We spent a long night entwined in each other at the cinema.
I received countless forehead kisses, and shared a full litre of elderflower cordial so I was quite giddy from the sugar.
Afterwards, we giggled our way down the escalator – chatting about the film, what we liked and what we didn’t.
I was driven home and gifted more kisses before we said goodbye. We hadn’t made any plans to see each other again, but I was sure we would at some point.
See, this wasn’t a date with my long-term partner – but with my ‘situationship’.
It’s this level of laid back spaciousness that I love.
For those not in the know, situationships refer to the thrilling time after you’ve started seeing someone – but haven’t yet had The Chat about ‘what this is’.
They represent a sort of middle-ground, between friends with benefits (FWB) and an official partner. Situationships are not a one-time thing, but they’re certainly not a defined, set-in-stone thing either.
I have been in a situationship for the last few months and I am loving it.
Perhaps it feels so good because I am recently out of a long-term relationship, where I didn’t have my own room or space.
I have been friends with this person for a long time and over the last few months we have grown closer.
We see each other once or twice a week, and I really look forward to our dates – enjoying them every time.
We go to the cinema, on long walks, out for food – and we even go on weekends away to cute little AirBnBs with a log fire and read out loud to each other from our favourite books.
It’s all very nice.
And then I get to go back to the rarified sanctum of my own room in my own house, on my own, with all of my own things around me, which is also very nice. I cherish the peace and the solitude.
I have explained to them in clear, gentle terms that I do not want to be in a committed relationship – and that I am seeing other people.
This chat took place early on as I practised telling the truth about how I felt, what I want, what I don’t want. It was intimidating. I don’t want to hurt this person’s feelings, and I also don’t want to pretend or perform some made-up version of an ideal partner.
At this moment in my life, located somewhere between those two things lies the situationship. We talk about this with mutual respect and honesty, which is a breath of fresh air.
The arrangement I have with this very nice person is not in any way devalued just because it’s not leading up to something more ‘serious’.
Instead, it centres the pleasure, joy, spaciousness, and variety that situationships can offer: sex, company, conversation, and friendship.
But societally, situationships are often framed as something different; something to try and escape, or at the very least something to try and progress from into something more ‘real’. It has a very Victorian ‘only marriage is valuable’ tone to it. Ick.
I know from experience that a relationship can too often turn into an ‘expectationship’, full of questions, hopes and worries.
Do my friends like you? Do I like your friends? Do I have to go on that awful cruise with your Tory family? Why won’t you go to the doctors about that wart even though I’ve reminded you to do it three times?
In contrast, I find my situationship is a petri dish of expanded possibility where less strictly boundaried things can develop. It sits comfortably between ‘friends with benefits’ and a ‘real relationship’.
It’s not just about the physical, we go on dates and have brilliant conversation – but we are still two people operating independently of each other the rest of the time.
My situationship helps me to mind my own business. I am less personally invested in whether or not this person spends too much time on their phone; if they call their brother enough, or how they’re doing at work.
I’m less personally bound up in what they’re doing and what I think that means about me, something that was much more difficult for me in a traditional relationship.
It keeps my ego in check – it helps me remember something that is always true, but is much easier for me to forget in a relationship: that this person is a free, independent human being who literally does not owe me anything.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting the symbolic security of being in an official relationship. However, I also think that any sense of security we get from being in one is fundamentally an illusion.
I want to feel safe in this unknowable and peculiar world, and I do all kinds of strange and illogical things to try and enjoy that feeling. I’m even studying for a PhD.
But just like getting a PhD will not keep me safe from recessions, short term contracts, being made redundant, or feeling like an idiot, neither will being in an official relationship keep me safe from loneliness, fear, or betrayal.
There’s something in the enhanced distance and separateness of a situationship that suits me at the moment. It helps me to focus on my own behaviour, preferences, and appetites, rather than eliding myself with a significant other.
For me, my situationship is the Goldilocks porridge of seeing someone.
Not too hot, not too cold. Not too much time together and doggedly fixating on what our shared future is going to be like. It’s ‘just right’.
I don’t have to date or *shudders* put myself out there, and equally I don’t have to think about moving in together, or if our interior decor preferences will be compatible.
I really hope I get to keep seeing this person, and as long as they want to keep seeing me too, I can think of no reason to change our arrangement.
I am not interested in speculating about whether or not this will turn into a traditional relationship. I would be sad if it ended, just like I would be sad if I got fired or broke my leg again.
I could fill every hour of the day imagining versions of the future in which I am saddened by things that haven’t happened yet – or I can pay attention to what is happening.
Maybe part of the reason I love my situationship is because it helps me to stay focussed on the present moment, which is where all of my happiness lies.
So, with that in mind: long live the situationship.
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