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43 Signs You’re Not Ready for a Relationship and What to Do About It

February 2, 2023

There may be many reasons why you’re not ready for a relationship – from work and family commitments to health, financial stress, negative experiences with a former partner, or simply enjoying your independence. 

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For a relationship to be happy and successful a lot of time, energy, and nurturing is required and sometimes we simply aren’t in a space to give that. 

Recognizing some of the signs that you’re not ready for a relationship, and knowing what to do about it may help you avoid disappointment and heartbreak. 

Learn how to know if you’re not ready for a relationship below.

Not Emotionally Ready for a Relationship: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Happen? 

There’s likely to come a time in everyone’s lives when you’re not emotionally ready for a partnership. It simply means you cannot give the best of yourself to someone else and can’t put in the relationship work required to build a happy future with someone. 

As with most things in life, it’s a phase that’ll pass as you work through any of the 43 below-mentioned signs that resonate with you.

43 Signs You’re Not Ready for a Relationship

1: You have past baggage that still needs to be dealt with

It’s always a good idea to start a new, romantic partnership on a clean slate. This way, you’re giving it the best chance of success. If you’re hung up on past issues or partners, work through them before entering a new one. Talking to a professional can be a helpful way to get rid of any unwanted baggage. 

“Baggage in a relationship occurs when someone is still experiencing the residual emotional effects from past situations. At its core, emotional baggage occurs because you have not processed and resolved a problematic relationship from the past.” 

2: You’re not in a good space

You may find yourself in a negative or unhappy space for whatever reason. However, entering a new partnership when you’re miserable is never a good idea. Not only is it unfair to the other person, but you also won’t be able to give the best of yourself. Starting a new relationship on the back foot is a recipe for disaster. 

Work on loving yourself and being the best version of yourself first, then find a partner who compliments that. 

3: You’re just too busy

Life can get really busy… whether you’re completing your master’s, are bogged down at work, or are running after a toddler, sometimes you’re just too busy to fit someone else into your schedule. If, however, you’ve fallen head-over-heels for someone, it might be a good time to relook your schedule and prioritize the things that matter most.

4: You’re very recently single 

If you’ve very recently come out of a relationship, it’s probably best to give yourself some time to heal before jumping into your next relationship. Chances are, you have baggage that still needs to be unpacked and worked through. 

Take time to reflect on your past relationship and what you want to be different next time around. This will give your next relationship a better chance at success and it’ll also help you grow and evolve as a person.

If, however, you’ve already met someone you feel could be the one, my advice would be to take things slowly. Be open and honest about how you feel about them but also about where you’re at and let things progress from there. If he/she is the one, they will understand. 

5: You aren’t over your ex

If you aren’t over your ex, it’s one of the telling signs that you aren’t ready for a new relationship. Period. Moving on from past relationships can take months, even years. However, it’s important to give yourself that time to grieve and heal and move on. Starting a new relationship with half your heart in an old one is not only unfair to the new person, but it’s also sure to cause major issues. 

“Old wounds have many ways of stealing into relationships. They can disrupt a connection, prevent a connection from reaching take-off, or slowly pull at a relationship until it’s gasping for air.” 

If you’re still thinking about and talking to your ex regularly, and find yourself comparing everyone you meet to them, then you aren’t ready for a new love.

6: Your life will be changing dramatically soon

If you’re moving cities, changing jobs, or going through any massive changes imminently, then settling into a relationship might be difficult. Letting your partner know where you’re at might help the two of you find a happy compromise until things are more settled on your side. 

If you’re moving cities or countries, take into consideration what a long-distance relationship might mean for you and your partner. 

7: You want to be single for a while and you love your independence

We’ve all been there - young, having fun, and fiercely independent. If you’re loving your single life then I wouldn’t suggest rushing into a relationship. Rather, spend time meeting new and interesting people on dating apps, go out with friends, enjoy your time alone, and travel. This time usually doesn’t last forever, enjoy it while you can. 

8: You’re exploring who you are sexually before entering a serious relationship

you're exploring who you are sexually before entering a serious relationship

If you’re curious about dating other sexes, casual dating, or exploring your fantasies, then keeping your options open for a while before committing to an exclusive relationship with someone would be best. This time of self-discovery will give you a better sense of self, of your needs, desires, and ideal partner.

“Sexuality covers a broad spectrum, and is also deeply personal. It’s about understanding the sexual feelings and attractions we feel towards others.” 

9: You’re too picky

No one is perfect, and neither are you. Perhaps, relook the long checklist you’ve had since you were 16 and let go of the things that don’t matter

There may be things that you aren’t willing to negotiate on like children, religion, and where you live. However, when it comes to superficial aspects like height, hair color, and dress style, these are all things that won’t add to your happiness at the end of the day and are worth letting go of. 

10: You feel time pressure

It’s never a good idea to jump into a relationship because you feel like you’re getting older, and need to get married and have children. Society may put time pressure on these factors but it doesn’t mean you need to succumb to them. 

Life doesn’t pan out the same way for everyone and just because your best friend met her soulmate at 20 doesn’t mean you won’t meet yours at 50.

11: You’re not sure how you feel about the other person

If you’re not sure how you feel about the person you’ve been seeing, don’t rush to settle down. Perhaps they aren’t the right one for you, perhaps you aren’t in the right space for a relationship, or perhaps you’re putting up walls to protect yourself from any potential hurt. 

Whatever the reason, giving things time and gaining clarity over your thoughts and feelings will help you make a better decision regarding whether or not you should be with this person. 

12: You want to save and be saved

The savior complex is a romantic ideal, however, the reality is not quite the same. Entering a relationship because you want to rescue someone or because you need saving from yourself / your situation is not a healthy way to start a relationship. 

Generally, people who want to save others base their well-being and sole purpose on their ability to help others and sacrifice their own needs in the process. 

“According to Dr. Maury Joseph, a psychologist in Washington, D.C., savior tendencies1 can involve fantasies of omnipotence. In other words, you believe someone out there is capable of single-handedly making everything better, and that person happens to be you.” 

13: You don’t compromise easily enough to have a healthy relationship 

Relationships require compromise, often. If you’re too set in your ways or want life on your own terms 24/7 you might not be ready for a serious relationship. A healthy relationship will require give and take from both parties to make things work and build a happy future together. Plus, if you like the person enough, you’ll be willing to make those small sacrifices.

Compromise in relationships is key to each partner's happiness, well-being, and mental health. Compromising is a way to respect your partner's feelings, bringing you closer and enhancing mutual trust.”

14: You have trust issues

If you’ve been hurt badly enough or often enough, chances are you’ll have trust issues that need to be worked through. If you want a happy, healthy relationship you’ll need to trust your partner and do a certain amount of surrendering. 

Some signs you have trust issues: 

  • You isolate yourself from others 
  • You avoid commitment 
  • You’re reluctant to open up 
  • You instantly assume the worst 
  • You have a fear of abandonment 

15: You love the idea of love more than the love itself

It’s easy to romanticize the idea of love - physical and verbal affection, giving and receiving gifts, morning cuddles, happy marriages, babies, and love ever after - but it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Love also comes with hard work, commitment, and sacrifice. 

Idolizing the idea of love can lead you to jump into relationships with the wrong people simply as a way to avoid loneliness and feel some sense of love.

16: You crave drama 

you crave drama

If you seek the thrill of drama and the adrenaline associated with ongoing ups and downs, trying to establish a happy, serious relationship with someone is an unfair and pointless exercise. 

Being driven by these unhealthy motives can lead to anxiety, instability, and narcissistic tendencies. If you’re a person who seeks out drama on an ongoing basis, you should try and work through the underlying reasons before entering into a romantic relationship. Speaking to a professional may help you unpack and work through your issues.

17: Serial dating is your thing

If you’re a serial swiper on dating apps and enjoy going on dates with multiple people, it’s a sign that you’re not ready for a relationship. Some people enjoy the thrill of meeting people and going on first dates because it keeps things interesting without ever having to reveal your vulnerable side / without feelings getting involved. 

I get it because I was one of them. Unfortunately, however, serial daters rarely find true love and settle down because they’re too caught up in the high of the chase.

18: You’re secretly hoping they’ll change

You should choose a romantic partner for who they are, not for who you hope they’ll change into. Hoping someone will change to fit who you believe they should be is a toxic trait.

19: You don’t communicate effectively

A key factor in the health and longevity of a relationship is a couple’s ability to communicate effectively. 

Being able to talk about what’s on your mind calmly and constructively, as and when things need addressing is vital. If you feel unable to communicate effectively, this article may help you address some of the issues.

If you want to add spice, romance, and depth to what you and your partner talk about, give this a read.

20: You’re emotionally unavailable 

Do people describe you as guarded, hard to get to know, or emotionally unavailable? If this is you, you might want to unpack and work through the reasons you’re so closed off before you pursue someone. 

Emotional unavailability2 may stem from issues in your childhood, or it may be because you have a lot going on and need your own space. Regardless of the reasoning, you need to be open, honest, and willing to be vulnerable when entering into and being ready for a relationship. 

21: Your past relationships have all been toxic

If you have a history of toxic relationships, you might want to be single for a while and analyze where things have gone wrong and if, perhaps, you’ve had a role to play in the toxicity too

Taking a break from dating might help you break the toxic cycle and start afresh.

22: You’ve been in back-to-back relationships

If you’ve been in back-to-back relationships for as long as you can remember, it might be a good time to pause and get to know yourself a bit better before you pursue the next one. 

Spending time alone and getting to know yourself better will also help you understand what you want out of a future relationship i.e. what you like doing for fun, how you like to be treated, and what your dreams are for the future. 

23: You have commitment issues 

You might have commitment issues if any of the following describe you: 

  • The thought of an exclusive relationship makes you feel anxious
  • You don’t like talking about the future of your relationship 
  • You avoid labels 
  • You keep questioning the relationship

These are all signs you’re not ready for a relationship. For a relationship to progress and develop into something real and meaningful, there needs to be a certain level of commitment 

24: You get bored easily

you get bored easily

If you’re bored after the first few dates, and it’s happened with several people before, then settling into an exclusive relationship with someone might not be a good idea. 

It will be worthwhile remembering that romantic relationships aren’t meant to be a source of entertainment 24/7.

25: You want to date and explore around

If you feel like there are many more people you’d like to meet, go on dates with, and things you’d like to explore (sexually and not), it’s one of the signs you’re not ready for a relationship. 

My advice would be to hop onto a couple of dating apps and see what’s out there. Have fun and stay single until you meet someone who convinces you otherwise. 

26: You aren’t being your authentic self

If you’re unable to express who you are and be your authentic self around your partner, it’s a red flag. If you’re hiding parts of yourself to try and impress your partner or fit a certain mold, it’s a sign that this relationship isn’t the right one for you. 

27: You’re using the relationship as a distraction

Using a romantic relationship as an escape from your stress and troubles is a sign that you’re seeking out a relationship for the wrong reasons. 

Not only will the pressure you subconsciously put on your partner to be your distraction become problematic and possibly cause feelings of disappointment, but your stress will sooner or later catch up with you and the relationship. 

Either work through your stress and troubles before entering a relationship or have realistic expectations of your partner in relation to your stress. 

28: You’re being pressured

Whether you’re feeling pressure from friends and family or society, rushing into a relationship because of external pressure could create trouble in the future for your relationship. Pressure is not a good reason to enter a relationship. 

29: You’re too hung up on the opinion of others

If you’re overly concerned about what people will think of the person you’re seeing, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. 

You’re the only one dating your partner and the only one who needs to be happy with them at the end of the day, not your friends or your family. 

30: You’re always looking for the next best thing

People aren’t expendable. And, not everything is as peachy as it looks on social media. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking and believing there’ll always be someone hotter, better, richer, or cooler out there. Cherish and nurture what you have.

“As humans, it seems we're always eager to get through things and reach the next step. We might not realize it, but we're always looking for the next best thing. As a result, we tend not to fully appreciate the things we have because we're always reaching for something we think will be better.” 

31: You don’t have a clear vision for your future

If you’re not sure you want to be in a serious relationship or married in the future, then what’s the point of entering one? 

First, establish what yourideal future looks like - are you married? Do you have kids? Are you single? Once you know what you want, work on your future from there. 

32: You let your insecurities get the better of you

you let your insecurities get the better of you

Believing that a partner or a relationship will give you validation and purpose is a telling sign that you’re not ready for a relationship and need to do internal work first. 

Spend time working on your self-esteem, self-worth, vision, and goals. Once you are confident in who you are and love yourself, you have a far better chance of meeting someone who positively impacts your life. 

Low self-esteem can affect your choice in a partner or friend. Low self-esteem means you are more likely to ignore your core needs in a relationship.”

33: You fall in love quickly, easily, and often

Beware of falling for people too quickly and too easily. It takes time to get to know someone and if their values and traits are compatible with yours. Falling for someone too quickly may lead to disappointment and hurt when you realize they aren’t everything you hoped for. 

34: You’re lonely

Learn to love who you are and enjoy your own company, this way you won’t be reliant on a relationship to make you feel whole. 

This guide will help you learn how to be happy alone.

35: You want to focus on other aspects of your life

Perhaps it’s just not the right time for you to be focusing on a relationship... 

If you’re laser-focused on your career, chasing a promotion at work, wanting to travel, or simply want to spend some time alone, then these are telling signs you’re not ready for a relationship. 

Trust your gut and focus on the things that are most important to you right now. 

What to Do if You’re In Love but Not Ready for a Relationship?

Wondering how to tell someone you’re not ready for a relationship? These 8 tips will help.

1: Be open and honest about it

Let your partner know where you’re at mentally and what your current relationship goals and expectations are. Admit to them why you’re not ready for a relationship.

2: Don’t lead them on

If you’re not ready for a relationship, don’t lead them on hoping that sooner or later you’ll commit. Be upfront and honest about your position from the get-go and see how things unfold from there. 

3: Try and find a happy compromise

If you’ve started dating someone and you truly feel they are relationship material, try and find a happy compromise that’ll work for the both of you. 

Whether this means taking things slowly or working towards an end goal where/when you’ll be ready to commit, a compromise might be what you need for the relationship to work. 

4: Be prepared to let them go if you have to

Admitting that you’re not ready for a relationship might be a no-go for your partner. And that’s okay. If your partner’s goals and outlooks don’t align with yours, be prepared to let them go. 

5: Don’t let them convince you otherwise

The worst thing you can do is let someone convince you against your inner convictions/ gut feelings. If you truly believe you’re not in a space for a relationship then let your partner know and stick to it. 

6: Consider all factors at hand

consider all factors at hand

Is your partner still working through trauma from a previous relationship? Or, perhaps they’re under financial or work pressure? 

Trying to understand all the factors at hand and taking things slowly for a while might be beneficial for your relationship in the future

7: Ask friends, family, and professionals for advice

If you’re not ready for a relationship but are in love, asking friends, family or professionals for their advice might help you get a better perspective on the situation or enable you to see things in a way you didn’t think of before.

8. Establish a timeframe of sorts 

If you enjoy spending time with the person you’re seeing and can see it developing into something more in the future, let them know. 

Establishing a time frame of sorts when you might be ready to commit i.e. when you complete your degree/once you’ve moved houses, once you’re back from solo traveling might be beneficial for the relationship. 

If your partner has an end goal in sight, they might be more willing to see things through. 

FAQs

Is it normal to not feel ready for a relationship?

Not feeling ready for a relationship is completely normal and valid in certain situations. Being bogged down with other responsibilities like work, children, and finances, or dealing with a past break up are all valid reasons for not feeling ready for a relationship.

Do I want a relationship or am I just lonely?

Establishing the difference between the two is important for the future of your relationship. One of the most telling signs is if you don’t miss or think about your partner when you’re in the company of others and only miss them when you’re alone. If you’re just lonely, you’re not ready for a relationship.

Is it ok to not want a relationship?

Yes. We are all responsible for our own lives, our own happiness, and futures. Determining what makes you happy and going after that is what truly matters. If a relationship is not what you want, admit to it and move forward with pride.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s completely okay to admit that you’re not ready for a relationship. Admitting to any of the above-mentioned signs is a form of healthy, self-awareness. It will help you establish what you need to work on to move forward in a relationship in the future. 

2 Sources:
  1. J. Legg, T. PhD, PsyD, Raypole, C. (2020): Always Trying to ‘Save’ People? You Might Have a Savior Complex
  2. Lawrenz, L. PsyD, Marks, J. and Silva, S. (2021): How to Spot Emotional Unavailability: 5 Signs
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