4 signs to wait until you're ready.
After my first engagement, I went on a date with a different guy almost every weekend. When I traveled, I had casual sex. I did that for almost two years. Near the end, I felt bleached.
Here’s the main thing I learned:
Sometimes you don’t want to be in a relationship, even if you think you do.
My mistake was that I wanted a relationship to complete me, when that’s not what they’re built for. They can’t fix your loneliness or insecurity. For a relationship to work, you have to see your life as already good enough. Until then, you only think you want one.
You have to center your own orbit.
With that, here’s four signs you might not want a relationship, and you’re better off without one, for the time being:
1. You want to skip the date.
If you don’t want to be in a relationship, you’ll treat every single date as a midterm exam. You’ll see them as filled with invisible rules and questions that have right and a wrong answers.
Dates aren’t tests to be passed or failed.
You might be rushing to sex, or a declaration of love. Whatever it is, your expectations will make dates painful. Someone who wants to be in a relationship doesn’t grade their dates.
They let them happen.
Getting to know someone is supposed to be the fun part. If you’re trying to rush through dates to something else, you’ll be doing that for the entire relationship. You’ll never get where you want to go, because it doesn’t exist — except inside your own head.
Don’t skip the dates. Skip the relationships. Ask yourself what you really want. Stop using “a relationship” as an easy answer.
Most of us are piggy banks full of silent desires.
2. You can’t wait to show them off.
Debuting a new boyfriend or girlfriend is always nice, but it’s a problem if that’s the first thing on your list.
Who are you so eager to impress, maybe an ex?
Not a great sign…
This goes deeper than the typical rebound scenario. Some of us are always staking our identity on the status of our mate. If you don’t think you’re enough on your own, you’ll always need a human prop by your side to prove your inherent worth to everyone.
Valuable props have a way of walking off set. Sooner or later, they’ll realize what’s happening. They’ll leave.
Then you’ll have to go out looking for a new prop.
Dating the smartest, sexiest person alive won’t help if you’re just using them to supplement your ego. If you’re never enough, then they’ll never be enough either. It’s better to date nobody for a while.
Figure out your solo act first.
Then add a partner.
3. You’re always busy.
Lots of people like the idea of being in a relationship. It’s a box to check, something that smooths over their insecurities. It makes the weekends a little more entertaining. Maybe it shuts up your parents when you visit, and convinces them your life is on track.
In truth, something else occupies your attention most of the time. You’re not really invested in the relationship.
Not many people want to be a part-time boyfriend or girlfriend. The pay is lousy, the benefits even worse. That’s why they eventually cheat on you, or leave, because they’re not fulfilled.
Can you blame them?
Don’t punish yourself, either. At certain points in your life, it makes complete sense to be focused on something like your career. Sometimes you just have to get your house in order. You have to go out and wrangle your dreams. It’s hard to do that and love someone.
Maybe your mistake wasn’t investing too little in the relationship. It was trying to have one in the first place.
Sure, life is full of people who missed their shot at love because they were too focused on something else. But it’s also full of people who missed their shot at their something else because they focused too much on a version of love that was just a bunch of internalized expectations.
Which is worse? Take your pick.
You don’t need to be in a relationship to satisfy your parents, your friends, or anyone else. Focus on what matters to you first.
Like anything, relationships can wait.
4. You can’t decide what you want.
Ever wonder if you might be dreaming up impossible standards for relationships, because you want to sabotage them?
It’s not as bad as it sounds.
For two years, I found things to fixate on in relationships. I looked for little dents in people that bothered me, and I used them as excuses to break up. My problem wasn’t that I needed to relax my standards. It was that I wasn’t allowing myself what I really wanted.
I wanted to be single.
I wanted peace and quiet. I wanted an apartment to myself for a year. I wanted time to read and write. It wasn’t until I gave myself those things that I was actually ready for a relationship again.
If you can’t decide what you want, it could mean you want nothing. Don’t buy a new toy just because you’re at the store.
Enjoy what you have.
Remember how small you are.
It’s easy to think a relationship is supposed to give you some part of yourself that’s missing, or somehow complete your soul. That’s what we’re taught over and over, because it’s very effective in making everyone think they should get hitched and start pumping out babies.
A relationship has needs that exceed and supersede our own.
They’re demanding, even exhausting.
I’ve been married for five years. Sometime before my wedding, I remember standing in the middle of a field and looking up at a night sky free of light pollution that stretched out forever. “I’m so small compared to all this,” I thought, “almost inconsequential.”
You don't always need to be in a relationship.
When you're ready, you'll get a signal. It might be as simple as looking up at the stars and realizing that you feel centered, and the universe isn't about you.