You’ve seen the checklists that start:
“You are ready for a relationship if…”
And if you can check off every single one, then you’re good to go.
So do those “ready for a relationship” quizzes actually work?
The short answer is NO.
You don’t have to have your life together before you’re ready for a relationship. You don’t even have to love yourself before you can love someone else!
“People are never in perfect condition for a relationship,” says Julie Schwartz Gottman, co-founder and president of the Gottman Institute.
People are always bringing in old baggage and past experiences that are painful, that are part of the beauty and truth of their nature. With all of that, relationships can be even deeper and more meaningful.”
But that’s probably not what you’ve heard.
It’s common wisdom that you need to work on yourself before you can be worthy of a great relationship.
If you don’t have a full and active life, if you’re looking for someone to complete you, if you’ve got any emotional baggage at all, then your best bet is to fix all those things before you go back on the market.
Which means that the women who could benefit most from the support of a relationship—the women who are struggling, who don’t have everything handled, who could use a shoulder to lean on—are too intimidated to look for love.
It didn’t used to be this way.
People didn’t used to talk about “being ready for a relationship.” On the contrary, getting married was the first step on the road to becoming an adult. You got married, and THEN you matured and settled down.
But round about the 1980s, the conversation changed. Marriage wasn’t the catalyst that made you grow up. You had to grow up before you were ready for marriage. You had to have your life in order before you could fall in love.
As anyone who’s ever fallen in love knows, that’s not how love works.
You can get bit by the love bug whether you’re ready or not!
There is no rule that says you have to have X, Y, or Z before you’re ready for a relationship.
In fact, the only thing that could be said to qualify you as being “ready for a relationship” is that gut feeling that you’re open to the possibility.
If anything, waiting to get into a relationship until the timing is better could work against you.
As Julie Beck writes:
Putting off relationships, it turns out, is a lot like putting off going to the dentist—it becomes more daunting the longer you wait.”
So if you’re wondering whether you’re ready for a relationship, the answer is a big fat YES.
The timing will never be right. You’ll never have your life completely sorted out. There will always be a lot of other things going on.
But a busy, complicated, messy life doesn’t disqualify you from love. You don’t have to apologize for anything. Chances are, his life is a lot messier and more complicated than he’s made it sound! That’s where real love thrives: in the chaos of our crazy, imperfect lives.