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Global Guide to Divorce

Jack Jack the Cat

Dating Post-divorce

Situationship – Being In The Middle Ground When Dating

Do you feel you are neither in the friend zone or in the romantic one? Confused about what is happening in your relationship – or even if you are in one?  You are caught in the middle ground which is called situationship.

What are the signs of situationship?

 Lack of commitment 

It is being in a relationship without commitment. People go out together – even exclusively – and there does not seem to be a future.  Spontaneity is fun. Great to do things on the spur of the moment. It keeps life exciting, unless this is how it is always. These people usually do not make plans ahead of time. Cannot commit to a date next week.  When plans are made for a later time, they often bow out. The future is not mentioned. It is one thing to live in the moment, another to be stuck there., They use the word “sometime.”   “Would you like to go dancing/hiking (whatever) sometime?”  You answer with an enthusiastic “Yes” and nothing is planned.  The future is not discussed.

In regular dating relationships, there is forward movement. Although one person may go at a slower pace, the relationship still progresses. In situationship – it is on standstill.

Lack of commitment shows up in other areas.  It may seem like you both are getting closer: talking in depth about your pasts, career goals and so forth. When you start intimating more contact, they step backwards. It is a dance which they want to lead.  People in situationship do not want to be pinned down. They crave their freedom, yet still have someone they can call when feel like going out. It is a way to avoid closeness which can lead (in their minds) to dating drama.

Inconsistency

What is frustrating is the inconsistency – you may go out several times in one week, and nearly a month, goes by before the next date.  There is no agenda or routine schedule. There is little or no contact between dates. These individuals rarely initiate a text. They can be good at responding., which is easier than generating one. They may answer in minutes and later take days to respond.

You are doing most of the work in this relationship. Phone calls may only be when they have not heard from you in a while and are asking you out at the last minute.  Tone of texts can be flirty or almost rude. Hard to figure out where you stand in this relationship.

Incongruity between body language and words

In situationship where you are is undefined. The verbal may be incongruent with the non-verbal (actions).  Warm kisses on the lips, or even sex, do not go with their behaviour.  They do not go out regularly with you and are silent between dates.  They snuggle with you in booths, give plenty of hugs and kisses and throw in some complements.  This can be refereed to as crumbs. Enough to keep you interested, but not a main course.  They are treating you romantically while saying you are “Just Friends.”

It is confusing when their friends seem to think you are a couple or ask you how long the two of you have been dating.  Hard to answer when not really knowing if this is considered dating. Perhaps you like their friends and are part of the other’s inner circle.

What to do

Have a discussion of your needs and expectations. Express what you are feeling, “I’m into you – very attracted.”  Let them respond, pause as long as it takes to get an answer. In one case, the man’s reply was “I am not ready to take this further.” Yes, vague, but something. She is not sure if that means for this entire decade or for the next few months.  Communication is important in situationship.

When being told you are “just friends” for many months, consider dating again when an opportunity arises. This can help you become less fixated on the situationship which is going nowhere.

Questions to ask yourself

Are you getting anything out of it?

Are you better with or without them?

The answers help determine if you want to enjoy the relationship for what it is or if it is time to move on.  People’s self-worth can be negatively affected, particularly if they feel there is a flaw within themselves. People coming out of a toxic marriage may feel they are not worthy of anything more and accept what is happening. Be aware of your mental health, and if feeling depressed or anxious, think about making an exit. Keep  in mind, you are in a situationship because of the other person, not you. They are fearful, have a traumatic history, attachment disorder, or whatever it is.

One example where it does work out is this. A woman in a situationship with a musician, realized she enjoys going to his gigs and dancing. She has fun going out for pizza periodically in-between times.  She decided to stay with the man, but start dating again. She has had several dates so far, and life is fun and fulfilling for her.  There is no right or wrong answer, it is what ever is best for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Portrait Of Young Shy Couple Sitting On Sofa At Home

Trauma from past relationships affects a current one.  The person may do the hot/cold dance – wanting to get closer, yet afraid of being burned again. Not only is relationship PTSD traumatic for the individual, but also to the other in the relationship. The person with PTSD can be afraid to acknowledge even to themselves, deep feelings – as this has led to heartbreak previously.

UK ‘s National Health Service (NHS) defines PTSD as an “anxiety disorder caused by very stressful or distressing events.” People with PTSD have high levels of stress hormones. When danger is perceived, the body produces adrenaline to trigger the fight or flight reaction. “People with PTSD have been found to continue to produce high amounts of fight or flight hormones even when there is no danger.”

 

How PTSD Manifests

 

In relationships, the person may bolt when things are getting serious. They are okay at the beginning – the Getting To Know You stage. When simple requests/demands are voiced by their dating partner, it can be overwhelming. “Do I stay and face a risk of rejection (whatever the trigger is)?”  This person dances into a relationship, then dances right out again.  Or keeps the partner at an arm’s length.  You might be kept in the friend zone or friends with benefits one without a commitment.

The individual with relationship PTSD can be self-medicating with either drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or all three. This is to numb themselves and tamp down emotions. It feels more comfortable to put up an emotional blockade around themselves. If they are like a zombie, then there is no opening for trauma to sneak in. This is a faulty protection mechanism which is harmful to relationships.  Insomnia is another problem for those with this PTSD. Some get flashbacks whether or not in a new relationship.

A person with dating PTSD is trying to avoid being hurt again. Also tries to avoid repeating patterns which led to the trauma -being left behind and heartbreak. The Lehigh Center for Clinical Research in Allentown, PA, USA states “Avoidance is a common symptom of PTSD. If you avoid communicating with your partner about important matters such as your feelings, because building a wall to protect yourself is easier, then you may be suffering from PTSD from your last toxic relationship.”

One man, Peter, had three traumatic dating relationships in a row and developed PTSD, complete with flashbacks. He opted not to date for 10 years.  He became an alcoholic trying to deal with this trauma. Attending AA meetings gave him support dealing with his life.  Now he is living with a fabulous woman.

 

What to do when dating a survivor of PTSD

  • Go Slowly.
  • Be Patient
  • Learn when to pull back. They may crawl into their cave when the relationship is getting too intense.
  • Give them space.  They not initiate contact for a few weeks.
  • Allow time to build a firm foundation. Then they can begin to trust you bit by bit.

It is a delicate balancing act

Pushing to get closer scares them away. Too little leaves them guessing if you are about to do a runner, which may have led to PTSD from previous relationship. Consider sending a short, to the point text “How is your day going?” or when something notable occurs. “I didn’t get the job” or “My short story won a prize.”  Responding is easier than generating a text.

 

Have a full life

When you are busy, your mind is focused on these activities and less likely to be dwelling on the frustration of this dating relationship. You are more interesting and enticing when you do get together.  They can laugh and wonder what antics/classes/events you are up to next. Your full life gives fuel for conversations.  Taking improv acting classes, having fun at karaoke an d so forth, helps you seem different from previous dating partners where trauma occurred,

You may have to accept their pattern of being there and then backing away. No one can change another person. One can express needs with “I” statements. “I need you to text or call at least once a week.” “I want to get together at least every other week.”

 

Questions to ask yourself

  • Are you getting frustrated with the dance backwards and forwards?
  • Are you getting something out of the relationship?
  • Are the good times outweighing the disappearing act?
  • Are you feeling secure in the relationship?
  • Are you both able to discuss personal history, problems, worries, etc?
  • Are they focused on you when you are speaking?
  • How strongly do you feel about them? In love? Or is it lust or merely a fascination?

Your dating partner is operating from fear. Fear is their reality. They are looking for indications that they may be mistreated again.  You may be able to slowly build trust and have a successful relationship. Communication is imperative.  Give it your all, and then if you need to bail, you know you did everything that you could. There is hope that after a bumpy start, your relationship can be successful.