A situationship: an undefined, non-committed casual relationship. Or, according to Urban Dictionary: emotional trauma in a gift box.
At the start of my situationship, I didn’t mind that whatever it was we were doing. I was unsure about my feelings for the guy, who we’ll call Zach. We’d had a few dates that all went well, we had fun together, but in the days in-between I wasn’t actively thinking about him.
Maybe this is perfect, I thought.
In the past, I used to have a lot of anxiety when I started dating someone. I’d get anxious if they didn’t text back within a few hours; I’d block off my week just to make time for a date that hadn’t even been planned.
But now, I was more laid back. I was enjoying my own life and spending time with this person.
I couldn’t tell how Zach felt well, because he never told me. There were no I like yous, or, where is this going? But it wasn’t just casual sex either. We’d go on dates, we’d go to the theatre, we’d go out for dinner and then drinks after, and then we’d find ourselves back at his place.
The one “problem” was that I still didn’t feel that chemistry or spark with him. The sex was good, but it wasn’t amazing. My friends told me to keep trying— sometimes, that part comes later.
Some of my friends also thought Zach was more into me than I was into him. They’d tell me that it’s obvious he likes me. Zach didn’t have much experience with relationships, so maybe he was just shy and holding back.
I was enjoying how things were going but at the same time, I was hoping it would eventually develop into something more.
At the three-month mark, it still hadn’t. I went away for a trip and when I came back I thought about ending it with Zach. What were we even doing?
But as soon as I saw him, I liked him all over again. I remembered why I hadn’t ended it. We just had fun. After, he dropped me off at the train station and pulled me in for a kiss like we were in the movies. I left, giddy, and as I sat on my train and looked out the window I thought to myself, shit.
I’m starting to like the guy.
Zach and I continued to hang out like this for another two months. One evening, he came out with my friends. We all went out for brunch the next morning. As we ordered our food at the counter, Zach placed a hand on the small of my back like we were together.
A few weeks later, Zach and I were sitting having coffees in his kitchen when I brought up “feelings” for the first time.
“You know, we could start hanging out a little bit more, if you like?”
Zach nodded, “Yeah, definitely.”
Then I remembered: “Oh, my sister is in town this week so I don’t think I can do something until the weekend actually.”
“Goddammit LJ,” he teased.
“I mean, you’re welcome to join? I know that might be a lot but a few of us are just going to the pub one evening.”
He grimaced. “Yeah, that might be a bit intense.”
When I left his house, I thought about that conversation. Sure, we weren’t “official,” but we’d been seeing each other for five months. Was it really that intense for him to meet my sister?
I decided to text him.
Hey, I’ve really been enjoying spending time together. I know we haven’t really checked in about what we’re doing, so I was just wondering how you’re feeling/where you’re at?
When I got the reply an hour later, my heart sank. Maybe part of me knew all along that Zach had been trying to keep his distance.
I’m really enjoying spending time together too. I’m not looking for something hugely serious. To be honest, I haven’t given it much thought. What about you? Where are you at?
I think what hurt the most was that he hadn’t thought about it at all. How do you date someone for five months and not think about where it’s going? I told Zach that I thought we should call it quits. I did want a relationship and if this wasn’t going anywhere, it was best to not waste each other’s time.
When I finally sent that text, I felt sadness, and then relief. It felt like for five months I’d been trying to make something work that maybe just wasn’t meant to be anything more than it was.
I wasn’t angry with Zach. My ego was a little bit bruised. I was a little bit annoyed that he hadn’t been more upfront about his wants from the get-go, but at the same time, neither had I. We were both at fault for not communicating.
Here are a few things I learned from this experience:
- Be clear about your intentions early on. I was so unsure about Zach in the early days, I didn’t want to have “the talk.” Equally, I knew I wanted a relationship, so I should have been clear about that. Maybe then Zach and I could have enjoyed our “situationship” without the pressure of it becoming anything more. I also do think Zach should have been upfront about not wanting something serious. Then, I would have known it wasn’t going to develop into anything more.
- Trust your gut. From the start, I felt like there was a distance between us. That elusive spark just wasn’t fully there. I tried for a long time to make it happen, and it just didn’t. I let other people’s opinions impact my own. You know how you feel about someone. Trust that.
- Not everything is meant to last. If Zach and I had been clearer about what we were looking for, I would have been able to appreciate our relationship for what it was. We put so much pressure on ourselves to find “the one,” we forget that we can also simply have fun. Zach was never an asshole to me. He respected me. We had nice dates. It didn’t need to be more than that.
- Don’t be afraid of pushing someone away. If they leave, it wasn’t meant to work out. When I finally did approach Zach about where this was headed, I was so afraid of coming off as too intense. Instead of beating around the bush that morning over coffee, I should have asked him straight up: “Hey, I’m starting to like you. We’ve been hanging out for a while. How are you feeling?” It’s scary to put ourselves out there, but by being clear and confident in ourselves, we will push away what isn’t right and attract what is.
- Be grateful for rejection. I know Zach didn’t straight-up reject me, but when he said he didn’t see it going anywhere, it stung. I still felt like there was something wrong with me that made him not want to date me. Was I not enough? There’s no point in that kind of thinking though. Instead, we can be grateful for rejection because it opens up the space for the right person to come into our lives.
Situationships can feel like a time-waster. Often, they do involve a lot more “mind-fuckery” as one dictionary definition put it. I’m lucky that my five-month situationship with Zach wasn’t all bad.
If we’re clear about what we want, we communicate, and we respect one another, then we can enjoy the dating process so much more.
Have you had a situationship before? I’d love to hear in the comments!
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
From The Good Men Project on Medium
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