Wanting to be in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re ready for a relationship. It could mean you’re lonely or that you have some other issue in your life that you’re overlooking, and you believe a relationship will be your cure-all.
I’m not denying the power of being in an amazing relationship. It can be transformative, and the benefits are immense. But before you can enjoy those benefits, you need to be in the right place internally. Unfortunately, this sometimes takes work.
I know better than anyone what this is like. During my chronically single years all I could think about was how badly I wanted to be in a relationship. I focused on my wanting, on the lack of decent, available men, on how hard it is to date in New York City, on how unfair the whole thing is … but not so much on whether I was even ready to be in a real relationship. And for most of that time, the answer was no. It took a few years and many epiphanies before I got to the right place internally and sorted through what needed sorting.
So trust me, I’m the last person to pass judgment. But I’m also the first person to give you a dose of honest truth and help you along the sometimes daunting road to get to where you want to go.
And with that, let’s take a look at the most glaring signs that you aren’t ready to be in a relationship.
1. You are unhappy in your life.
When you feel unhappy and dissatisfied in life, it’s easy to point to your relationship status as the cause. You think that as soon as you find a great guy and have an amazing relationship, everything will be wonderful. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Although a relationship can certainly add to your sense of happiness, happiness isn’t something you get from a relationship—it’s something you bring into your relationship.
It comes from already being happy in your life outside of the relationship. This means you feel confident in yourself, you have a good group of friends you care about and who care about you, you have hobbies you enjoy, and you are a balanced, well-rounded person.
Yes, I know that it’s way easier said than done, but happiness isn’t something that just happens. It is something you seek and create. You have to actively fill up your happiness tank. There will be times when this happens easily and naturally, and other times when you’ll have to put in a bit more energy and effort.
Why? Because in that sort of situation, you’ll be relying on him to fill you with happiness, and this can cause you to act needy and desperate for his approval. Aside from that, he will never be able to give you the sense of happiness you crave because only you can give that to yourself.
As a result, you will be unhappy with the relationship and maybe even a little resentful of him, and things will most likely go from bad to worse from there.
2. You keep finding yourself in the same situations over and over again.
If history keeps repeating itself in your life that’s a big sign there is something you need to work on within yourself. Personally speaking, I spent years going after emotionally unavailable men who couldn’t give me what I needed. I had zero interest in the guys who actually liked me and were really good to me, and would become obsessed with the guys who were ambivalent about me or had commitment issues.
One by one the pattern repeated itself. Go on a date with a nice guy and eh, I wasn’t feeling it. But go on a date with a “damage case” and whoa! Major fireworks! I have to make it work with this guy!
I’ve already written a lot about wanting guys who don’t want you, so I won’t get into that here, but suffice it to say it was a problem I needed to deal with. For a long time, I thought it would just sort itself out, that one day the bad boys would stop being appealing and the good guys would finally pique my precarious interest, but it didn’t work that way. (More on how I overcame that addiction in this article.)
The point is, ending up in the same unhappy situations over and over is a sign that you need to look within, and you need to make a change. Usually, we end up repeating the same relationship scenarios to heal some sort of wound left behind from an ex or even a parent. The subconscious is always looking for ways to mend itself, even if that means leading you into unhealthy situations.
In life, we will all face a fair share of pain and disappointment. The best thing you can do for yourself is to try to use these disappointments as fuel to become even better. Until you do, you will stay stuck exactly where you are.
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3. You aren’t over your ex.
This is a huge problem for many women. Being hung up on your ex can cause problems for several reasons. The first is it’s possible you’re only dating other guys as a distraction, or maybe to make your ex jealous. This prevents you from forming a genuine connection with these new guys, and even if it is making your ex jealous, it probably won’t be enough to reel him back in … so you’re essentially keeping yourself stuck in a rut, and for no good reason.
If you aren’t over your ex you’re probably still idealizing him and the relationship, which means you’ll seek out guys with similar qualities. This can be problematic because … well, it didn’t work out with your ex for a reason! And the reason could very well be that someone with his qualities isn’t a match for you.
Before putting yourself back out on the dating market, make sure you have come to terms with your last relationship (or relationships). Process what happened, work through it, learn the lessons, move forward and continue to heal. Getting over a breakup isn’t a passive process, and although time can make the memories more distant and hazy, it doesn’t actually heal.
You need to work through the difficult emotions and purge yourself of those negative feelings, otherwise, they will keep cycling through you, sabotaging your chances of finding love.
4. You have walls up.
You can’t live a satisfying life behind a wall, as comforting as a wall can be. In relationships, like typically attracts like. If you are emotionally unavailable, you may unconsciously seek out guys who are emotionally available. There is a safety in this because the relationship is doomed before it begins and you can continue to live life behind your wall.
Trust me, I know how hard it is to be vulnerable and real, especially when you’ve had your heart annihilated, but that is the only pathway to a deep and meaningful emotional connection. That is not to say you shouldn’t keep your eyes open and make smart, objective decisions. But that isn’t the same as keeping your guard up.
Having walls and protections and an aura of “I don’t need anything from anybody” succeeds in doing one thing: keeping people out. In a healthy relationship, both people have to be able to lean on one another. It’s about making room for the other person and letting him in.