The line between a boyfriend and a hookup buddy can feel murky sometimes. But there are a few things we can do to make sure we don’t end up in an ambiguous situationship.
If you’ve spent any time dating, or on dating apps, this won’t be a foreign concept to you: It starts out with us breathlessly telling our friends, “There’s this guy,” followed by lots of butterflies and decoding his texts, a series of hangouts (ahem), confusion over his mixed signals, and eventually, oodles of heartbreak and wondering why he wouldn’t commit.
It’s an unfortunate truth that the grand majority of young women today have experienced what a friend of mine likes to call a situationship — a relationship that’s gone beyond the bounds of a typical friendship, but isn’t a full-blown committed relationship. When we’re in a situationship with a guy, while it feels like he’s our boyfriend, and we give him certain relationship privileges, there’s a lack of clarity and commitment on his part that keeps the relationship in murky waters.
A situationship is a relationship that’s gone beyond friendship, but isn’t a full-blown committed relationship.
Of course, it’d be great if those guys just wouldn’t leave us bewildered, but alas, we can’t rely on someone else to change their behavior — we can only change what we do. So what does a woman looking for a real, committed relationship and not just a friend-with-benefits do?
Make Your Intentions Clear
Sometimes, it feels like no one wants to actually date anymore, like the idea of slowly getting to know someone and creating a bond is a thing of the past. With the climbing rates of casual relationships and a general reluctance to commit long term, it’s almost expected nowadays to not be looking for anything too serious.
Before setting up a date, ask him what kind of relationship he’s looking for.
Whether we meet a guy on a dating app, at a café, or through a friend, it’s crucial that we make our intentions crystal clear, and let him know we’re dating for a relationship (and eventually marriage, if that’s our ultimate goal), not anything casual. Since far more young women today are willing to date casually than not, it’s on us to ensure our desires are known in order for them to be met. Before setting up a date, we can let him know it’s important to us to be on the same page, and ask him what he’s looking for — without altering our wishes to match his.
Establish Boundaries by Going on a Real Date
Along with our culture’s hesitancy to paste the committed relationship sticker on our romances, instead opting for ambiguous, labelless connections that we prefer to call hanging out or texting, we’ve forgotten how to date. Our “dates” today are a far cry from the days of courting, movie and burger dates, or strolls in the park. Instead, it’s not uncommon for a guy to invite us over for a laid-back hangout or to get some drinks.
If we’re looking to form a lasting connection with a guy, a casual hang on his couch or over a vodka soda (or three), where it’s far too easy to get caught in a whirlwind of emotions and spontaneity (let’s be real: alcohol makes us nutty), isn’t the way to achieve that.
We can invest more time in learning about him as a person by going on a date that promotes that.
Alternatively, we can invest more time in actually learning about him as a person — what his passions are, what he wants most in life, the kind of relationship he’s searching for, what he needs in a partner — by going on a date that makes doing that possible and saves us from making a decision we might end up regretting. Grab some dinner, take a walk on the beach, check out a museum, or get some ice cream. Speak, listen, and connect.
Protect Your Heart and Be Realistic
Last but not least, as well as forgetting why we date and how to date, we’ve completely shifted our understanding of a romantic relationship’s development. While in time’s past we placed more importance on courting and cultivating deeper connections to fall in love, we now think of sexual intimacy as our ticket to finding love. Countless women’s magazines today push this notion, leading young women to treat sex as a currency that can get a guy to fall for us.
It’s time we stop pushing the lie that sex is how we get a guy interested.
But ultimately, treating sex and our bodies as a currency has the power to hurt us, and it’s time we stop pushing the lie that this is how we get a guy interested. While women’s release of oxytocin during intimacy causes us to trust and form bonds, the same hormone being released in men leaves their testosterone levels low, leading him to pull away after the fact. Along with that, it’s not unheard of for men to get bored without the thrill of the chase, treat women like something to conquer, and end up ghosting them after a hookup. Instead, studies have shown that couples who wait longer before intimacy enjoy better relationships in the long run.
While it’s not always easy to find a guy who desires a committed relationship just as much as we do, it’s not impossible — and if we’re cautious and thoughtful about the men we interact with, and how we interact with them, we’ll be more likely to find our perfect match.
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