Sell-by dating is here to help you wave goodbye to confusing situationships

Written by Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

Sell-by dating is the trend for daters who want to let go of the idea of ‘forever’. 

Name: sell-by dating

Meaning: dating someone with a shared understanding that it isn’t going to last forever, and being upfront from the start. Sell-by dating is a semi-casual dating approach for people who want to build connections but aren’t ready for the commitment of a full-blown relationship.

Origin: we’ve coined this term here at Stylist Extra, but sell-by dating has been around for a little while. Its popularity was highlighted last year when Hinge introduced its ‘dating intentions’ profile feature, which allows users to indicate the kind of situation they’re looking for. The stages on offer include “life partner”, “long-term relationship” and “short-term relationship” as well as “figuring out my dating goals”, showing we’re being up more upfront than ever about what we want. In fact, 65% of Hinge users said the feature helped them to make dating decisions.  

People are actually planning on breaking up with someone before their relationship starts? Kind of. Sell-by dating doesn’t mean you have to set an exact date and time for the relationship to end – that would be kind of weird – it just means you can enter into things knowing one of you isn’t in the mood to fall head-over-heels in love. Instead, they might just want to build a casual connection with someone they find attractive. It’s OK to date for the fun of it, and sell-by dating makes space for those who want to do just that.

Interesting. It just sounds kind of counterintuitive… Think about it this way: just because your favourite food has a sell-by date, does that mean you’re going to avoid enjoying it altogether? Putting a time limit on things doesn’t have to be a bad thing – in fact, it has the potential to make things more fun by taking out those more serious conversations you might normally have by date four or five. It can also help to take the pressure off for people who find dating anxiety-inducing. Who cares when it’s only going to last two months?  

OK, I’m starting to see the upside to all this. But it also makes me anxious. What if, after one or two months, one person wants things to continue? If you’re sell-by dating, chances are you’re not in a place where you want a relationship anyway. But if you or the other person do end up feeling that way about each other, you can always have a conversation – you just can’t get angry if one of you wants to stick to the plan.

You know what, you’ve convinced me. Glad to be of service.

So, how about we put an end to this relationship next week? Unfortunately, you’re stuck with me for the time being – trust me, I’d love to have an end-date in mind.  

Image: Getty/Stylist Design Team

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