Last year, for The Varsity’s Love and Sex issue, I took on the gruelling task of playing Valentine’s Grinch and wrote about digital cheating and how sex is overrated. Admittedly, it didn’t reflect well on my personal life, so, in the grand scheme of cynicism and grouchiness, I swore to myself — and my love life — that I’d write about something more cheerful this time around.
That’s not to say what I’m about to discuss is completely downright depressing, though — rather, the word I’d use for it is probably entertaining. Enlightening, if you will. Being a Comment-er, seldom do I write anything personal, and thus, I’ve always figured, my first “me” article should probably be about something pretty impactful to my life. Considering how my 2023 went, this seems about right. So here goes.
By now, the word is practically household. The Oxford Dictionary named it as a 2023 Word of the Year finalist, on account of how popular it became in the last year. Between the “POV” skits and think pieces about it on TikTok, the concept of a “situationship” is a stranger to none and traumatic to many.
On the outside, it seems easy to scrunch your eyebrows and logically question it: how does one fall for something like a situationship so easily? Hell, in my own retrospective, it’s almost laughable. But truth be told, you’d be surprised.
Situationships are the embodiment of suspense. They’re the silent three minutes in the morning you spend staring at the toaster right before it pops and reveals whether you’ve got some golden Wonder or burnt crap. They’re the nerve-wracking period between when you submit your last assignment and when your final grade is released, and this godforsaken institution finally tells you whether or not you’ve flunked Economics of International Trade. The constant limbo of neither nothing nor everything, between strangers and lovers, puts Schrödinger’s Cat to shame.
It’s that thrill of ambiguity that makes it so easy to get caught up in one. There’s a kind of insanity that you derive from the constant questioning of “what are we;” the overanalyzing of every little word they utter; the thinking and dissecting of their actions; and the “did he just drunk text me that he loves me?” that is so attention-grabbing and time-consuming — yet exhilarating.
A situationship is one long talking stage: the era where everything is exciting, colourful, and borderline obsessive because it feels like something new is coming, something big is on the horizon, and you can absolutely feel it heading your way. All you know is that there’s something to want, something to discover, and that’s enough to keep you hooked.
So yes — like any viral video rant will tell you, a situationship is crazy. To many, it’s heartbreaking, devastating, and worse than a breakup; the reasons are too many to count. But in honour of this spicy week, allow me to offer a hot take: they’re not always bad.
We now live in an era where the standards of dating and commitment have changed for the better. From one-night stands to friends with benefits to polyamory, people are redefining relationships to whole new extents and turning norms of commitment and loyalty into a spectrum based on consent and comfort. A 2023 Match survey revealed that 31 per cent of singles in America have been in non-monogamous relationships, and Canadian polling and market research firm Abacus divulged that a quarter of Canadians in 2022 were open to open relationships.
I see the norms of strict monogamy and traditionalism finally coming to an end: love and sex are now an exploration of ideals, an adventure rather than a responsibility, and that isn’t necessarily bad.
I’d argue that situationships should specifically be placed between friends with benefits and a full monogamous relationship. There is a lot to learn and enjoy in situationships, especially once you get used to the constant excitement. They offer a level of emotional connection and development which you wouldn’t normally get from a cut-and-go circumstance like friends with benefits but still allow you to keep a greater amount of freedom and individuality that’s usually more restricted in a formal relationship. If that works for you, and that works for your partner-but-not-a-partner, then there’s no reason to fix what’s not broken.
Of course, this is under the premise that the situationship consists of two consenting individuals with the same outlook on love. In my view, this fun and freedom can only be free of others’ suffering when neither party wants to go deeper into the relationship than necessary. Otherwise — well, maybe it’s time to start searching up “situationship” advice on TikTok.
In the grand scheme of things, situationships don’t always have to end as if Hurricane Cupid tore through your heart. Nor do you have to panic if you might be in a situationship right now: you’re not automatically in the wrong and headed for shark-infested waters. If you find comfort in where you are and know they do too, that’s nothing to go crying home for.
Who knows? Maybe, in the long run, you’ll develop a friend for life from your situationship. I know I did.
Isabella Liu is a third-year student at Victoria College studying public policy and international relations. She is an Associate Comment Editor at The Varsity.