Google “flirtationship” and you’ll find definitions ranging from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. We’re here to clue you in on what it’s all about. By Danielle Anne Suleik
A flirtationship is a relationship between two friends, where both people engage in flirtatious behavior without the promise of becoming anything more. This is very different from the Friend Zone and the Friends with Benefits. A flirtationship is situated somewhere in between those two.
A flirtationship is something that develops between two friends who are aware that they have an attraction for each other but cannot or choose not to pursue it because of extenuating circumstances. Though you may give hints or you may exchange sweet words, it’s never explicitly stated if there really is an attraction there.
What happens in a flirtationship?
One or two things happen in a flirtationship. Two people will start flirting with each other by doing thoughtful things for each other, giving each other pet names or talking to each other as if they were in an actual relationship.
They don’t kiss or have s*x. The most intimate thing they can do is hug and hold hands. It’s not that it’s not allowed. It’s because doing anything physically intimate than those things can lead to various complications.
Why do people get into flirtationships?
It’s not something that most people set out to do. It usually happens because two friends decide that they like each other, but can’t be romantically involved because of different reasons. The reasons are usually as follows:
#1 They have a girlfriend/boyfriend. Without discussing the moral implications of this one, this is usually the reason why most flirtationships can’t progress into a real relationship. People flirt with other people for the thrill or just to try something new. Other times, it is caused by dissatisfaction in the current relationship.
#2 The age difference. Legalities aside, a huge age difference can prevent two people from having a relationship. Their families might not agree to it and society also isn’t that forgiving. So, the best thing they can do to avoid any emotional backlash is to not get together at all. If they can’t fight the power, the best thing they can do is admire each other from afar and engage in a flirtationship.
#3 The ex. It could be that their ex is crazy or maybe one of you has just broken up with your last partner. Either way, dating someone publicly with those factors in mind can seem inappropriate or downright improbable. A flirtationship will do for now, but this type can progress to something deeper if the ex is out of the picture.
#4 One of you isn’t ready. Whoever holds the reins on this decision is the one who decides whether it will remain a flirtationship or not. By not making any promises, they can still spend time with the person they like without having to commit to anything. The downside is they can’t do anything more than flirt with their “friend.”
#5 Distance. If two people can’t get together because they’re hundreds or thousands of miles away, what else can they do but Skype and text? A flirtationship usually develops, but nothing else can happen unless someone is willing to bridge that continental gap.
Why stay and not take it to the next level?
Sometimes, the people in a flirtationship can be brave enough to upgrade their situation. Other times, the circumstances mentioned above prove to be too difficult to overcome. When that happens, all they can do is engage in a harmless flirtationship that promises nothing more than a few smiley emoticons and a haphazard XOXO.
It could also be that neither one wants to do anything about it because they’re comfortable in the situation. Another reason could be that they don’t want to ruin their flirtationship by speaking up and potentially scaring their partner away. No matter what the reason, both people in a flirtationship should agree that they want to take whatever it is they have to the next level.
If they don’t, there are a lot of consequences for what they are doing. Someone could fall in love. Someone could get caught by their girlfriend or boyfriend. Most of the time, flirtationships end with someone’s heart broken.
How do you know if you are in a flirtationship?
It’s fairly obvious if you are indeed in a flirtationship. When the person you like is flirting with you and you’re flirting back, the flirtationship has begun. When this flirtation becomes stagnant because neither of you want to take it further, you can then confirm that it is definitely a flirtationship.
Most people don’t label it at all unless someone asks. Since this is reserved for people who don’t want to be in relationships, yet don’t want to sleep with each other either, there’s no other way to put it.
10 signs that you are in a flirtationship
How can you tell if you’re in a flirtationship or you’re just talking to someone who’s just super friendly with you? Let’s clarify your status with these signs.
#1 You send each other cute and adorable texts about how your day went. You can also talk about other things, while still squeezing in a few harmless flirty texts and messages.
#2 You don’t pay for each other’s food or stuff, unless it’s someone’s birthday. Being in a flirtationship means that you are not eligible for the fringe benefits that an actual relationship provides. Unless you’re willing to put your heart on the table, you’re paying for your own dinner.
#3 You give each other a pet name. It can be the generic “baby” or “babe,” but most people in flirtationships develop their own pet names that also double as an inside joke. This makes it more evident that you are still friends even while you’re flirting.
#4 You don’t kiss at all. You want to, but it’s “forbidden.” No one agreed to it, but no one is willing to throw away the fun you’re having by making it complicated with a kiss.
#5 You don’t sleep together. If you do, you will then be considered as Friends with Benefits. It’s a tad more intimate than being in a flirtationship, but it also has worse repercussions like a potential unwanted pregnancy and a bigger emotional hang-up over each other.
#6 You never say “I Love You.” Why would you? If you do, you’re practically on the losing end if they don’t reciprocate. If they do feel the same way, then great! But you could potentially bring in the complications that go with an actual relationship.
#7 You don’t complain about the girlfriend/boyfriend. This is one of the biggest disadvantages about agreeing to be in a flirtationship. You went in knowing that the person you’re flirting with has a significant other. If you do complain, your flirtationship partner might reject you for your complaints or find you presumptuous to think that you have a right to complain.
#8 You treat each other more like friends rather than a girlfriend or boyfriend. The flirting comes and goes, but flirtationships usually revolve around the two of you making it all about your friendship. No matter how much flirting you do, you never forget that you are, first and foremost, JUST friends.
#9 People don’t understand what’s going on. They are aware that you two are in a flirtationship, but they usually don’t get why you won’t do anything about it or at least break it off. It’s even harder to explain because they have to be in your situation for them to see everything that happens in your pseudo-relationship.
#10 You can’t label it. You’re not together, but you’re not not-together. It’s complicated, you say. It just isn’t the right time, one of you says. No matter what the reason, it’s hard to explain to people what you are doing exactly. If necessary, you can at least relax knowing that someone invented a term for what you guys have: A Flirtationship.
Being in a flirtationship is an easy choice, but staying in it or leaving it is a hard one. Know what you’re up against by reading these signs. That way, you can decide for yourself if this is really what you and your partner want. If it’s not, step down by ending it or step up by making it more than just a mere flirtationship