I fell into my first serious relationship when I’d just turned eighteen. Fresh in my first year of college, living abroad in England, I hadn’t even started classes when I met my future boyfriend.
It was a recipe for disaster.
My youth and lack of experience combined made me a terrible girlfriend, insecure and needy. I swung between extreme joy and abject misery every time I did or didn’t get a text from him. In hindsight, I should have stuck to my guns and stayed single for at least a year in college instead of committing to someone so soon. Ultimately, my mistake cost me my academics, my friendships, and my hobbies.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s possible you, like me, are not ready for a serious relationship.
1. You Believe You Have to “Win” the Relationship.
When I was in high school I loved to wrap boys around my pinky finger. It didn’t matter if they were single or not. If they showed me any attention, I’d play hard-to-get. If they texted me first, I’d take at least 4 hours to text back. I’d flirt with one boy one day, and pick another the next, all the while keeping my eyes on a third.
When I got into a relationship, I thought the rules of the game were the same: the less you show you care, the more you’re in the lead. When my boyfriend texted me, I waited to text back. When he showed me any attention, I ignored him. I even tried to make him jealous — all because I thought that was how to prove he loved me.
I couldn’t fathom the idea that I’d totally misunderstood the “rules of the game” — because there was no game. People who are actually ready to commit themselves to someone else know you can’t win a relationship. People like me, who weren’t? They risk losing it all.
2. You Get Insanely Jealous Way Too Easily
We were in line to get burritos when I noticed the cashier was kind of cute. As I closely scrutinized her face to see if she was cuter than I was, I swore I saw her wink at my boyfriend! Plus, as I analyzed our burritos, I was pretty sure she hadn’t charged him for the extra guac. Instantly, I was furious.
As we walked home with our burritos, my boyfriend couldn’t figure out what he’d done wrong, or why I was so icy towards him.
After ignoring him for three hours, I finally explained that I’d caught the cashier flirting with him. He, of course, was angry and confused that I had taken it out on him that the cashier was cute and had given him special attention.
The real reason I was angry — I was deeply insecure. I didn’t trust him, because I barely trusted myself in the relationship.
3. You Instantly Drop All Your Close Friends
When I went to college, I intended to keep regular Skype dates with all my best friends. I made efforts to become close with several students in my dorm. And I was pretty decent about texting home.
It didn’t take long for that to change. As soon as I started going out with my boyfriend, I started saying no to invites, ghosting my best friends from home, and ignoring the repeated calls and texts from my mom. Why? Because all I wanted to do was spend time with my new boyfriend.
The outcome was six months into my relationship, most of the new students had made close friends with each other — leaving me out. I’d lost touch with my best friends from home. Luckily, my mom kept trying to text me, because that’s what moms do. But she was the only one — I’d pushed everyone else away.
When you’re not ready for a committed relationship, it’s so easy to lose your balance and fall headfirst into your feelings.
4. You Can’t Tear Yourself Away From Them
My boyfriend had hobbies, friends, plans.
I, by contrast, had only my boyfriend.
When I left for college, I had so many interests and passions. I loved writing, swimming, running, baking, and reading. But as soon as I met my partner, all of those things faded into insignificance. All I wanted to do was spend as much time with him as possible. In my mind, every minute away from him was a minute wasted.
At the time, I believed this was a healthy attitude to have because it’s in every single pop song and movie. The protagonists always fall deeply, madly in love, and can’t think about anything else. Newsflash: life is not a top 40 song.
Real healthy relationships are balanced, with both members bringing outside interests to the table. As soon as one person is only invested in their relationship and nothing else, it’s an obvious sign they’re not ready to be in that relationship.
5. You Threaten to Break Up With Them During Every Fight
When you’re not ready to be in a serious relationship, you have no idea what’s a red flag and what’s normal. We fought about our future. Did that mean we weren’t meant to be? He showed up five minutes late to our date. Did that mean he didn’t care about me?
My emotions were all over the place. Every time we shared a perfect kiss, I couldn’t stop picturing our wedding. Every time we fought, I was convinced it was time to end things forever. This was because I’d never been in a real relationship and had no gauge for what was normal. So I overreacted massively to every perceived sign.
When you’re truly ready for your serious relationship, you have a much more balanced view of your partner and how you fit together. You understand that fights are expected, not signs of doom, and the good times take work.
6. You Constantly Show Them Off to Your Friends.
Eighteen-year-old me believed my boyfriend was like a particularly nice purse: something to dangle on my arm and be admired and envied by friends and nemeses alike.
When I first started dating him, I posted pictures to Instagram non-stop of our dates together. I brought him up as frequently as possible in every conversation I had. I’d drop in his height (6'3) and show pictures of him (very cute) at the slightest hint that someone was interested.
People rarely were, of course. But I felt like if I wasn’t showing him off, then what was even the point of being in a serious relationship?
If you notice you’re flaunting your boyfriend or girlfriend every chance you get, you’re definitely not ready for commitment.
These Signs Don’t Have to Mean the End of Your Relationship.
I committed every single one of these mistakes and worse when I started dating my partner. And guess what? I’m still dating him, nearly seven years later. It could have ended badly, but we stuck it out, and here we are.
You may realize you’re not ready for a serious relationship but that doesn't mean there’s no hope for you. Sometimes just recognizing your flaws is enough to begin to overcome them.
Maybe you spot yourself in a lot of these signs, but that doesn’t mean you need to end your relationship. It just means you need to start being honest with yourself about what you want out of it.