The main reason why situationships are so tough is because they’re undefined relationships. They’re nebulous situations where the other person is “sorta-kinda” your partner. They’re typically your plus-one when going out or attending events and possibly “your person.” But they’re def not someone you’d introduce to your parents (in any romantic context, anyway). And so, when things do go “sorta-kinda” south with your person, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact signs your almost-relationship is fizzling out.
As dating coach Julie Wadley explained to Elite Daily, it can be hard to see the end of situationships because they’re relationships that “never really started.”Even if you are able to pick up on certain issues between you and your person, it doesn’t feel like there are grounds to address them — because you’re technically not committed, romantic partners.
It can be difficult when you feel like your almost-relationship is fading to black. Still, however tricky it may be, this scenario isn’t impossible to overcome. Working with clients in intimacy recovery, sex and relationships therapist Renelle Nelson has found a few tell-tale signs that a romance is on the rocks. Here are seven that she’s picked up on, as well as what to do about it.
1. HEARING THEIR NAME FILLS YOU WITH DREAD
According to Nelson, if you feel “a wave of discomfort, disgust, or even anger” just hearing your so-called bae’s name, you might want to check in with yourself. It’s likely you associate your situationship with exhaustion and feeling like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Sure, you might have some sort of feelings for your partner, but you don’t like them anymore.
2. YOU’RE TIRED OF TRYING TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT
That is to say: You’re tired of playing detective to understand where the other person lies emotionally. And you’re tired of speculating where you or the other person see this situationship going. This looks like avoiding intimate conversations about your future or your feelings.
“Some of my clients either start conflict to remove themselves in anger or avoid conflict, due to not wanting to discuss any issues,” Nelson says.
3. YOU DON’T HAVE EMOTIONAL LOYALTY ANYMORE
While your situationship can be one based mostly on sex, it’s possible that you and your person have emotional intimacy, too. One sign a situationship is starting to fizzling out is that you may have originally shared with them emotionally. But now, Nelson says, “You share with everyone but them.”
In the past, this person would have been your first call to celebrate scoring your internship or finally landing that coveted job offer. You may have hit them up to vent about annoying roommate or friends, so you don’t say something you regret in the group chat. Now, instead, you find yourself seeking out other people to talk to — or even sparking up new situationships to fill that emotional void.
4. SEX IS OFF THE TABLE
Sex isn’t everything, per se. But if you two were FWB and were looking to become more, sex was probably a big part of your relationship. If you or your partner are avoiding sex or any intimate contact, Nelson says, your almost-relationship might be coming to a close.
5. THEY DON’T EXCITE YOU AT ALL
Your situationship might be on the rocks if, to use Nelson’s words, your “arousal cycle” has changed when it comes to the other person. You might be having dinner with them or answering their “come over” text, and realize that you are no longer excited by them.
Or, on the flipside, Nelson says, “You find arousal and comfort outside the relationship.” You might find yourself daydreaming about your hot co-worker or fantasizing about finally asking out your favorite barista — because that excites you, and your situationship doesn’t. At all.
6. YOU FLAT-OUT DON’T WANT TO BE AROUND THEM
“The desire has left,” Nelson says. And even if you’re physically present and engaging in physically intimacy, you “have a hard time connecting and find refuge in your head instead of your body.”
7. YOU DON’T KNOW WHY YOU’RE EVEN HERE ANYMORE
Why are you putting all this time, effort, and energy into them, again? The nail in the coffin — for all of this general discomfort or lack of enthusiasm toward your boo — will be probably be your frustration with the entire situation. You’ll get to the point where you take stock of your declining sexual intimacy and emotional intimacy. And you’ll ultimately “challenge your own motives or theirs for wanting this relationship to even happen,” Nelson says.
This question-asking and burst of feeling might also flare up when — if you do take a chance and have a serious, emotionally intimate conversation — you start talking about defining the relationship. Maybe you two talked about your almost-relationship getting serious in the past. But now the future seems ultra murky. “You know it’s coming to an end if they haven’t defined or committed, and you are left in limbo,” Nelson says.
YOU’VE READ THE SIGNS. NOW WHAT?
First, reflect on the situationship from your perspective. “Get to the root of possible issues — betrayal, trauma, desire or goal differences — that may cause you to foster resentment, anger, hurt or even shame,” Nelson recommends.
Second, Nelson advises, take time for yourself to outlining your needs, wants, and desires from the situationship. This is helpful because when you do talk to your person, you’ll be able to set realistic goals for getting back on track.
And so, third, talk to the other person about what’s been going. “I always recommend face-to-face for this, because no need for misinterpretation,” Nelson explains. (You can call instead of meeting up, if absolutely necessary, but def don’t have this conversation over text.) Some exact lines you can use are:
- “How are we doing?”
- “Where do you see this relationship going?”
- “What in our current relationship could use improvement?”
- “I’ve noticed that it seems like our interactions are changing. What do you think?”
It’s also crucial that you have this convo at a time that’s convenient for all parties. As Nelson points out: “Just because you are ready to talk doesn’t mean they have time or ready to listen.” When you finally get to communicating, state the facts and try not to get too caught up in feeling, says Nelson. And listen to understand. “This is no time for blame, but awareness.”
No matter what relationship label you use, it’s hard being “with” someone and still feeling disconnected from them. But after pin-pointing how you’re feeling, checking in with yourself, and checking in with your partner, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get some clarity from the situation.