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‘Situationships’ Aren’t Sweet, No Matter What Corporate Candymakers Try To Sell You

Just because being noncommittal is the norm, that doesn’t make it right.

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On or before Valentine’s Day, American consumers spend tens of billions of dollars to commemorate the annual holiday of love with gifts like fine jewelry, provocative lingerie, fine chocolates, or cheap candy. The latter options are pragmatic — who doesn’t want to treat their sweetheart to something … well … sweet?

Among the aisles of seasonal pickings are Sweethearts’ conversation hearts: those iconic, chalky candies that read “For Ever,” “Be Mine,” or “XOXO.” But oftentimes, you’ll pull out a heart expecting a cute phrase and instead see a smudgy, illegible message. Say hello to Sweethearts’ new marketing scheme of taking manufacturing rejects and calling them “Sweethearts Situationships,” which the company proudly touts as displaying “messages as blurry as your relationship.”

Sweethearts found a way to capitalize on an already mediocre product by repackaging it using euphemistic millennial bait: the “situationship.” A situationship is slang for relationships of an undefined nature. They solve some animalistic need for intimacy or companionship with potentially zero strings attached.

Psychologically speaking, situationships may be captivating because these unfulfilling relationships fill an innate desire for intermittent reinforcement or delivery of rewards at irregular intervals. Does this sound familiar to you? They’re not reinventing the wheel. Bluntly put, a “situationship” is a modern rebrand of “friends with benefits.”

Ultimately, what message is Sweethearts selling here? Ditch the commitment and instead romanticize shallow, casual relationships, which will give you short-term satisfaction at best, and stunted attachment styles at worst!

“Sweethearts Situationships” are only available online, so you can feel a bit more at ease knowing they’re not being sold in stores and then accidentally given as gifts at grade school Valentine exchanges. Still, that doesn’t change how this household brand’s novelty product sadly serves as a testament to society’s degradation of love post-sexual revolution.

Some of us millennials or Gen Z are better than others at compartmentalizing depravity. Chart-topping rappers and singers like Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, or The Weeknd infiltrate our brainwaves with debased lyrics as though it’s some form of hypnotic suggestion. At this point, some of us are numb to perverse behavior from growing up both post-sexual revolution and terminally online. Others follow the leader and don’t bat an eyelash over the potential psychological ramifications of accumulating higher body counts.

Often, body count discourse boils down to judgment on the woman’s part, but hookup culture hurts men too. Studies suggest that nearly three-quarters of undergrad men regret casual sex. Ultimately, both sexes post-hookup report lower self-esteem, increased symptoms of depression and distress, and decreased life satisfaction, and they may even feel they’ve “damaged their soul.”

We’ve cheapened sexuality by erasing the mystery of promiscuity and destigmatizing what was once a normal dose of taboo and shame. Similar to how politically divided our nation is, we’ve puzzlingly developed both hyper- and hypo-sexual cultures.

Those with uncontrollable sexual desires ingest, inject, or insert chemical contraceptives to decouple the act of sex from its intended result of babymaking, and those with zapped libidos observe what Camille Paglia calls the “current surplus of exposed flesh in the public realm” with total repulsion.

This is how a progressively perverse America has given carte blanche to the “sex recession,” and we won’t get off scot-free when our birth rate is falling under repopulation levels. To make matters worse, modern love isn’t solely broken by nymphomania — a surge of young people are simultaneously disgusted by healthy levels of sexuality.

In the past, some laughed off “incels” as an internet anomaly, but today it’s not so surprising to see legacy media cover young people totally swearing off sex and entering into their “celibacy era.”

It’s not just sex that Gen Z is taking off the table, however. Young people just aren’t as interested in establishing committed relationships either. My generation is more inclined to put romance on the back burner while they instead pursue political advocacy and financial stability, as though being a fully formed person is a prerequisite for dating.

America is consequently in its “insecure-attachment era,” as discomfort with intimacy has steadily been on the rise. We can’t disconnect from technology, we ruminate in toxic comparisons on social media, and our political division worsens trust. The secure attachment style that we’re supposed to develop when early caregivers model healthy ways to regulate emotions, manage conflict, and seek support stands in stark contrast to the trendy “situationship.”

I won’t feign surprise, however. Barely over half of American adults are considered to have secure attachment. Large swaths of people struggle with daddy issues, anxiety and jealousy, feelings of unworthiness, patterns of withdrawal or antisocial behaviors, and of course, a tendency to enter into casual relationships. Hurt people do hurt people, so by feeding the beast this toxic cycle is then set to continue.

Romantic relationships should go through the standard phases of lust, attraction, and then attachment. The situationship — where attachment isn’t necessarily high priority — is easily broken off before you can complete a healthy pattern.

Is it any wonder why people seem so down on dating when they’re not really getting to know each other on an emotionally intimate level, there’s no consistency and expectations, and there’s no talk about a future together to look forward to?

Just because being noncommittal is the norm, that doesn’t make it right. Perhaps John Mayer was really onto something when he sang “friends, lovers, or nothing; there’ll never be an in-between.”


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