M&S cocktails on the train whilst making jokes about other passengers. We made out and held hands. 

Held hands in PUBLIC. 

We made out on the beach (Emphasis on Public here!). We played games in the arcade and gambled like old men. We ate Pizza in a candle-light Italian restaurant. We cozied up on the train back home. 

The minute we touched foot in London, my rose tinted vision gradually began to fade. Something about him was just off. Although I was extremely fatigued from my travels, I was not ready for our romantic adventure to end. So as we were leaving the station, I asked, “What way are you going home?” (Baring in mind I knew that we would end up taking the train together). 

However, to my surprise, I did not receive the answer I wanted. Abel’s reply was “I’m just going to go, I need some time to think!”. He was adamant that he wanted to be alone. So he gave me a kiss goodbye and off I went to the bus stop. 

Holding back my tears, I remember thinking to myself… What the hell am I doing? Why am I having an intense, intimate and passionate experience with a man who does not want a long-term, committing relationship with me? A man who will not care whether I got home safely or not?

Those who spend a generous amount of their time on social media would know about a new phenomena in the dating world: “situationships”. 

Oxford Dictionary defines this as: ‘a romantic or sexual relationship that is not considered to be formal or established’. 

Despite the benefits situationships bring, such as feeling like a female protagonist straight from a rom drama, or feeling that someone is interested in you, or building an emotional connection with a potential partner etc. 

Nonetheless, situationships provide a grey area in dating where feelings and bodies can be exploited without moral conviction. They can also be used as a weaponizing tool against women to fulfil male sexual desires without guilt.

 A quid pro quo, where women receive “love” and attention whilst men do not have to commit to their partners. This faux relationship is nothing but fragile, making women openly vulnerable towards men at the expense of their dignity withdrawn. Situationships can range from 5 months to 5 years! (I’ve read horror stories where it even lasted longer). A draining and wasteful experience with someone who does not fully want you. 

Men are learning more about women. This should not be mistaken as a negative thing. Women vocalising their needs and attitudes regarding dating are important, as  this can improve the treatment and understanding of women. Additionally, it can give birth to fruitful and safe romantic partnerships. However, when men use this information to provide intense faux relationships, this can become emotionally harmful for women. For instance, lack of commitment to a partner can result in boundaries being violated because there is not a strong foundation in this partnership being established, therefore there is no requirement to take into account one’s feelings. 

Black feminist bell hooks states, “when we are loving we openly and honestly express care, affection, responsibility, respect, commitment, and trust”. This parallels the traits of situationships. However, the short term passionate intensity of situationships can be emotionally harmful. An example of this, can be love bombing then ghosting. Or, because there are no commitments, they do not consider learning more about their partner. 

Even worse, forever clinging on to the hope/promise that they would let you know when they want to make things more serious (BTW it never happens girl!). 

A clear example of this is Abel asking me to be his girlfriend after a drunken night, yet he never messaged or checked up on me for 2 months prior. 

So I end on this, I haven’t seen nor spoken to Abel since writing this blog. I feel like our situationship has no longer become something fun and exciting. The more this situationship endured, the less I saw him becoming a stable romantic partner, someone I can rely on when times get tough. In order to maintain my dignity, I cannot be involved in situationships. 

​​I do not consider him a completely bad person (even though my friends do). However, I do see him as a boy, a boy who has not faced the consequences of his actions. 

Leaving on that note, women please trust your gut feeling about a guy!

By Stephanie Lyala – Stephanie is a Playwright, Poet and Lover Girl. You can read more of her adventures in her lovely substack: @nextpagegirl

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