Hello everybody, welcome to episode 171 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's episode is on someone being not ready for a relationship. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, you can email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Happy to be here with all you guys today. I’m pretty excited about the question we’ve got lined up. It’s a question that reminds me of a particular time in my life when I was trying to make sense of the dating arena and the feelings I was having while entering it. It’s easy to go into dating and put all this confusion aside so as to look like what we know what we’re doing. But if only our first dates really knew what was behind the curtain hmm? Let’s take this question about our asker’s tricky new dating situation and see what we can do for him.
QUESTION: “What does it mean to “not be ready for a relationship?” I was going on a few dates with this guy and we clicked immediately. He actually slid into my DMs first! He stood me up once on a FaceTime date, and the next time I saw him I told him I didn't like that he had me waiting without warning. He apologized. Two days later he said he wasn't ready for a relationship and couldn't give me what I wanted right now. We've continued texting every day since then as if nothing happened. Am I supposed to wait for him? Is there something wrong with me? Was I being dramatic when I told him he should let me know when he had to cancel on me? We had great chemistry and I don't want to lose him.”
A Little Bit About My Own Dating History…
That silly boy. Good question, thanks for sending this one in today! I’m going to use a personal example in this one to highlight one of the things I’d like you to pay attention to, so get excited for a nice glimpse into some of my dating history, everyone.
So to answer your initial question, not being ready for a relationship means not being ready for a relationship. I don’t think there’s much possibility in someone actually being ready to a date a specific person but saying otherwise.
Even if the two are compatible, sometimes at least one of us just needs to do some self-work first before bringing our best selves into a relationship.
So while I think it’s true that this man is not ready for a relationship, the “why” behind it could be attributed to a million different things – something we often forget when it feels more fashionable to be in personal misery. This man does want to be ready for something, however. He obviously wants something if he reached out first and if he insists on staying in touch.
A Challenging Breakup
Once upon a time, I went through a very challenging breakup. This was 6 years ago. I was 23. My girlfriend and I split up and I was devastated.
But of course, a few months into my recovery period I tried to get back on the horse. I figured it was time to hop on the dating apps because that’s what you do, right?
Maybe finding someone else is the way to healing. Sure.
That popular idea plus hormones were more than enough for me to download Coffee Meets Bagel or whatever one I tried first. I clearly was not over her, but I thought I could force my way into being over her. I wanted to be ready for something, but I wasn’t.
So I arrived on the dating app scene fully equipped with a mishmash of wanting to find love and make it last, wanting to sleep with someone and have no romantic ties to them, yet still wanting to make time to write my ex letters filled with shaky handwriting and teardrops that had fallen onto the page.
Not Being in a Good Emotional Space
I’d talk with people and disregard them quickly if I didn’t feel an immediate spark, offering them little time to prove themselves. I’d try to sniff out the girls who maybe only wanted something casual which was territory I’d never been in, so I quickly got skittish and stopped talking.
I engaged with these poor girls in ways that clearly left them with no answers and hardly any chances. And with the exception of a few of them (one specifically I remember that started to passionately eat my face on her doorstep after uttering about 10 total words over the two hour dinner that preceded), none of them ever really made a misstep.
It was all about me thinking I wanted something; having intentions only to heal myself and not hurt anyone, yet clearly not being in a good emotional space.
The Many Types of Possibilities
Maybe this guy thinks he wants something but romantic but is nervous about it. Maybe this guy wants something physical.
Maybe he thinks he wants something physical about is even too nervous about that. Maybe he’s newly out of a relationship and is a hybrid of both these things, but is clearly still healing.
Or maybe he is ready, but he has a mother who he has to take care of and she gets furious with him anytime he dates somebody and tells him that he’s neglecting her so he’s shamed out of connecting with people.
There are any number of possibilities, and it’s important for you to remember that the likelihood is probably higher that this “not ready for a relationship stuff” is because of something he’s dealing with personally rather than because you’ve done something wrong.
Being Realistic with Someone Who's Not Ready for a Relationship
This isn’t to say you should rest on your laurels, assume you’re always doing everything right and that it’s other people who need to change and recognize your greatness. This is how people become insufferable. But still, it’s important to not take it personally when people say they aren’t ready to date you.
Surely there must be some times from your past that you’ve chosen not to further pursue people who hadn’t really done anything to turn you off.
Right now, if you want this to go further, you first need to be realistic about and accepting of where he is. You ask if you’re supposed to wait for him and if there’s something wrong with you. There is nothing to wait for, and as far as I can tell from you’ve described your part in this, waiting for him to just unfold into the person you want him to be or mental space you want him to be in, is the only thing you’re doing wrong.
Take initiative and talk to him the way you’re talking to me rather than doing your part to prolong these text messages with him that only seem to confuse you. If he doesn’t want a relationship, ask him what’s behind the incessant texting. Ask him if you upset him when you were honest about feeling offended when he stood you up (Though you shouldn’t apologize for such a thing as long as you presented it non-aggressively. It’s still something to take note of.)
Taking Ownership of Your Feelings
Also take ownership of your own feelings and tell him where you’re at. Make it clear that you want a relationship right now. If you don’t stand your ground on that, he has no filter through which to alter his comments and behavior.
Until you tell him otherwise, he might think that you both just want something physical, for example. Should this be the case, he could easily think you’re throwing around as many mixed signals as he is.
You seem to have a vague picture of who this man is and what drives him right now. The more questions you ask, the clearer the picture will get and the less likely you’ll be to be blinded by what you feel is great chemistry. Not to say that’s definitely what’s happening right now, but it’s not impossible.
Look, you’ve both opened up in ways, which is good. But there’s clearly more opening up to do on both sides.
If you don’t both become more transparent, yet you continue to have an urge to be with him, it might be you who needs to question just how much you’re willing to put up with and thus, how much – dare I say – desperation you’re bringing to your dating life.
Thanks one more to the man who sent this question in. While it’s clear this guy could be handling some of his conflicting feelings better, it’s not to say that you can’t be doing the same by at least being honest about your concerns with him the way that you are with me.
I’m hoping you believe that the true end result is worth the potential discomfort you might feel in initiating some of these conversation topics. After all, if you don’t show all your cards, he’s less likely to show his. Be vulnerable, ask questions and get answers.
Thanks for being here and listening today, everyone. I appreciate you sticking with me as always and be sure to come back for our next episode on Wednesday where we seek to help another listener. I’ll talk to you all then. Have fun out there.