Ah, the coveted, glorious feeling that is being in love. Enough has been said and written about it, and for good reason. Everyone yearns to love and be loved. Feeling this single emotion earnestly and deeply remains one of our life’s biggest quests. But what happens to this quest for love when you’re not ready for a relationship?
Well, naturally, that’s where things get murky. When you’re not ready for a relationship but in love, you neither go all-in nor let go completely. From heartbreak to playing hot-and-cold, being stuck in ‘it’s complicated’ equations, and wanting no-strings-attached, or as the cool kids say, ‘together without labels’, every complex romantic equation is the result of at least one partner not being ready for commitment.
None of these is a pleasant place to be in, even if you’re the one perpetuating it. When someone is not ready for a relationship, they should take some time to figure out what they want for themselves and put their romantic pursuits on the backburner for a while. The trouble is not many people have the self-awareness to understand their lack of readiness for a relationship or commitment. To help you on that front, let’s explore the signs someone is not ready for a relationship.
Not Ready For A Relationship – 11 Signs
My friend, Lauren, has been caught in a string of relationships that just don’t work out. She has tried a host of different dating apps but has had no luck in finding a steady partnership. Over a coffee catch-up, she said to me, exasperated, “So, there’s this new guy I’ve been talking to. Once again, I’m getting all the signals he’s not ready for a relationship but likes me. Frankly, I’m exhausted with these guys I meet on dating apps.”
I gathered all the courage I could, to break it to her. “Lauren, have you ever considered the possibility that it is YOU who is not ready for a relationship?” Predictably, she was taken aback and somewhat offended at my insinuation.
And so, I drew her attention to the tell-tale signs she was not ready for a committed relationship. If you’re in a similar place in life as Lauren, pay attention to these 11 signs you’re not ready for a relationship:
1. The idea of a relationship doesn’t make you happy
You enjoy the flirtation and the chase but the idea of a relationship doesn’t make you happy. The moment things begin to get serious or the other person starts seeming emotionally invested, you want to bolt in the opposite direction.
“I’m not ready for a relationship but I like him. I like him so much. I don’t want to let him go. Why do we need labels?” I’ve heard Lauren say this so many times. Yet, she remains in denial about her lack of readiness to put both feet in and take the plunge.
2. You’re still hung up on your ex
Lauren’s unsuccessful run at the dating scene began six months after her long-term boyfriend ended things with her. She still pines for him. Even though she doesn’t admit to it, his frequent mentions in conversations, the memories of their time together carefully preserved, all give away that she was not over her ex.
When you’re not over your past, it’s near-impossible to make room for someone new in your life. Even if you do, it’d be half-hearted at best. People who still yearn to get back together with an ex or are secretly hoping that the ex would come back are typically not ready for a relationship. At least, not with someone new anyway.
That’s what often leads to the “I’m not ready for a relationship but I like her or him” emotional mess in romantic pursuits.
3. You’re not ready for a relationship if you’re too busy
Perhaps, you threw yourself into work to deal with a painful heartbreak or are just too career-driven and ambitious. Maybe, you’re at that critical juncture in your career where work trumps all else in life. Or you’re trying dating as a single mom or dad but always feel that between work, children, social commitments and all else, there just isn’t time to go out on dates or meet someone.
Whatever be the reason, if you’re too busy, it indicates you’re not mentally ready for a relationship. Even if you do try, in all likelihood, the relationship will crash and burn because you just don’t have the mind space to nurture a new bond.
4. Trust issues mean you’re not emotionally ready for a relationship
One of the tell-tale signs you’re not ready for a relationship is that you struggle with trust issues. Typically, this happens if your trust has been betrayed in an intimate connection before.
Nigel, for instance, had walked in on his girlfriend in bed with his best friend. The setback, followed by an ugly breakup happened almost two years ago. The solitude brought on by coronavirus-triggered lockdowns made coping with the heartbreak even harder for Nigel.
Even though he is back on the dating scene now, he maintains he’s not ready for a relationship and won’t be anytime soon. “It’s going to be flings and one-night stands for now. I’m not ready to entrust someone with my heart again yet, and not sure if I’ll ever be,” he says.
Related Reading: What Is Fear Of Commitment And How To Deal With It
5. You play hot-and-cold when not ready for a relationship but in love
What happens when you’re not ready for a relationship but in love? Well, you have at your hand the classic recipe for making a bad situation worse. While on the one hand, you’re not ready for a relationship, on the other, the intense feelings you may develop for someone can be hard to let go of.
Thus begins a tussle between the heart and the mind, the rational and the emotional. When you distance yourself from them, you start yearning for them. When you’re with them, the need to protect yourself makes you want to run away. It invariably leads to you playing hot-and-cold with the object of your affection.
6. You’re not sure how you feel about the other person
Among the signs someone is not ready for a relationship is a lacking clarity of thought. Lauren has been doing the hot-and-cold dance with the guy she described as “he’s not ready for a relationship but likes me” for a while now. To help her gain some perspective, I asked her, “How do you feel about him?”
“That’s the whole god-damned problem. I don’t know. I’m clearly not ready for a relationship but I like him. But I don’t know if I like him enough to push myself to do something I’m not 100% sure of. I don’t even know if I see myself being with him even 6 months from now. So why bother, right?”
7. You’re not mentally ready for a relationship if you crave drama
If you’ve been in a toxic relationship before, you may have on some level internalized and normalized the drama that comes with it. Now, that has become your baseline expectation in a relationship. If a potential new partner doesn’t bring drama to the equation, it unsettles you.
So, you create it out of thin air by dilly-dallying about your investment in them. This is a clear sign that you’re not mentally ready for a relationship yet. You need to work on yourself and heal from the residual effects of toxicity of the past to be able to foster wholesome and meaningful relationships in the future.
Related Reading: 12 Tips To Get Over Commitment Issues
8. You’re not ready to let them in
When someone is not ready for a relationship, they remain guarded and closed up. For instance, even if you’re dating someone and like them a lot, you may still find it hard to open up your heart to them. Your conversations with them remain superficial at best. Any attempt from their side to get to know you on a more intimate level gets you to clam up even more.
You’re happy to talk about your favorite Netflix series, your most loved book and how exactly you like your pizza. But if they so much as broach a topic that is even remotely emotional, you feel an instant urge to push them away.
9. You want a relationship to save you from yourself
One of the signs you’re not ready for a relationship is that you don’t feel whole on your own. Something in your past has chipped away at you, and you’re now seeking a relationship to fix you. Being alone seems too painful and you’re exhausted from spending sleepless nights trapped in your own head.
Somehow, this notion that a partner can rescue you from this agony has taken hold in your mind. If that’s the case, not only are you not ready for a relationship but are also seeking one for the wrong reasons.
10. You love your independence too much
Commitment-phobic tendencies are among the signs someone is not ready for a relationship. Maybe you’ve been single for too long and have become set in your ways. Now, even the idea of having to compromise on that independence scares the living daylights out of you.
Just the thought of sharing the bathroom with another person or having someone sleep in your bed makes your skin crawl. These are all indicators that you’re not mentally ready for a relationship, and in all likelihood, are happy to keep it that way.
Related Reading: 9 Signs You Are In A ‘Right Person Wrong Time’ Situation
11. You’re in love with the idea of love
You’re not emotionally ready for a relationship if you’re in love with the glorified idea of love. You crave the nervous excitement, the butterflies in the stomach, the rose-tinted lenses that come with falling in love. But that’s as far as your desire goes.
The real dynamics of a relationship that begin after the honeymoon phase ends, the constant work and commitment that it takes to stay in love and make a relationship work intimidate you. You want love in all its glory but without the effort and hard work that goes into sustaining it.
If you relate to a majority of the signs that suggest you’re not ready for a relationship, it’d be a good idea for you to get off the dating bandwagon for a while. Clearly, some underlying issues are holding you back from becoming emotionally invested in a potential partner. Take the time to resolve those, and revisit your pursuit of a lasting connection once you feel ready.
Going into therapy or seeking professional counseling is the best way to develop self-awareness about why you’re not ready for a relationship. We’re here to help you with that. Bonobology’s panel of certified therapists is only a click away