If the question about situationship vs. friends with benefits comes to mind, it’s clear that it’s time to define your relationship. Otherwise, you can become the victim of inflated expectations or end up in conflict with the person on your relationship status. Don’t let ambiguity ruin things.
Defining a long-term relationship is easier than a casual one. Two monogamous people in a committed relationship are just more likely on the same page about future plans. If you are equally uncommitted, defining casual relationships will be pretty easy too. But when the level of commitment and expectations differ, problems with defining the relationship status appear.
If things between you two have become more complicated, let’s make them clear. In this post, we’ll discuss two most common casual relationship models, situationship vs friends with benefits – what are they, which pros and cons each possesses, and how to navigate that hard talk to make things clear.
A friends-with-benefits relationship starts with two friends who develop a physical attraction toward each other. They come to an agreement that they will enjoy no strings attached to physical intimacy. This involves maintaining the friendship, avoiding awkwardness, and a commitment to avoid developing feelings.
When comparing a situationship vs friends with benefits, a situationship is much harder to define and more complicated. Unlike friends with benefits, it is by nature a situational relationship that is subject to change. It may also mean something different to each person. You may be involved in a situationship from the start. Your situationship relationship might evolve from something else.
The most important distinction is that both of you know what you are getting into, at least at the beginning.
Here are some examples to help you understand the differences between situationship vs friends with benefits.
You hang out with your regular friend group every Saturday night. Daniel is part of that group, but the two of you aren’t exactly best friends close. There’s some emotional connection. You think he’s funny. Every once in a while, you text one another about friend group-related stuff. Then, out of nowhere, you notice it. Daniel is really sexy. So, you flirt, and he flirts back.
Neither of you is in a committed relationship, so you both go for it! The sex is great, and it becomes a semi-regular thing. Both of you agree that things would get really awkward if there were other parties involved. So, you agree that you won’t tell the rest of your friends about this.
More importantly, the two of you agree that there’s no room for romantic feelings here. You have a clear understanding that this is casual and will probably only last until one of you finds someone to get serious about. There is no commitment involved. That is a mutual understanding.
Related reading: 11 Friends With Benefits Rules to Keep Things Chill
You’ve dated Jane before. Once, you even had a serious commitment together. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Despite that, it’s clear that you both have strong feelings for one another.
She’s gone back to her ex a few times but admits she doesn’t feel the same way about him as he does you. Throughout all of this, you both continue to go on dates with each other and have sex. You want a commitment but are just okay enough with things as they are to dodge any conversation about the status of your situational relationship.
There is definitely some emotional depth to what you have with Jane. You might even be in love. Still, it isn’t a traditional relationship. Also, when you are honest with yourself, you realize this is emotionally draining.
Emotions are the key differences between FWB relationship and a situationship. As the name implies, friends with benefits are just friends. But in a situationship, you might have a deeper emotional connection or even fall in love. Your situational relationship might also be defined by the fact that you don’t know exactly how you feel.
More accurately, they can be both. That happens when one or both people involved catch feelings. They begin yearning for a more committed relationship. To put it bluntly, things get weird.
Related reading: What Are the Signs Your Friends with Benefits Is Falling for You
Sometimes, it works out. Both of you might feel that same emotional connection and you decide to pursue a serious relationship. But, what if those feelings aren’t mutual and it causes drama within your friend group? Then you are in the undefined relationship zone known as the situationship.
So, when things between you two become messier and more complicated, there is a chance your friends-with-benefits relationships turn into situationships.
Be aware of these risks, and then decide whether it’s worth the risk to have your sexual needs met.
Related reading: What is NSA in Dating? Let Freedom Ring!
A situationship is often a “right now” relationship. As long as you have mutual respect and a deeper emotional connection, you may look back on your situationship fondly, even if it never materializes into a long-term relationship.
If you say you are in a situationship, take a step back. Are you really okay with that? Be careful that you aren’t convincing yourself to stay in a non-committal relationship that is emotionally exhausting for you.
Once you can decide you don’t like the way your relationship, the challenging part is there is another person involved. They may be okay with the status quo, wanting to maintain an open relationship with no real relationship commitment.
Conversely, it may be you who decides that you are okay as friends with benefits or being part of a situationship. What will you do when you want to keep things surface level, but they are asking for a clear commitment? It may be time for an honest and candid conversation about your feelings, plans, and intentions. Here are some thoughts for your guidance in this regard.
Related reading: How Many Dates Do You Need to Start a Relationship for Real?
It doesn’t matter what kind of undefined romantic relationship you have. Both of you should be able to communicate openly. Relationships, even those that are casual or loosely defined, can have an impact on your mental health. It’s more important to know how and when to talk about your relationship than it is to understand the difference between situationship vs friends with benefits.
It’s never good to hold feelings in.
Despite their key difference, situationships and friends-with-benefits relationships have something in common. They are the same in wanting to enjoy physical intimacy without having difficult conversations.
Unfortunately, this approach rarely works in the long run for these relationships. Eventually, something will cause you to talk about your relationship. Even if you want to keep things loose and casual, every healthy relationship needs at least a minimal conversation about expectations.
There’s also a matter of respect and safety. By nature, situationships and FWB are casual. This lack of commitment means there is a good chance that at least one of you sees multiple people. If not now, this may happen in the future. Thus, at a bare minimum, there needs to be some disclosure and frank conversation about safety and respect regarding dating multiple people.
It’s good to have conversations from time to time, even when things are going smoothly. These little check-ins can be casual and light. What they do is make sure that both of you are on the same page about your relationship. This way, neither of you is taken aback if your relationship status changes.
You should also plan to have a more serious convo if one of these important events happens:
Remember that discussing with the other person about your relationship doesn’t mean you have to concede to what they want. It’s simply giving space to one another’s feelings and thoughts.
This conversation doesn’t need to be painful or combative. Make it mature.
It’s just a matter of time before you will need to have a conversation with your friends with benefits or situationship partners. That’s because even the most physical relationship is going to involve some feelings or emotional attachment. There’s also the inevitability of change. But the good news is that you can do it.
The most respectful thing you can do in a conversation about your relationship is allow the other person the time and space to fully express their feelings. Engage in active listening.
Don’t simply wait for your turn to speak. Listen. Don’t spend that time formulating the perfect counter-response. Even if you don’t agree with them, that sets a respectful foundation for the conversation.
One way to do this is to ask the other person to expand on what they are saying. For example, if you are in a friends-with-benefits relationship with someone who wants a more emotional connection with you, don’t dismiss by reminding them you both agreed that this was nothing serious. You might be right, but you are invalidating their evolving feelings.
Here is what you can do instead:
When it is your time to speak, don’t let fear of conflict or rejection stop you from being fully authentic. Whether you want a long-term relationship or save your friends-with-benefits situation, don’t be unclear. The last thing you want to do is walk away from the situation and risk miscommunication.
Related reading: How To Maintain Your Individuality While In a Relationship
If all you care about is getting your way, you don’t care about the other person. They are simply an object to fulfill your needs and wants.
If you do care about them, you will want a good outcome for both of you. This doesn’t mean you must give in. It simply means you treat them with respect and take a team approach to come to an agreement.
This is particularly important when it’s friends with benefits. If this ends badly, and the other person feels disregarded or disrespected, you can be sure that is going to ripple through your circle of friends.
It’s easy to develop strong feelings during a tough conversation. It’s also easy to project your own feelings onto the other person. To avoid doing that, never assume. Instead, seek clarification.
If you perceive that your friends with benefits is frustrated with your current arrangement, say, “I think you are upset with the way things are going. Is that correct?”
Don’t let the conversation end without both of you agreeing on what to do next. Even if you decide to leave things just as they are, make sure that is what both of you want. Remember that deciding to do nothing is also a plan of action.
Nothing can be more fun than a friends-with-benefits fling if that is what you really want. Likewise, that situationship could genuinely meet your needs right now. The most important thing is that you have good insights, communicate honestly, and act in your own best interests when things change and you begin to strive for more clarity.