Dating Post-Divorce: Being Stuck in the Middle of a “Situationship”

After your divorce, you may want to get back into the dating game. But beware of getting caught in a “situationship.” Read on to learn more about what a situationship is – and how to avoid one.

After divorce is over and you want to start dating, you can get caught in a middle-ground called a “situationship.” This is when you’re confused about whether your relationship is romantic or in the “friend zone.” You receive mixed messages that are hard to decode. It is frustrating not to know whether you are dating or just hanging out.

What are the 3 signs of situationship?

1. Inconsistency

You may go out several times in one week, and nearly a month goes by before the next date.  There is no agenda or routine schedule. There is little or no contact between dates. These individuals rarely initiate a text, although can be good at responding, which is easier. They may answer in minutes or later and take days to respond, if at all.

It is one thing to live in the moment and another to feel stuck there.  There is no consistency, whether for future dates or texting in between. If you push “I want to go out tonight and get pizza,” they may balk and put up a barrier. “I have to work on my novel/music/art and can’t.”  When you insist, they can get testy and be gruff on the date.  How do they refer to going out – as dates, appointments, or get-togethers?

You are doing most of the work in this relationship. Phone calls may only be when they have not heard from you in a while and are asking you out at the last minute. The tone of texts can be flirty or almost rude. Hard to figure out where you stand in this relationship.

2. Lack of commitment 

People go out together – even exclusively – and there does not seem to be a future. Spontaneity is fun. Great to do things on the spur of the moment. It keeps life exciting unless this is how it is always. These people usually do not make plans ahead of time. Cannot commit to a date next week. When plans are made for a later time, they often bow out. The future is not mentioned. It is one thing to live in the moment, another to be stuck there. They use the word “sometime.”  “Would you like to go dancing/hiking (whatever) sometime?”  You answer with an enthusiastic, “Yes,” and nothing is planned.

In regular dating relationships, there is forward movement. Although one person may go at a slower pace, the relationship still progresses. In situationship, it is on standstill.  People in situationship do not want to be pinned down. They crave their freedom yet still have someone they can call when they feel like going out. It is a way to avoid closeness which can lead (in their minds) to dating drama.

3. The incongruity between body language and words.

The verbal may be incongruent with the non-verbal (actions). Warm kisses on the lips, or even sex, do not go with their words. They do not go out regularly with you and are silent between dates. They snuggle with you in booths, give plenty of hugs and kisses, and throw in some compliments. This can be referred to as crumbs. Enough to keep you interested, but not the main course. They are treating you romantically while saying you are “Just Friends.”

It is confusing when their friends seem to think you are a couple or ask you how long the two of you have been dating. Hard to answer when your relationship is undefined.

What to Do if You’re in a Situationship

Have a discussion of your needs and expectations. Express what you are feeling, “I’m into you – very attracted.” Let them respond, and pause as long as it takes to get an answer. In one case, the man’s reply was, “I am not ready to take this further.” Yes, vague, but something. She is not sure if that means for this entire decade or for the next few months. Communication is important in a situationship.

When being told you are “just friends” for many months, consider dating again when an opportunity arises. This can help you become less fixated on the situationship, which is going nowhere.

2 Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Am I getting anything out of it?
  2. Am I better/happier with or without them?

The answers help determine if you want to enjoy the relationship for what it is or if it is time to move on.  People’s self-worth can be negatively affected, particularly if they feel there is a flaw within themselves. People coming out of a toxic marriage may feel they are not worthy of anything more and accept what is happening. Be aware of your mental health, and if you are feeling depressed or anxious, think about making an exit.

Being in a situationship is about the other person – their fear, past dating traumas, attachment issues, and so forth. The other person is creating this type of relationship, not you. If you are enjoying their company, even if sporadic, then fine. If it’s causing stress, then rethink your options.

Wendi Schuller is a dating coach and speaker. She draws upon her knowledge as a nurse, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer (NLP), and hypnotherapist, providing a blueprint to guide people through divorce and beyond. Her dating podcasts are on dating coach

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