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Maggie Vaughn and Jyllian Foster / Gavel Media

Lovesick: Situationships Are the Future of Dating: That's Terrifying

Ping! My phone lights up with a message from my roommate, Nikki. I swiped my phone open to find a link to a Time Magazine article heading, "Situationships Are the Future of Dating: That’s Not a Bad Thing". I clicked on the article, expecting a satirical take on modern dating culture. Instead, I’m met with a passionate defense of the "freeing effects" of the "lack of commitment" offered by a situationship. Pfft. If Time Magazine isn’t brave enough to say it, I am: situationships suck. The lack of commitment is not freeing; it's mind-boggling. These are the terms: you’re together, but you’re not. You’re friends, but not too good friends, because that would be a little too close to being an actual couple. You do hang out alone sometimes, even outside of the bedroom, but don’t count on the other to ask you out on a date. But you still have sex. Duh. 

This new pseudo-relationship status is non-committal in concept only; there is a promise of freedom that is never actually realized in the situationship. The terms of what you owe one another are so vague that you spend more time pondering what is and isn’t okay than you would in a real relationship. You find yourself asking a host of questions you would never pose in a relationship or with a random hookup. Do I stay the night? Or is that too couple-y? When you see them on campus, a BC look-away feels too reserved. But is a simple wave too much of a snub? Am I supposed to stop and chat? Don’t even get me started on how to act when you’re out at the bar or at a party. Even if you plan on meeting up at the end of the night, Ubering home together is out of the question, lest you appear to be in a relationship.

Dating in this gray area of situationships is the ultimate irony. The term was created to name relationships that are not ready to be named. How much more ridiculous can modern dating culture get? I don’t mean to advocate for a stuffy ‘19 Kids and Counting’ courting culture or to stigmatize casual sex. However, I see a danger in normalizing the situationship status. While it can be fun for a short period, I think it ultimately leads to someone getting hurt, especially if they find themselves feeling a more-than-platonic connection. Despite the fact that the two of you have been hanging out and hooking up regularly, the situationship label allows the other person to evade any responsibility for your feelings. They can claim that they don’t owe you anything—it’s not like you were dating. Further, when the situationship comes to an end, it’s hard to feel like mourning the relationship is valid. What do you call that person? Your ex? It feels too formal, but often the pain of a situationship ending is just as sharp as a "real" relationship. If you are a victim of a situationship, just know that I see you and feel your pain. It feels so fun and exciting when you’re entering into one of these anti-committal, sex-positive, semi-relationships. On the other side of it, though, you’ll realize you’ve been bamboozled by modern dating culture, which has put pretty packaging on a shitty present. Happy dating, Eagles!

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