What to do when they aren’t ready for a relationship

Stuck in a rut that you can’t get out of? Having a hard time getting started with someone new? They may not be ready for the next step.

E.B. Johnson, NLP-MP
Oct 28 · 10 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Image by @eaz_ag via Twenty20

by: E.B. Johnson

Life is rarely a straight road, and that includes the intimate relationships we build for ourselves. Sometimes, we fall for people who aren’t quite what we thought they were. And at other points, we fall for people who are unsure or insecure about what they want in a partner or partnership. For us to ensure our own happiness, we have to remain honest with ourselves and those we love.

Have you and the person you love hit a wall? Are you struggling to get past those first early stages, or struggling to be open with one another? All of these are signs that one (or both) of you aren’t quite ready for a relationship together. That’s not the end of the world. Rather than settling for unhappiness, we have to cultivate some self-respect and take some action in the name of our future relationships and our future joy.

We can’t force what isn’t meant to be.

Humans are strange creatures. We are ruled by our emotions and we tend to fall hard and fast for those we perceive a connection with. No matter how hard we might fall for someone, though, this does not guarantee that they will return those feelings. Not all relationships are meant to be, and we can’t force what isn’t meant to be. What have to learn to embrace reality with grace and love ourselves enough to walk away?

Are you chasing someone who is emotionally unavailable? Do they show constant disrespect for you, your family, or your feelings? We need to build lives with people who can compromise; people who want similar things 20 or 30 years down the road.

It’s time for you to stop settling down for things that aren’t meant for you. You need to get clear on how you’re feeling and what you want from your life. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What about 30 or 40? Have enough self-respect to go after what you want, and enough courage to open up to the other person. Make your needs clear and give them room to do the same. Then, lean into your support networks and do what you need to do for you.

Signs they’re not ready for a relationship.

Are you struggling to work out what direction your partner wants to go? Are they avoiding commitment or taking the next step? They may not be ready for a real relationship, and these are some signs you should look for.

Constant disrespect

Does your partner or love interest regularly go out of their way to disrespect you? Do they call you names? Embarrass you in front of their friends? These aren’t behaviors which get better once a commitment is established. They actually tend to get worse. Someone who disrespects you is not someone who is emotionally aware, or prepared to share their life (equally) with anyone else.

Inability to compromise

Compromise is so important when it comes to building partnerships that are strong and capable. We have to find the middle ground with one another, but that can mean giving up on small things that we want in order to get bigger gains as a couple. If you have a partner who shows an unwillingness to engage in this compromise, it’s a red flag. It’s not only a matter of being able to negotiate. It’s very much an issue of being willing to do so.

Resorting to games

When we’re ready for committed, stable relationships we don’t resort to mind games or go out of our way to create drama in our partnerships. The person who throws a fit to to get their way or express their displeasure usually does so out of a need to “punish” you. This type of mental and emotional manipulation can borderline on abuse at times. Rather that resorting to games, we should seek to be open and honest with our partners at all times.

Truly selfish behavior

Self-centered behavior never serves when it comes to building a relationship with someone else. We have to come together and work as teammates, in order to solve the challenges that life throws our way. When we bull through that connection, demanding everything go according to our plan, we shut our partners out and push them away. At the end of the day, you have to put your ego aside and make space for someone else in your life.

Friends come first

Does your love interest seem to put everyone under the sun before you? Does their career come first? Their family? Their friends? Relationships cannot long withstand the back burner. Our partners need to know that they are valued, and they need to know that they are a priority in our lives. The partner who is unable to balance this life-love existence is one who may not yet be fully prepared to embrace the compromises which a relationship requires.

Seeking greener pastures

Is infidelity a worry on the back of your mind? Are you lacking in trust, or convinced that your partner will stray? Have they already proved themselves untrustworthy with behavior that’s less than ideal? The partner who is looking for love outside of their commitment to you is the one who isn’t ready to be a real relationship — at least not with you. You have a right to be happy with someone who respects you, not miserable with someone seeking greener pastures.

Avoiding growth

As humans, we are constantly in a state of change. We grow according to the experiences we undergo, but some avoid this growth at all costs. It’s understandable. Growing up is uncomfortable and requires us to dig deep. If your partner don’t want to become a better person, they may not be ready to settle down and build something real. Likewise, you may find that don’t want to grow and don’t want to change who they are…but they expect you to change whenever it fits their needs.

Inability to invest trust

Trust is such a crucial cornerstone of any relationship we build, but it becomes especially important in our intimate relationships. We have to trust our partners in order to open up to them, be vulnerable, or even enjoy them on a physical and emotional level. Does your partner trust you? If the answer is “no” you may find that they are dealing with deeper pains which are obscuring their ability to judge things best.

Loss of authenticity

It’s impossible to build an authentic relationship with someone without first being authentic with yourself. You have to know who you are, and when you don’t — things fall apart, rapidly. Have you fallen for someone who is still figuring out who they are? Do they look to others for their goals, their ambitions? Are they pretending to be someone that they aren’t? They may not be ready for a relationship.

The steps you need to take next.

If you’re dealing with someone who you believe is unprepared for commitment, you need to take action in the name of your wellbeing. We can’t change others, but we can control our level of involvement with them. They’re not going to give you what you need. So, you need to figure out what you want and take steps to pursue that.

1. Figure out what you want

You’ve probably spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the other person wants. But what do you want? When we fall for someone, we often stop questioning our standards or the things we need from partnerships and the people in our lives. This kind of self-compromise is toxic and leads us to settling for someone who isn’t prepared or willing to give us what we want.

Separate yourself from your partner’s needs, and even the feelings you have for them. What do you want? When you imagine your perfect relationship, what does it look like? How does it make you feel? Who do you see standing beside you?

Look at the person you’re standing beside now. Do they match that dream? Are they the sort of person who’s going to strive to grow and better themselves on their own? Knowing that you can’t change anyone but yourself, are you willing to settle for someone who isn’t heading in the same direction? Be brutally honest with yourself. Avoiding major heartbreak is possible, but you need to start admitting what it is you want and need from a relationship.

2. Cultivate some self-respect

More often than not, we entangle ourselves with people who aren’t good enough for us because we have little to no self-respect. This arises from insecurity, or a lack of faith in yourself and your abilities. By settling for someone who isn’t prepared to commit, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s classic self-sabotage, and one which can only be remedied by looking within.

Stop spending all your time chasing someone else’s validation. Instead, spend some time falling in love with yourself. Get to know who you are. What are your strengths? What do you handle well? What do you love about your body? Celebrate yourself and find better ways to connect with who you really are.

Once you’ve learned to love yourself, take a step back. Are you treating yourself like someone you love and respect? Is your life filled with the caliber of people you would want around your children, your parents, or a sibling? We should treat ourselves just as compassionately and honorably as we do our closest loved ones and family members. Chasing someone who doesn’t want us isn’t aligned with that self-love.

3. Incorporate honest dialogue

After getting a handle on your feelings and your needs, you need to sit down with the other person and get some clarity on where you’re at. Honest dialogue is the only way you’re going to get the answers that you need. You both need to express what’s important to you, and then you need to share what you honestly see for the future of your relationship. Without this communication, you will both keep living uncomfortably in your insecurities.

Find a good place and time to sit down with your partner. Look for a safe and comfortable space where you won’t be interrupted. But also try to time this conversation for a time in which you’re both as low-stress as possible.

Having an honest dialogue with one another is just as much about timing as it is anything else. Once you both agree on a time, sit down and open up about how you’re feeling. Keep your tone level and respectful. Avoid blaming language and leave enough space for one another to say what’s in your hearts and your heads. By candidly opening up to one another, you can come to figure out what really needs to be done in the future.

4. Lean into your joy more often

When we’re dealing with relationship challenges, reconnecting with our joy can be a powerful tool. The negative experiences in our lives have a strange way of overwhelming our point of view. By reconnecting with the things that make us happy again, we can pull ourselves out of the rut and put ourselves on higher ground. From this angle, we can better see who we are, what we’re worth, and what we really want.

Reach out to friends and family, and open up to people you trust. Lean into your support network. Let them lift you up and boost you back up where you need to be. Our loved ones can provide important insight when we’re struggling. Take advantage of that and let them bring you back to a sense of happiness.

Beyond that, you need to reach outside of your relationship and re-engage with the things that made you happy or excited about life. What passions or pastimes got put by the wayside while you got busy working on a relationship? Find those things and invest in them again. Allow them to bolster your sense of self-confidence and allow them to bring you back to presence and strength once more.

5. Do what’s right for you

At the end of the day, you’re the only person who can (or will) do what’s right for you. You’re the only one who can realize your dreams, and you’re the only one who can fully recognize your needs. If you are settling for someone who isn’t capable of giving you what you want in a relationship, then you need to decide if that’s a risk you’re willing to take. Are you prepared for the fall? Are you prepared to be unfulfilled and resentful?

Have you talked things through and come to the conclusion that you want different things? You need to make the right decision for your wellbeing. Not every relationship is meant to succeed. Your commitment to stay “forever” no longer holds when someone else has voided their own commitment to do the same thing.

Lean into your self-confidence and self-respect. Stand up for yourself and let the other person know that a half-hearted commitment is no longer good enough. Walk away and allow yourself to heal so that you can go after the things that are truly fulfilling and aligned to your happiness. You’re the only person who can do the right thing for you. You have to take the initiative and believe in yourself and your right to thrive in a relationship that’s authentic and deeply in-sync.

Putting it all together…

Are you stuck in a rut or beating your head against a wall with your partner? Do they seem unable or unwilling to take the next step? They may not be ready for the type of relationship you want to build, and that’s okay. The sooner you recognize the signs, the sooner you can start taking concentrated action in the name of your own wellbeing and long-term happiness.

Figure out what you want from your life and your relationship. Is this the kind of half-hearted relationship you saw yourself settling for? Cultivate some self-respect and some self-esteem. Believe in yourself enough to pursue relationships that are genuinely validating to your happiness. Would you allow someone you love to settle for someone who didn’t love them back? Once you’re clear on what you want and what you deserve, sit your partner down and have an honest conversation. Ask them flat out if they want the same things that you do. You both have to be brutally honest with one another and with yourselves. If it’s not meant to be, then lean into your joy and take action in the name of your wellbeing. The right person is out there, but they’re waiting for you to make the right moves in your own life.

LV Development

Self-awareness, relationships, and psychology.

Sign up for The Growth Digest

By LV Development

The best and latest from LV Development - as well as freebies, updates, and more. Take a look

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

E.B. Johnson, NLP-MP

Written by

Certified Life Coach | NLP-MP | Entrepreneur | I write about relationships, psychology, and the growth mindset. Founder @ Dragr LLC. 📱: about.me/EBJohnson

LV Development

Self, relationships and mental health. If you’re looking to make your life better, this is where you start.

E.B. Johnson, NLP-MP

Written by

Certified Life Coach | NLP-MP | Entrepreneur | I write about relationships, psychology, and the growth mindset. Founder @ Dragr LLC. 📱: about.me/EBJohnson

LV Development

Self, relationships and mental health. If you’re looking to make your life better, this is where you start.

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store