Yes, It's Totally Normal To Grieve An Ill-Defined Relationship. Here's How To Heal

Whether it happens through a conversation, ghosting, or a gradual fizzle, the end of an ill-defined relationship can be incredibly painful. When you know a significant person is leaving your life forever, the last thing you want to do is process things all alone. But how can you mourn the loss of something that was never really yours? 


Do a quick Twitter search for "situationship breakup" and you'll see that modern daters are facing this heart-wrenching scenario everyday. The very real feelings that accompany the end of a not-quite-real relationship are painful and occasionally baffling. "Why does this situationship breakup hurt more than my actual relationship," one Twitter user questioned. While we may not have the answer for that question, we do have the validation and tips you need to start moving on. 

Repeat after us: Your "man that's not your man" is still absolutely yours to mourn. This holds true for ex-partners of all genders, relationships of all lengths, and crushes at all different levels of unrequited. 

Remember that your feelings are valid

Situationships may not earn you a relationship title, but they can bring very real feelings. As Healthline notes, these casual relationships often evolve out of one-time hookups or low-key, fun dates. Even if you started on the same page about what you wanted out of a new connection, true feelings of intimacy can grow. You may also become attached to the sense of routine a situationship brings. These things, on top of many other factors, can be extremely difficult to let go of. 


While it may not feel comforting in the moment, it should be validating that you're far from alone in this experience. As online dating apps make casual dating and situationships more common, rates of ill-defined breakups naturally increase as well. You may even have a close friend or family member who can relate to your experience. If not, the internet is ready to acknowledge just how real these feelings are ... even if we don't know quite what to call them.

"Have we as a society come up with a term for a situationship breakup yet???" one Twitter user asked. "Does the phrase 'getting dumped' apply to my current situation? because this s*** do be feelin like the f***** dumps." 

Even if you can't name it, you are absolutely allowed to feel it.


Be gentle and kind with yourself

When things go wrong in relationships and life, it's easy to blame ourselves. You might feel silly for hoping your situationship could go anywhere serious. You also could convince yourself that you did something wrong, or weren't good enough for the other person. It's sometimes easier to cope with an unexpected loss if we convince ourselves that we were the problem. At least in that scenario, you retain a sense of control. 


While these feelings are a natural and often unavoidable part of the grieving process, try not to dwell on them too long. Instead, treat yourself the way that you would treat a friend who's experiencing a breakup. Treat yourself to some self-care, and try out new tasks that are centered on wellness. 

According to Southern New Hampshire University, there are eight domains of life that help us to feel whole: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual. This gives you plenty of areas to explore new ways to be kind to yourself — whether that's switching up your decor, trying a new workout, or making plans with friends. 

Disrupt old relationship routines

Even if your relationship was never Facebook official, you may have developed certain routines or patterns with your partner that are hard to shake. Perhaps you still find yourself waiting for those late-night texts, or even a morning check-in. Maybe you're grieving the end of a textationship, and miss having someone to keep in the loop about your day-to-day activities. You might mourn the loss of your Netflix buddy. Who are you going to watch the next season of "The Circle" with? 


Some toxic habits of situationships may be best to leave in the past, but some more mundane routines just need disrupting. Grab your favorite snack and start a new show! Move away from media that will remind you of the person that you're trying to move past. 

If you miss the routine and familiarity of your old partner, find a way to lean into other positive relationships in your life. The time you gained back from leaving a casual partnership can be poured into your friends and family.

Confide in family and friends

While you're reconnecting with friends and family members, don't shy away from opening up about what you're going through. Your loved ones will be grateful for the opportunity to support you through a hard time. And, with some statistics saying that breakups take around three and a half months to get over, you may as well let others in on your journey (via Healthline).


You may be hesitant to open up to those in your support system, especially if you're still questioning your "right" to mourn. The modern dating landscape has changed a lot, and your mom may not immediately understand the heartbreak you can experience after getting ghosted by a man you never brought home for the holidays. 

If this is holding you back, there's no shame in providing the unlabeled relationship with a label. Remember — your feelings are real and absolutely valid. If the loss of your situationship feels like the loss of a boyfriend, you're allowed to tell your grandma that you and your boyfriend broke up. At this stage, it isn't about finding the most accurate label for what almost was. It's about your healing. 


Establish expectations for your next relationship

A breakup may be easier to bear if you can feel as though you gained something from it. As you move past a situationship and toward your next partnership, take time to consider what you hope to have in your next relationship. Are you turning your back on casual dating? Will you continue to explore your options, but place a renewed emphasis on healthy communication? Think about what made your most recent split so hard to bear, and what could lessen the hurt you feel in the future. 


You may not feel like you're ready to jump back into romance any time soon, but thinking through your preferences will help to ease you back into the mindset and ensure that your next partnership is a fulfilling one. 

Remembering what you want before another person is in the picture also helps to keep your individual needs in the spotlight, without the need to start making any concessions or compromises. You're at least 50% of what made your last partnership so fun and missable. Think of what you deserve in return for your good company in the future.