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5 Signs You're Not Ready for a Serious Relationship

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistMarch 11, 2020
From the WebMD Archives

You want to be in a committed relationship, but it never works out. People you meet are too needy, or too distant. Or, perhaps they are immature, clueless, too old, too young… the list goes on. Or maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t out there, but rather inside of you. If you haven’t committed to a relationship, it might be time to look at yourself.

Despite your conscious desire to be in a relationship, you might be doing things that undermine your efforts to find that special someone. Consider how much you relate to the following five signs that you might be keeping relationships at a distance.

You don’t really know what you want in a relationship. You say that you want a committed relationship, but what does that mean to you? What would a committed relationship look like? And do you really want that life? Without a clear idea of what you want and your fears or concerns, you are at the mercy of whatever thought or feeling happens to hit you at any given moment. The result can be lots of confusion, and sending mixed signals – to yourself and your partner. 

You can’t imagine a lifetime of being happy with your current partner. This may show that you are having trouble committing to your current relationship, not necessarily that you have a more general commitment issue. In this case, it is essential that you reflect honestly on whether your partner embodies enough of the qualities you are looking for. To gain some insight, ask yourself whether you and your partner share values, religious beliefs, and financial priorities. Even if you are in love, your hesitancy to commit might indicate that there are some aspects of your partner that make you question whether you can create a happy future together. Or, if you are not in love with your perfectly good partner, then that by itself might explain your trouble committing.

You consistently choose other activities over spending time with a partner. Do you lose interest in partners after the initial excitement of the relationships fade? If you consistently tend to become more lax in reaching out to your partner or making an effort to get together, then you are not doing what’s necessary to nurture a strong relationship. And if you stop following through with promises, then you are even more actively undermining your relationships. Even if you think you want a relationship, your behavior says otherwise.

You want to be happy and have fun. There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy yourself, but “keeping it light” will not lead to emotional closeness. You simply cannot nurture a healthy committed relationship while avoiding the deeply personal. So, if you avoid sharing personal information, learning about your partner’s thoughts and feelings, or talking about your connections, then you are looking to enjoy a more casual relationship – despite what you might be telling yourself.

It’s all (or mostly) about the sex. If you are passionate about sexual intimacy, but are not so interested in emotional intimacy, then you are again working to develop a more casual relationship.

Do you recognize that some of these signs describe you? Then it’s time to think again about what you really want in your life and what is motivating you now. Despite keeping your distance, you might truly want to be in a committed relationship. For instance, you may have not met the right person, may simply need more time dating, or may fear closeness. By gaining clarity about such issues, you can work toward overcoming those hurdles and eventually nurturing the relationship that you want.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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