“We need to just make up a word.”
I agreed. We both paused. I had no ideas. I vetoed “friends+”, but when he suggested “situationship” it seemed to fit. It doesn’t roll off my tongue well, but then again, where Peter and I are at is not something that fits neatly into a box.
We aren’t ‘just friends’ anymore, and we decided it wouldn’t help to pretend that’s all we are. But we’re also nothing more than friends right now and are intentionally choosing not to date or pursue each other. It’s complicated, sure, but that’s what it really boils down to: not just friends, not more than friends.
Maybe you relate.
There are a hundred reasons why you may find yourself in a situationship. If you’re like Peter and I, you probably have several.
Man, it is hard. I don’t have all the answers. I’ve been reading books on dating and books on singleness. But today, let’s talk about the weird in between and how to glorify God in it.
1. Grace and More Grace
Here’s the thing — Peter and I have no idea what we’re doing. Sound familiar? We are simply two sinful humans in a super close friendship wrestling with some huge life decisions and issues. We’re still learning how to be gentle and honest with each other and how to have good boundaries. We’re still learning how to apologize, grow, and even just voice that we like each other.
I remember looking at him one day and saying, “I feel like I just keep messing up and doing things wrong.”
He felt the same.
One day, Peter said, “We get to blunder together.” And he’s right.
It’s a delight to blunder through this season with him. Do I have to apologize a lot? Yep. Do I have to forgive him? Yep. They say marriage is sanctifying, and I can only imagine, because even this situationship has been sanctifying to us.
Being able to give and receive more and more grace is a way Peter and I have gotten to experience God’s character and love in new and deeper ways.
2. Clear, Honest Communication
Peter and I have our flaws, but I’m so thankful for our communication. One of the things I appreciate about Peter is his honesty; it’s challenged me to be clearer about what I’m thinking, feeling, and needing. It’s given me space to ask hard questions.
Oh, the awkward conversations we have had! I’m cringing thinking of some of them now. Yet I’m incredibly glad we had them together. In the unsure stages of a situationship, you get to start building a solid foundation of communication. When everything is up in the air, being able to share and listen is absolutely crucial.
So tell the person when you’re insecure and when you need affirmation. Tell them you like them. Ask if they are uncomfortable when you say or do something specific.
And listen well.
Communication is about more than voicing your own thoughts and needs. It’s about hearing the other person and seeking to understand their heart, too.Communication is about more than voicing your own thoughts and needs. It’s about hearing the other person and seeking to understand their heart, too. Click To Tweet
3. Adapting to the Continual Changes
One reason communication is so important is because in an undefined situationship, things keep shifting. The nature of it is that it doesn’t stay the same. It can’t stay the same. Either it will morph back into a platonic friendship, or it will grow into an official romantic relationship.
That means as you get to know someone better, the way you engage and interact will change in one way or another, and it’s important to be aware of it. That means both parties being aware of their own heart and being sensitive to the other person’s as well.
For a time, Peter and I needed to talk a lot as we sorted through some big issues. Then, as emotions rose, we found we needed more boundaries in place. Then, we decided we wanted to spend more time in groups of people in addition to one on one. Over Peter’s winter break from college, we took the opportunity to get to know each other’s friends and community. But then as life got busier for us both and we realized how spending so much time together was growing our attraction faster than we were ready, we found we needed to adapt yet again.
While challenging, it has been a beautiful way to get to work together, communicate, and offer grace to each other.
4. Grow a Servant’s Heart
A big part of giving grace, communicating, and adapting successfully is in growing a servant’s heart toward the other person.
Relationships are fun. It feels good to be wanted, cared for, and have someone make you a priority. It was (still is sometimes) a challenge for me to accept that from Peter. As he went out of his way to be intentional and care for me well, I didn’t feel I deserved it. But God created you and I to both give and receive love. Humbly receiving love is just as much a reflection of Christ as generously giving love.
However, as I began to see how wonderful being on the receiving end was, I started to struggle with wanting Peter to fill all my relational and emotional needs. And he can’t do that. When selfishness rises in my heart, I struggle with contentment in the in between.
Yet when I’m able to engage with Peter with a heart ready and willing to serve, encourage, and bring grace, then I’m able to be so much more filled. I’m able to point to God and glorify Him.Being happy in the stresses of a situationship, the confusion, and the waiting stems from a heart full of God’s grace. A heart of meekness, humility, and gratitude. Click To Tweet
Being happy in the stresses of a situationship, the confusion, and the waiting stems from a heart full of God’s grace. A heart of meekness, humility, and gratitude.
5. Let the Emotions Point You to God
I never told anyone when I had a crush in the past. There was never any reason to. For me, the purpose of a romantic relationship with someone was always marriage. And as a young teenager, I knew marriage wasn’t something I was ready to move toward. But then I got older, and Peter entered the picture and I started falling for someone for real for the first time.
Except I can’t move forward with him, not yet.
Which leaves me in a weird place. Unlike in the past, these emotions aren’t something I need to get over. I don’t have to squash them or ignore them. But I also can’t really do anything with them yet. My heart longs to draw nearer to him, to show care and affection in deeper ways, but it isn’t time yet. I have these emotions building like a wave that never breaks.
These emotions are not wrong. But what do you do when you cannot express or act on them yet?
You bring them to God. More than that, you let them drive you to God.
This began to sink in for me as I walked home from church one day. I was really wrestling. It felt like every thought kept going back to Peter and it was distracting me from focusing on God. But as I began to pray for him and ask God for help, I realized something.
The delight I feel from getting to interact with Peter and blunder through this with him is a gift I get to praise the Giver for. The delight I feel when he smiles at me or tells me he appreciates me is just a glimpse of the delight I get to feel in my relationship with my Creator.
Enjoying my friendship — situationship — with Peter is a great way I get to worship the God who gave it to me.
6. Use This In-Between Time Wisely
If you’re in a situationship, you are still single. It’s important to give yourself and the other person intentional time to navigate well with grace and communication and the rest — but you are not tied down.
No matter where you are in singleness, your time is so precious. For many of us, that time of singleness is limited. For many of us, another person will eventually join us in our journey, and we will serve God together. But another person means less flexibility, time, and energy at our fingertips. This time in a situationship is still a season where we can devote our time, energy, and focus more fully to the other things God has called us to.
I’m so thankful for the day Peter asked me, “What is God calling you to in this season and how can I support you in it?” As together, we chose not to move forward in a dating relationship yet, he encouraged me to consider what I was being called to focus on instead, and he did the same.
What is God calling you to in this season?
Waiting is hard. It physically aches, sometimes, to let Peter go and blunder through this in between time together. But friend, this season is special. In the grand scheme of things, it is so short and so precious.
I complain sometimes. I struggle. I question God. Yet I told Peter, “It is a delight to wait with you.” Let’s enjoy this time and glorify God in the way we navigate it together.
Man I kinda relate to this… I was engaged to be married last fall, but now we’re taking a break, and we don’t know whether we’ll get back together or not. It’s very difficult. But God is growing our faith even though it’s harder than anything I’ve ever done. And we still love each other. And we still need to grow. And right now we are certainly blundering together in figuring out our new boundaries. It’s a hard process. And it’s hard to not just assume that we’ll get married in the end anyway because I want that so bad and I know he’d love that too. But right now more than ever we need to have a servants heart and clear communication towards one another.
Wow. Isciena, thank you for that so much.