February 26, 2023

Jewish Matchmaker Journal: Situationship to Relationship

Navigating through the various forms of romantic relationships can be complex and challenging. One example is the “situationship” - a dating scenario that exists in a grey area between casual dating and a committed relationship. It’s not a one-night-stand and it’s not a “booty call”; it’s a romantic/sexual connection that has not yet been fully defined. In other words, it’s where you are before the “where is this relationship going?” talk.

Are you integrated into your partner’s life? Have you met the friends and family? Is the relationship dynamic and clearly moving in a stated direction? Do you go on “dates” with your partner that are planned and followed through on? Does your partner share feelings and vulnerabilities with you and vice versa? Do you talk about the future? If not, you are likely in a situationship.

While a situationship can feel fun and exciting - even fulfilling in some ways, it can also leave you feeling like you’re on shaky ground - unsure about where you stand. At any time, this relationship could end - suddenly and without obvious reason. With no long-term shared goals, the right hand doesn’t really know what the left hand is doing. (How’s that for an analogy?)

If you find that your feelings for your partner are growing stronger and deeper and your situationship no longer feels like a secure space for you to be in, you may want to move toward a more serious commitment. How do you do that? How do you turn a situationship into a relationship? Here are some tips to help you get there:

Communicate Your Feelings

The first step in turning your situationship into a relationship is to communicate your feelings with your partner. If you’re becoming emotionally attached, keeping your budding love a secret will only cause you pain and heartache. Don’t do that to yourself. You owe it to yourself to admit what you’re feeling and be honest about what you want and need. The fear is that if your partner doesn’t feel the same, you will lose the little bit of connection that you have - but you deserve more than a “little bit”. Something is not better than nothing when the something is leading to heartache. Let your partner know that your feelings have grown deeper and you are ready to take things to the next level. Be open about what you need from the relationship moving forward and give your partner the space to do the same.

Define Your Relationship

Once you've both shared your feelings about where you want the relationship to go, it's important to define what you have. No more grey area. If it’s going to remain a situationship, that needs to be clear to both of you. If the goal is a more serious, committed relationship, both of you should know that this is what you are moving toward. Maybe you both decide that the move from situationship to relationship should be a slow, gradual process - not an overnight one. That’s also okay; whatever the two of you agree upon is okay. This conversation will help you clarify where your partner stands, where you stand, and what the two of you expect from the relationship moving forward.

Spend Quality Time Together

In a situationship, time spent together may not necessarily be quality time. Maybe it’s just “hanging out” in a very casual way and not investing too much time or energy on dates and meetups. Spending quality time together is crucial in any relationship and it's vital in romantic, committed relationships. Make an effort to plan dates and activities that consider both of your interests with the goal of creating special memories together and getting to know each other on a deeper level. Working on projects together or participating in a novel and unusual activity together is one of the best ways to feel connected and strengthen a bond. Investing quality time in the relationship will show your partner that you are interested and involved in building the relationship.

Be Honest and Authentic

One of the biggest pitfalls of a situationship is the lack of honesty and authenticity. We tend to act like we’re more carefree and less obsessed and anxious than we really are. We want to give the impression that we’re laid back and just “going with the flow” and we intentionally don’t put too many demands on the other person. But if you want to turn your situationship into a relationship, you’ve got to get honest and authentic with your partner. Sharing your truth is one of the bravest things you can do in life, particularly in a romantic relationship where it feels as though your heart is in the hands of someone else. Make it your goal to be vulnerable and to always speak what on your heart and mind. This will help you build trust and create a deeper connection with your partner.

Show Your Partner That You Care

Showing your partner that you care is an essential part of any successful relationship. You may have made thoughtful gestures in the situationship; take it up a notch when you hit relationship mode. Make the time to do those little things that show you're thinking about your partner when he/she is not near. Send a sweet, thoughtful message out of the blue, bring home one of their favorite treats when you’re grocery shopping, or run an errand that you know your partner doesn’t want to do. Learning your partner’s love language and making a point to express your love in the language that means the most to him/her is the perfect way to show you care and that you take the relationship seriously. People don’t invest in situationships, but a healthy happy relationship requires investment of time, energy, and thoughtful attention.

Respect Each Other's Boundaries

Respecting each other's boundaries is crucial in every relationship. In a situationship, it can often feel like there are no boundaries because nothing has been clearly defined. Moving into a relationship demands that you discuss your boundaries with your partner and vice versa. You both need to understand and respect the boundaries of the other. What do you want this relationship to look like? What are some behaviors that you expect; what are some behaviors that you won’t tolerate? Be honest and upfront and give your partner the space to do the same. Clarifying your boundaries will help avoid future misunderstandings and ensure that you both feel comfortable in the relationship.

Be Patient

Turning a situationship into a relationship can take time, and it's important to be patient. Avoid putting pressure on your partner or rushing the relationship and don’t let your partner pressure you. Instead, put the focus on building a strong, lasting connection and let the relationship develop naturally and at its own pace.

Be Prepared to Walk Away

Finally, it's important to be prepared to walk away if you want a relationship and your partner doesn’t. While it can be difficult to end the relationship completely, staying in a situationship that's not fulfilling will be even more difficult. At some point, it will become almost unbearable. Once you want a relationship with someone, a situationship will never be enough. You deserve to be in a relationship that makes you happy, and with someone who wants you as much as you want them. Don’t be afraid to end things if that is what is truly best for you in the long run.