Bad Advice Club: How to move on from a situationship

5 mins
25 Nov 2022
Bad Advice Club: How to move on from a situationship

Welcome to woo’s new advice column with Chanté Joseph, tackling your questions on life, work, love, and every dilemma in between

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words Chanté Joseph

I’m Chanté – writer, presenter, internet addict. I write a lot about relationships, internet trends and being the best, most delusional version of yourself. So welcome to the Bad Advice Club: I’m here to give you some loving advice on your life problems. Listen, I am by no means perfect, but I think that makes me ideal to assist you in navigating tricky issues because nine times out of 10, I’ve been there! Bad advice, bad decisions – these are the twists and turns that make life sweet. So let’s ride it out together: I have some gems to drop, so don’t be shy and send in your stories, woes, dilemmas.

How do I move on from my situationship? I was in an on-and-off relationship that started out good but winded up without clear boundaries where he was breadcrumbing me and offering me the tiniest bit in return for my effort and time. It's finally come to an end, but he's not given me much of an explanation as to why and it's hard to come to terms with after hoping that this person would finally commit again.

Ah, the situationship. I feel like if there were some sort of Duke of Edinburgh style award-system for surviving this ill-defined style of connection, I’d definitely be shaking King Charles’s sausage hands at Buckingham Palace for achieving the highest level of gold.

Situationships - for readers who have been able to evade the chaos of the dating scene - are loosely defined relationships that thrive on miscommunication, chasing highs and denial. Two people mutually agree to enter a romantic relationship that holds all the intensity and intimacy of a relationship but without the burden of responsibility that comes with caring for someone. The ‘situation’ of this particular set up arises because one person starts to become more emotionally invested in the relationship while the other cruises for the ride, enjoying all the perks without costs.

It is a fallacy to believe that when we engage in emotional relationships with people - no matter how light-touch - we don’t have some sort of responsibility for the other person's feelings. However, people think that by dismissing something as ‘casual’ or a ‘situationship’, they can skip out on the ordinarily polite action of being honest and compassionate, which is probably why your person leaves without explanation. I’m so sorry dear writer, this has happened to you, and no matter how often you go through this, it always feels rough because the joy of this person's presence eclipses the potential ugliness of the situation.

A keyword here is: ‘again.’ Because when people boldly display their flimsy and sometime-ish feelings towards you, take note and believe them. I always kick myself when situations end just as they began - with confusion, indifference and emotional extremes. I have always been foolishly hopeful that someone will turn around and suddenly realise the value of being with me as if they’re on a complex journey that gives them the right to yo-yo with my feelings ahead of truly committing. However, that epiphany never arises, and people will continue to treat you how you allow them to.

I spent a lot of my early twenties pining after ‘situationships’; time after time, their attention and interest would peak my serotonin, and I’d get swept up in the tide of their intense love-ish feelings. However, as expected, they always dropped off, and I experienced an obliterating heartbreak I’d felt so many times before but somehow always felt new. How did I break this cycle? I realised that the high wasn’t enough to justify the lengthy grieving period from the heartbreak. I acknowledged that engaging in these sorts of relationships was self-harm because, subconsciously, I knew the outcome.

That’s not to say that people are incapable of change; feelings are funny and ever-evolving things, but it is important to value yourself and your peace of mind more than you do someone's inconsistent and jittery intimacy. Part of getting over the situationship is redirecting your hope for this person to love you - despite their glaring inconsistencies - into believing that someone will love you without strife, confusion or rejection.

When you do this, you will start spotting the signs early and politely leave situations that don’t serve you. It also becomes easier to make peace with the fact that you cannot control how people treat you; all you can do is make more informed decisions. The next thing you need to do is figure out why you keep having this person back. Is it that you entertain this man because you don’t feel deserving of love or that you’re acting out of a place of loneliness?

And lastly, but most importantly, admit to yourself and the people you’re dating what you want and set boundaries for yourself. I’ve had many more fulfilling romantic relationships this year because I’ve approached them from the position of ultimately wanting a relationship. There is a fear in declaring what you want because nobody wants to look ‘needy’ or ‘uncool’, but it is freeing to be shameless with your feelings. It is sexy having such a deep understanding of yourself and your desires. When you are honest about what you want, you can easily sweep away unserious candidates and date stress-free.

I know too well that these sorts of relationships are the hardest to move on from because you’re grieving something that you feel you shouldn’t - there were no promises or obligations made, of course. However, we have a social contract as humans, and it is always painful when they’re broken. You’re allowed to be sad, want closure and grieve the lost hope, but you must not overwhelm yourself with trying to understand why someone isn’t respecting you and give yourself grace.

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