The Situation on Situationships


February 21, 2024

Writer: Kevin Miko Buac
Creatives: Krystle Mae Labio, Jia Moral
Editor: Richardson Mojica
Moderators: Eula Labordo, Ian Stephen Velez


As relationships evolve, so too do new dynamics arise, one being the phenomena known as “situationships” a term from combining the terms “situation” and “relationship.” It involves a relationship between two individuals who have a romantic or sexual connection with no established commitment (1,2). Common signs of a situationship include inconsistent communication, focus on physical intimacy rather than emotional intimacy, uncertainty about exclusivity in the relationship, and reluctance to discuss long-term plans regarding the future of the relationship (1). Overall situationships are marked by uncertainty and the lack of clear boundaries; boundaries wherein a relationship is not fully established and undefined. As these “situationships” become more prevalent in modern relationships it prompts an investigation into the dynamics at play that lead to the development of situationships and along with that, the potential impacts for the parties involved. 


In situationships where the relationship has not been defined with no labels such as boyfriend or girlfriend or mutual decision for commitment, this lack of certainty accompanies potential emotional distress. The unpredictable nature of a situationship comes with various impacts on one’s mental health such as anxiety about the direction of the relationship, feelings of insecurity from the lack of consistent support, and difficulty trusting people which makes forming secure attachments all the more challenging (3).


Situationships arise from various factors ranging from fear of commitment, life priorities outside relationships, social influence that encourages situationships as a viable alternative, and prior experiences of failed relationships (heartbreak, betrayal, rejection) (4). While situationships seem to offer the benefits of independence, and romantic companionship, with marginally fewer obligations compared to a committed relationship (1), it is also worth noting the aforementioned risks and mental health impacts that can result should a situationship continue in the long term.  


With the merits and demerits of a situationship laid out, it becomes essential that open communication and setting boundaries are needed in influencing the outcome of a situationship. Thus enter the dictum of deciding or sliding when it comes to relationships (5,6). Deciding simply means making intentional choices about transitioning relationship milestones which range from being exclusive, moving in, or getting married; in contrast to sliding where transitions are unplanned in the absence of a mutual decision (5,6). This being said there comes the need to define the relationship (6), which in the context of situationships is essential in determining its outcome. In opening the discussion on defining the relationship it also becomes an opportunity to explore compatibility and express each other’s needs (7). Regardless of the outcome points to consider in addressing a situationship include establishing clear boundaries based on your comfort while being patient with yourself every step of the way (1). 


With this in mind approaching situationships brings challenges on its own in examining relationship dynamics in a new light. Navigating the nuances of relationships regardless of their nature entails a degree of mindful intention. Communication, boundaries, and self-awareness are essential in building and maintaining relationships with others and ourselves; thus knowledge and wisdom of such empowers us in leading the complexities of relationships in our lives with grace and fortitude.


  1. What does it mean to be in a situationship?
  2. What are the pros and cons of being in a situationship?
  3. How does one deal with undefined or unestablished “romantic” connections?


  1. Mind Journal. (2023). What exactly is a situationship? The good, the bad, and the ugly truth about undefined relationships. Mind Help.
  2. Dubé, S., Lavoie, F., Blais, M., & Hébert, M. (2017). Psychological Well-Being as a Predictor of Casual Sex Relationships and Experiences among Adolescents: A Short-Term Prospective Study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(6), 1807–1818.
  3. Shah, A. (2020). Relationships and mental health. ResearchGate.
  4. Choudhry, V., Petterson, K. O., Emmelin, M., Muchunguzi, C., & Agardh, A. (2022). ‘Relationships on campus are situationships’: A grounded theory study of sexual relationships at a Ugandan university. PLOS ONE, 17(7), e0271495.
  5. Owen, J., Rhoades, G. K., & Stanley, S. M. (2013). Sliding versus deciding in relationships: associations with relationship quality, commitment, and infidelity. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 12(2), 135–149.
  6. Ury, L. (2021). How to Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science that Will Help You Find Love. First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition. New York, Simon & Schuster.
  7. Vandergriendt, C. (2020). Is it a situationship and does that matter? Healthline.


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