File “situationships” — a new Gen Z dating term for casual relationships — under “ways men continue to string us along.”
Like its predecessor the friends-with-benefits, no-strings-attached fling, the situationship vaguely resembles a relationship, but with none of the commitment. It’s a tactic men use to keep a steady hookup without the adult responsibility of having a partner. And it leaves women who want to be exclusive feeling like it’s “too crazy” to ask for just that. When confronted, a situationship-loving guy will simply respond that he’s “just not ready for a relationship.”
Eventually, one person catches feelings and faces heartbreak when the other doesn’t want anything more than just some casual sex.
Audrey Peters, 24, knows a thing or two about situationships after being in one for years in college. She wanted a relationship, but he only wanted to hang out after hours.
“I was like, ‘Why won’t he make it official? Why is he embarrassed to talk about it?’ ” said Peters, who lives in Manhattan. “I just couldn’t compute it.”
It was a classic case of mixed signals: telling her he loved her when he was drunk, but avoiding her around their friends when he was sober. The emotional damage that behavior can cause is “underrated,” said Peters, who regularly gives dating advice on her TikTok.
And yet it seems widespread: According to Match.com data given to The Post, 52 percent of young singles were “worried” that their potential hookup wouldn’t want a more serious relationship.
If half of us want more than just a late-night text, why are we settling for halfhearted effort?
Rachel DeAlto, a relationship coach and TV personality, chalks it up to a fear of rejection, saying that we don’t ask for what we really desire from the person we’re seeing in order to avoid potential heartbreak.
“People are afraid to say what they want,” DeAlto said. “That fear of putting yourself out there, that anxiety that so many have, really does prevent you from saying, ‘I don’t care that you don’t want a relationship, I do, and if it doesn’t happen with you, then I need to let you go and find somebody who’s on my page.’”
While DeAlto places partial blame on women for accepting situtationships, Alli McLaren, 26, thinks the men are at fault.
The LA-based writer, actor and personal trainer said situationships arise because men “want to cheat and not feel bad about it.” In other words, relationships with no labels allow men to do whatever they want with whomever they want with no loyalty.
Situationships develop in what Gen Z calls “the talking stage.” The term refers to the flirting phase that could lead to a potential hookup or more. But instead of setting boundaries, the talking stage usually comprises casual Snapchats and “You up?” texts.
During this period, men may shower you with compliments, seem like they want to get to know you and act as if you’re their girlfriend — except you’re not.
The recipient of this attention becomes confused: “Does he want a relationship or is this just another situationship?”
It most certainly is a situationship — and eventually, after much stringing along, it will become apparent that he doesn’t want anything more than to share a bed with you on Saturday nights.
To Peters, the talking stage is a bunch of bull.
He either wants to sleep with you or he wants to date you, she said, and you’ll know it. He won’t ask you to come over at 2 a.m. on a Friday, she said. Instead, he’ll say, “Hey, I made a reservation and I’m going to pick you up at 7:30.”
Dubbed “The older sister of the Internet,” TikTok personality Tinx created “box theory,” a way of understanding how men categorize women, which also debunks the significance of the talking stage.
Men, she says, put us in boxes: dating, hooking up and nothing. Tinx says we can’t change categories, because the men we’re seeing have already placed us in a box, locked us in and tossed away the key.
The classic situationship conflict? Women stuck in the hooking-up box who yearn to switch to the dating box — a pointless pursuit.
“I think so much of the unhappiness comes from asking, ‘Why won’t they just commit to me?’” Tinx said. “The question should be, ‘Why do you want to force them to?’”
For Peters, a lack of self-confidence is what drove her to suffer in a noncommittal situationship for so long. She said the key to finding “the one” — while weeding out the men who don’t fit the bill — is to be unapologetically yourself.
“I literally promise you that if they wanted you, they’d have you, and we wouldn’t be in this in-between bulls–t,” she said. “If there’s more stress than there is happiness, forget it.”
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