Sometimes our words don’t tell the full story. What is really happening when we say or hear “I’m not ready for a relationship”?
There are some classically enduring lines we use when it comes to relationship. “It’s not you, it’s me” comes to mind as one of the top sentences we use or we hear. It’s usually said as a nice way of saying something won’t work out, and is often used without being necessarily true. Only rarely have I heard people own up to this line and say that they actually thought it was them, what they really meant was that they didn’t think it was right. “I need some space” is another classic one we use or have had used on us, where we’re asking for some breathing room to work things out.
Today’s classic line is “I’m not ready for a relationship”.
Have you heard this line before? Have you used this line before? It is a pretty interesting statement. It is usually said in one of two contexts:
- With friends who are encouraging us or we are encouraging to pursue someone
- With a potential love interest when someone is requesting permission to advance the relationship further (friends to dating, dating to engaged, engaged to married/setting a date)
Additionally, there is a darker dimension to the statement – whether it is actually true or not.
When it isn’t true, it is quite common for people to hear this sentence only to see that person dating someone as early as the next week. Sometimes it is said while someone is even seeing someone on the side. Bup bow. But you’re just trying to be nicer about it, and this sentence seems to be okay to us.
But when it is true, it really starts to dive deep into the core of who we or they are. And it is almost always used by someone who knows somewhere inside of them that relationship is something they either want or is an important part of their calling. You want to do something in partnership with someone, you want to be a father or a mother, the idea of family is close to your heart, but you’re just not entirely sure what the problem is.
It is a valid concern either way. Song of Songs encourages mainly women, but it does apply to all of us too, not to awaken love until the time is right, and you are ready.
So this time around, let’s have a look at some of the dimensions of this statement, for those who have heard this statement, used this statement, or even just have had this feeling hovering over them.
When it’s not true…
…you shouldn’t use this sentence. We’ve all been in situations where we have had someone express interest in us who maybe we don’t think things will work out with. Maybe you think your life is heading in a different direction, or that you don’t get along very well, or some other reason.
The problem with saying this sentence on its own is that it may leave the door open for the other person. You don’t want to string someone along if you think you’ll never change your mind.
There are sentences that are better suited for this purpose, such as “I don’t think it’d work out”, or “I don’t think this is right”. You don’t have to completely shoot the person down, but you do need to set things straight.
Unless you do want to keep the door open, in which case you should probably mention that.
And if you are on the receiving end of this statement, keep it in mind that the person may just be being nice. If they have not followed it up with, “but I’ll call you when I am ready”, or “just give me a few weeks”, then you may want to consider closing the door.
A bit of honesty goes a long way to making things better for everyone.
The rest of these is when the sentence is true.
Consider your life plan and direction
Where are you going with your life?
What’s interesting about purpose and life direction is that we can be okay with not being sure. But as soon as a man or a woman walks into the picture, it really does highlight to us our uncertainty about who we are and where we are meant to be.
Have you thought about where you are going in life? If you continue making the same or similar decisions to what you’re making today for the next 5 years, where will you be? Are you okay with that?
It is very hard to start to consider plans for 2 when you’re not even sure about your plans for you.
You don’t have to have every little detail worked out, because no one has that. But if you are unsure of who you are, if you are unsure of your calling, your giftings, your talents, your interest, what really makes you tick, then you might bring this feeling of uncertainty and unreadiness with you when considering love.
Consider the space in your life
A lot of people say this sentence when they have a lot of their own things going on. They are really into their career, or increasing their volunteerism, or doing a lot of travelling. All well and good.
It’s good to enjoy your singleness and make the most of it.
But when its time comes, there will need to be a shift in priorities. And your goals, interests, and desires cannot remain first place. They need to be considered with the goal of relationship.
Consider your insecurities
A lot of people don’t like themselves. We are discontent with our appearance, discontent with our abilities, and constantly speaking negatively of ourselves to ourselves. A lot of us are still ruled by words of people long gone.
If you are constantly selling yourself short and struggling to like yourself, you may find it harder to consider liking others. Sure, we all have things about ourselves we would like to be better. But if you put yourself in a fetal position of pity and woe, you won’t be able to do anything about them.
The other thing is that all of us will carry a lot of our insecurities with us throughout our lives. All of us have baggage and problems, and a lot of the time, we are blind to a lot of these things. I like what Louie Giglio says about this in his message “Baggage Claim” – the goal is not zero baggage, but just getting things under control so that our baggage either fits in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you.
If you are aware of the insecurities in your life, why not try talking them out with someone? Scripture tells us that if we confess our sins to each other, we will be healed. There is a lot of power and freedom in opening your mouth and letting some light in.
If you aren’t aware, why not listen to the words that come out of your mouth about yourself? Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
You don’t have to face these alone.
Consider the state of your heart
Imagine if you are looking to buy a house. You wouldn’t look at just any house, you would be looking for the houses that have a giant “For Sale” sign in front of them. Imagine if you made a move to purchase a house, but you found out that the people who are currently living there would like to stay there. The house isn’t really for sale then, is it?
You may have already caught the analogy.
Sometimes we are broadcasting the fact that we are available and interested in dating. But along comes someone with an offer, and we freeze up.
Because sometimes there’s still someone residing in our heart.
And until you are willing to let them out, it’ll be harder for someone else to move in.
And perhaps if you are one who has encountered this response before, that perhaps the person you pursue has put the sign up before they are ready.
Consider how you treat others
I think one of the biggest indicators of how you are going to treat your spouse, your kids, or anyone really, is how you are treating people now. How do you treat the people closest to you? Do you withhold information from them? Have you gotten used to having them around so you don’t really spend a lot of dedicated time seeing how they’re going?
How do you treat your family now? It may be how you treat your future family.
Kind of a scary reality check, isn’t it?
You know, you can actually tell people what’s going on inside of you. Sometimes people ask what they should tell someone who they need to have one of “those” conversations with. I ask what the problem is. They usually spell out “well, I don’t think I’m ready because of this and that and this”, or “I haven’t asked her out because of this and this and this”.
Have you considered saying that to the person?
Scripture tells us to “speak the truth in love”. Love seeks the benefit of the person you’re speaking to. Sometimes those conversations aren’t easy. Sometimes you do have a lot of stuff going on inside. But maybe the best thing that all of us can do, in any relationship really, is to be upfront and honest. Who knows what freedom we would find.
All in all, I think the decision to become ready is largely in our court.
How about you? What comes to mind on the topic of readiness for you?