Not Ready For A Relationship: The Truth Or A Defense Mechanism?

October 2008

I’m working at the front desk of my dorm when I meet one of the new freshmen guys. I’m not savvy enough in the world of college “dating” to know that I should run away from him just by virtue of his first-year status, especially because I’m a sophomore. I don’t realize that an 18-year old guy has hormones that are running rampant and this university is going to provide him with a playground of options. So, I ignore all of the red flags because I am only nineteen years old and he is hot. That is reason enough.

When he tells me early on in our shenanigans that he is not ready for a relationship, I conveniently ignore that proclamation. Because we’re still spending time together and doing what pseudo adults do, so surely it must mean something. Surely he can be persuaded otherwise. Maybe he’s just hiding his true feelings? I conjure up a host of explanations in hopes of refuting his desire not to commit. And, then I fall hard, fast and recklessly, into an abyss all by myself. Because, he doesn’t budge. He doesn’t want a relationship. He said what he meant and he meant what he said.

I learn never to ignore that statement again.

Today I tweeted something in response to a few of my friends discussing the “not ready for a relationship” theory:

“Man says he doesn’t want a relationship, he actually doesn’t. Woman says it…she might be persuaded otherwise.”

And, because this is America and we don’t like double standards, people didn’t necessarily agree with me. Which is fine. I wasn’t born to be agreeable. I’m aware that I made quite a blanket statement, so it doesn’t apply to everyone. Yes, there are some men who say they don’t want relationships, but can be persuaded. Yes, there are some women who say they are not ready for a relationship and they actually mean it.

But, the punch line here is that no one is ever really ready for a relationship.

There are a gazillion articles out there that will tell you why being single in your twenties is awesome. There are also articles out there that will tell you why being in a relationship in your twenties is awesome. But, there aren’t any articles out there that will tell you how to best carry out your own damn life.

Sure, there is probably a certain mental and emotional space you should be in to commit yourself to a relationship, a space that opens you up to receiving love and giving it as well. So, if that is what defines being “ready” well, then, so be it. But, as I’ve written before, a relationship is about the stainless combination that comes along when you meet the right person at the right time and choose to be with them for the right reasons. There are many times in life when those three things do not blend. But, on the rare occasion that they do, you have something beyond beautiful.

I could tell you right now that I’m not ready for a relationship. And, that statement would be part truth, part myth and part defense mechanism. The part truth: my life is crammed. My weekends are crammed. My brain is crammed. Everything is crammed with the energy I devote to my career and my writing. The part myth: Well, if the right person trotted along my path, I would be ready to reallocate my energy and time to be with them. And, the part defense mechanism: sometimes, it’s easier to say I’m not ready than to admit that I’m scared as all hell to fall in love again. Sometimes, it is simpler to throw myself into a host of projects and limit the space I have to meet someone and be vulnerable.  It is easier than admitting that I know when I love, I love daringly. I love boldly. I love with the kind of love that fills my whole heart, penetrates my brain and runs through my limbs at every moment of every day. That out-of-body experience love. That first thing on my mind in the morning, last thought on my mind at night kind of love. That Mary J. Blige real love. That pick up your favorite candy at the store love. That rub your back and care about your day kind of love. And, sometimes that kind of love is purely exhausting. So, sometimes, it feels as though I’m protecting myself and my heart by just saying that I’m not ready.

But, then again, who ever is?




2 Replies to “Not Ready For A Relationship: The Truth Or A Defense Mechanism?”

  1. Based off of personal experience, I feel like the best way to “be ready” for a relationship is not to be ready. I was one of those girls with strong walls built around my heart. I threw myself into my work and my ambitions. Somewhere, amid all this, a guy happened to ask me out. Thinking there was nothing to lose, I happened to accept.

    As things progressed, I did everything I could to avoid falling in love. I was young and just having fun. He managed to break through all that and we happen to be together to this day.

    Every relationship is different and I can only give advice based off of my own experience. In my opinion, throwing yourself into your dreams and embracing the single life is the key to happiness. At best, you find someone who breaks through all of that, no matter how much resistance you put up. At worst, you are a happy and satisfied single woman.

  2. “But, the punch line here is that no one is ever really ready for a relationship.” No one is ever ready for a relationship. We’re not ready for adulthood. We’re not ready for college. We’re not ready for that first job we get, or the one that comes after it. We’re not ready to be parents or anything else. We just have to adjust to everything that comes our way.

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