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What Is A 'Situationship' And How Do You Know If You're In One?

Here are the telltale signs!
PHOTO: istockphoto

Whether you're well-acquainted with the term "situationship" or have never heard it before, if you've dated, you've almost certainly found yourself in one. But what does a situationship actually involve? We asked dating and relationship experts to shed some light on this new(ish) term.

What does "situationship" mean?

As with all our favorite portmanteaus, it's not entirely clear what a situationship means. Is it a partnership that's only situationally convenient (aka "Mx Right Now") or is it that particular stage of a relationship just before "the talk?" Either way, it can be confusing when you find yourself in the midst of one.

According to dating coach James Preece, it's the latter: "A situationship is when two people have been on a few dates but are yet to define what's going on. This usually happens for two reasons; they're either still hedging their bets and taking time to get to know each other, or they're nervous about making their feelings known for fear of rejection."

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How can you tell if you're in a situationship?

A situationship has no labels, so if you're seeing someone but aren't exactly sure what's going on, you're probably in one.

According to Stephanie Tumba, relationship expert and author of 100 Dates And A Wedding, there are a few other telltale signs, like having no photos together on social media, only communicating via WhatsApp, not having met any of their friends yet and being scared or reluctant to discuss your feelings. Sound familiar?

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Are there benefits to being in a situationship?

Aside from the obvious cake-and-eat-it scenario, there are more morally understandable reasons for keeping things temporarily unsaid; maybe you're fresh from a breakup or you don't have enough brain space to handle a new partner. Basically, if it works for you, there's no issue in prolonging your situationship.

What's the problem with situationships, then?

Sarah Louise Ryan, relationship expert and founder of Love Lessons, is less rosy about the prospect: "Even if the situationship manages to fulfill our need for emotional connection, physical intimacy, and companionship, it does so without offering any commitment from one or both parties."

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"While it's fine to take a while to see how things progress, it can become frustrating if neither of you makes a move," says James. "The problem comes when one expects more, but the other is quite happy not to commit."

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How long do situationships last?

There's no right answer as to how long situationships should continue; it's totally dependent on the (...you've guessed it) situation. If you're both cool with things, then there's no reason to unnecessarily to move things on. But you do need to be on the same page; can you sleep with other people? Can you date them? Can you DM them? Unlike a relationship, the rules are less black and white. And that's when things get tricky.

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To avoid ruining your situationship before it officially begins, the secret is not-so-secret: Talk it out, people! Transparency is the name of the game and, assuming your plus one is as good as you think they are, it will be off-ish in no time.

"Even if an undefined relationship starts with no title, rules, or expectations, people are not robots and can change how they feel," Tumba says.

"However, if you're unhappy with the situation, you should discuss it or cut ties to allow the other person and yourself to develop a relationship with someone else, which may actually have a future."

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.