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42 Signs You’re Not Ready for a Serious Relationship & How to Let Them Know

There are benefits to being in a partnership and also to being single. So, use these signs to know if you’re ready to start dating or not.

not ready for a relationship

You see it all around you: couples in love. They share popcorn at the movies, kiss in the subway, and spam their social media with a couple of quizzes and photos. With all the romantic bliss and happiness that seems to fill the air, you start to wonder “Is it weird if I’m not ready to enter into a relationship?”

There is almost a perpetual pressure from friends and family to shack you up the moment you become single. Everyone seems to have the perfect match for you in their address book and is more than willing to set you up on a blind date.

Even with all the offers coming your way, the thought of being in a relationship makes you want to take a big ol’ nap, and that’s totally fine.

Dating isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. More often than not, it’s too awkward or nerve-wracking to be fun. 

And it’s not always your fault if you feel like you’re not ready to enter a relationship.

You could be dating someone who truly loves you, but as much as you try, there may be circumstances when you just can’t fall in true love with them, even if you really like them a lot and love dating them!

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever dated someone who seems perfect for you, but you just couldn’t see him or her as a long-term partner? [Read: 15 reasons why you may be getting bored with your relationship]

A serious commitment to love is not something you can force yourself to feel.

Sometimes, it may be a clear case of cold feet before the plunge, and at other times, maybe you’re just not with the person who’s the other perfect half of your jigsaw puzzle.

But if you are really serious about getting serious in love, you have to learn to take the plunge at some point in time.

Of course, you may come across failures and bad relationships, but you need to remember that you won’t have any new lessons or experiences in love if you’re too timid to give your heart to someone who wants to spend a lifetime with you. [Read: 16 lessons to recover from a breakup one day at a time and move ahead]

Are you just looking for a valid excuse to avoid making a commitment?

Why do you hold yourself back from falling in love, really? Do you tell everyone else that you’re not ready only because you have a secret checklist of likes and dislikes in your mind when you look out for a partner?

And instead of appearing vain and conceited, and revealing that you haven’t found a person worthy enough to date you, do you find it easier to tell everyone that you’re not ready for a relationship? [Read: The real reason behind why YOU can’t find love when everyone else can!]

If that’s how you secretly feel, don’t fall for your own trick and convince yourself that you really aren’t ready for a commitment. The mind can be a silly thing at times, and it can be very easy to fool it! 

If you’re looking for love, but haven’t found it just yet, there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t shut the doors to love just yet.

Do you fall madly in love all the time?

While there are a few people who hold themselves back all the time, there are many others who completely succumb to love within the first week or so. They obsess about their new lover, drive themselves up the wall thinking about the together time, and fall head over heels in love in no time! [Read: How soon is too soon to say ‘I love you’ and why saying it too early just sucks]

It’s not fair to stay guarded all the time in a new relationship. But on the other hand, it’s never a good thing to be so smitten by love early into the relationship that you can’t differentiate between right and wrong until you’re way past the infatuation period because you’re probably just going to hurt yourself! [Read: New relationship advice for that perfect start]

So, are you ready for a serious relationship?

You can’t always predict if your heart is ready for love, or if your mind would just be happier indulging in the fling thing for a while, but here are a few questions you can ask yourself to find out what your heart and mind want. [Read: 50 relationship questions to test the compatibility of a new relationship instantly!]

How to know you are not ready to commit to a partner yet

Are you confused over whether you’d be happier in love, or happier just flitting from one lover to another over the short term? 

You’re almost used to it by now. You tell people you’re not interested in dating. They give a puzzled expression followed by one of “remorse” for the life you have chosen to live alone. 

The truth is, being single is totally cool. There is more to life than dating and getting married. These are some of the most common reasons why people are putting the kibosh on shacking up.

Here are some reasons you might not feel ready for a relationship.

1. You think you haven’t dated enough people

Do you feel like it’s too early to commit to an exclusive relationship? If you think you’re too inexperienced to “settle” into a serious relationship just yet, because you’re still having so much fun keeping it simple, perhaps, you’re just not ready for true love yet. [Confession: I want to be single again!]

2. You’re being a fake

In a new relationship, many people don’t reveal their true selves and their true ideas because they’re afraid they may not be liked for who they really are. Are you one of these people? 

If you’re not being yourself around the person who loves you, just so you can please this person with your perfect behavior, both of you are definitely not ready to take a serious commitment.

3. You just got out of a relationship 

You still have feelings for your ex. You’re trying to move on, but you’re still tortured by the memories and the good times you and your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend shared together.

If your ex dominates your present lover in your mind, you definitely have some old issues to fix before moving on. [Read: 13 secret signs your lover isn’t over their ex yet!]

This is one of the biggest reasons why people are not ready to go on a date is because they are already nursing a broken heart. Whether you’re the one doing the dumping or you were on the unfortunate receiving end of a breakup, the healing process takes one week, one month, one year, or even several years for some people.

Going through a breakup doesn’t exactly make you want to get back in the ring. Kind of like how one bad night of boozing makes you exclaim: “I will never drink again!”

Getting out of a bad relationship can have you internally waging war against the idea of being with someone new, and it takes time to win that war.

4. You haven’t evolved

Over your past relationships, have you learned any lessons or picked any flaws about yourself? As one-sided as mistakes in love can be, there are always lessons for both partners to learn from, evolve, and improve themselves.

If you’ve always believed you’ve been right all along and have never been wrong in any past relationship, then you surely have a lot to learn. 

When you don’t self-reflect on your past relationships, and correct yourself while learning from your past romances, it could be holding you back from evolving into a better person and you’ll always find yourself in square one all the time. [Read: The subtle signs your past relationship is holding you back]

5. You don’t feel the compatibility

You like the person you’re dating and they’re ready to commit, but somewhere at the back of the mind, something just doesn’t feel right. And both of you seem too different from each other to last past the infatuation stage in love. [Read: The 9 relationship stages all couples go through]

6. A distraction

Are you using the relationship only as a distraction to ignore or sweep away a big problem that’s troubling your mind?

A rebound relationship may work very well here to distract yourself, but it’s important to remember to make your intentions clear from the very beginning.

7. You’re too independent

You don’t like the idea of having to *report* to somebody every few hours about your whereabouts over the phone. Feeling obligated or just might not have the energy to meet someone or spend time with them, even though you really like their company, doesn’t feel good to you. 

That’s because you just love your independence, and when you date someone, you feel like your freedom is being taken away from you.

8. Serial dating

You’re a serial dater, and you love it! You love the idea of falling in love, but you can’t seem to ever get past the infatuation stage with anyone you date. The relationship starts out perfectly, but as the rush of infatuation starts to leave the door, so do you! [Read: Is serial monogamy easier on the heart for many of us?]

9. Two minds

You’re dating someone you really like, but your mind is still committed to someone else. And that makes you feel guilty about getting into a serious new relationship. You may have just come out of a relationship, or perhaps, you’re still in a flickering relationship with someone else.

If your mind is ever confused over two people at the same time, wait a while to decide on the right course before you commit to an intimate arrangement with one of them. [Read: Love triangles and its confusing complications]

10. Rescue mission

You don’t want to date someone because of how wonderful they are. And that really means that you want to date someone only so you can rescue them from their troubles!

You date a person, not to share a life together with that person, but to feel good about yourself while rescuing them from their misery or pain. [Read: White knight syndrome – Why some people want to rescue instead of love]

11. Emotionally unavailable

You just don’t feel the need to connect with someone emotionally. You clam up when it comes to talking about your feelings, and even if something hurts you or bothers you, you’d rather deal with it in your own way, instead of confronting the situation with the person involved.

If you’re emotionally unavailable, it doesn’t matter who you fall in love with, but most of your relationships will end up failing because you’d leave everyone around you feeling infuriated because they just can’t understand you for the person you are.

12. That gaping void

Are you falling in love with this person because you love them? Or are you dating this person in the hope that they can fill that hollow emptiness you feel inside?

Here’s a lesson you need to remember. You can’t ever truly love someone or appreciate them unless you love yourself first.

Only when you feel complete from within can you see the good in someone else, otherwise you’d only see the missing pieces of your own life in others. [Read: How your negative thinking is ruining your life for you]

13. Friends and family

You’re being forced into the relationship by your overly concerned friends or family. Everyone around you may think this person is perfect for you, and they may convince you that dating this person is the best decision you’d ever make! 

But somehow, you don’t feel the same way about the person even if you’re in a relationship with them! [Read: 13 signs your friends are ruining your love life]

14. You don’t pursue them

You like a particular person, you flirt with them and even date them. But as much as you admire them or desire them, you don’t choose to make the effort to pursue them. 

You don’t mind dating them if they pursue you, but you aren’t really interested in pursuing them back. It may seem like you’re playing hard to get, but this could also indicate that you may not be too interested in them either.

15. Trust issues

You like the person, but no matter how hard you try, you just don’t find them trustworthy.

Trust is the foundation of a perfect relationship, so whatever the reason is, if you can’t learn to trust them, you definitely aren’t ready for a serious relationship with them. [Read: How to get over trust issues in your romance]

16. Love is not a high priority for you

You’ve got nothing against the idea of getting into a serious relationship, but you have a hectic schedule, and there are other things in your life that are more important to you at this point in time.

Even if your partner accepts the idea right now that they’re not high on your list of priorities, they would surely change their mind a few months down the lane because no lover would want to be on the lower side of someone’s list of priorities.

17. You’ve had a bad experience

Bad experiences in romantic relationships soil your interest in having a repeat session. Common reasons for a bad experience could be anything from:


 -Controlling behavior


 -Bad sex



 -Dealing with assault

These aren’t exactly memories laced with rainbows and unicorns. Even if Mr. or Miss Perfect is being dangled as date-worthy right before your very eyes, you think back on your prior unpleasant experience and cringe. [Read: How to be single after a long relationship: 16 ways to start over]

18. You are asexual

One huge reason why you may not be interested in dating is that you may be asexual. Asexuality is generally used as an umbrella term for someone who feels no sexual attraction to any gender. 

This doesn’t mean that asexual people can’t have sex or that they’re not ready to commit, but some simply have no interest in doing so. [Read: Identifying with grey asexuality in a world of sex]

19. You have enough problems

Sure, dating can be nice, but it can also be akin to a hard kick in the proverbial pants. Most people romanticize relationships and forget to mention that when you attach another person to your life, you attach all their problems and personality traits, too.

In some cases, this can be the right course of action. For example, dating someone with a welcoming family and connections opens you up to new experiences personally or maybe even professionally. 

Dating someone with upbeat, positive vibes rubs off on you and gives you motivation during the hard times. This also means when someone is an alcoholic, recovering drug addict, total perv, or a needy, emotional wreck… you get to carry all that baggage with you.

If you have enough personal baggage or problems you are working through, you might want to hold off on expending yourself on someone else’s issues. [Read: How to be happy alone: 20 ways relationships are overrated]

20. People don’t stimulate you

No matter how many dates you’ve been on, people just don’t interest you, and you feel like having a partner isn’t a necessity in life. As far as you’re concerned, you must be a space alien because you have nothing in common with anyone you meet.

Nice as they are, they just don’t charm you or make you feel anything other than bored. Be it they are sports fanatics where you can’t even name a hockey player, or they are way too obsessed with getting laid. People put you off and you don’t find happiness in dating, and that’s okay—just so long as you’re not arrogant about it.

This just means you can be happier alone knowing that if you do meet someone someday who catches your interest, this person is going to knock your socks off. [Read: Single for life – Enjoy the ride and the find the one along the way]

21. The actual dating process sucks

Evaluating the subtext of an entire evening to decipher whether someone tickles your fancy is a big decision that isn’t always fun. That’s not to say that there aren’t people who enjoy the thrill of the first date. 

To these people, there is magic behind the first shared laughter, the endless conversation, and the nervous butterflies that come at the end of the night when they realize there is something special there.

For others, the first date is a horrible ritual that should be abolished. Figuring out what to wear, how much to eat, as well as a mutually enjoyable activity, and making riveting conversation with someone you know nothing about is… Well, stressful, to say the least. [Read: 13 modern dating trends you need to dump immediately]

22. You are enough for you

This reason may shock some people, but you actually like being in your own company. The relationship you make with yourself is one of the most important ones you’ll ever have. 

Liking yourself is the first step you’ll make toward being a better friend, relative, and lover one day should you choose.

But in the meantime, you like listening to music, writing, playing video games, journaling, watching TV, working out, meditating, and reading—all by yourself. As Steve Harvey says: “I’d rather be happy by myself than miserable with someone else.”

23. You simply don’t want to be in a relationship

This sign is probably the most obvious one of all! If you don’t want to be in a relationship, then why would you even consider it? Sure, there might be a part of you that thinks that it’s the right thing to do. Or everyone else does, it so you think you should.

But if you get into a relationship when you don’t want to be in one, it’s not fair to the other person. They clearly want to be in one, so you would be leading them on if you don’t want to be in a partnership.

24. You prefer to prioritize other factors in your life

You might have a lot of other things going on in your life. Maybe you’re in college, medical school, or just started a demanding career.

Or perhaps you’re a single parent and you’re very busy raising your children. Those are all good reasons for not being ready for a relationship. [Read: Dating checklist – how to make one and how it can benefit your life]

Relationships take a lot of time and effort. So, if you have too much else going on in your life and you’re under stress, then it’s best not to get involved with anyone at this point in your life.

25. You’re looking for someone to “complete” you

This is not the old Jerry Maguire movie. If you haven’t seen it, there is a famous line that Tom Cruise says to his girlfriend…”You complete me.” And while it’s a romantic thing to say in a movie, it’s not necessarily a good thing in the real world.

You need to be complete all by yourself if you want to have a happy, healthy relationship. Until you can truly love yourself the way you are, you shouldn’t look for someone to “complete” you. Only you can do that. [Read: You-complete-me relationships – why you need your space]

26. You don’t want to compromise

Some people are a little selfish. We say this not to insult you, but it’s true. Maybe you are a little selfish. It’s okay to some extent. When you’re single, you can be as selfish as you want.

But when you’re in a relationship, there needs to be compromising on both sides. No one will ever see eye-to-eye and agree on everything.

So, if you’re the kind of person who always wants things their way and your motto is “My way or the highway,” then it’s best to stay single. 

27. You’re not okay with expressing emotional vulnerability

In healthy relationships, people share their feelings with each other. They open up, become vulnerable, and build a strong connection with each other. That’s how you create a lasting relationship. [Read: How to open up to people – 15 reasons and tips to be vulnerable]

So, if you’re uncomfortable sharing your thoughts and emotions, that’s not fair to the other person. Being vulnerable is important, so if you’re not able to do that, you shouldn’t get into a relationship until you can.

28. You’re not willing to change

Ideally, we should always be growing, changing, and becoming the best version of ourselves. But some people are just stuck in their ways and refuse to change. In fact, for some people, change is downright scary.

But maybe you have some negative relationship patterns you have developed in your past. And they probably have caused conflict. So, if you’re not willing to change and make your behaviors more positive, then you’re not going to have a healthy relationship. [Read: Are you selfish in the relationship? 19 signs you’re being a user]

29. You don’t want to commit fully

Maybe you really like the person you’re dating or thinking about dating. They may be funny, and you could enjoy their company. But you don’t really feel like your heart is thumping with joy as it should be.

And so, something in the back of your head is nagging you and telling you that you don’t want to commit. Listen to that voice. 

Or maybe you just like the player lifestyle and want to play the field and date a lot of people. In that case, you definitely shouldn’t get into a relationship. [Read: Fear of commitment – 47 signs, whys, and ways to get over your phobia]

30. You’re not content with yourself 

If you’re not happy and content with yourself, then you should work on your self-esteem until you are. You can’t give a partner a happy, healthy relationship until you feel like a whole person who is content.

So, take some time to get to know and love yourself. Seek therapy if you need help from a trained professional to get you there. 

31. You can’t communicate properly 

Having a good, healthy relationship requires effective communication from both people. That includes things like being an active listener, working through conflict effectively, and having empathy for your partner. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love]

If neither or just one of you is trying to communicate, then it won’t work. Relationships are a two-way street. It will only frustrate your partner beyond belief if you can’t communicate with them.

You don’t need a relationship expert to know that an indicator you’re not ready to commit yet is when you think communication isn’t easy for you.

32. You’re being pressured  

Maybe you are dating someone, but you haven’t committed to a relationship yet. They might like you more than you like them, and so they are hinting around at wanting to make a commitment with you.

If you feel like the person you are dating is pressuring you into a relationship, that is not a good sign. You should want to commit to someone you are dating. And if you don’t, then that means that you shouldn’t, despite societal pressures around you. No desire equals cutting your losses and moving on. [Read: Define the relationship – 20 signs it’s time to DTR already and how to do it]

How to tell them you don’t want a relationship yet

This is very uncomfortable when someone you’re dating wants to commit to you, but you don’t. So, how do you tell them you’re not ready for a relationship? Here are a few tips.

1. Be honest

It’s not easy to do, but you should just be honest about your feelings. If you like someone and want to hang out with them but not get into a relationship, they need to know that.

Being transparent will help them understand that you just aren’t interested. Then you are not leading them on.

2. Don’t leave them hanging

If you’re not honest with them about not wanting a relationship, then you are leaving them hanging. You’re giving them false hope that maybe you might change your mind. [Read: 17 signs someone is leading you on and what to do about it]

And that’s not fair to do to another person. Let them go and try to find someone else who would actually want to be in a relationship with them.

3. Don’t let them convince you that your feelings are invalid

If you beat around the bush and are indirect with your feelings, then they might try to convince you that you’re ready for a relationship. Don’t let them do that.

Stand in your truth and tell them that you won’t change your mind. So, they should stop trying to get you to.

4. Offer a timetable

If you really do like this person and you would like to commit to them someday – but just not right now – give them a timetable. Determine when you think you would be ready for a relationship.

For example, if you’re in school, you could tell them you’d be ready when you graduate or in a better financial position. [Read: A guy likes you but doesn’t want a relationship – will he ever be ready?]

5. Be prepared to let go

If life circumstances are genuinely preventing you from getting into a relationship right now, then the other person has a choice to make.

Either they stick by you until you’re ready, or they break it off and find someone else. So, you have to be prepared to let go of them if they want to put things to an end and decide to walk away.

Should you wait for someone who is not ready for a relationship?

If you are the one who is ready for a relationship, but the other person isn’t, what should you do? Should you wait it out and hope that they change their mind? Or should you cut your losses and move on? 

There is no clear-cut answer to this question. Everyone is different and has different needs. What’s right for someone isn’t right for another person.

One person might be fine just hanging out and not being in a relationship. But another person might feel used by doing that. Either way, it’s your responsibility to weigh your options. [Read: Is he afraid of commitment? 30 signs he’s scared of a real relationship]

Why you should wait for someone who isn’t ready for a relationship

If you are still undecided whether or not you should wait for someone, then here are some good reasons why you should.

1. It allows you to connect with them on a deeper level

When people are dating, sometimes they get so focused on the sexual connection that they don’t build the friendship as solidly as they should.

So, you can decide to be friends with them all while taking it slow and just see how that connection builds. That way, sex won’t get the way and make you wear rose-colored glasses.

2. It shows how devoted you are

Maybe the other person isn’t ready for a relationship because they don’t want to get hurt. Perhaps they have been burned in past relationships, and they don’t want to take that chance again. [Read: How to build trust in a relationship and learn to be loyal and loving]

So, if you stick around even if they don’t offer you commitment, that shows you are very devoted to them. It might make them feel comfortable and secure, and will consider a relationship with you down the line.

Why you shouldn’t wait for someone who isn’t ready for a relationship

On the other hand, there are also some reasons why you shouldn’t wait for someone who isn’t ready to commit to you. Here are some things to consider.

1. It can be emotionally draining

When you just sit around and suffer as you wait for someone to make a decision about you, it can be very emotional.

It doesn’t feel good, and it might damage your self-esteem. You are giving your power away to them and placing your destiny in their hands. That’s not a very empowering way to live your life. [Read: Emotional numbness – 23 ways you could slip into it and how to snap out]

2. There is no guarantee that they will want to commit to you

Regardless of their promises or actions, there are no guarantees. They might just be saying they’ll commit to you one day to keep you interested.

It’s like they want to have their cake and eat it too. So, it’s very risky to just trust that the person means what they say. Maybe you should put yourself first.

3. You become unavailable to other people

The longer you sit around and wait for this person, the fewer opportunities you have to meet other people.

And on top of that, you might be missing out because sometimes we ignore those who turned out to be even better and ready to commit to us while we wait for that one person that we like.

[Read: 20 signs your partner doesn’t want a relationship with you and just wants fun]

There’s a thin line between a casual relationship and a serious one. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why you’re not ready for a relationship. No matter what your reasons, you shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. You do you. Otherwise, you’d just end up hurting your lover, and yourself too!

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...