My Toxic "Situationship" and How I Overlooked the Signs

Up until my junior year of college, I had no idea what a “situationship” was. After all, as far as I knew, it wasn’t an actual word in the Oxford English Dictionary, but a slang term used to describe a complicated relationship, that is unfortunately very common for people in our generation to become involved in. What kind of relationship is a situationship exactly, you ask? A situationship is any problematic relationship characterized by one or more unresolved, interpersonal conflicts, according to Urban Dictionary. Basically, this is your everyday 'I want you...but I can’t right now.' The 'I’m hesitant to commit because I’ve been hurt before...but let’s keep hooking up.' It’s your typical BS that everyone has encountered at least once in their lifetime. Unfortunately, it seems to be more common in college, where males and females change their minds every five seconds about anything and not just dating. I never thought I’d be in a situationship, let alone a toxic one. But junior year, I found myself in a very complicated situationship. 

Towards the end of my sophomore year, I began developing feelings for one of my friends that I had met a few months prior. He was nice, handsome and liked a lot of the same music, books and movies as I did. Off the bat, he didn’t seem like every other f-boy I had encountered before. He was sweet and genuine. For the first time in a long time, I felt something I hadn’t before. It was both terrifying and exciting.

When the next semester came, I finally told him how I felt and how I was interested in knowing each other on a level beyond 'just friends.' While he claimed to have feelings for me as well, his response was not what I expected: 'I like you...but what about the friend group? I don’t want to mess anything up.' I remember feeling a pit in the middle of my stomach as soon as he said that. What the heck did he mean? If he liked me, and I liked should be simple. Who cares what our friends think? They should be happy for us.

He said we should 'take it slow,' see what 'develops,' and not 'rush into anything.' And that was exactly what I wanted. It was perfect. I didn’t want to put labels on us at all; I just wanted to know him. But for some reason, after that night, I couldn’t shake that feeling of the pit in my stomach. What I didn’t know was that pit would become more than just a seed of doubt.

The fall semester went on and we continued being friends on the weekdays, making out and acting in love on the weekends. I lived for the weekends during this semester, as that meant another opportunity for us to kiss, for him to finally confess deeper feelings, for him to sleep over one night. But each weekend, I was left disappointed. Sure, we made out like we usually did, but one of us usually had been drinking, too. It was never sober kissing, as it should be. But if he’s kissing me drunk, he’d do it sober, wouldn’t he? As foolish as that sounds, it was what I told myself for so long; my way of lying to myself for many months.

This pattern continued throughout the rest of the fall. After we’d make out on the weekends, the next week would roll around, and he would act like it never happened. In class during the beginning of the week, we’d hardly speak. And as time went on, the question of his feelings for me (which may not have been there at all, I now realize) and how deep they ran, ate at me. Why was he making things so hard for us? I wanted more answers to his hesitance to get to know each other and I was determined to get them.

We eventually did have a conversation about the complicated nature of our relationship. Later in the semester, I confessed I still had feelings and wanted more and he fidgeted uncomfortably the entire time I spoke. 'I’m just too busy right now,' he had said. I remembered feeling like someone had taken the rug out from under my feet, letting me slip and fall on my butt without any warning. I was devastated, because I had so many feelings for him. And we were clearly not on the same page as I thought we were.

Spring semester, nothing changed. While we didn’t make out like we did every weekend, there was still something weird going on and I knew it wasn't just in my head. I saw how he acted around guys I talked to, even some of my closest friends and there was a clear jealousy there. A few of my friends had even commented on his obvious jealousy to me, but I quickly avoided the conversation I knew that was going to come. And for me, because other people besides me saw this jealousy, this meant that there was something to try and salvage. Embarrassingly enough, I still tried to pursue him.

When people used to ask me what we 'were,' I’d just say we were 'complicated.' However, it took me this summer to realize that our label was nothing. Our situationship cannot be a relationship, because it was never a good, positive one. It was toxic from the moment it began and I just chose to overlook all of its signs. Now, I can freely admit the truth to myself, and others about this relationship. A few things were clear: this boy never liked me, let alone loved me. Not in the way that a person should be liked or loved, that is. 

I can also admit that I intentionally and unintentionally dismissed the signs of this toxic situationship. And while I never considered it to be abusive, many of my friends and family have argued that it is. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical. It doesn’t have to be verbal, either. It can be manipulative by actions, the 'back and forthness' of a relationship. And that was exactly what we were. We were back and forth. 'I love you this weekend when I’m drunk, I can’t be more than five feet from you in class sober.' Or, 'I want to be with you...but I can’t right now, but let’s continue making out on the weekends, because I know l have you to go back to.' I allowed his flaky behavior because I wanted to have even the smallest piece of him. And I used to have too much pride to even think it, but now I can actually say that I liked the turmoil. I liked his broodiness, his hesitance to love me. I wanted to heal him, to show him I could be the one to treat him right. I was used to our 'are we or aren't we' relationship, lived for the side eyed glances we’d give one another in black light bars, when someone of the opposite sex would talk to the other. Because that means he cares if he gets jealous, right?


Here's the truth: the jealousy was possessiveness. Of not wanting to have someone else have what is 'yours,' yet you don’t want it anyway. It was the classic 'I don’t want you, but I don’t want anyone else to have you, either.' It wasn't love, or even strong feelings. It was anger, frustration, jealousy and irrational possessiveness every single weekend. And that is toxic.

Presently, there is no bad blood between this person and I. We remain friends and wish him all the best. But I realize now that I sacrificed so much of myself to try to be what he wanted. I tried to mold myself into a human being that I didn't recognize. And as cliché as that sounds, it can actually happen. I just never thought it’d happen to me.

I had always been so sure of myself and who I was, but I got lost in this person. Parts of me got chipped away with each passing month and I never truly saw it for what it was. And while I know he’d never do anything to intentionally physically or verbally hurt me, the fact of the matter is, he hurt me in other ways. He had the power to say, 'This has to stop.' But at the same time, so did I. This situationship was never one sided. There was plenty we both did wrong.  But neither of us stopped the toxicity, so I guess we are both to blame for that.

I hope if you see my signs of toxicity in my situationship - the back and forth behavior, the jealousy, the possessiveness, the 'I only want you when I’m drunk' - please know you are better than this. You deserve better than this. Guys or girls. You all deserve better. Candies and roses and loves notes upon love notes from someone who cares about you. Someone who doesn’t lust over you, but values you, who’d never put you in a position where they could lose you. True love is value, respect and cherishing the person you care for. Not the 'I can’t do this right now' excuse. Not someone who can't make up their mind. That is not love, my friends.

If you’re in a toxic relationship or situationship, I urge you to break ties with whomever you're involved with. To realize you’re worthy of love, respect and someone’s time. You deserve to be the first priority, not a drunken weekend option. And trust me, when you realize that, it is more liberating than you’ll ever know.