...or is it just me? While my attempts at forging a connection with other human beings are laughable (it’s them, not me), I’m confident I’m not the only one who’s experienced the emotional purgatory of a man who seems just interested enough. As you may have guessed, this is, sadly, a very cishet article.
If you haven’t heard the term ‘situationship’ before, Refinery29 defines it as ‘the kinda-relationship that nobody wants to be in’
. And as much as I’ve enjoyed casual relationships in the past, a situationship one where the lines of ‘casual’ are constantly crossed - and typically, it only works for one person involved. So, how do you know if you’re in a situationship?1. Trust your instincts.
If you know, you know. It’s 2020, normalise trusting your gut. If you're stressed, making excuses about the person you’re dating to your mates or just generally disappointed, you’re in it.2. He never asks you questions.
I don’t mean in the DMs or via text - very easy for even the guiltiest fuckboys to thrum up a glimmer of interest in the DMs. But when you meet up in person, are they asking questions with any depth beyond the shallow pool of ‘how are you?’ Or are you injecting yourself into the conversation because it’s the only way you get a look in? The offender will say cute things to you, but never actually ask for your point of view.
Which brings me to my next point….3. A person without curiosity is not ever going to be interested in you in any serious way.
Clem Ford talks about curiosity a lot, and it’s such a foundational part of a healthy relationship that it bears constant repeating. If the person you’re seeing isn’t making a full-hearted attempt to get to know you, they will never be in a position to genuinely love, or even like you. ‘No wonder he’s not interested,’ I said to a friend a while ago, in a Schrodinger-esque display of both awareness and arrogance, ‘he’s never made the effort to get to know me’. To them, you remain a cipher: a body, a vessel, someone to pad their ego. 4. You’ve met their friends, but there’s no label.
One of my all-time most hated moves is meeting friends before anything is official. It’s a classic move of the situationshipper: they think it’s keeping it casual and light, I think it’s one step away from meeting the parents (and not in the good, we’re-making-progress way). Note, however, that you can still in be in a situationship without meeting the friends. 5. Apply the litmus test: if your best friend described this kind of relationship to you, would you tell them to cut and run?
This test is a failsafe way of establishing a benchmark. The balance of powers isn’t just a doctrine I learned in Year 11 Modern History
And that’s ultimately the real frustration of the situationship - power is a tipped scale, and the situationshipee is the one having the whole nightmare done to them. There’s no mutual decision-making. And, when you try to broach the subject, you’re hit with words like, ‘well, I’m interested, but only on my terms.’ Yes, that’s a real message I got, and no, that definitely doesn’t describe a situation I want to be in.
So, how to extricate yourself from this Hades and end it once and for all?
1. Unfollow on social media. Honestly, do it.
2. If you’re up for having the grown-up conversation, have it. My somewhat controversial view on this is that if they haven’t given you the time of day to hear you out, it’s not worth it. You’re well within your rights to distance yourself.
3. Have lots of coffees and Zooms and proper, lush dinners with your friends (not the unseasoned chicken breast/broccoli/errant sweet potato travesty that men think constitutes a meal) - surrounding yourself with people who not only care about you but who are genuinely interested in your day is a stark reminder of what you’re owed in a relationship.
4. Yes, good dick is a prison - but ask yourself - how good is it really
5. If they suggest catching up, respond with the following, or some variation of: ‘Hi! This has been fun, but I’m not really interested in keeping it up if it’s not going anywhere. Take care!’ They will persist - if not straight away, then six months later. Men are taught that they’re the arbiters of sex and relationships, after all. At this point, ignoreignoreignore
And how to turn a situationship into a relationship? That’s an article for another time, by another person, because I’ve never pulled it off.
Until then: know your worth. Tabitha Laffernis is a writer based in Sydney, Australia. Her short fiction has been published in Flapperhouse, Hobart, and Gigantic Sequins. You can keep tabs on her work here.
Image Credit: La Chinoise (1967) via Pinterest