appsflyer IOS banner image

Ask Mimi Anything: On Situationships

Mimi Zhu

June 18th, 2024

“I’ve been in a situationship with someone for 8 months. I've been in love with them for 3. Should I tell them?”

This week I will be exploring situationships and how I find this terminology inadequate (albeit funny and light sometimes) in describing the complexity of our relationships. I want to emphasize this point: every relationship is a relationship. They vary in depth and closeness, but each relationship should be honored as one because we are connected as human beings. A “situationship” describes a relationship that lives within the gray area, one that is not quite committed in partnership, but feels more committed than a casual sexual relationship. But every relationship is still a commitment, with whatever boundaries, rules, and limitations we apply to them, and they should be treated as such. In this article, I will be exploring how to navigate “situationships,” how capitalism affects the ways we treat each other, and how we treat ourselves. 

Q: I’ve been in a situationship with someone for 8 months. I've been in love with them for 3. Should I tell them? I’m afraid I'm gonna scare them off.

A: I am grateful for your honesty to me, and I’m sure it felt freeing to get that off your chest. Honesty is liberating, necessary, and it is the basis and foundation of each relationship, starting with the one with yourself. I’m glad you have been honest with yourself about your feelings toward the person you are seeing, and now I challenge you to be honest with them.

As I mentioned above, a situationship is still a relationship. There might be certain rules and boundaries you abide by, and I understand the desire to take time to decide whether you want to commit to somebody. But there are levels of commitment, and being in a situationship does not absolve you of them. Regardless of the level of seriousness in your intimate commitment, honesty is still the basis of your relationship. Why does honesty vanish from our commitments when the relationship doesn’t fit into a pre-prescribed box? Don’t we owe it, at least to ourselves, to share openly how we feel?

Capitalism teaches us to consume each other, and I think the term “situationship” only validates the tendency to do so. It strips away the basis of every relationship and encourages us to treat each other like we are situations! We become accustomed to treating each other, and ourselves, like objects who live to serve a purpose for the moments when we need them. We rob ourselves of our own truth and feelings just to continue a dynamic that encourages our mutual consumption. 

Perhaps it was established that neither of you are ready for a partnership, but things change, feelings grow, but your commitment to yourself should remain consistent. So I pose you these questions: What are you afraid of, if you tell them? That you are violating an unspoken rule in the relationship? That they will desert you in light of your honesty? How would you feel if you had hidden these feelings from them, for months to come? Is it worth staying in a “situationship” in which your motivations are fueled by the fear of losing them because of your honesty? You are not asking for much, just that they listen, and you can figure out your boundaries later. Isn’t that what intimacy is? 

Q: Things ended abruptly when a friendship turned into a failed “situationship”. We haven’t spoken in seven months and I miss them. My feelings are much deeper than I initially thought. How do I reach back out? Do I reach back out? 

A: The friends to lovers progression is never easy, but there is a reason why it happens. Intimacy is fostered from closeness and honesty, which comes with disagreements and ambiguity that can be tricky and draining to sift through. You already had a deep attachment to this person as a friend, and intimacy can change many things, deepen attachments, and hold up a mirror up toward yourself. 

I do not blame you for missing them because this relationship in all its changing forms is important to you. You are showing me exactly the point I have been making throughout this essay; this relationship is a relationship. You are not minimizing this relationship just because it never evolved into a committed partnership. Your feelings were deep precisely because you honored this person as well as yourself, and I think your reckoning with wanting to reach out is a reflection of that. 

I cannot tell you whether or not to reach out to them, given that I do not know the specific circumstances of your fallout, but I think you already have the answers within yourself. With this renewed honesty and respect for yourself, I think you can make a wonderful and sincere assessment about whether or not you wish to continue this relationship, and figure out together, if they are receptive, how it would look like for the both of you.