Situationships: What They Are and 5 Signs You’re in One

Situationships: What They Are and 5 Signs You’re in One

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The word “relationship” has never really been enough for us, has it? We need a whole fleet of “ships” to understand our associations with other people. Those definitions help us create expectations, construct boundaries and set goals.

But sometimes, things just sort of … happen. You become romantically or sexually involved with someone without any labels or formalities.

We talked to psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, about this relatively new term. She explains what a situationship is, whether it’s a healthy way to connect with another person, how to know you’re in one and what to do if it ends.

What is a situationship?

“Situationship” isn’t a word you’ll find in the dictionary, but it’s hard to avoid in popular culture. So, what is it exactly?

“Situationships are characterized by a lack of obligation or exclusivity, but the real hallmark is a lack of clear boundaries or labels,” she explains. “There are elements of friendship and romance, but they exist without defining the relationship. So, essentially, you have many of the benefits of a traditional relationship without having to make a commitment.”

One the one hand, situationships may allow you to feel the sense of connection you’d experience in a standard-issue relationship and the independence that comes with being single. On the other hand, if you’re not clear on the nature of your involvement, it can’t progress.

“Our brains really like clarity,” Dr. Albers notes. “They gravitate to black and white, so this gray area can be very hard to process and may even create anxiety.”

Dr. Albers explains, “It’s very hard to stay unattached. Continue reading