How To Break Up With A “Situationship”

By Dr. Carissa Coulston
How To Break Up With A Situationship

A situationship is, essentially, a relationship without a clear definition or label. It's somewhere between 'friends with benefits' and a committed relationship, but without both sides knowing where they stand. Lack of clarity is the key factor – if you don't know what to call this situation you're in with someone, it's probably a situationship.

If you’ve realized you’re in a situationship, it may be time to take action and break it off. Here are some ideas for how to do it if you’re ready to call it quits with a hookup, whether it’s something that arose during the COVID pandemic, or whether you’re just keen to get out of an ongoing “thing” that isn’t a one-night stand but isn’t an official relationship either.

Have A Reality Check

The first step in breaking up with a situationship is to put yourself into the right mental gear. Be honest with yourself. Admit the person you’re seeing doesn’t really want to be your significant other because if they did it would have been made official already. Ask yourself if you’re being treated in the way you deserve to be treated. Ask yourself if you truly want this kind of relationship or whether you’re just compromising. As yourself if you’re truly in love or if you’re just infatuated. When you’ve answered these questions and admitted what you’ve been feeling all along, you’ll be ready to move on.

Be Ready

You need to think long and hard about why you want to end your situationship and whether or not you’re ready to take this step. Once you’ve made a firm decision, be prepared to stand firm. Be aware that the other person may try to argue and win you back around and this is why it’s so essential you understand what you’ll lose if you stay and what you’ll gain if you leave.

Tell Them Why You’re Leaving

Depending on your level of closeness and physical distance, it may make more sense to end things via message or text. Don’t allow it to become emotional though. Write your script first. Tell them simply and briefly why you want to stop seeing them. Keep it respectful and polite.

Just Stop

When you end a relationship, it isn’t as simple as just cutting the other party off. However, a situationship isn’t the same thing at all. You don’t need to make yourself available to them in case they need something from you in the future. Once you have made things clear, you can just stop answering messages and calls. If you feel that you really want to get away from a negative situation but fear they may tempt you back, you can block them on your phone and social media to make sure you don’t get sucked back in. When you physically can’t contact them again, you’ve got the best chance of out of sight really being out of mind.

Moving On

Even if a situationship wasn’t a good place for you to be, you can learn from it and take something away from it that will be useful in future relationships. Why did you end up in one in the first place? Was it because you didn’t know what you were worth? Were you tired of being single and decided to give them a chance because you were lonely? Whatever the cause of ending up in a situationship, you need to address it so that you don’t end up in another one in the future. Remember the red flags from this situationship too so that you’ll recognise them if they occur again. Most importantly, don’t dwell on the past. Don’t think about how that other person feels now and whether they’re missing you or want you back. It’s time to focus on the future and happy relationships to come, not to hark back to an unsatisfying situationship that caused you misery.

What About Pandemic Initiated Situationships?

The COVID pandemic and associated lockdowns has led to a number of situationships arising due to a need for company and solace in isolation. A situationship gave you both something to do and something to keep you entertained during what was a boring and stressful time. However, now that the world is starting to return to a “new” normal, it’s time to look again at that situationship.

Is it something that’s really worth pursuing? Are you actually ever going to make it as a couple? Are you actually really compatible? In the real world would you have anything at all in common? Was it all just a matter of convenience and would it be best to walk away now?

Chances are, if you haven’t admitted to each other that you’re in a relationship after everything you’ve gone through in the past few months, the chances are that you never will. It also could be that if lockdown brought you together, the release of lockdown could tear you apart.

If you’re ready to walk away from your lockdown situationship, all of the above steps still apply. However, you’ll need to be even more prepared for the changed world in which we find ourselves. With many of our traditional “going out” places still closed or not operating normally, you’ll have to find other ways of occupying your time and taking your mind off it. Create a routine that gives you structure and helps you to avoid falling into the trap of trying to make contact with that other person again. Come up with a project to work on, take up a new hobby, spend time with friends as much as possible and spend more time on improving yourself, perhaps through exercise, self-care or pampering yourself.

Focus on your own self-worth and self-confidence so that when you meet someone new in this post-COVID world, you’ll be ready to only accept a true relationship where the other person appreciates you for who you are as an individual and who is prepared to commit to you as their significant other rather than just as a useful person to hang out with when the going gets tough.


Dr. Carissa Coulston

Dr. Carissa Coulston

About The Author: Dr. Carissa Coulston is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in the research and treatment of adult mental health problems including depression, mood swings, anxiety, worry and trauma. She conducts therapy with individuals as well as couples to promote better mental health, relationships and quality of life. She has written extensively on relationship psychology in addition to her 30+ publications in peer-reviewed medical journals. She is the main author of relationship articles for The Eternity Rose.