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Many single people say they want a relationship and are ready to meet someone but have not done the work it takes to be ready for a relationship and to accept someone into their lives.

  1. What are the 5 key indicators that you are ready for a relationship?
  • The first step is to know what you are looking for in a life partner such as: Physical attributes, age, morals and values, interests, hobbies, career, how they manage their finances, parenting views, spirituality, family values, do they want children, what is their level of education, how do you see yourselves spending time together, how will you resolve conflict and challenges together, how will you share the household responsibilities, if you have children from a previous relationship – how will they interact with them, views on schooling, how do you celebrate holidays (i.e. religious aspects), what kind of friends do they have, do they take responsibility for their own personal growth and development, do you have the same cultural background etc. The clearer the picture you have of the kind of life partner you are looking for, the better decisions you will make when you meet someone as to whether they are potential partner material or not.
  • You are very clear on what your deal breakers and non-negotiables are. It’s those things that for you are a ‘no no’ and could determine the fate of the relationship (e.g. cheating is a deal breaker) and you are able to establish healthy boundaries.
  • You are able to manage your expectations and be realistic in your approach – understand that there is no such thing as the perfect person or perfect relationship but rather how perfect can you be for each other. If you have a shopping list and are expecting your partner to meet every single list, you could be setting them up for failure long before the relationship has had a chance to get off the ground. Being realistic means knowing what items you can classify as the ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ items (e.g. ‘ok so he’s a little messy but I can live with it’ kind of stuff). You also cannot expect your partner to take care of your every need and desire and make you happy. It is impossible for them to fulfil this need and if that is the expectation you have, you are setting them up for failure before you have even begun. Happiness comes from within. Yes we can help others grow and learn but ultimately we are responsible for our own happiness.
  • You’re ready to share your space and willing to accommodate your partners views, needs, family, social circle, career and different ways to doing things.
  • You’ve worked through your previous relationship baggage and have closure on the relationship, your partner and any hurt, pain or resentment associated with the legacy of what once was.
  1. How do you know that you probably just want attention, or you are feeling lonely, not necessarily ready for a serious relationship?

It’s important to be very clear as to the reasons why you want to be in a relationship with someone – not because you are feeling alone, lonely, looking for a hookup, financial reasons or because you feel like you need someone to complete you.

If you’re still constantly thinking about your Ex, stalking them on social media, don’t like being on your own for periods of time, jump from one relationship to the next, have trust issues and haven’t done your own healing work then you’re probably not in the right headspace to meet someone new.

Some of the biggest challenges in relationships is that most people enter a relationship to get something: they’re trying to find someone that’s going to make them feel good. The only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, not a place that you go to take.

  1. What could be the reason people feel they aren’t ready? E.g. past relationship betrayal or fear of being hurt etc.

If someone has experienced an abusive relationship they may be too afraid to get involved again as they don’t want to end up in the same situation as before, and could even have trust or commitment issues. Some people may genuinely want to take some time out from dating and be on their own or focus on other areas of their life (e.g. their career, their kids).

If you do the groundwork up front then there is no reason why you can’t find that special person to share your life with vs. getting into a relationship for all the wrong reasons such as loneliness, companionship, or to make us feel whole and complete.

If you are struggling to let go of your past relationship, have a look at my various coaching options to help you process what you are going through. If you are entering into a new relationship or just want to breathe new energy into your current relationship have a look a the Relationship Journey online program to help you build a solid relationship foundation going forward.

A version of this article also appeared in News 24 here

Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert in Johannesburg. She teaches individuals and organisations how to cultivate healthy relationships at home and in the workplace to create a human connected world. Paula is also the author of 2 self-help guides: Embracing Conflict and Embracing No as well as an international speaker and advocate for mental health and against gender-based violence. For more info:  www.paulaquinsee.com