‘I’m in a situationship. What happens next?’
FOR those of you unfamiliar with the latest dating lingo, a "situationship" is basically a Claytons relationship. The relationship you have, when you're not really having a relationship.
Probably not. But that's OK. It's complicated.
Let me try and break it down.
By the way, you should probably get your head around the concept if you plan on heading into the modern dating jungle anytime soon. Because, word on the street is that situationships have become the new normal.
My situationship started out, innocently enough, like most new courtships. I met a lovely man. We went on a few dates. The chemistry was undeniable. So we went on a few more. And it appeared altogether reasonable that we could quite possibly find ourselves on that romantic little road to relationship-ville.
But then, something strange happened.
Well, actually. It's what didn't happen that led to the situationship.
You know how you reach that point in a new romance when you just wanna know where the heck it's going? You might attempt to have "the chat" (which always feels weird and awkward, no matter how old you are). When you hit that dating T-section, you'll either agree to turn left, step it up a gear and stride confidently into committed coupledom … or you'll veer right through splitsville, and retreat back into the single life.
Well guess what, lovers!? There's a third option: THE "SITUATIONSHIP" … whereby "the chat" never happens and you just kinda fall into pseudo-coupledom.
You spend time together, romantically, but with no labels, no expectations and no formal commitment of any kind.
And that's exactly where I'm at, right now.
I've been seeing him for five months. We text and chat most days and catch up at least once a week. I've met his friends. He's met mine. I'd never introduce him as my BF but it's definitely more than a platonic friendship. Sleepovers are the norm. Often followed by breakfast at our favourite cafe the morning after.
So we do the kind of coupley things that couples normally do, but we would never describe ourselves as a couple. The words exclusive and future have never been mentioned. Instead, we've settled into this cosy little "situation", somewhere between "more than casual dating" and "not quite fully serious relationship".
My bestie says I should end it.
"He's obviously not The One so stop wasting each other's time and move on. Nobody got time for being someone's 'you'll do for now'."
To the romantic rookie (and the judgmental Judys), I understand how a situationship could be mistaken for her ugly second cousin, the "time waster" (also known as "waiting for something better to come along because I want a warm body to cuddle on a cold night".)
But this isn't just a dirty booty call.
And it's got more substance than a "friends with benefits" arrangement, because the benefits are more than just physical. There are real feelings involved and a deep level of trust. We talk about all aspects of our lives, even the most personal, intimate details of our work, our friends, our family, his kids. It feels like there's an emotional bond between us.
I get that situationships aren't for everyone. Just like soy lattes aren't everyone's cup of tea. But I am partial to the soy. And my current situationship actually suits me just fine.
To be perfectly honest, it's a refreshing change.
I don't feel the pressure, anxiety or frustration that often creeps into serious relationships. I don't freak out if I don't hear from him for a few days and I don't race to the phone every time I hear the "ping", hoping it's a text message from him. I get friendship and companionship, but I'm also living my life, separately to his.
No expectation. No drama. No strings attached.
But I have wondered … If I'm comfy with an arrangement that gives me the physical intimacy of a relationship without the full-time emotional investment, does that mean I've finally turned into a fully-fledged, card-carrying commitment-phobe? Or have I officially given up hope of ever finding everlasting love?
Maybe this is the new norm for singles over 40.
In fact, the situationship has become the romantic benchmark for many of my friends. These are women in their 40s and 50s, who reckon their perfect partnership is part-time. After long marriages, messy separations and ugly divorces, they relish their new-found freedom. They've created enjoyable, fulfilled lives with great careers, gorgeous friends and a bunch of pleasurable pastimes.
They're happy to commit to one guy, but not full-time companionship. They'd see him once or twice a week, hang out on weekends and maybe even zip off together on holidays occasionally. But there's zero desire for any kind of cohabitation. Won't be picking his skid-mark-stained jocks up off the bathroom floor. Won't be asking him for the umpteenth time to stop cutting his toenails in bed. No gagging at the foul stench of his sweaty gym clothes festering in the laundry basket or the delightful sounds of his burping and farting. And don't even start with the toilet seat.
OK, you gotta admit, there are parts of that scenario that sound wonderfully appealing. But, if we do start to normalise the situationship, aren't we ultimately, lowering our expectations around love and romance?
So, I've decided that I'm not ready to give up on the idea of finding full-time-love.
When the time comes, I'll happily trade in my situationship for a relationship and all the love and commitment and burping and farting and toenail clippings that come with it.
But, guys, heads up. You can keep your skid marks to yourselves.
- Sami Lukis is a TV and radio presenter. Her podcast, "Romantically Challenged: The Podcast" is available via podcastone.com.au or the app store. Her book, "Romantically Challenged" is available at all good bookstores. Continue the conversation @samilukis.