5 signs you’re in a situationship — and how to handle it

Seeing someone but find yourself stuck midway between hook-ups and a committed relationship? Here’s how to recognise — and navigate — a situationship.

In today’s world of swiping left or right in the pursuit of love, many individuals find themselves in a dating rut.

Does your crush only want to hang out after 11pm?

Perhaps you spend multiple nights a week at their house, but never once are you introduced to the housemates.

Are they avoiding any discussion about defining your relationship?

You could be in a situationship — a romantic arrangement that lies somewhere between a one-night stand and a committed relationship.

You’ve likely heard the Gen-Z phrase before — it reached its peak in Google Search Traffic earlier this year and with hundreds of TikTok videos offering advice on “How To Get Over Your Situationship”, it’s hard to avoid.

To help you navigate this dating grey zone, we have enlisted the help of online relationship counsellor Clinton Power and couples therapist Jill Dzadey.

5 signs you might be in a situationship

Clinton, who works with individuals to help them negotiate the murky waters of dating in the 21st century, says there are five situationship red flags to watch for.

A lack of labels

Have you been seeing each other for a while but don’t know where you stand?

Are you “hanging out”, “dating” or “exclusive”?

If you avoid having a conversation to attempt to define the relationship and avoid sharing your feelings, you are in a situationship.

Inconsistent communication

You may not have a predictable communication pattern, or you may even go days without talking.

When you do talk, your conversations stay on the surface level.


People in serious relationships discuss the future and make plans together.

In a situationship, you often feel uncertain about where the relationship is going.

With no commitment to a future together, you could walk away without an explanation.

Limited public interaction

There are no invites to family dinners or work events.

You’re rarely in a public setting; instead, you only interact in private.

There is no real interest in doing what typical couples do to build a relationship, and there is no talk of meeting each other’s friends or family any time soon.

Physical focus

The relationship focuses heavily on the physical rather than the emotional.

The sex is great and there are no issues with intimacy in the bedroom, but this doesn’t extend into the romantic sphere.

Do you stay or do you end the situationship?

Being in a situationship can be very confusing, especially when it comes to deciding whether to stay or end it

Jill warns against idealising potential over reality, at risk of making the decision even harder. “Sometimes we tend to think of the potential of (the relationship), but it’s not reflective of what is truly happening,” she says.

But just because the relationship isn’t real, it doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t.

Research shows negative partner interactions, such as those seen in situationships, can lead to increased depression and anxiety among adults.

Jill’s top advice? End the situationship when the instability brings overwhelming anxiety.

She says it’s imperative to constantly check in with yourself to make sure you’re getting what you want out of this relationship.

How to have ‘the talk’ and define your relationship

You have caught feelings. This is exciting, but you don’t know where to go from here.

Having “the talk” to define your relationship is an important step, and approaching it with care can make all the difference.

Clinton shares his five-step guide to take your situationship to the next level.

Prepare yourself

Reflect on your feelings and what you want from the relationship.

Be clear about your expectations and limits so there are no misunderstandings.

If it helps, write down your thoughts and what you want to communicate, but don’t discuss it as the other person is walking out the door or at the end of a long and stressful day.

Face each other in a quiet space so there are no distractions.

Be direct

Clearly express your feelings and desires for the relationship.

Use “I” statements to focus on how you feel rather than put pressure on the other person or make them feel blamed.

Avoid ultimatums

Ultimatums never work. They create threats and increase reactivity.

Instead of presenting an ultimatum, discuss what you’re looking for and ask if they see the same possibilities.

Stay open and relaxed. Breathe!

Discuss exclusivity

If being exclusive is important to you, this is the time to bring it up.

Find out if they feel the same way — but be prepared that they may not.

Be prepared for any outcome

The conversation could lead to a deepened relationship, or you might discover that you’re not on the same page.

Be a good listener and try to understand their perspective, even if it’s different from yours.

Whatever the outcome, it’s always better to know where you stand.

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Written by Emma Sudano.