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The College Situationship: Recognizing the Signs and Defining the Relationship

The college years are said to be the “best years of our lives” and though there are a few bumps in the road to our degrees, most of us can agree that this statement is so true. Unfortunately, one of the most common roadblocks that too many college women face is the situationship. Although the actual term “situationship” is not commonly used by those who navigate through the waves of uncertainty associated with this particular relationship status, we can all agree that the signs of being in an actual situationship are all too familiar.

A situationship is just as the name implies: it is a situational relationship. Two people who are extremely compatible with one another begin to spend most of their free time together, they are always seen out together, refer to each other as bae to not just each other, but to friends as well, learn each other’s habits and get territorial. Even if they have not defined the relationship, it may soon become an understood thing among people on the outside that they are, for all intents and purposes, a couple. Situationships are both tricky to identify and hard to prevent.

While no one knows what the future may hold for a potential relationship, getting stuck in a long-term undefined relationship without any set boundaries is usually the last thing one expects after meeting someone you feel is pretty much perfect for you. If you fear that you may be a partner in a situationship, just ask yourself a few questions: “Have we been talking for three months or longer with no relationship label, or the notion that we may be defining things soon?” “Am I exclusively dating a person, not at all interested in entertaining the idea of talking to someone else?” “Am I at the point where I either want to move forward and actually be in a relationship with this person, or end things and move on because I feel that we are stagnant?” If you said yes to any of the questions, then congratulations, you are more than likely in a fairytale situationship.


The college situationship characteristically begins with the initial meeting and exchange of information, which is typically followed by the “just talking” phase. Now, the “just talking” phase is understood to be the part of the budding relationship that is most important because it is the foundation phase. It is the time in which you should be learning all of the basic things about the person you are pursuing: their likes and dislikes, their goals and dreams and figuring out if you guys are even compatible enough to move on from simply “talking.” Much to our dismay, most potential college couples get stuck in the casualty of the “just talking” rut and never move on to truly defining the relationship, thus giving birth to the situationship.

A situationship is born out of the “just talking phase” because it is the part of building a relationship that may easily become too comfortable. More often than not, two busy college students find it simpler to put off the “So, what are we?” conversation and instead continue to go on dates, introduce each other (as just friends of course) to the people in their respective circles and a few Netflix-and-chill dates later, find that too much time has passed without addressing the issue at hand. Although situationships have become a commonality in the college dating game, they should not be taken lightly. This type of casual relationship, where the degree of which you matter to each other is not clearly defined, can be dangerous. Not addressing true feelings for each other in the beginning of the relationship and failing to graduate from the talking phase can create problems between a couple that usually causes them to deteriorate. This deterioration is often seen as a breakdown by one of the people in the relationship in which they finally put their foot down, state how they feel and pretty much demand a label for the long-term situationship.

Getting too comfortable before labels are defined can not only cause emotional distress for couples, but the potential breakdown and demand may also put too much pressure on the other person and cause them to run. Ending a situationship unfinished and undefined can leave people emotionally drained and confused, destroy good friendships and cause them to walk away with more trust issues than ever. To avoid the scenario altogether is not as hard as we make it. While many cite being unable or afraid to commit as the key reason why they fall victim to the situationship, it is important that we all begin to realize when the talking phase turns into a serious pseudo-relationship. Becoming more aware of the shifts in feelings and relationship roles should make the idea of labels less threatening and making the jump from talking to couple a lot smoother. Remember, being conscious from the start will eliminate a tragic end to a good-while-lasted situationship later.

Taiza Troutman is a senior at Georgia State University majoring in Economics with a minor in Spanish. She is a vegan and an environmentalist who enjoys yoga, shopping, restaurant hopping, watching foreign films and listening to music in her spare time. Her future plans are to eventually get her Ph.D in Public Health and work in research.
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