We love it when a woman tells us, “I’m just not ready for a new relationship yet”. When you say that, it shows us that you’re really listening to signals inside yourself. If you know you’re still hurt or angry about your last breakup, or you’re just having a great time being single – we totally support your listening to yourself and not dating. It’s absolutely the right thing to do.
Being single can be amazingly freeing. It can be a great way and time to really honor yourself, get to know yourself better, and do exactly what you want to do. Single life can be joyful!
But here are where some of the problems come in:
Some women say, “I’m not ready for a relationship yet, but I’m lonely, or I’m curious to see who’s out there, so I’ll just do some dating. Nothing serious.” Why is this a bad idea? Because most of us aren’t good at sticking to our “not ready yet” once someone we’re attracted to shows up! Then suddenly it’s easy to think, “Well, I didn’t think I was ready – but now I am!” And then suddenly you’re in a new relationship you really weren’t ready for.
Also, even if you can stay clear that you’re not ready, you’re likely to date other women who don’t stay so clear – and who may start pressuring you to get into a relationship with them. For many women, unfortunately – and this is a pattern we love to help women change! – a woman who is less than fully available is the most magnetic thing on earth.
Now, it might sound like fun to suddenly be that magnetic – but if you’re really not ready and not wanting it, it’s not so fun.
Of course, if someone else falls hard for you despite the fact that you told her you weren’t ready, it’s not your fault. Her feelings are her responsibility, not yours. But you may still find yourself drawn into an emotional web of pleading, tears, anger, etc. that you really weren’t looking for at this moment in your life. And unless you’re super-strong and clear, it may also lead you to make choices that really aren’t right for you.
Some women say, “I’m not ready for a relationship yet, but I’m also not crazy about being single. I do want to have a great relationship someday – but I don’t know how to get from here to there!” And some add, “I don’t want to repeat the patterns from my past relationships – but I don’t know how to do things differently, either. So do I need to stay single forever?”
Unfortunately, for many women, those do end up seeming like the only alternatives: 1) Stay single to avoid the patterns from your past, or 2) Get into a relationship you hope will be different – only to find out that it’s not.
To create new alternatives, you need new skills. What are some of those skills?
1) You need to understand why past relationships went the way they did. And you need a process of forgiving yourself for however you contributed to what happened – whether by choosing the wrong person, staying too long, not being fully ready, not having all the communication skills you needed, not loving yourself enough… or something else.
Getting to fully understand – and to forgive yourself – is huge! What a great burden off your shoulders. It doesn’t mean you necessarily want another relationship right away, but it means you can feel at peace with where you are right now. And peace feels good.
2) You need to learn to truly love yourself and respond to yourself with compassion, rather than self-criticism or judgment. We’ve found that many women think it would be nice if they loved themselves, but they don’t. If that’s you, you may have given up on the idea that you ever could love yourself. But the really cool thing is, brain science has shown us that we can change our brains. (It’s called “neuroplasticity.”)
Imagine not criticizing yourself. Not being down on yourself. Not focusing on your “worst” qualities. Not responding harshly to yourself when you make a mistake or do something you’re afraid looks foolish. Imagine being able to respond to yourself tenderly in those moments, with full self-acceptance, affection and appreciation. Having compassion for your mistakes, and deeply knowing how lovable you really are.
Another thing we’ve found that women who aren’t ready for a relationship yet tend to really want, is tools for making communication really work. In most relationships that didn’t work out, communication was a big issue – so it makes sense that we won’t feel ready for new love (we actually shouldn’t feel ready for new love, if we’re paying attention!) until we know for sure we have the ability to speak in a way that lets us be heard, and listen in a way that lets us really hear the other person.
This skill, by the way – “clean speech and clean listening” – has an amazing impact on all relationships (friends, co-workers, family members) as well as romantic partners. It’s amazing the number of fights, hurt feelings, misunderstandings and conflicts that never have to happen, once you master this way of speaking and listening. And this skill is a building-block to an even more important skill: being able to stop a conflict once it’s started, and then heal it at its root.
There are more skills you need, and you can learn them. Our 12-Week Roadmap class is one way.