I was recently asked out for coffee.
It was one of those chance encounters you don’t see coming and they can be so alluring, can’t they?
I’m waiting for the elevator, a handsome stranger is next to me, we strike up a brief conversation about where we work in the building—the rapport is witty and light. After bumping into him a few more times, he says, “We should have coffee some time.”
It’s hard for anyone to put themselves out there like that, but the comment elicits a strange reaction in my body—I feel my chest tightening, I can no longer meet his gaze, and my breath shallows. I then think of my most recent romantic dalliance.
I politely decline and explain that I’m not really looking for anything at the moment, and I can see the disappointment in his face. We say a curt and awkward goodbye and continue on our way. (The stairs have been a killer since then, but on the positive side, I’m getting a lot more exercise.)
This innocent and sweet circumstance had me thinking about relationships in general and how in our society we are pressured into settling down by our peers and almost looked down on when we utter the words, “I’m single.”
Usually, I would have immediately agreed to coffee and probably found myself in a situation I was (again) not even remotely ready for.
So, what are some of the signs that we aren’t ready for a relationship?
1. You simply don’t want to be in a relationship.
Admittedly, for the first time in my life, I can say with raw truth that the last thing on my mind is a relationship. This one sounds like a no-brainer, but I have seen and been part of far too many situations where we ignore our instincts on this one.
If we know and accept that we just don’t want to be in a relationship for the foreseeable future, we owe it to ourselves, as well as others not to get involved. I feel there are periods in our life that deserve our full and undivided attention, paths on our journey that are best walked alone.
My disdain for situationships has grown as I have gotten older, because many of us (myself included) have been using relationships to avoid pain and fill the void, and I believe wholeheartedly it’s the reason we have some pretty fucked up relationships out there, rooted in codependency and disingenuous behaviours. But I digress, if you feel in your heart that you aren’t ready, take the break and show up to the world as a platonic sister or brother.
2. You’re not happy with yourself.
In the famous words of RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Nobody is perfect, let’s get that straight right off the bat, and as we go through life, there will always be things we want to work on. But if intrinsically we feel low self-worth or have trouble accepting ourselves, a relationship is only going to compound that issue.
Take it from a recovering love addict, jumping from one relationship to another is the fastest way to killing your self-worth and hurting yourself. It also perpetuates vicious cycles of behaviours and keeps us attracting the same kinds of partners until we learn the lesson.
Stay single if you can’t see how fucking valuable you really are.
3. You don’t know how to communicate effectively.
I’m not a skilled communicator. I struggle intensely to be able to communicate my feelings and thoughts in a respectful and constructive way. I’ve often reverted to the silent treatment or the simply-losing-my-shit when things I haven’t expressed have been bottled up for too long.
Relationships thrive with good communication, and it really can make or break connections (not just romantic ones). If you don’t feel as though you can listen, make compromises, or engage in a healthy way with another human being, then your energy is better spent developing, learning, and growing in ways that will help you be a better communicator.
4. You’re still not over your last relationship.
My last relationship was technically a situationship, and it hurt me in ways I can’t begin to express. Standing in front of someone who wanted to get to know me and thinking immediately of my situationship was a huge signal for me that I was just not over him. And how unfair would it be for me to start something new with someone else on my mind?
I once heard someone say, “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else,” and the cringe I felt in the wake of those words was overwhelming. Fuck no. The best way to hurt someone else and yourself is to do that and it will end in heartbreak; I’d put money on it.
Dare us to stop perpetuating this toxic cycle? Take the fucking time to get over someone before you jump headfirst into something with someone else.
5. You can’t fully commit.
If you’re the kind of person who runs away or has a panic attack at the mere mention of labels of girlfriend/boyfriend, you aren’t ready. It’s totally fine to feel that way, but it’s best to listen to the heart and try and understand why you struggle to commit.
Healthy relationships require commitment on all levels, and over the years, I’ve come to the realization that I inherently see relationships in a negative light, which has caused my phobia of not being able to fully commit. Until I can see relationships as something beneficial and worthwhile, entering into anything else will lead to a shitshow.
6. You can’t fully trust.
Trust is a difficult point for us all. As humans with a vast amount of experiences under our belt, we have all felt betrayed, hurt, and abandoned. The problem comes in when we have been through these situations, and we don’t heal from them. When we don’t trust people, we are missing a key component of the foundation of a healthy relationship.
I’ve exhausted myself with not trusting men; I am always expecting them to do something hurtful because I haven’t healed from the bad experiences of the past. It’s not fair to enter into a relationship with baggage of the trust kind. Yes, trust can be earned, but if you’re making people jump through fiery hoops to do it, you are in for a bumpy ride.
Even though I felt a tinge of sadness saying no to the offer of having coffee with someone new, I knew I would be doing him and myself a disservice if I pursued something that I wasn’t ready for. Being single is a gift, despite society making it out as a curse. Fall in love with yourself and the beauty of life, before you fall in love with someone else.