What The Sex?
Reluctant to commit
by Simone Ofenbach
July 2023

By now I’m triggered by every single Tiktok video on my for you page, every instagram reel and most of the memes i see on the internet.

I can’t even enjoy some good old doom scrolling that my inner alarm system starts its violently high noise. I feel overwhelmed by all the relationship advices, dogmas, opinions and theories people love so much to spread all over the internet.

As a result, I can’t never really stop thinking about my personal problems and deepest fears without never come to a conclusion with my thoughts.

I’m deadly tired, to be frankly honest. When will i finally go back to the cute puppies and tasty recipes bubble?!

You might be wonder why am i willingly to talk about this topic, since I feel the urge to vomit every time i see a relationship guru talking about situationships/commitment issues/toxic behaviors. Great question!

Well, some Tiktok user might say that my defense mechanism is to intellectualize what I experience. To feel in control of a situation I have to be able to explain it, understanding all the underlying issues, patterns and rules even if this collides with the triggers i get from the internet. 

Basically, I think this has to be exorcised before I go back spiraling in my deepest night thoughts, listening to Lana Del Rey’s Do You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Blvd Ocean.  

Don’t get me wrong, that album it’s an absolute banger but damn if Ms. Del Rey has the power of making my healing process go back to the start. Sorry, I’m already digressing.

The questions to which I attempted to give my personal answer are as follows: 

a) What is the definition of the term “situationship” and is the number of this “new” kind of relationship rising all over the post-pandemic world or is it just my algorithm showing me people talking about it? 

b) Are we getting more and more afraid to commit? Why is that? 

c) What’s the attachment theory and what’s its implication with situationships?

d) Can the raise of awareness make us feel more paralyzed/preoccupied about relationships? Can it be counterproductive to listen to so many people spreading their acknowledgment about them?

If you don’t know what’s a situationship you might be living your best life - alone or partnered - without having to wonder how to name the relationship you’re in but there’s a chance you’re just unaware of your unfortunate condition. To make it simple I’d like to borrow a pretty accurate definition about this term by user Bossotron95 from urban dictionary, as he states: “Let’s just chill, have sex, and be confused on the fact that we are not together but have official emotions for each other”. As we dig in the internet all definitions might converge about the fact that situationships can be located in the space between romantic relationships and something that is more than a friendship. 

I wouldn’t be surprise to know that this term was coined by someone that would have preferred a more committed and defined relationship, perhaps an anxiously attached person - we’ll get there soon - and because of that they might have tried to name what they were experiencing, to make it feel more real and concrete. I’m sorry for you, whoever you are.

Once there were friends with benefits now we have situationships. There’s a huge difference between the two but we must notice that the intentions are similar: finding new ways to call the connections we like to have with people. 

Like most things, situationships can have their pros and cons. For instance, during the firsts stages of dating they can allow all the partners involved to be released from the pressure of commitment, making them feel comfortable exploring relationships in a less structured way while getting to know each other better. However, things might get less than appealing when time goes on and there’s no actual overlap between the definition of relationship the partners would like to use and think fits better for them.

Many people on the internet say that once you’re in a situationship there’s no way out. It’s kinda like a non-committed marriage or more precisely something like Dante’s Limbo, where all the lost souls find themselves. 

What is the definition of the term “situationship”.

In my humble opinion, we should have more words to describe our relationships, or perhaps a malleable definition about what we like to build with a significant other(s). The way we structure and idealize relationships might not make everyone feel comfortable with it nowadays. 

We’re told that there’s just one way to be together; with strict, unchangeable and generalized rules and borders. Despite that, most of us thrive to find important connections with others, considering that our generation is the one that is feeling increasingly lonely in number. We don’t want to be (left) alone yet we find it so difficult to have real and meaningful connections. The paradox of social medias, giving us the misperception that it is easier than ever to connect with people when, in facts, that’s just an illusion. 

For this reason, it is essential to be able to define something that we might enjoy with our partner(s), to communicate about our different prospectives, understand each other's needs and be willingly and playful exploring common territories where to develop our affection and care. 

Generally speaking, we’re becoming more self-centered, prioritizing our self-realization before the one of our relationships. Individual goals and development are seen as more valuable as they were when our parents were young; as a result, people are getting married later in life and we tend to have more (romantic and sexual) experiences than they had but these are also more superficial.

I’m not here to say what’s good and what isn’t but it’s clear that this has an impact on the way we live our relationships. Our future looks more uncertain than the one our parents’s, so does our commitment with people.

As said before, it is easier to get to know new people - thanks to social media and dating apps - but this has a double effect: on one hand It gives us the sense of an increased and almost infinite choice although making us feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by it. 

We’re told that there’s just one way to be together; with strict, unchangeable and generalized rules and borders.

We seek the idealized perfect match in a ocean full of potential partners without never getting ourselves the time to get to know each other deeply, being vulnerable and by that building the foundation of something more meaningful and long lasting.

Of course we feel the urge to have an exit plan before even getting attached to someone, none of us wants to suffer or make other people suffering but is this preventing us to have significant and joyful experiences?

Is living under a glass worth it or are we perhaps just moved by our fears hence never being truly able to live our real/damaged selves as well as the present moment?

Well in this regard, situationships might come in handy if we use them as a shield for vulnerability. 

There’s a reason why the attachment styles theory fits so well the discourse around situationships and that’s due to the fact that the above average of us does not have a secure attachment style. These refer to the way we get attached to people and they are a result of our personal history and experiences with important others.

But before talking to you about attachment styles it is useful to make an important premise: the types are simplifications, by that we should see them not as a destiny, instead as a spectrum where we can always move and grow.

In a nutshell, the three attachment styles first identified by Bowlby are:

a) Secure, where love and trust in others comes easily. 

b) Anxious, eager to be intimate with others but constantly preoccupied of let down and by that contributing the happening of crises.

c) Avoidant, where it feels much easier to avoid the dangers of vulnerability with emotional withdraw.

Fun fact: it is common for people whose attachment style is anxious to end up in situationships with the avoidant types. Why that? Because they’re two sides of a similarly damaged self. The difference is about their answers.

This combo fuels both of them and activates all of their inner alarms, often aggravating their insecurities and defenses in the process.

Knowing what’s our attachment style might help us to warn ourselves and others of the mental traps we might fall into, shown on our instinctive response to closeness. As I said, attachment styles shouldn’t be seen as an unchangeable destiny, instead they can be a powerful tool to understand ourselves. For instance, baring in mind that distance or angriness when getting close to someone aren’t necessarily meanness towards us but instead a way of coping that people might adopt when faced with difficulties. Not precipitating our conclusions about our significant others whenever we’re feeling scared in a situation might be an awesome opportunity to understand us and our partners better. Undoubtedly, communication is key but to make it worth it we have to explore and connect with our damaged self in the first place.

Now I do wonder: how seeing a thousand of one minute tiktoks can help me do that? If I am constantly triggered with multiple kinds of relationship advice and theories, both from the internet and my friends, how can I really heal my wounded self?

In spite of that I’d like to say that a one minute video could never solve our issues or release us from the pressure of our fears. What it can do is to activates us and make us spiral about it. Until we watch the next one. Of course they might make us feel less alone but they’ll never be a replacement for therapy, they’ll never give us the warmth of a long lasting connection and not even the same feeling we can get after a deep and vulnerable conversation or intimacy with the people we love. 

Not to mention that I feel that in this kind of videos there’s always a lack of complexity for the sake of a wider relatability. We can get as many advices as we like about our relationships but will they ever be enough, should they be enough? 

Attachment styles shouldn’t be seen as an unchangeable destiny, instead they can be a powerful tool to understand ourselves.

Sometimes I do wonder if the tendency of feeling paralyzed is a result of this bombardment of acknowledgement we’re getting everyday from the internet, the quickness by which strangers judge what’s good and what’s bad for us, what’s toxic and what isn’t. 

The fear of hurting someone or ourselves shouldn’t make us feel immobilized. Unfortunately, we can’t prevent people from suffering, not even ourselves and this shouldn’t be our goal. What we can do is to slow the urge of being so quick judging situations, understanding the wider - and probably inner - signification. 

Coming to a conclusion, I do believe that what we need are more real, deeper and empathetic connections between us. We’ll never find the closeness we lack from strangers or some content on the internet. Every single person has his own complexity and combined with their partner’s is making an even more complex situation to talk about. Advices are a powerful tool to try new solutions but we need to explore inside of us, not outside. Understanding what we need to do and where we need to go with our partner(s). No one can really know what's best for us, of course we appreciate and love people putting their efforts to help us. I hope you’re taking care of the priceless advices your friends might give to you, they’re coming from lovely and goodhearted intentions.

But in the end we should explore relationships on our own, with our own personal ways. 

To wrap things up, I believe that our goal should be to slow down our fears when they rise, and understand as much as we can from them. Try our best to be forgiving and compassionate about ourselves and the people we will met in our lives and, finally, cultivating meaningful connections with the people we love to be with in the way we, and our partners, believe it’s the best for us.

“So no regrets.”

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