A “situationship” is a romantic and/or sexual relationship that isn’t formally defined. You may know it by its other pop culture references like “friends with benefits,” “fun buddies,” or “booty call.” People in situationships generally aren’t exclusively committed to each other and typically aren’t expected to fork over a ton of emotional investment.
But while this casual, noncomittal intimacy may have its benefits for some people at certain stages in their lives, situationships also have their fair share of conflict a
nd uncertainty—and can be painful to walk away from.
Here are three things that can help you move on once you or your “friend with benefits” decides to end your situationship.
Allow yourself to grieve
You might think you have no “right” to feel sad when a situationship ends because you believe the relationship was never “real” or “legitimate” in the first place. But here’s the thing:
Human hearts can’t read romantic “labels.”
Just because someone you were associated with romantically or sexually was never considered your “real” boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t mean you can’t be upset when that person is no longer in your life. Any degree of interpersonal intimacy can spark feelings of connection, which is something we’re more or less hardwired for as a species. When that connection ends, it’s completely normal (and I’ll argue healthy) to experience a certain amount of pain or loss.
So, be gentle with yourself as you grieve the end of this, well, situation. Watch with curiosity how you speak to yourself and avoid using words or attitudes that you wouldn’t use with a beloved friend. If you’re feeling down, off, or icky, recognize that you’re going through a process of grief and give yourself the support you need to get through it: write in your journal, talk to a therapist, or double-down on your favorite self-care staples, like spending t
ime outdoors, getting a massage, going to dinner with friends, or making yourself of service to others through things like volunteering or random acts of kindness.
Get a different perspective
Find someone you trust to talk to about your experience.
Maybe you feel embarrassed about having been in the situationship in the first place and are worried about what other people think. It’s hard, but try to let that worry go. Instead, identify a person in your life whom you trust and respect who, by consistently showing up for you in the past, has earned the right to hear your story—then share the story with them.
Consider it a situationship “debriefing.” Speaking with someone else about your experience not only helps you unpack and make sense of the emotions you’re feeling, but can also offer valuable new insights and perspectives from someone with a little more objectivity than you. This should help you gain greater clarity, establish a more realistic foothold about the situation and the person, and identify any short-sighted assumptions or beliefs your grieving ego might be holding at the moment.
At the very least, talking to
someone else can help you feel less alone in the experience, and that’s a powerful elixir when it comes to getting over a relationship—even an ambiguous one.
Reflect on the boundaries that matter to you
The end of any relationship comes with a major gift tucked inside the pain: the chance to learn and grow.
Having stepped away from your situationship, you now have time and space to think about the lessons you can glean from the experience. Can you identify what role that “friend with benefits” was filling for you, or what they were offering that you felt was missing elsewhere in your life? Perhaps more importantly, can you define what you want for your next relationship? What sort of boundaries will you expect of yourself and your partner? When it comes to relationships, what values matter most to you? Emotional connection? Physical attraction? Commitment? Shared interests?
Getting as specific as you can about the type of partner you want moving forward—and the type of partner you want to be—can help ensure that you enter any future relationship with greater intention and peace of mind. (By the way, if you’re serious about your growth, working with a mental health professional can be invaluable here.)
Are you grieving the loss of a relationship or other major shift in your life?
If you’d like support and helpful tools during your season of loss or transition, contact Couples Thrive at 954-654-9609 today to schedule an individual’s counseling appointment today.