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Situationship vs Friends-with-Benefits: Which One Works Better for You?

In today’s society, dating is a far cry from what it once was. There are now a wide variety of dating scenarios and setups, each with its own unique list of pros, cons, and boundaries. Understanding the differences between these dating scenarios will help you clarify what it is you’re looking for from the get-go. Knowledge is power and in this case, that’s definitely true. 

In this article, we will take a closer look at the differences between a situationship and a friends-with-benefits setup as well as the pros and cons of each. 

Before we delve deeper into the differences between these two types of dating scenarios, I highly recommend you take some time to decide what it is you personally want from a relationship

Do you want something serious? Do you want something casual, without any formal boundaries? Do you want to hook up with someone who’s already a friend of yours? Do you want a monogamous or a polyamorous relationship? 

Once you understand what it is you’re personally looking for you’ll be better equipped at selecting relationship setups that suit and serve you.  

Key Takeaways

  • There’s a huge difference between being in a situationship vs friends with benefits relationship 
  • There are both pros and cons in each relationship type 
  • Ultimately, it’s important to understand for yourself which of these relationship statuses suits you best

The Differences Between a Situationship and Friends with Benefits

Let’s start out by looking at what a situationship is. Ugh, if I’m being honest, being in a situationship is my least favorite dating scenario. A situationship could be seen as a gray area in the dating world. It’s one of those scenarios where you’re not quite sure where you stand with your partner. 

There are no official boundaries. In fact, you probably don’t even know what to refer to this person as - are they your friend? Your friend with benefits? Your boyfriend? Yeah, it’s complicated! 

If you’re in a situationship, you probably also aren’t sure whether or not you’re ‘allowed’ to be seeing other people. Will this offend the person you’ve been seeing? Has the person you’ve been seeing, seeing other people? There are so many questions left unanswered! 

A friends with benefits setup is typically when two people, who started out as friends, begin having a sexual relationship without any strings attached. As fun as this might be in the beginning, there may be some complexities to this sort of relationship too which we will look at in more detail below.  

The Pros and Cons of a Situationship

Let’s take a closer look at what some might deem the ‘gray area’ of dating and relationships. 

1. There might be other people involved

If you’re in a situationship, there’s a good chance that the person you’re seeing may be seeing other people, too. Unfortunately, if you’re in an undefined romantic relationship (AKA a situationship) you need to accept the lack of boundaries that comes with the territory. Sometimes, this can be a very difficult, even hurtful, thing to accept. 

Furthermore, because of the lack of boundaries that exists in a situationship, you don’t have much say in terms of what your partner should or should not be doing. You also don’t have much room to be angry or hurt by the other person’s actions because there was never any clear understanding or real commitment between the two of you and your relationship.

If you don’t want other people to be involved, it’s important to have an open and honest discussion with the person you’re seeing. Talk about your wants and concerns and find an amicable solution or compromise

Remember to always put yourself first. If the relationship has become emotionally damaging and the two of you can’t come to any sort of agreement, rather walk away. 

Woman catching a couple in bed

2. There are no defined boundaries 

Because there are no defined boundaries in a situationship, each party is free to do and act as they please. While a lack of boundaries may seem appealing in a situational relationship, over time, as one, or both, parties involved develop feelings, things can quickly become toxic. 

A lack of boundaries in any relationship may look like this: 

  • A rollercoaster of emotions
  • Feeling unsure about your relationship 
  • Your partner might be seeing multiple people 
  • Passive aggressiveness 
  • Feeling overlooked or taken for granted 
  • Your relationship might lack emotional depth or feel one-sided

3. A situationship is usually a natural evolutionary part of the dating process

It’s important to remember that a situationship is a natural/evolutionary part of the dating process. It’s very unlikely that boundaries will be set between two people from the get-go. 

Instead, a more likely scenario is that two people will go on a couple of dates with each other, get to know each other better, and slowly decide whether or not they want to enter into a committed relationship with one another. 

In this sort of scenario, one might say that a situationship is a healthy part of a relationship as it gives you enough time to decide whether the other person is what you’re looking for. Rushing into a serious relationship without having this sort of time together can be unhealthy as you might not be fully aware, or ready, for what you’re getting yourself into.  

4. There might be a lack of consistency 

If there’s a lack of consistency in your relationship, it might be because you’re actually in a situationship. A lack of consistency can be emotionally exhausting and taxing. One minute you’re hearing from the guy day in and day out and the next thing you haven’t heard from him in a week. 

Furthermore, inconsistency can lead to broken promises, disappointment, a disconnect between your partner’s words and actions, and exclusion from their circle of friends and family. 

Consistency is an essential part of any healthy relationship. Consistency builds trust, reliability, and confidence in partners. It means you’re able to depend on your partner when you need them, trust what they have to say, and have confidence that they’re in your corner. 

5. Things may not be headed in any direction

In a situational relationship, you might feel as if things have stagnated with no clear direction or high hopes for the future. Your partner might avoid talking about the future with you or avoid defining the relationship. Eventually, you may even begin to feel as though you’re just kept around for convenience's sake

If you’re stuck in a relationship without direction it can become frustrating and toxic. In my opinion, if you’ve been seeing someone for a couple of months and there’s no indication that things are progressing, cut your ties sooner rather than later. 

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6. Your mental health may be affected 

Confused woman looking up

Unfortunately, being in an undefined relationship may affect your mental health over time. The constant guessing game of where you stand with someone, how they feel about you, what you can or can’t do, and what they might or might not be doing can be emotionally draining and even lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. 

If your mental health is being negatively impacted by the situational relationship you’re in, it’s a sign that you need to set boundaries and be more direct and honest about what it is you want and need to feel loved and fulfilled. 

Remember to always put your mental and emotional well-being first and, if need be, seek out professional help and advice from a therapist. 

7. The relationship might be one-sided

Situational relationships may be a result of a one-sided emotional connection. One party may have developed feelings for the other and the other might feel too bad to end the relationship, might continue the relationship due to convenience, or might even enjoy the casual sex that comes with the territory and therefore be hesitant to cut off contact. 

If the emotional connection in your relationship is one-sided, you may quickly begin feeling deflated and taken for granted. This is yet another one of the cons of being in a situational relationship.   

8. You don’t necessarily enjoy the same benefits a couple would

In a committed relationship, couples have the benefit of doing and experiencing most things together. Having someone at your side through the good and bad can be comforting, encouraging, and uplifting. 

Furthermore, there are some romantic things couples do together that you’re likely to miss out on in a situational relationship, like the celebration of anniversaries, going away on holidays together, and meeting each other’s friends and family. 

There might also be a lack in the depth of physical and emotional intimacy you experience in a situationship vs a committed relationship.   

9. There is an element of romance involved 

Despite not being able to enjoy the same benefits a couple would, if you look at a situationship vs friends with benefits, a situationship has a greater element of romance than the latter. 

In a situationship, especially in the early days of one, you are probably still going on romantic dates with each other, trying to impress each other, and putting in extra effort. You might even buy each other flowers, gifts, or dinner from time to time. 

This, however, is not the same for a friends with benefits setup. Friends with benefits is strictly about physical intimacy with the goal of having no emotional or romantic connection beyond that. 

10. It’s a good option if you’re not ready for a serious relationship

If you’re not emotionally available or ready for a committed relationship, a situationship might be ideal. A situationship allows you to casually date and have physical intimacy with someone without the hassle of having any strings attached or anyone to answer. 

Furthermore, a situationship gives you the benefit of being able to meet and go on dates with multiple people before choosing who to formally commit to. A situationship also gives you the benefit of someone’s company without having to make any massive sacrifices or compromises, as would often be required in a relationship. 

The Pros and Cons of Friends With Benefits

Generally speaking, a friends with benefits scenario is defined as a sexual relationship between friends without any further emotional commitment. 

1. Less drama 

Because you know where you stand and what you’re getting into when entering into a friends with benefits relationship, there’s generally less drama than one would typically come across in a situationship. The only real expectation in a friends with benefits relationship is physical intimacy. 

2. Starting out any relationship as friends is usually a good thing 

Couple dating at a theme park

Whether you’re wanting a casual, sexual relationship or are in search of a serious relationship with a deep emotional connection, starting out as friends is almost always a good idea. 

Knowing and understanding your partner, their strengths, weaknesses, and behavioral patterns gives you a better chance of having a successful relationship with them. 

Furthermore, if you trust the person as a friend, you’re probably able to trust them in a relationship, in whatever form that relationship presents itself in. 

So, if you’re interested in having a no-strings-attached kind of sexual relationship, having it with a trusted friend might not be a bad idea after all. 

3. It could ruin your friendship 

Unfortunately, when you begin to mix physical intimacy and friendship there’s a good chance that someone may develop feelings at some point and want more than the other party is able or willing to give. When this happens, there is a chance it may ruin the friendship in the long run. 

On the other hand, if the friendship remains intact even after hooking up, there’s a chance that the spark between the two of you remains and things are unable to return back to how they were. 

4. Low emotional involvement 

For some, this might be appealing, for others, this could be off-putting. However, facts are facts and generally speaking, a friends with benefits scenario requires low emotional involvement. And, for as long as there’s little emotional involvement, the relationship is likely to be relatively drama and admin free. 

5. Straight forward communication

Straightforward, open, and honest communication is always a positive aspect of any relationship. Straightforward communication allows people to understand where they stand with their partners and what the boundaries are. 

Understanding your position in a relationship will only lead to a more positive headspace in the long run for both you and your loved one. 

6. These setups are usually short-lived but allow you to experience your fantasy

Friends with benefits are usually short-lived relationships. Once both partners' sexual desires and fantasies have been satisfied, the desire to continue hooking up usually fades away. However, there may also be situations wherein friends with benefits scenarios turn into serious, committed relationships that are long-lasting. 


Is a situationship considered dating? 

A situationship isn’t considered an official relationship. A situationship is complicated because it lacks boundaries and definition. While you might be going on dates with a person, in my opinion, you’re only considered to be dating once boundaries have been discussed. If you’re confused about where you stand with someone and you’d like things to be more clearly defined, chat about it. 

It’s important to remember, however, that often relationships start out as ‘situationships’ in the early stages of dating, and as time goes on they naturally evolve into clearly defined relationships. Don’t scare the other person off by wanting to chat about boundaries too early on. 

How long should a situationship last? 

There’s no defined amount of time a situationship might last for. Some situationships last weeks, months, or even years. However, in my opinion, a situationship shouldn’t last longer than three or four months, unless, of course, both parties are happy with the way things are. Unfortunately, if a situationship persists for too long it can impact negatively the mental and emotional health of one, or both, parties. 

Why do guys like situationships?

There are many reasons why guys like being in situationships, some of them include the following: 

-- Situationships have the benefits of a sexual, romantic relationship without having to commit or be accountable for anything 
-- Being in a situationship means you can see multiple people at once 
-- For people with commitment issues, a situationship is ideal because they’re able to avoid formal commitment or vulnerability 

Are situationships bad? 

Situationships aren’t necessarily good or bad, it simply depends on what you’re looking for and what serves both you and your partner. That being said, situationships can quickly become toxic if they remain stagnant, if communication isn’t open and honest, or if one person develops feelings and continues to hold onto the hope that the other person will too at some point, despite there being no indication of that. 


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of the differences between a situationship and a friends-with-benefits scenario, as well as the pros and cons of each. Having a good understanding of dating terminology and the meaning behind each one will help you make more informed dating decisions. 

Understanding what it is that you want in a relationship and clearly communicating it from the get-go will help set you up for healthier, more fulfilling relationships. In fact, clarity in this regard may help you to avoid heartbreak.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it. 

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This tool can help by uncovering hidden social media and dating profiles, photos, criminal records, and much more, potentially putting your doubts to rest.


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