A situationship is defined as a romantic or sexual relationship that is not formal or established. It represents the grey area between friendship and a romantic partnership. “A situationship offers flexibility to come and go essentially as you please, in hopes of avoiding stressors of what a typical relationship brings,” says relationship coach and counsellor Nicole Schafer. We are beginning to see new forms of such relationships emerge, especially among Gen Zs. In Japan, there has been a rise in ‘separation marriages’ or ‘weekend marriages’. The couples are actually married but choose to lead independent lives in different households. They may get together, for example, only on weekends. Living apart together (LAT) by choice is another growing trend, where couples are intimate but choose to live apart, whether for financial or other reasons. It is important to note that this trend applies to those who can afford such a lifestyle as there are many cost benefits to sharing a household.
Why is it important?
This trend signals a shift in human relationships, away from cohabiting and marriage towards a more non-committal one. We are starting to see a growing segment of society choosing to focus on themselves and seeking to compromise less. These people value their freedom and independence over commitment. “If they explore new things, develop new friendships and reinvigorate existing relationships with others then… when partners spend time together, they have novel exciting experiences and new aspects of themselves to share with each other, which might renew their passion in the relationship,” said psychologist Rebecca Cobb. Anecdotally, the vast majority of people who engage in this type of relationship are satisfied with this arrangement. However, it should also be noted that there is research to suggest that being in a committed relationship is linked to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
What can businesses do about it?
This cohort is growing, albeit slowly, representing a market segment that businesses should take heed of. These individuals form a sub-segment of the fast-growing solo economy – the economy of single people. Businesses in the property sector, for example, could tailor their offerings to couples who want to live close to one another but not together. This lifestyle has many implications for consumer brands, extending beyond products to include services as well. Brands could tailor marketing to include a-typical families and develop services that speak to the unique needs of couples living apart.
By Faeeza Khan
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Image credit: Chermiti Mohamed