It’s springtime, which brings a new zest for life and love as nature begins to awaken from the winter.  Temperatures are warming, days are getting longer, and the sun is shining more often. This sets the perfect stage for people to start going out more often and possibly find a partner.

As we all know, however, not all of these romances last.  Some only last a season. Often, they involved a good time and physical attraction.  This may work for some people who don’t want to commit or deal with their feelings getting hurt. But what about partners that truly felt a connection and shared a lot of personal experiences and time together, yet it didn’t last?

In the occasions of seemingly close relationships that end, we tend to blame it on timing.  It almost sounds like an excuse or a cliché as it has become so common.  As cliché as it may sound, is there any science behind that reason?  What may be 10 warning signs that you met your partner at the wrong time?

Science of Timing and Relationships

“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” – unknown

The study of timing and commitment was researched and written about in an article titled “Commitment Readiness and Relationship Formation” by Benjamin W. Hadden and Christopher R. Agnew of Purdue University and Kenneth Tan of Singapore Management University.

Their research was a study on commitment readiness, or timing, of currently single persons and how it shapes relationship formation. Their focus was to establish that if a person was interested in forming a close relationship, then they were willing to take actions toward that purpose, both in obtaining a relationship and keeping it.  They determined that the timing of the relationship was based on their willingness to commit and readiness to establish a long-term relationship. This theory became known as RRT, or Relationship Receptivity Theory.

The researchers found that the level of commitment one feels to the person determines their readiness to enter a relationship.

They state that there are 3 components to the commitment process:

  1. Satisfaction with:  Perception of benefits vs cost.  For someone interested in a close relationship, they have determined a perceived benefit.  For someone not ready for a relationship, they perceive the benefit as not desired.
  2. Quality of alternatives to:  This refers to perceived quality of life if remaining single or if dating casually.
  3. Investment into the relationship: This refers to if one feels the material or immaterial things lost to gain a relationship is worthwhile, such as relinquishing personal time or money for the purpose of gaining or furthering a relationship.

What was their conclusion?  Readiness, and therefore timing, matter not only in relation to the level of relationship formation but also in future dynamics of the relationship. Essentially, if one is ready for a relationship, the timing is right for them to look for a relationship; they will also be more committed to making it work.

Now that readiness, or timing, has been tentatively established as a factor toward one’s willingness to get into a relationship, what about the other half?  Is your possible partner ready?  How do you know if you’ve met your partner at a bad time?

Here are 10 signs you met your partner at the wrong time:

1.      They just got out of a long relationship.

You just met this great person and you seem to be hitting it off.  You ask if they are seeing anyone and they say, “No, me and my boyfriend/girlfriend broke up two weeks ago.”   People who were in long relationships go through a certain mourning process as they mull over how they felt about the person, where it went wrong, what they lost by leaving the person, what they invested in the relationship, and so much more.  The draining of emotions from processing this does not allow room for additional emotions to form a new relationship too soon.

2.      You or your partner are adjusting to a major life change.

Major changes in one’s life can consist of changing careers, moving, starting school, changing schools, etc. It takes a lot of energy and effort to adjust to these changes, and most people tend to prioritize a major life event over a relationship, especially if they haven’t been with the person for long.

3.      They’re building a career or business.

When a person is building their career or business, they are committed to that success.  They often work long hours and focus on doing things which advance this forward.  Some careers (and almost all self-employed businesses) require a lot of time, energy, focus, and commitment.  It is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. They don’t have the level of time and energy necessary to put toward a relationship and don’t see a relationship as worth sacrificing the career or business.

4.      They carry a lot of past emotional baggage.

People can go through a lot of emotional things in their life that can leave deep scars. Sometimes, these things require years of therapy, dedication to self-improvement, and a lot of personal growth to heal.  For that time period, they are only focused on building themselves to be the person they want to be before getting in a relationship.  It may even be an issue of not feeling worthy or fear of repeating previous poor decisions.

5.      Your energy levels don’t vibe.

A high-energy and a low-energy person see the world differently.  The high-energy person thrives on new adventures, social gatherings, and physical activities.  A low-energy person prefers quiet, shorter, and more intimate social interactions, and less risky or physically demanding activities.  Just this difference alone leads to different interests, tolerances, and viewpoints on life.

6.      Your core values differ.

Your values dictate how you see the world, people, relationships, work, and more.  For example, compare one who sees people as tools and highly values money and appearances to someone who values family, community, hard work, and religion.  They are going to have a very hard time agreeing on things and having respect towards each other.  This difference will cause each person to want to change the other, which only breeds dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

7.      You have a large age gap.

A 20 year old has not really experienced as much in the world and tends to feel less responsibility about consequences of their actions. On the other hand, a 35-year-old has lived long enough to possibly experience the pain of divorce, passing of their parents, job loss, and more.  The level of support and empathy one could give to the other is limited based on lack of experience and maturity.

8.      You come from different backgrounds.

People from different countries or even different areas of the same country have differing beliefs and culture.  What may be acceptable behavior in one country is seen as inappropriate in another.  One country or area may view that it is the man’s responsibility to financially provide for his partner, while another area views that each are equal partners and, therefore, share equal responsibility.  Just one or two differences may not be a big deal, yet a number of them can create misunderstanding and arguments continuously. A big breach can form in how each partner believes the other should behave and be treated.

relationship with partner

9.      Your future goals don’t line up.

Everyone has expectations for the direction they want their life to go and the type of partner they want to share it with.  A person who wants to travel the world is going to have difficulty finding a middle ground to support a person who prefers the security of one location, for example.

10.    You have different socioeconomic classes.

Differing social and economic classes have different expectations of those within that circle.  A wealthier person may expect a partner to have certain formal or social graces, know how to make small talk, present their appearance accordingly, and have similar values.  Someone of middle social and economic class may expend more moderate spending on appearances; they might value hard work and family, be more casual when speaking with people, and lack familiarity with formal entertaining.  This difference can lead to stressful and uncomfortable situations where finding a compromise is very difficult.

Final Thoughts

People and life events change all the time and we all are on our own journey.  We can connect with people who we find attractive and charming, yet the timing is not right. However, many people can overlook some of these factors and make the decision to stay with the person. Everyone places weight on different things in relationships, so you have to ultimately make the decision to stay or leave the person based on your own preferences.

Keep in mind that no two people or relationships are perfect. If you both love each other and are willing to work every day on the relationship, it just might work out.