"To be, or not to be," may be the question, but there is a third option when it comes to relationships: "To sort of be." The almost-relationship is (sadly) very common and very normal these days. Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast, defines the all-too-common almost-relationship as a situation where someone gets the benefits of a relationship without exclusivity. “So while one person may think that's the perfect position to be in — to have your cake and eat it too — it can be really disappointing and stressful for the other person who genuinely wants a commitment,” Leckie tells Elite Daily. “It can feel like a person is running hot and cold and leaving you confused. That said, that confusion should be a red flag that things aren’t going the way you would like them to." Basically, if you’ve ever been stuck in that limbo between a hookup and a romantic, serious relationship, you’re familiar with the almost-relationship.
If this arrangement works for you, amazing. But if you want something more serious and don’t know if that's going to happen anytime soon — for instance, if you've been dating for three months but not official, or when a man only wants to see you once a week — it may be time to see if the arrangement has the possibility of becoming more, or if it's time to move on and seek out a partner who wants the same things as you. Because as Cherlyn Chong, dating and breakup coach and host of the “Why Women Love Toxic Men” workshop, tells Elite Daily, “An almost-relationship can easily just become a situationship where one or both people are just using the other for the convenience of it.”
Below, 10 signs you’re stuck in an almost-relationship.
1. You Only Hang Out Once A Week
If you and your almost-partner have been dating once a week for two months or more, then beware. Regardless of how busy they are, if things were going to progress between you, you'd be hanging out more than once a week. If you "find that he doesn't save weekends for you but only schedules a once-a-week date on a Tuesday night, he's likely not that committed to the relationship," Lori Salkin, matchmaker and dating coach, tells Elite Daily.
Hanging out multiple days in a row can feel like a big step, but taking big steps is how you move forward in a relationship. Ask them to hang twice in one week and see what their response is. If they show any skepticism, move along.
2. They Don't Text You Between Hang Outs
Maybe you're both traveling all the time for work, or living in separate cities. Even then, there’s no real excuse for not keeping in touch. Texting is quick, easy, and available internationally, so you should be getting a steady stream of texts in between rendezvous if this person's into you.
"I had a couple where the girl came back from a week-long trip and left the following weekend open for the guy she had been dating for the last month, and he waited until the Monday after that to reach [out] to her to see how her trip went," says Salkin. Needless to say, they broke up weeks later.
Not everyone loves text banter, but if whatever you've got going on is moving toward a relationship, you should both miss each other when you're apart. If your almost-partner isn't sending you sweet nothings, or even checking in to see if you're alive, there’s a chance they might not be that into you.
3. They Keep Telling You They’re "Busy"
"I'm busy" is one of the worst excuses in the book. Everyone is busy and trying to juggle their schedules. Your almost-partner is not special. "When the guy you're dating has time for his friends on the weekend and his colleagues at happy hour during the week, but when you ask how his week's going he says he's slammed and so busy, it's a definite red flag the relationship is going nowhere," explains Salkin.
Don't go full Insta stalker mode, but pay attention. If the person you've been dating is constantly saying, "I'm sorry, I can't hang, it's been a super busy week," and then 'gramming pictures with their friends from college at happy hour, think twice about their intentions.
4. They Dodge Invites To Meet Your Friends & Don’t Invite You To Meet Theirs
If you're going on two months of dating and you haven't met your semi-significant other's friends, take note. This doesn't mean they’re embarrassed by you, or that they’re dating someone else, but it should make you wonder whether or not they’re even mentioning you to their inner circle. The same applies if they dodge invitations to meet your friends.
"If you invite the guy you're dating to attend a casual work event or a friend's birthday party and he always dodges the invitation, it's also likely a sign," says Salkin. "If [he doesn't attend] something that's important enough for you to invite him to, he doesn't feel strongly enough about you to do things for you that matter to you."
Have you made excuses for them one too many times when they’ve ditched on a happy hour with your friends? Onto the next one.
5. They're Still On Dating Apps
Nothing says “I'm not taking you seriously” like staying active on dating apps once the two of you start dating. While technically you haven't defined the relationship, it still sends a pretty clear message about their feelings toward you. "If you see him still active on a dating app where the two of you met, he's likely still using it, not just looking at your profile again," says Salkin.
If this is an issue for you, it’s time to talk to your semi-bae and ask if they're still dating other people. It doesn't make you seem less “chill” — you’re just being clear about your needs and expectations.
6. You Haven't Had "The Talk"
According to Salkin, you should have the "what are we?" talk about six or so weeks into dating. "In a relationship that shows promise, the guy should be starting to hint toward being exclusive or calling you his girlfriend by that time," says Salkin.
If there's been no mention of exclusivity, consider bringing it up. "If the other person deflects, avoids, or gives non-committal responses, this person is just enjoying your company and benefits for now, and does not want anything serious,” explains Chong. That realization might sting, but you'll get the pain over with now rather than later when you’ve invested even more time into the situationship.
7. They Don’t Keep Their Promises
One of the clearest signs someone is taking you seriously is when their words match their actions. In other words, if your almost-partner is talking a big game and not following through, that's a red flag that this almost-relationship may be almost over.
“Lots of people tend to get carried away by their emotions and make promises they cannot keep because they don't want to put in the energy or time to follow up,” says Chong. “A serious person will make the time. An uncommitted person will not. If a relationship with the latter is continued, the relationship will be much like the person: impulsive with lots of empty promises and flakiness.”
Not being able to count on the person you're dating is a very legitimate reason to show them to the door.
8. You Aren’t Going On Dates
If “dating” your almost-partner doesn't involve any actual dates, that could a red flag they aren't willing to put in any real effort into the relationship. “When someone cares, they want to take you places, spend quality time making new memories, surprise you from time to time, plan vacations,” says Leckie.
While every relationship isn't going to be full of grand romantic gestures, you can and should expect some effort from your partner when it comes to spending quality time together. If you're stuck in Netflix-and-chill mode and you want more from them, it's time for a longer, more serious conversation.
9. Your Connection Stays Surface-Level
Part of building intimacy with someone is getting to know them on a deeper level — sharing stories about your life, your hopes for the future, and important moments. If you’re not talking about anything that feels significant, that might be a red flag that they don’t really care to get to know you better. “When people really care for you, they want to get to know you on a deeper level, which also fosters connection,” says Leckie. However, if your almost-partner shuts down the convo every time you try to steer it in a deeper direction, that could be their way of telling you they’re fine with things the way they are.
10. You Don't Feel Like A Priority In Their Life
One of the best parts of dating someone new is the honeymoon phase, when all you can think about is being together. If you seem to have skipped over that entirely and feel like you're more of an option than a priority, consider that a red flag that your almost-relationship has stalled out.
“A client of mine was upset to find that while the man she was dating would be the perfect boyfriend when she was seeing him face-to-face, he would send uninterested texts and engage in superficial conversations when they were not physically together. This is a person who prioritizes other things in their life, and you’re just not in their top three,” explains Chong. “This person will eventually fade away, especially when the novelty of being with someone new has worn off.”
What Should You Do If You Want More?
If you're in an almost-relationship but aren't ready to throw in the towel just yet, Chong says it's time to talk to the person you're dating. “Verbalize it immediately,” she advises. “Sit down and ask the other person where they see this going. Tell them about your feelings, needs, and expectations. If it’s a fit, great! Make it official.”
If it’s not, that may be disappointing and hard to hear, but at least now you’re free to find someone who feels and wants the same things as you in the long run. “It's a lot more efficient to date only people who already want commitment, as opposed to convincing people that they should want a commitment with you,” says Chong.
Your almost-relationship might bring you some fulfillment, but you deserve to be in exactly the kind of relationship you want and nothing less. “When things don’t feel good in your gut, you need to pay attention to that and not just hope things will change,” says Leckie. “People often make excuses for the other person or rationalize because they want to avoid the truth of what’s going on. [But] when you’re truly happy and being treated like someone is super grateful to have you around, it hits differently. You’ll never get what you truly want if you settle.”
Lori Salkin, matchmaker and dating coach
Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast
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