As the great Carrie Bradshaw once said, "Don't forget to fall in love with yourself first." If you can't accept yourself and your flaws, you cannot be truly happy with someone else. When evaluating whether or not you're in a place to commit to something serious, there are a number of possible signs you're not ready for a relationship. Whether you're a serial monogamist or someone who is constantly on the receiving end of the breakup, the real reason you're always starting new relationships might be because you're not ready for commitment.
I spoke to Dr. Grant H. Brenner, psychiatrist and and co-author of Irrelationship, about signs you might not be ready for a serious relationship right now. If any of these red flags feel familiar to you, there's no need to panic. There are steps you can take to address the conflict at hand and eventually move toward a healthy, long-term relationship with another person. Beyond simply identifying the problem, it's important to actually confront the underlying issues. That way, you can work toward finding personal happiness, and eventually share your joy with someone special. Here are six signs you're not yet ready to be in a serious relationship, plus how to deal with each one.
You're Always Seeing Someone New
If you're rarely single and constantly finding someone new to date, it could be because you're forcing your relationships to be too serious, too soon. "A measured approach to dating can help people to learn about relationships, practicing resisting the urge to push relationships along," says Dr. Brenner. Consider slowing down and allowing your true feelings to develop over time. Maybe you just haven't found the right person yet, but it's important to think about why you feel the need to find someone right now. Are you trying to fill the empty spot left by your ex, or do you genuinely feel ready to share your life with someone?
It's also possible that you need to take a break from dating altogether, in order to really focus on yourself. "If you keep getting into relationships that don't work out, this may mean that it is time to hit pause and see whether personal work is required before trying relationships out again," says Dr. Brenner.
You Notice Recurring Patterns In Your Relationships
According to Dr. Brenner, pressing pause is especially necessary "if you notice that there is a recurring pattern in your relationships, such as picking partners who seem 'different' from those in past 'bad' relationships, but turn out to be the 'same.'" Maybe you always go for the bad boy, but you swear this guy is different. But if he ends up cheating on you too, maybe you're still going after men who are wrong for you. Making the same decisions over and over and expecting a different result is a common mistake, but it's also the definition of foolishness.
Rather than believing the situation is out of your control and hoping something or someone else will change, actively try to break the pattern. On your own or with a therapist, you can work out the underlying emotions that led you to repeatedly choose the same types of unhealthy partners.
You Can't Stand The Idea Of Being Alone
"If you know that you need time to yourself, but you feel unable to stop looking for a serious relationship, it suggests you aren't in a good place to get into a healthy serious relationship," says Dr. Brenner. "If you can't stand the idea of being alone, feel afraid that you'll never be able to date if you take a break from serious relationships, or otherwise feel compelled to seek out a serious relationship when there are more pressing issues (emotionally, professionally, or otherwise), you probably aren't ready for a serious relationship."
Again, taking a step back from dating is key here. Delete your dating apps and focus instead on the relationships you have already established: your close friendships, and your relationship with yourself.
You Get Emotionally Involved Too Quickly
Maybe you're the type to go all in almost right away. While there's nothing wrong with wearing your heart on your sleeve, it could be part of the reason you get hurt so easily. "If you try to date casually, but routinely fall into more emotional involvement than intended, it also suggests there may be issues with intimacy preventing being able to establish healthy relationships," says Dr. Brenner.
He lists some of the most important things to nail down before you can fully enjoy a healthy relationship: "Learning to get to know other people gradually, to allow relationships to deepen naturally, to avoid seeking intimacy too fast, to learn what healthy boundaries are, to understand what you really want and who is really compatible, to understand long-term views and not completely succumb to infatuation, to learn how to communicate and share, to learn how to give and take." These aren't simple tasks, so don't expect them to be resolved without significant time and effort on your part.
You Have Intimacy Issues
On the other hand, maybe you have trouble truly getting close to someone else. If you find it hard to trust your romantic partner, there's probably something else going on. Dr. Brenner says that there are a variety of personal issues that can interfere with closeness, including mental health issues, family history that hasn't been addressed, and your ability to commit the necessary time and effort a serious relationship requires. You can't blame your parents for everything, but maybe there are deeper reasons you're unlucky in love. You might consider speaking to a therapist to unravel them.
Your Friends And Family Tell You To Take A Break From Dating
While it's important to be in tune with your own emotions, sometimes those closest to you know you better than you know yourself. "If people friends or family keep telling you to take a break from dating, they are probably onto something. Same goes for your therapist if you are in therapy. Listen to them," says Dr. Brenner.
If you aren't seeing a professional, it might be something you want to consider. "Good therapy can help a lot with this process, but isn't always necessary," says Dr. Brenner. "Giving yourself the needed time and space from serious relationships can go a long way. Self-help and personal development can provide useful information, but often without having other people involved, superficial understanding, while helpful, isn't transformative when it comes to learning how to have healthy relationships."
And if you're currently in relationship that feels too serious or is bordering on unhealthy, know that your partner might actually share your concerns. "You may be able to take a step back, together," says Dr, Brenner. "Thoughtfully communicate with the person, share your reservations, acknowledge your own feelings and responsibility, be curious and open, and ask for help from your partner." Life (and love) is one big learning experience. All you can do is try not to make the same mistake twice.