After wondering aloud to the Internet about why there are more situationships than relationships, I decided to really buckle down and put some thought into it. What is the origin story of the situationship? How did we all collectively allow this to happen? Who is the manager that can I speak to about this?
By now, I’ve made the deeply unsettling realization that I have mostly myself to blame. Dating in 2017 is a specific type of fresh hell that feels impossible to navigate, but there appears to be a recurring theme that I am guilty of overlooking. One that ultimately lands me at the crossroads of relationship vs. situationship–and that is allowing myself to become an option to the person I am dating.
Ladies (and fellas), if you’re like me and you meet someone and things are going well, you’re going to wonder to yourself, “Where is this going?,” “Do they feel the same way I do?” Then, you’ll turn crazy and find yourself Google-mapping the street view of their apartment.
It’s super easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a potential relationship. I spent many years in my 20s completely blissfully ignorant of the fact that the other person may not have been the right fit for me. I became hyper-focused on whether I was good enough for them, and just relished in the idea of being wanted.
Beep. Buzz. Nope. Bye girl. If you’ve done this too, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to start being a bit more discerning!
Now that I’m older, identifying the red flag behaviors among the ever-dwindling single male population is key. If you can successfully recognize these so-called optioneers, then it’s almost guaranteed that you can avoid a one-way ticket to a situationship. Reminder: You’re not a tennis ball to be tossed around until someone gets bored and moves on to the next fun distraction.
After revisiting some unfortunate personal experiences, I came up with a very broad guide on how to pick out these soul-suckers, and have categorized them into three main groups:
The Flip Flopper: This individual will happily date you until they decide (usually without warning) that they don’t want anything serious/want to focus on their career/may still have feelings for their ex/want to milk mountain goats in the Andes, blah blah blah. This is all well and good as these issues do come up in life, but don’t let this person drag you along for the ride. Don’t wait around to see if this person is going to change their mind. Don’t respond to their texts after they ghost you in order “to explore other things,” only to wind up crawling back to you. As Maya Angelou once said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time, y’all.
The Fixer: This one is tricky because you may not even realize you’re being “fixed.” This person makes it their mission to see your “potential,” but tries to mold the raw material to fit their ideal image, á la Zack and Laney in She’s All That. Google it. Don’t chase after a fool that only wants to change you. If you find yourself in a mature relationship, you will likely grow and evolve together as a couple, that’s normal. However, there is a significant difference between finally agreeing to go to that Phish concert because the guy you’re seeing is a jam band-lovin’ hippy, and cashing in your 401k on your way to the plastic surgeon’s, because they don’t like the slope of your nose. Moral of the story is don’t reinvent yourself with the hope that the person you’re dating will like you more.
The Trophy Chaser: This chucklehead will only pursue you because there is something about you that seems unattainable to them. They will convince themselves that they must have you out of plain curiosity/to say they slept with you/to make themselves look good. Whatever the case may be, it’s usually superficial and satisfies some deep-seated desire to check a specific box. I call this behavior “The White Tiger Effect.” These brave souls will get just close enough to touch you, because it seems dangerous and thrilling and will afford them all the bragging rights. But when faced with the idea of actually taking you home and hanging out with you full time, suddenly they panic and run the fuck away.
Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive or official. Some of these characterizations may overlap, or not apply to your life at all. The point is, when you meet someone and are trying to decide if they’re worth it, consider how they actually treat you.
You never have to settle for someone who cannot figure their shit out and then project that mess onto you. In this zoo we call life, channel the majestic white tiger; wait for the right person to come along–one who is actually skilled in caring for you, who will create your safe haven, and will gladly value you for the wild, beautiful, and rare creature that you are.