Warning: The following article includes descriptions of miscarriage, emotional abuse, financial abuse and harassment that some readers may find distressing.
The word “situationship” was coined by journalist Carina Hsieh in 2017 and has embedded itself within the cultural lexicon, along with the likes of “ghosting”, “catfishing”, “orbiting” and more.
Lying in that undefined, uncertain space between a casual hookup and a relationship, a situationship means there’s sex involved and time spent together, and perhaps even emotional intimacy, but with a refusal on one or both party’s side to commit.
And whether it lasts two weeks or five years, anyone who has ever dabbled in a situationship knows that some end well, while others, frankly, don’t. The end of a months-long situationship can split your world open with more viciousness than a long-term relationship breakdown. But a certain amount of lucidity can come after a breakup, whether it’s self-love, learning to develop your sense of boundaries, or even teaching you what you want or don’t want next. Refinery29 talks to eight women — who preferred we didn’t share their last names — on what their messiest situationship taught them, in life and in love.