What is a situationship and what I learned from being in one

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By: Arika Kim

Welcome to A Millennial's Dating Diary series, where we explore real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series will feature the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.

For about two and a half years of my life, I was in an on-again-off-again situationship with someone I knew was terrible for me.

At that point, and in true Arika fashion, I didn’t have it in me to walk away when this person wasn’t meeting my needs.

While similar to friends with benefits, situationships are not cut-and-dry. They usually involve feelings and some sort of emotional dependency. In your typical situationship, one person emerges worse for wear.

(PHOTO: Getty Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

I found myself in a situationship when I met *Alex, 34. Kind, loving, and exceptionally handsome, he was everything I thought I wanted in a partner. We met while working at the same company, so it almost felt like things were meant to be (upon writing this, I’m aware of how I’ve romanticised what we had a little too much, thanks to therapy!)

For the first few months, things were blissful. Alex and I got along on so many levels and were each other’s emotional support and confidant. It also helped that the sex was the best I’ve ever had in my life.

When it came to talking about feelings, though, Alex wasn’t always the most honest. “I don’t know what I want, but let’s just see where things take us. I don’t want to be tied down for now, but I care about you,” he’d often say when I asked where he saw things going.

Too afraid to appear clingy or demanding, I went with it. After all, I wanted his companionship, and I was willing to take whatever I could get. I was temporarily reassured when he agreed that we were exclusively sleeping with each other.

“So… what you’re saying is that he’s your sex buddy?” asked my best friend, *Natalie.

“No, no. It’s not just sex. We care for each other, and you know, we have an emotional connection,” I stupidly reasoned with myself in an attempt to convince her.

Young Beautiful Couple in Underwear Lying on Bad. Hadsome Man and Attactive Woman in Love. Passionate Romantic Couple Resting after Sax at Home. Passion Intimate Relationship and Love.
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

Deep down, though, I knew something wasn’t right with Alex and me.

Soon, it started to annoy me that all our dates took place at night, where we’d end up having sex before he’d leave me by midnight. It also didn’t help that Alex would take hours to reply to me (sometimes only the next day), was secretive about who his friends were in his new life, and what he was up to. Something about the change in our dynamics made me feel used, and I soon started getting anxious.

When I brought up my unhappiness, Alex attempted to mitigate the situation by taking me out on proper dates. But of course, that didn’t last long.

In just a few weeks, he was back to taking a day to text back, would cancel on our dates because “something came up,” and only met me when his schedule freed up enough — which could range from one week to a month. Once again, I started getting anxious and kept overthinking every little thing that could have caused us to get to this point.

I soon found myself begging for basic necessities like attention, care, and proper communication from him, and it was taking a toll on my self-esteem. Hypothetically, even if we were just friends, taking a day or more to respond is just, well, plain rude. This went on for months, with us ending things only for us to come crawling back to each other a few months later.

It was clear that I was addicted to my situationship with Alex and that it was growing unhealthy for me.

Exhausted from constantly being disappointed, I gave Alex an ultimatum. He admitted to not being able to continue our situationship any longer because he wanted to see other people and has been going on dates and sleeping with girls he met on dating apps.

He gave me a choice: either be with him this way or leave.

Frustrated asian woman sit on couch holds smart phone read message unpleasant sms cover face with hands feels upset, crying. Personal problems, life troubles, break up with boyfriend, bad news concept
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

Heartbroken, I knew this was it. I had to leave Alex because our entire situationship was doing my head in. What’s worse was that I couldn’t even quantify what we had as a relationship, and I was too ashamed to properly admit to my friends about the situation and, of course, how I was feeling.

As with any breakup, I was reeling from all of my emotions, and it took me a few months of therapy to finally be able to come to terms with my feelings and why it was that I was forming such an attachment to someone.

Ultimately, I learned that I needed to be more vocal about my needs and prioritise myself instead of allowing someone else to dictate how a relationship — or situationship — would be like. Truth be told though, not everyone’s situationship is going to be similar to mine, and some people manage to handle things flawlessly, either through open communication or with mutually agreed-upon boundaries. Unfortunately, mine didn’t work that way, but it led to some very valuable lessons.

*Names have been changed to protect their identity

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