Compatibility is complex — it doesn’t just refer to whether your personality traits mesh well and your values line up, but also whether you share similar visions for the future. In other words, even if two people are perfect for each other in practically every way, they’re going to run into some issues if they're headed in different directions. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs that your partner isn’t ready to settle down yet. Because identifying these signals can inspire you to reassess the relationship and your overall compatibility in a new and meaningful way.
First off, it’s important to note that settling down can mean different things to different people. For some, it simply means pursuing a long-term monogamous partnership. For others, it involves getting engaged. Others may feel that it includes buying a house and having kids. But on the whole, settling down implies a steady lifestyle — one in which both partners intend to commit to each other, and build a life together.
Fortunately, Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, psychotherapist and author of the new book Training Your Love Intuition. says that if you’re brave enough to open your eyes and ears, it's possible to tell if you're partner isn't quite ready to settle down. Here are some of the common signs to look out for.
They forget important dates.
Does your SO never seem to remember your anniversary? Dr. Wish says that this can actually hint at the possibility that settling down is the farthest thing from their mind. After all, why would you bother to keep track of how long you've been together if you don't foresee a future together?
Remember: There's also a chance that you're partner is just forgetful by nature. But if you repeatedly remind them of these important dates and they still don't make an effort to acknowledge them, that could be a red flag.
They purposely miss opportunities to get closer to your people.
When someone is serious about settling down with you, they'll make an active effort to get to know your loved ones because a key component of building a future together is becoming a part of each other's inner circles. So, if your partner seems to dodge invitations to your fam cookouts and reunions, or holiday celebrations with your friends, take note. According to Dr. Wish, avoiding these occasions by always coming up with excuses could indicate that they're trying to keep some distance so as not to get in too deep. And if they're attempting to maintain a certain level of distance, it may be because they know they're not prepared to take next steps with you.
Again, there are other possible reasons as to why they may be deliberately missing out on these opportunities. Perhaps they're simply super nervous about making a good impression, for example. The only way to know why this is happening is to let them know that it's been bothering you, and ask them outright why they don't seem to be enthusiastic about getting to know the people who matter to you.
They avoid conflict.
Some people are simply conflict-averse by nature. Either they fear fighting due to traumas and negative past experiences, or they are simply peacemakers to the core who would rather maintain harmony at any costs.
However, Dr. Wish asserts that when one partner continually dodges the chance to have a difficult discussion, tackle an issue head-on, and learn from it, that behavior may be tied to the fact that they're not ready to settle down. When someone is committed to building a life with you, they'll do anything it takes to make your relationship stronger, which means embracing conflict, even when it's uncomfortable. So, consider asking your SO why they seem to avoid disagreements. If they don't have a valid reason, it may simply be because they're not invested enough in the relationship for the long-term to work through your problems.
They don't want to talk about the future.
When you ask about potentially getting engaged, does your partner clam up? When you try to discuss moving in together when your lease ends this summer, do they change the subject? It may sound obvious, but Dr. Wish emphasizes that if your partner doesn't seem eager to discuss future plans with you, then that can be a telltale sign that they're either ambivalent about settling down, or downright not ready to.
Settling down is not for everyone, and sometimes, it truly comes down to timing. A person who’s not ready to settle down might simply be in a stage of life where they want to keep their options open to take advantage of new opportunities, and that’s OK. Still, being on the same page about settling down is key, because if you and your SO have very different goals for the future, one person is bound to end up feeling unfulfilled eventually.
If you're ready to make this commitment but suspect your partner doesn't want to settle down yet, Dr. Wish recommends talking it out to see if you can gain some insight into what's holding them back. Keep in mind that just because they're not ready to settle down right this minute doesn't mean they won't be six months or a year from now. So, it may be a matter of scheduling check-in points every month or so to re-evaluate how you're feeling and figure out whether the relationship is still mutually rewarding.
The point is, it's not the end of the world if your SO isn't quite open to settling down yet. A little patience and compassion on the part of both partners can go a long way in working through this challenging situation — and ultimately, only you know how long you can wait for your partner to get on the same page. But remember: you deserve to have your needs met, and if settling down is important to you, then the right person will join you on that journey — wholeheartedly and enthusiastically.
Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, psychotherapist