Should you settle for a situationship instead of a relationship?

All you’ve ever wanted was a committed, monogamous relationship. One that has exclusivity and a formal title. You want to be with someone who is proud to say that they’re your boyfriend or girlfriend. Then you meet someone who seems perfect for you. They’re willing to give you exclusivity and monogamy, but when it comes to using titles they’re a bit iffy. They don’t want to put a label on what you have. They have their reasons for it, whether they are an aversion to formal titles, the belief that naming something dooms it, or simply a desire to live unconventionally. They’re willing to give you almost everything you want, an exclusive, monogamous, situationship, but not a formally titled “relationship”. With all that in mind…

Should you settle for a situationship instead of a relationship?

The answer is no. No you shouldn’t. Here’s why:

I know that for many people it will sound like I’m being pedantic. If you have everything you need in a relationship, minus the formal title, surely that’s enough? I would disagree.

Words and titles, and how we refer to people have a certain amount of power, and a person’s unwillingness to use certain words or titles to describe you says a lot. Calling someone your friend implies something to people, whereas calling them your partner implies something else entirely. To say that having everything you need in a relationship except a title should be enough would be to discount the importance of those titles. Titles like boyfriend or girlfriend (and especially husband or wife) carry weight, because they are signifiers of the level of commitment we have with someone and those symbols are important.

Truth be told, that issue has more to do with how your relationship will be perceived externally, so I can understand if you don’t think it matters all that much. That’s fine, but consider this: If you want a title, whatever that title is, and your partner doesn’t, you have fundamentally differing views of what a commitment means.

A willingness to call you someone your boyfriend or girlfriend is a symptom of a larger issue. They don’t see eye-to-eye with you when it comes to what a commitment means. They’re not a bad person for holding differing views on commitment, because your views and their views are both valid, they’re just not the same. But, that doesn’t mean that they’re a good fit for you.

Ask yourself what a relationship means to you. Let’s assume that all you’ve ever wanted is a commitment, in both word and deed. You want someone who is only dating you, someone who only wants to be with you, and someone who will signify that choice by the term or title they use to refer to you. In public and in private. Now ask yourself, what does a relationship mean to your partner? Do they want those same things?

Better yet, ask yourself what a relationship means to you in the future. Is your life plan one that goes from dating, to a relationship, to marriage? If so, what about your partner? What does being in a committed situationship mean to them, and their own romantic goals? I’m guessing that your vision of your romantic future and theirs don’t match up if you want a relationship, and they want a relationship in all but name. If you want to get married, to formalize your relationship in the eyes of the law (and your religion, if that’s your thing) what are the odds that the person who is hesitant to even call you their boyfriend or girlfriend is going to want those same things? I’m leaning toward no.

Finally, it all comes down to a question of settling for “good enough”. Good enough is fine when you’re looking at things you want but aren’t deal-breakers, but not for the things you need. If I’m buying toothpaste good enough works just fine, if I’m planning on committing to someone, good enough just doesn’t cut it. I don’t believe in settling for good enough, and neither should you.

If what you need is for someone to call you their boyfriend or girlfriend, it doesn’t matter how trivial that might seem to others, because you need it. If you need a relationship that is very prescribed in what it should be, whether that comes to monogamy or non-monogamy, titles, or anything else, never settle for just good enough.


I framed this as a question of whether you should settle for a situationship instead of a traditional, monogamous, committed relationship, but this goes for any romantic pairing you can think of. If you want to be in a very specific type of non-monogamous relationship and your partner is willing to do some,but not all of what you need, I don’t believe you should settle. That applies to titles, monogamy (or a lack thereof), expectations for the future, children, marriage, and so on.

Whatever you need in a relationship, traditional or not, conventional or not, is valid. And you shouldn’t settle for less.

Good Luck Out There.

Also published on Medium.