Am I Relationship Ready?
By: John D. Moore, PhD
One of the major reasons people seek out counseling is a sincere desire to gain self-insight into matters involving love and romance. As a counselor, I can share with you that one of the biggest reasons people call a therapist for talk therapy in the first place is to explore the complex question: Am I ready for a relationship?
Relationships, Love and Society
It is human nature to want to be in a safe, loving and meaningful relationship with another. The urge to be linked a mate in the romantic sense is as much psychological as it is societal – and to a lesser or greater degree, biological. When you think about it, early on in life, all of us are given a relationship blue print from our caretakers. Here, I am talking about our parents, family members and so forth.
In many ways, our society almost commands that we be attached to another. Think of all of the messaging we receive from advertising, television and movies. Examples: If you buy this toothpaste, your teeth will be bright enough to attract a hot chick. OR … If you wear this perfume, you will magically attract the man of your dreams.
Interestingly enough, some perfumes and colognes even claim to use pheromones to chemically “attract” a mate. Love potions, elixirs – you name it – all of these exist to bring about the state of romantic love.
And while there are societal and familial pressures to be lovingly involved with another, this does not mean that you necessarily should be in a relationship. In plain speak; I am saying that not everyone is relationship ready.
The ability to know if you are in a place to enter into a romantic relationship with another can be difficult to know. Let’s face it – love is complex! There are tons of articles on the Internet that offer “quizzes” and “assessments” that are designed to reveal your supposed level of relationship “readiness”. If you search your heart however, you soon realize that these assessments are nothing more than gimmicky tools, designed to box you into a given outcome.
Perhaps a more effective way of knowing the answer to the question – Am I relationship ready – is to look at the warning signs that likely suggest you are not ready.
What follows are 10 Signs that strongly indicate you are not yet ready to be involved in a romantic relationship. The list is not exhaustive and was created after consulting a number of relationship counselors, marriage therapists and couples experts here at 2nd Story Counseling.
Generally speaking, if three or more of these “Not Relationship Ready” signs apply to your situation, it may support a larger mosaic of evidence that you need to work on yourself more
Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!
10 Signs: Not Relationship Ready
1. You keep attracting the same types of people who are unhealthy for you
If you have a history of entering into relationships with people who are unhealthy for you and keep repeating that pattern, what will be different in a new romance?
2. You are settling for someone because they are simply interested
Many people believe they must enter into a given relationship with another because that person is simply available, with no other prospects in the pipe-line. For obvious reasons, settling for someone because they have shown interest in you is not a recipe for long-term, lasting love.
3. You are hoping someone will “save you”
Hoping to escape your own emotional pain, you believe entering into a relationship with someone will save you from your emotional pain. In truth, no lover can do this for us. We can only create change for the positive by facing and ultimately working through our life issues – hopefully through insight oriented counseling.
4. You confuse love with obsession
Confusing love with obsession means that we instantly attach ourselves to another, even though we have not given ourselves a chance to truly know the person. Usually, those who confuse love with obsession attract mates who are emotionally unavailable. Characteristically, there is a pattern of obsessive love that is destructive in nature.
5. You feel you “Must” be in a relationship due to pressure
As mentioned previously, many people feel they need to be in a relationship with another because of family and societal pressures. If this is the case for you, it may be helpful to ask yourself the question: Isn’t love supposed to be organic? Can I really force love?
6. You want to fix someone
To a lesser or greater degree, all of us are co-dependent. Humans must depend on one another in the larger scheme of things in order to survive. With that shared – if you want to enter into a relationship because you need to “fix” someone, it simply isn’t going to work – not for you or the person you are interested in. The need to fix another is a classic sign of co-dependency.
7. You just got out of a long-term relationship
This is one that many may dispute but needs to be included. If you have been in a relationship with another for an extended period of time (3-years or more) and recently got out of it, there is simply no way you are ready to move on to a new one. It takes time for the mind and heart to heal. As a general rule, it takes at least a year (if not more) to work through the aftermath of a relationship that recently collapsed.
8. Your self-esteem is deeply wounded
Much of this point relates to other signs mentioned here. If you are in a place where your self-esteem is deeply wounded (aka in the crapper), you need to carefully think about your ability to function in a healthy, meaningful way in a romantic relationship. See point #3.
9. You feel sexually confident
This point simply means that you are not worried about “pleasing” your mate. In other words, your desire to become intimate with another feels equal when it happens, devoid of worry or concerns about “being enough” for a potential mate. In many ways, this means channeling the positive attributes of so called narcissism.
We hear this term – self-love – but what does it really mean? It means being able to look at yourself in the mirror and accept who you are as a person. It means having the awareness that perfection is never possible and that you can only be the best person you can be at this exact moment in time. If you are not in this place, you simply are not relationship ready.
Relationship Ready Final Thoughts
One book that I encourage you to read is How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving by David Richo. There are lots of tools in this publication, designed to help you look inward and assess your ability to love in a meaningful, substantive way.
And of course, it can be very helpful to combine concepts from relationship oriented books like the one mentioned above with talk-therapy and counseling.