What Do You Call a Relationship Without Dating?

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What Do You Call a Relationship Without Dating

There’s no denying that the dating game isn’t as simple as it once was. 

From figuring out the difference between hanging out and hooking up to understanding the meaning behind “no strings attached” and “platonic” relationships, it can all get pretty overwhelming.

One such relationship type is the “no label dating,” which officially went mainstream when Zayn Malik, a former One Direction singer, explained to CQ how his relationship with the supermodel, Gigi Hadid, was a no labels thing. 

In this article, we’ll look at what exactly a relationship is without dating and how you can tell for sure if you’re in one!

Can You Be In a Relationship But Not Dating?

When you’re in a relationship you can’t name, you are essentially in a situationship. You have feelings for the other person, you see them often and have intimate moments, but you don’t want to call them your ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend.’ 

More than just labeling your partner with a name, a situationship is more of a commitment thing. You are still in between the stage of friends with benefits and a serious relationship. The other person has a place in your heart and life, but you aren’t confident that you want to commit to a deeper connection yet. 

It’s almost like having someone by your side with whom you can hang out, have some casual sex, and chat for hours without the pressure of interrogation about other stuff in your life. 

How to Tell If You are in a Relationship Without Dating?

It’s always a good idea to know the signs of a situationship so that you can recognize if you are in one sooner rather than later. This will help you avoid a potential heartbreak if you invest too many emotions into the connection which is going nowhere.

Despite being a tough call, here are some tell-tale signs that you’re in a situationship:

How to Tell If You are in a Relationship Without Dating

You Don’t See Each Other Too Frequently

While you may be meeting your partner regularly in serious relationships, situationships do not have any such rule. 

You may see your partner twice a week or skip two weeks altogether.  But whenever you meet, there’s no burden of “Why don’t we meet more often?”.

If the other person’s absence doesn’t bother you much, it’s clearly a situationship. 

There’s No ‘Future-Talk’

If you’re not planning your upcoming life with the person you are with, you’re probably in a situationship. 

As the name suggests, situationships are more situational than permanent. You may see each other, but there’s no plan to get into a serious commitment yet. 

There’s no mention of a shared space or dream life. Only some quality time spent together, and that’s all. 

Your Partner Sees Other People 

In a situationship, there’s no commitment to stick to each other only. So, the other person might be seeing someone else as well. 

Both parties keep their options open. They may want to keep exploring before getting into a serious relationship, or they simply don’t want to commit yet and are looking for a casual relationship. 

Your Partner Never Talks About Family

When it comes to serious relationships, you tend to involve yourself in your partner’s life, including their family. 

Besides discussing Netflix or politics, you tend to discuss your family dynamics with your partner. This is especially so if you see them becoming a permanent part of your life.

However, in a situationship, both parties avoid discussing family. Your partner may feel that it’s unnecessary to discuss family affairs with someone who will probably never see them. 

There’s a Superficial Vibe to the Connection Between the Two

In a situationship, you don’t share a deep bond, regardless of whether you meet the other person frequently. Your conversations usually surround day-to-day routine or a shared interest. But when it comes to meaningful, profound conversations with each other, you’re lost. 

As a study suggests, online communication can help ramp up positive feelings for your partner. But, when it comes to a situationship, even too much online communication can become a turnoff.

So, you’re usually stuck with hanging out, having intimate moments, talking for a while, and then getting busy and forgetting about your partner altogether. There’s no obsession or an urge to know more about the other person. 

What Do You Call Him When He’s Not Your “Boyfriend” But You Are Dating?

Dice form the expression spring fling
Dice form the expression spring fling.

Naming a person you’re seeing without knowing your relationship status is tough. You may want to call them a fling, a lover, or simply a crush, but nothing seems to work. If you call them a fling, you sound too casual. A lover may seem a bit too much, and a crush is just not the proper description of how you feel about them.

So, as the relationship stays without a label, the person too remains unlabeled. You can simply refer to your partner by their name and introduce him as a “close friend” in your circle. This way, you don’t need to establish that you’re seeing them and still give away the impression that they are a part of your life.

This strategy works particularly well if you decide to take your casual relationship to the next level. Since your friends and family will already be familiar with him, it won’t come off as too much of a shock to the people around you. 

Understandably, you would want to give them some sort of loving name. However, we strongly advised against it. 

Remember, you are still not sure about them.  So, staying label-less in a situationship is better than having some sweet, lovey-dovey nicknames for each other. 

How Does Being in a No-Label Relationship Affect Your Mental Health?

Although liberating, a situationship doesn’t come without emotional distress and an impact on one’s mental health. 

You may enjoy the person’s temporary presence, and there’s no anxiety involved like starting a committed relationship. A situationship still has the potential to destroy your peace of mind. 

Here are some mental health issues that you can face in a situationship:

Your Self-Image Gets Destroyed

The biggest problem with a situationship is the expectation imbalance. Often, one party gets more involved and wants to carry the relationship further. 

But when the second person is not interested in taking the relationship further, problems arise. 

These arguments usually lead to a sabotaged self-image where the person who wants a more committed relationship starts feeling rejected and not good enough. 

The feeling of being rejected might even make you bitter and instigate negative emotions.

Furthermore, you may have a hard time adjusting to a new relationship due to a general feeling of worthlessness. 

Woman touching her hair while looking at the window
Woman touching her hair while looking at the window.

The Lack of Commitment Can Make You Insecure and Confused

When in a situationship, you are often open to other offers. You are not in a committed relationship that asks for exclusivity. 

Sometimes it gets hard to wrap one’s head around being in a polygamous relationship where your partner’s feelings might not be solely limited to you. 

You may feel upset seeing your partner post pictures with other dating partners, or it might feel hard to ignore that there’s no promise of commitment. Your partner can exit the relationship whenever they want, regardless of how emotionally attached you are. 

Another aspect is that there may be confusion in communication since there are no boundaries. You may bottle up feelings and fear talking to them about what bothers you or what you want from the relationship. 

All these issues can lead to anxiety and feelings of distress. 

Being In A No-Label Relationship Vs. Friends With Benefits 

A no-label relationship or situationship occurs when both the partners have some bond between them. They are close, yet they aren’t ready to commit. 

Such couples don’t necessarily want to label their relationship with a specific tag, but they look like they are in love. Such relationships are called no-label relationships. 

The couples involved in a situationship do not have defined boundaries or roles. They may be intimate and have a certain level of understanding, but they don’t want to call each other ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend.’ 

Friends with benefits, however, are relationships that exist solely for sexual intimacy. Such couples do not have emotional attachment or commitment of any sort. 

It’s like calling someone for casual sex without expecting them to have a date night with you. 

Friends with benefits are defined as a ‘no-string relationship’ where the two partners only have casual sex and move on in their lives until the next time. 

When they feel the need for sexual intimacy again, they hit each other up without any hint of romanticism. 

Both types of relationships can work for certain people. 

Situationships, for instance, work where a person travels frequently and doesn’t have the time for a serious relationship. And even if they do end up developing feelings, they don’t feel the need to invest their time and energy in the relationship. 

On the other hand, friends with benefits work for people who fear getting hurt or rejected and simply want sexual intimacy with no expectations. 

Signs That Your No-Label Relationship Has Become Toxic

Woman and man sitting on wooden bench having a conflict
Woman and man sitting on wooden bench having a conflict.

There’s no denying that most situationships get toxic in the long run. Here are a few situations that indicate that it’s time to move on from your ‘no-label’ relationship:

  • Your partner wants to control your life or dictate how they want you to do things.
  • The relationship doesn’t have equal rights and responsibilities. 
  • Whenever you meet, you feel nervous and uncomfortable and have trouble communicating for fear of judgment. 
  • You start feeling insecure about your partner seeing other people. 

If one or more of these points occur in your relationship, it’s time to say goodbye. 

How To Ask For a Label In a Relationship?

When you’re in a situationship, you may feel nervous to ask for a label because of the lack of communication. However, you still have an urge to label your relationship, and you want to talk about it with your partner. 

There’s no best time to speak your mind out, so telling your partner straight away about how you feel is the only best option. 

You can have a friendly conversation about your changing feelings or mention peer pressure that keeps you thinking about having a labeled relationship. 

While most no-label relationships work on the principle that they don’t need to fit their relationship in a box of labels, sometimes one partner may start feeling more intensely for the other. 

In such scenarios, the best way is to communicate your feelings to your partner.

Ending Thoughts

When there’s a relationship but no exclusivity commitment, the type of relationship is called a situationship. You are dating but don’t have plans of having a future together. 

It comes with its challenges, just like any normal relationship, and the lack of commitment can get tough to manage. 

Just make sure to stay true to who you are and communicate openly with your partner, and let them know what you want. This way, you can check whether you’re both on the same page.

Photo of author


Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.