While heartbreak is often associated with the end of a committed relationship, situationships—those gray areas where feelings and boundaries blur—can leave lasting emotional scars just as deep. Unfortunately, the same compassion isn't always offered after going through a situationship breakup.
At Mend, we understand the science of heartbreak. We know that the pain that follows a breakup is a result of more than the commitment that exists within the relationship. If you’ve been feeling any kind of shame or embarrassment because of how torn up you are over this situationship breakup, we want you to know that it’s completely normal to be hurting. Your heartbreak is real.
What exactly is a situationship?
Every situationship is unique, but overall it could be defined as two people enjoying certain aspects of a romantic relationship without a clear commitment or defined expectations. The allure of situationships lies in their casual, no-strings-attached nature. However, when the time comes to part ways, the lack of clarity can amplify emotional distress.
Why does a situationship breakup hurt so much?
The pain experienced during a situationship breakup stems from several factors. Humans are hardwired to form emotional bonds, and these bonds develop in situationships too. Oxytocin—the hormone associated with attachment and bonding—can be released in situationships, leading to emotional connection and dependence. So when a situationship ends, it feels like losing a significant emotional anchor.
Moreover, situationships can intensify the fear of rejection and abandonment. The lack of clear commitment often keeps us guessing about our partner's true feelings and intentions. This ambiguity breeds anxiety, as we constantly wonder if we are enough or if our partner will choose someone else. Research has demonstrated that uncertainty about the future of a relationship can increase emotional distress and lower self-esteem, making situationship breakups all the more agonizing.
Another crucial factor contributing to the pain of situationship breakups is the shattered illusion of a future together. You might have shared hopes and dreams, and maybe even envisioned what that would look like if the situationship became a committed relationship. Now that it’s come to an end, you’re left to grieve the “what ifs…” Not getting to live out the potential you saw for the relationship can keep you feeling stuck in the heartbreak.
It's important to recognize and validate the pain of a situationship breakup. Remember, your emotions are real, and they matter. Allow yourself to grieve and heal at your own pace. Surround yourself with a support network of friends and family who understand the complexities of your situation.
And if you want to dig deeper into the science of heartbreak, mend from this situationship breakup, and turn this heartbreak into an opportunity for self-reflection and growth, join our program How To Mend From Heartbreak. This self-paced course was developed by mental health, mindfulness, and wellness experts and features 17 modules that cover everything from a 60-day ex-detox to addressing the most common breakup questions, as well as support for your self-love journey and helping you get ready to date again.