Are you starting to look wistfully at couples in love in their relationship, watching them holding hands on the street, kissing in the café, or picnicking at the beach? Perhaps, as you get older, you’re questioning if being alone is really that wonderful. Or maybe you’re just feeling your biological clock tick.
Thinking of getting back into dating for the purpose of a relationship has many uncertainties, fears, and questions for a lot of people. Depending upon your age, previous relationship experience, or how long you have been independent, your reasons for choosing to get back on the saddle will differ, as well as the method you choose to meet people.
The ultimate question comes down to this one: “Are you ready”? Your questions may be based on your internal or emotional state. Are you ready to sacrifice your time and energy to meet and date people? Are you ready to open yourself up to share the events of your life? Additionally, are you ready to possibly alter some of your preferred quirks in order to accommodate someone in your life?
The questions may be based on if circumstances in your life make dating an option. If you are a full-time employee who is also going to school, then time for a relationship may be limited and distracting. Do you feel you have succeeded enough in your career and financial obligations to welcome the possibility of adding another person to your life?
Before we get into how to know if you’re ready for a relationship, here are some key differences between dating and relationships.
Dating versus a Relationship
What is the difference between dating and a relationship? Most people would state the level of commitment and emotional attachment to each other differ. Dating is viewed in a couple of different ways:
- A way to meet multiple people without emotional attachment, possibly until you find someone special. This can be great for figuring out what you do or don’t want in a potential partner or if you even want a relationship at all.
- Possibly finding a person who fits your needs and wants for the time, with or without some emotional attachment. It is mutually beneficial but is lacking 100% commitment.
- You are seeing a particular individual to figure out if it can become more. At some stage, it either grows into a relationship or just falls apart.
Are you ready to face the roller coaster ride of hope and pain for the possibility of love and commitment?
Here are 5 behaviors that reveal if you’re ready for a relationship.
1. Being Ready to Date
Are you ready to date? People usually need to get to know each other before a relationship can form. It is part of the process in most countries. If you find yourself looking for ways out of situations in which you are getting a vibe the other person is going to ask you out, you are probably not ready. Unless you just feel strongly against the other person, being asked out or flirted with is usually flattering, no matter your answer. People who are not ready to even start the process are usually not ready for the long journey of a relationship either. There are caveats to this, however.
Choosing to date someone can also just be a matter of your comfort zone. In other words, plenty of people will tell a stranger “no” to a date but find a co-worker or friend of a friend acceptable to say yes. Dating is scary; not just emotionally putting yourself out there, but it can also be threatening to your safety. Starting to date a virtual stranger should always come with some precautions for your safety.
Other times it can be a wonderful happenstance of fate. You could meet someone unexpectedly who you really feel drawn toward or feel a connection with. Yesterday, you may have run from being asked out, but today you’ve met someone worth the risk.
Life can be funny that way. Sometimes, just being open to possibilities is the best way to start rather than seeking out someone. It can depend on you and your outlook of dating and relationships. Other times, life just gives you a push regardless and you surprise yourself.
2. Being Ready for a Commitment
Being ready to date is a good sign you’re ready for a relationship, but being prepared to offer a commitment should you find someone is a bigger indicator. Above, we listed multiple ways dating is viewed, and commitment was an unknown variable. Commitment is what transforms dating to a relationship status. It can also determine the success of the relationship. With that desire to commit, one must feel ready.
Four studies and five independent samples were done at Purdue University by Christopher Agnew, Benjamin Hadden, and Ken Tan. The findings were best summed up by Chris Agnew, the Professor of Psychological Sciences and President for Research at Purdue University.
“Feeling ready leads to better relational outcomes and well-being. When a person feels more ready, this tends to amplify the effect of psychological commitment on relationship maintenance and stability.”
The opposite was proven as well. Those who felt less ready for a commitment or that the timing wasn’t right were less likely to stay in a relationship.
What can make a person ready for a commitment? That will vary depending upon experiences, age, culture, current life circumstances, and other factors.
3. Willing to be Open
Most people have experienced heartbreak or pain from a relationship. The damage it can create may depend upon the severity and impact of that relationship on your life. Going through a divorce after 25 years of marriage, losing a spouse to a terminal illness or death, or having a person lie and wipe out all of your savings and belongings can all lead to emotional scars. It takes time to heal from the effects and gain your sense of self back and what life means to you. Chances are, you are not going to be very open to letting someone into your life immediately after such an event.
Whether you must love yourself before you can love someone else might be debatable. Being open to allowing love into your life isn’t. A person can love you and show you your value, but only if you are willing to allow them.
Being ready for a relationship does require you to be emotionally available and open. Your potential partner wants to know that you are willing to share in their triumphs, struggles, pain, and happiness. In order to feel connected, they need to provide support for you as well.
4. Willing to Communicate
Communicating comes in all forms: verbal, written, and body language. People might be surprised to know that your body language communicates your willingness to find someone. If you tend to not make a lot of eye contact with people, look down on the ground, don’t smile often, and keep your arms across your body, you are telling people you are not available. They might conclude that you are purposely keeping people at a distance. People will likely interpret that you are not open to friendships or romantic relationships.
However, if you smile often while making eye contact, keep your arms down casually at your side, look up and around your environment, then chances are you are open to conversations and interactions.
Talking to people while asking questions that pertain to them, and listening and responding appropriately to the responses, show you are open to connecting to people. This is a step beyond just casual conversation about the game last night, a recent concert, or work life. You are showing that you are interested in knowing more about them.
This will then reflect itself toward a relationship as well. You will attempt to continue this, wanting to connect with someone you are dating and serious about. They will do the same. It is one of the biggest indicators of someone truly interested in you and a precursor to showing how the two of you will communicate with each other in a relationship.
5. Willing to Give Your Time and Energy
Being in a relationship requires sacrifices of time and energy. Maybe you are used to spending your evening grinding out a game to level, hanging with your friends, or watching a movie. Now in a relationship, you need to schedule time for your gaming grind and for your partner. If it is more of an annoyance to be with someone than it is to go out with your friends, then you aren’t ready for a relationship.
If you find that coming home after work every day leaves you too tired to even want to talk or chat with your partner and on weekends you just want to chill by yourself, then you don’t have the time or the energy to put toward someone else.
Choosing to be in a relationship requires you make it a priority to a certain extent. Obviously balancing personal time, work time, and relationship time is important, but if the relationship is always losing out, then you aren’t willing to put in the time or energy for it. Either you are not ready for a relationship, or you are in the wrong one.