While casual, nondescript “situationships” certainly have a time and a place, it’s OK to admit when you’re officially tired of “talking” or “hanging out” with someone and want to turn your situationship into a relationship instead. You know, something with a little more commitment, consistency, and that all-important label.
The good news? Despite the mixed signals and confusion you may be used to in your situationship, it’s entirely possible to push it to become the real thing, says clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow. If you make a point of communicating about where you are right now and where you want to be in the future, he tells Bustle, your lives can certainly start heading in that direction.
The goal is to move past the ill-defined “situation” and into something that’s more structured, which you can do by having these open and honest conversations. “Until this is done, the situationship will never change,” says Klapow.
It’s tough to be honest, but once you open up, you might find that your partner (or semi-partner) has been hoping to have this exact chat — and maybe even that they’re down to give dating a try. If they’re open to turning the situationship into a relationship, read on for ways to build on that potential.
Stop Texting & Hang Out In Person
Being physically closer is a key factor in strengthening your connection, which means you’ll want to rely on your phone less. “Texting is a fantastic way to keep in touch,” relationship coach Keishorne Scott, tells Bustle, “but it can build a false sense of intimacy and attachment if used excessively.” In other words, it’s easy to fall into the habit of sending cute messages and it feeling as if you’re connected and close, when in reality you could be doing so much more.
Try hanging IRL instead. “Texting back and forth for a month means nothing if you've only seen each other once or twice in person during that period,” Scott says, so be bold and ask if they’d like to meet up. Offer fun date ideas — like getting coffee, strolling through an art gallery, or going out to dinner — and try to see each other face-to-face on a regular basis. The more time and effort you both invest in the relationship, the closer you’ll become.
Introduce Each Other To Your Friends
Another way to push for a closer relationship? Get your BFFs involved. According to Dr. Jess Carbino, a dating expert and former sociologist for Tinder and Bumble, tells Bustle that involving each other in your respective social lives will help your situationship evolve.
“If the situationship involves social interactions beyond just the individuals in the situationship,” Carbino says, “this may be a positive sign because social recognition is a defining element of a committed romantic partnership.”
Try mixing and mingling in the outside world, beyond what you usually do privately. Introduce friends, venture out into the community, and it should start to feel like you’re a bonafide couple.
Keep Checking In
Unfortunately, you can’t have one discussion about defining the relationship and then expect everything to change. You’ll need to “let the other person know how you feel about them,” Elizabeth Overstreet, a relationship expert, tells Bustle, and then continue checking in.
By making your relationship a topic of conversation, it’ll really drive home the fact you’re open to having a deeper connection. “You never know what you can receive if you don’t put yourself out there to the other person,” says Overstreet. “You have to take chances and be honest about what you want.”
All of that said, it’s important to recognize when you’re being strung along by someone who’s clearly not ready to date. You’ll pick up on clues, like how they never want to hang out in person, meet friends, or talk about the future. In that case, “it is better to let go and move on,” Scott says, “especially if you want more.”
Dr. Josh Klapow, clinical psychologist
Keishorne Scott, relationship coach
Elizabeth Overstreet, relationship expert
Dr. Jess Carbino, dating expert