Nowadays, seeing other people is not just restricted to dating or getting into a relationship. Other than casually hooking up or having a serious relationship with someone, you can also explore your romantic interests by getting into a situationship. This is a relationship phase with no labels attached and minimum expectations from one another.
While it allows you to meet new people and have fun before committing to dating them, there are clear red flags that you need to be aware of. The boundaries in situationships are very subjective. It mostly depends on your expectations from the other person. However, there are certain situationship red flags that you cannot ignore, and we’ll take a look at them in this article.
What is a Situationship?
A situationship is a type of romantic or interpersonal relationship that falls somewhere between a casual hookup or "friends-with-benefits" arrangement and a committed defined romantic relationship. It's a connection that involves emotional and sometimes physical intimacy but lacks the clear boundaries, expectations, and commitment that often come with a formal romantic relationship.
Additionally, it is the stage before serious dating for a lot of people. Expecting just physical relationships, not introducing you to friends and family, and continuing to date other people are signs of a situationship.
What are Situationship Red Flags?
All situationships have red flags, but here are 10 that you definitely need to look out for:
- You find out that they are already in a committed relationship with someone else
- Severe lack of communication
- They play hot and cold whenever you talk
- They are controlling
- They try to invade your privacy
- They only hit you up for sex
- The situationship has been going on for too long without a label
- They avoid talking about the future
- They use you as their emotional dumping ground
- Talking to them makes you feel anxious
In the next section, we give an in-depth explanation of each red flag so you know what to look out for and what you're up against.
10 Situationship Red Flags Listed
You find out that they are already in a committed relationship with someone
The first red flag in a situationship is when the other person hides the fact that they are already married or in a committed relationship with someone else. No matter how well you get along, you can't deny that they lied to you. It also means you've unknowingly been hurting that person's partner this whole time.
Continuing to date other people casually is actually pretty common in situationships. After all, none of your relationships are exclusive yet, since you are still exploring and figuring out if you want to be romantically involved with any one of these people or not. And that works as long as the person you're in a situationship with is also single and exploring their options.
It's totally different—and wrong—when the other person hides the fact that they are already in a committed relationship. Worse if they are legally bound to someone else through marriage. It poses a big question about that person’s ethical standpoint, and whether you can even trust them or not.
I'm sure you're familiar with the adage, "Once a cheater, always a cheater". If you end up committing yourself to this person, who's to say they won't cheat on you down the line as well? Who's to say they aren't cheating on you already? Sadly, being with a known cheater will tear you down and wear you out, little by little. You'll be constantly second-guessing yourself and your relationship. Do they really care about you or love you? Are they with somebody else right now? Do you even matter to this person as much as they matter to you? Nobody wants to feel like someone's backup plan or spare.
Moreover, if the situationship goes on for too long, things could very easily escalate. For example, it can get very nasty if your situationship’s partner finds out that they are being cheated on. Worse if they find out who you are and decide to take revenge somehow. You'll be placed in a bad light. Your friends and family might turn their backs on you. And there's no guarantee that your partner will even stick up for you or stay with you once everything goes south.
So, if you find out that the person you're in a situationship with is already married or in a committed relationship—run. Steer clear of that person while you still have no strings attached.
Severe lack of communication
Communication becomes even more important in a situationship where the lines between "just friends" and "something more" can get really blurry. You realize you already have feelings for the other person, but they avoid all your attempts at having a conversation about it. Pay attention to this waving red flag because things can and will get messy if you don't do anything about it.
A severe lack of communication in a situationship can lead to many problems. Firstly, it can make you feel like you're stuck in limbo, unsure of where you stand and whether your feelings are being taken seriously. It's like trying to navigate a maze alone and blindfolded. You're wandering around aimlessly, without a clear direction.
Moreover, let's not forget the emotional toll. Feeling like you're not being heard or that your concerns are being brushed aside can lead to frustration, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, and self-doubt. You shouldn't have to play detective, constantly wondering where you stand in that person's life. A situationship already carries enough uncertainties. Poor communication just heightens the confusion.
Always remember that your feelings are valid. They deserve to be acknowledged and respected, even when your relationship isn't yet clearly defined.
Apps Dating Experts Recommend if You're Suddenly Situationship-less
If you find yourself bordering the edge of singledom again, it's always a good idea to take some time for yourself and work through whatever issues your past relationship brought about. But after that, it's when the fun begins! Here are some of the top dating apps experts agree will reignite your dating life:
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Great If You're Handsome
They play hot and cold whenever you talk
Playing hot and cold is also one of the major situationship red flags. You know the drill: Today, they're totally attentive, engaged, and interested in everything you do and have to say. And then, for absolutely no reason you can think of, they're aloof, impersonal, and even dismissive. Were they offended by something you said or did? Are they dealing with personal problems? Or maybe they're just tired after a long trip or a hard day at work. It's an emotional roller coaster that's full of uncertainty.
This pattern of hot and cold behavior can be really emotionally and mentally taxing. It is also a red flag in women. When someone's level of engagement depends entirely on their mood or whim, it's a big red flag that suggests they might not be fully invested in the connection. They're not ready for, or willing to have, a stable and honest relationship. This is a way to keep you on your toes, so you're always chasing after their attention and validation.
Worse, it could mean undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems. Now, we're not saying never to date someone who's mentally ill. We're saying an unmanaged and untreated mental illness can be bad for you, for them, and (should you decide to take your situationship to the next level) for your relationship in the long run. The best thing you can do is to encourage them to get help or talk to a therapist.
They are controlling
Let's talk about a red flag that you should definitely watch out for in a situationship: when the person you're involved with starts displaying controlling behavior. This is a big one, and here's why.
Controlling behavior can increase toxicity levels in any situationship. It might start with seemingly innocent actions, like suggesting what you should wear or how you should spend your free time. At first, it will feel like they're just looking out for you. You might even feel flattered by the attention, especially if you value this person's opinion. But there's a difference between suggesting and demanding that you do what you're told.
Here's the thing: a situationship is meant to be a relaxed and undefined kind of connection. It should be a space where both parties feel free to be themselves without pressure or expectations. When someone starts trying to control your actions or decisions, they won't stop at just "fixing" your clothes. They'll slowly exert more power and influence over you than is healthy until you start doubting your own choices and opinions.
Why should you be cautious of this behavior? Controlling behavior often goes hand in hand with a lack of respect for your right to freedom. In a healthy situationship or any kind of relationship, each person should be able to make their own choices and pursue their interests without fear of judgment or manipulation.
It's suffocating to have your actions and decisions questioned all the time. So, don't settle for a controller. You're still in a situationship, with nothing attached. Once you recognize this situationship red flag, free yourself immediately and take back your control before it's too late.
They try to invade your privacy
Invading privacy can manifest in various ways. It might involve them prying into your personal messages, constantly questioning your whereabouts, or even attempting to control who you interact with online or offline. While it's natural to share parts of your life in a relationship, it's equally important to maintain your own space and boundaries.
Respect for personal boundaries is important for any healthy relationship, whether between lovers, families, or friends. Invading your privacy and your space is a behavior that signals a lack of trust, an attempt to gain control, or even feelings of insecurity on their part.
Having your privacy invaded can lead to feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and even fear. No one should make you feel this way, especially not someone you're looking to have a more intimate connection with. Your feelings of safety and comfort in the relationship should be a priority.
They only hit you up for sex
There are people out there who are just looking for flings, which is when you only hook up with someone for sex. This is also practiced in situationships, and it's completely fine. However, people who are in situationships just for sex are missing out on the essence of what a real connection is all about. Physical intimacy may be part of the equation, but you need to combine it with other variables if you want the situationship to become something a bit more.
Engaging in a situationship means navigating a middle ground between casual and committed. It's not yet a serious relationship, but it should still involve genuine care and consideration for each other's feelings and needs.
Hitting you up just when they want to sleep with you indicates that they might not be interested in you as someone they want to have a genuine connection with. They're treating you like a convenience or a means to an end. And that's not fair to you.
If you're looking for something more serious, and you find that this person only reaches out to you when they're looking for a hookup, that's a glaring red flag. Spare yourself the trouble and find someone else.
The situationship has been going on for too long without a label
Picture this: You've been spending time with someone, getting to know each other, and maybe even engaging in romantic or intimate moments. But a lot of time has passed—could be years even—and despite the emotional investment and shared experiences, there's still no official label or commitment to the relationship.
Clarity is key. Without clear communication, the nature of a situationship can become undefined, leading to confusion and hurt feelings. A situationship that's been going on without a label suggests that the other person isn't ready to invest or commit fully. They're content with the status quo and will want to avoid discussing the future.
Remember, you deserve a connection that meets your emotional and relational needs. While situationships are more fluid than traditional relationships, you still have the right to know where your situationship is going. If the other person avoids or delays the conversation about labels and commitment, it might be time to evaluate whether this connection meets your needs.
They avoid talking about the future
No matter how much you enjoy spending time with someone and sharing experiences with them, you can't expect the relationship to last if they're consistently deflecting conversations about the future. You could be talking about saving up for a trip you want to take two years from now, and instead of asking for details, they sidestep the conversation or change the subject.
In any connection, whether it's a casual situationship or a committed relationship, it's natural to have some level of curiosity about what the future holds. Avoiding discussions about the future can indicate a lack of willingness to invest in a deeper and more serious level of commitment. Naturally, this will leave you in a state of uncertainty. You'll start questioning your place in their life. "What am I even doing hanging out with this person, if there's no future for us?"
This will lead to emotional turmoil that will affect your overall well-being. Imagine investing so much time, waiting for the other person to open up, only to realize much later on that you never had a place in their life after all. It'll be devastating. Think twice and be wise while you're still in the situationship phase.
They use you as their emotional dumping ground
Being in a situationship with someone means getting to know that person. This involves listening to them and sharing life moments, both good and bad. But if it feels like they only talk to you when they're going through something bad, that's not healthy. They're not looking for a genuine connection at this point, but an outlet for their negative emotions.
It's natural to want to be there for someone during challenging times. It's a prerequisite to any serious relationship, even. Through thick and thin, as they say. But constantly being used as a dumping ground for someone's emotional baggage isn't fair to you. It can lead to an imbalanced dynamic where your emotional well-being takes a backseat.
Consistently being used as an emotional dumping ground will drain your energy and affect your own emotional state. After months or years of this happening, you might even start dreading every time you get a call from that person, because you just know there won't be anything but bad news on the other end.
You deserve to be in a connection where the other person contributes to your growth and happiness regardless of it being a situationship. Being there for someone during tough times is definitely normal in a relationship. But they should share good times with you, too, not just the bad.
Talking to them makes you feel anxious
One of the biggest situationship red flags is when talking to them makes you anxious. Think about it: a situationship is meant to be a bond where you can enjoy each other's company and share experiences. But if interacting with them leaves you with unpleasant knots in your stomach, you might want to rethink your connection.
Feeling anxious in any relationship, whether casual or serious, is a sign that something might be wrong. Healthy connections should foster feelings of comfort, security, and trust. If you're experiencing heightened anxiety when you interact with someone, it clearly indicates that something is amiss. Your gut may be trying to tell you something that your mind hasn't noticed yet.
While some level of nervousness is natural when it comes to matters of the heart, consistent and overwhelming anxiety is not. It's a sign for you to evaluate whether this situationship is truly enriching your life and whether you want to keep feeling this way or not.
While situationships help you get to know a person before seriously dating them, there are clear red flags that you must look out for. We hope our guide on the 10 red flags to avoid in a situationship helped you steer clear from the bad eggs who will do you more harm than good.