Can You Really Be Ready For A Relationship?

Can You Really Be Ready For A Relationship?

by Laura Taylor

My little car has no radio or AUX input and sorting it out never makes it to the top of my agenda. So earlier this year when I embarked on a  four hour roadie, the choices were my lone HAIM album on repeat, or slamming back-to-back podcasts with my phone strategically placed in my cup holder so it resonates slightttly louder (anyone else feel me). One of these was a Dear Sugar series, ‘Looking for the One’ and  I drove up SH1 listening as callers in their thirties lamented over how the people they dated in their early twenties were real keepers, but they let now-seemingly naive things get in the way. Among the many reasons for calling it quits: not wanting to be left out of their single friends sex-and-the-city lifestyles, being unsure if they have found ‘The One’, and most commonly, they aren’t quite ‘ready’ yet. Not grown up enough, fixed enough, healed enough or brave enough. This is nothing new, on the cusp of a new relationship, many a gal and guy has walked away because they are freaking the eff out - but can you ever be truly ‘ready’ for a relationship? I sat down with five people to find out.

 

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Liam*, 25


So you’re with someone right now?

Yeah, I got together with my partner three years ago. We had both had long relationships that had broken up a few years ago, so we wanted to be cautious. We didn’t want to hurt each other or ourselves by falling hard and breaking up. Looking back on that now I think that was wise. But, it also meant I had to fight at different points to convince her to open up and commit to our relationship. She thought about leaving once or twice. But then somehow she realised, I’m actually pretty awesome haha.

 

And do you remember feeling like you were ‘ready’ to be with them?

I remember telling her I loved her for the first time. I felt completely comfortable her knowing that I felt that way, even if she wasn’t ready to say that back. She finally said it back after a few months of wanting to internally. I appreciated that; her really wanting to mean it. I felt pretty ready to be with her then. But when I realised I wanted to marry her, I proposed about a month later. When you know, you know, I guess. We started dating after knowing each other for a few months. But it always felt like I’d known her. We get each other in ways others don’t get us and that’s always been reassuring we are in the right place.

 

Working on ourselves and sorting things out is obviously important, but can someone ever be ‘complete’ enough? Is there ever a perfect time?

I think both of us were pretty well equipped for a relationship. We don’t sweat the small stuff, we face conflict head on, and we have had past relationships we’ve learnt from.  That said, we have a lot to work on ourselves. My advice to anyone is that there comes a point we have to get past our fears and take a leap into the unknown. Now we are married and loving life and had we not been able to commit, we wouldn’t be here. Marriage is a lifelong commitment to growing together. People are never perfect. That’s the point. We are one another’s growth gifts, shaping each other, carrying each other’s weaknesses with each other’s strengths.

 

Trauma from past relationships can be a major block when moving into the next one, what would you say to someone scared to move forward?

You can be in a place where relationships aren’t a good idea. But, when you are healthy and you’ve moved on from past experiences, don’t be too afraid of taking a leap. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out - at least you get clarity it wasn’t meant to be. The best that could happen is your grow old with someone amazing and imperfect all at the same time who makes you want to keep picking yourself up and moving forward into your life’s call. There never a perfect time now, but there is in hindsight. You can’t see that until your years down the road. Work on yourself, know who you are, and get past the millennial fear of commitment: relationships only work if your willing to actually give all yourself to someone imperfect and they are willing to do the same.

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Rosie*, 23
 

Okay so you aren’t currently in a relationship, how long have you been single for?

Juuust over a year.

 

Looking back, do you think you were ‘ready’ to be in your last relationship? How do you feel about that now?  

My last relationship started when I was 19, and Iooking back I was definitely not ready for it haha. But in saying that, everything that arose over its duration faced me with the same choice again and again, to grow up and do what needed to be done to become ready, or to not. I think we can’t ever be completely ready, but it’s actually okay so long as you’re (both!) able to choose to step up for what you need to be ready for that day.  I wasn’t ready, but the course of the relationship trained and readied me in a way I otherwise couldn’t have learnt - if that makes sense! For instance, didn’t know this then but I definitely believed I was way more self-aware than I was and I carried a bunch of unhelpful beliefs - the most damaging being that this person was meant to/actually could fill every hole in my life.

 

What was one of the biggest things you learnt from it?

That they can’t!  Those holes were there long before and remained after they had gone, and it was really only my responsibility to deal with them. Realising that was one the greatest gifts I could have ever received - it prompted a bunch of self work and understanding. In addition to that, also one of the biggest things I learnt is that love isn’t meant to be that hard, at least not at the start. I had accustomed to a tumultuous and at times devastating version of love, propelled by the deep-set belief that ‘love is a choice’ and ‘it’s hard work’ - my pendulum had swung too far that way and it was really was not a great representation of how supportive, wonderful and chilled out love can be, we shouldn’t reduce it to less.

 

Are you scared to enter into a new one? Why?

Shit yeah. I used to completely run into things and love easily - a big ol’ feeler. But surprising myself, I spent the last year really enjoying being single and kind of avoiding opportunities that would threaten that. Earlier this year was the first time I entertained the thought of actually dating someone, and I ran when things got too close. I thought this was because it just wasn’t a good fit, but with hindsight I can see that really, it was less about them and more about how letting someone else in absolutely terrified me, as did the idea of screwing it up.

 

Working on ourselves and sorting out our stuff out is obviously important, but can someone ever be complete enough?  Is there ever a perfect time?

This is definitely a trap I fell into, after running away I started realising all the things that had been holding me back. I tried to mentally work through every doubt and fear, consulting friends and readings and weighing up possible outcomes until the moment I thought I had sorted it all out - and it was too late! Turns out my perfect time wasn’t theirs. So I think there is a level of work on yourself you can do but at some point you just have to deep dive, you won’t ever be able to eliminate all the risk. I think if I could go back, I would tell myself it’s okay to lean into it even if you’re scared.

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Jen*, 25

 

Are you with someone right now?

Yes! We got together three and a half years ago after being friends for a while and in relationships with other people. We both moved overseas separately and the first time we reconnected, the stars just aligned and we’ve been together ever since.

 

What do you remember was one of your biggest fears/worries before you entered into your relationship?

One big worry doesn’t stand out, but the general feeling I remember was “What does this mean?”, “Can I imagine a future with this person?”, “Is this going to last?”. It makes me laugh, I was so concerned about the long-term future when all I needed to do was be in the present and see what happened.

 

And do you remember feeling like you were ‘ready’ to be with them?

At the time no, I didn’t feel ready at all. It happened so out of the blue and was something I’d never imagined would happen with this person. I even tried to call it off because I was unsure. Looking back now I think I was definitely ready. I had found a place where I was independent, enjoyed my own company and wasn’t actively seeking a relationship to feel complete.

 

Working on ourselves and sorting out our shit is obviously important, but can someone ever be complete enough? Is there ever a perfect time?

No, I don’t think anyone can ever be complete enough – but that is a good thing! We should never feel so comfortable that we stop trying to find ways to better ourselves. On the flip side, we can feel content and accept the fact that no one is perfect and there is always something to learn. Sometimes everything just falls into place and your gut tells you this is meant to be. But life isn’t perfect, we aren’t perfect, love isn’t perfect and so people can come into our lives at the most unexpected un-perfect times.

What you’ve experienced with someone doesn’t mean that is how all of your future relationships have to work out. Your new love is with a different person than and your relationship with them is totally different too. Try not to project your past hurts and insecurities onto your new partner and if you find yourself doing being irrational, take active steps to either communicate your worries with your partner or recognise your triggers and be aware of your reactions. No matter what has happened before, choose love instead of fear.

 

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Katie*, 27
 


Are you with someone right now?

Not currently!

 

Looking back, do you think you were ‘ready’ to be in your last relationship? How do you feel about that now?  

My last guy was the type of guy I ‘should’ be with, that’s why I stuck around for so long, waiting for that ‘spark’ to develop and then we could live happily ever after. Looking back there was no way I could have been happy with him, it wasn’t right at all but I thought it would develop in to something that was right. I thought I was ready and I thought it was my time, I wanted it to be my time, but clearly I still had lots to learn!

 

Working on ourselves and sorting out our stuff out is obviously important, but can someone ever be complete enough?  Is there ever a perfect time?

I have ex boyfriends that looking back I think I could be happy with if I had made the decision to stick with them, but I wouldn’t be who I am now. This is what I find so interesting, If I had made the decision to get married at 22, who would I be at 27? Definitely not who I am right now, I love who I am now. But I guess I would have grown in different ways.

 

Do you personally have things you would like to work on before entering again into a relationship?

When you meet someone, in the end you have to decide if you want to go down a path with them. Right now, I would find it difficult to veer away from the path I’ve decided to create on my own. That’s not saying I wouldn’t for the right one, but the right one changes as I change. There is something in me that doesn’t want to compromise on my life plans and that does not bode well for finding someone to spend that life with.

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Ben*, 28

 

So you're with someone right now? When did you guys get together?

Seven years ago.

 

What do you remember was one of your biggest fears/worries before you entered into your relationship?

It wasn't a worry, but one thing that was different about our connection that I perhaps noticed in other people was that we didn't have a fireworks, crazy-in-love type romance, I guess because we initially connected in a friendship capacity, all that stuff developed later on.

 

And how do you feel about that now?

It’s the main reason we've lasted the distance. What may have been odd to others about our initial connection is what became our foundation. While I admit I could always do better at the romance side of things, as that is crucial to any relationship, at the end of the day our relationship is anchored by the fact that we are very best friends.

 

And do you remember feeling like you were ‘ready’ to be with them?

I think we very rarely arrive at a point of 'readiness' for anything in life. That’s not to say we should take everything lightly, you may never be 'ready', but when the time comes to make the big commitment, I think we have responsibility to be sure.

 

Working on ourselves is obviously important, but can someone ever be ‘complete’ enough?

Is there ever a perfect time? There are probably bad times.. and better times. but no, never a perfect time. And if you're not a little scared, you should be worried.

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*names have been changed

 

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