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I’m not ready for a relationship but I like him. What should I do?

So, there’s a guy you know. You’re friends. You like him, and you like the way you feel when you’re around him.

You also think maybe he likes you… but you’re not ready for a relationship.

Maybe he’s a little flirty, or just generally affectionate with you. He pays close attention to you, and he notices things about you that most other people don’t. He’s sending out serious vibes that he’s interested.

The only problem?

You don’t feel ready for a relationship. You have a fear that if you go on a date, or maybe even hang out a little too much, that it will eventually lead to a relationship.

Does this sound familiar?

There are solutions. Understanding where you’re coming from, being open and honest about your situation, and taking it slow can lead to something better.

It may be that he’s not right for you – or that you simply need more time.

In the end, you can’t be pushed into a relationship before you’re ready.

Determining the best course of action and facing your situation head-on is the only way to find happiness. Here’s what you need to know.

Know Thyself. Why Don’t You Want a Relationship?

Before you can decide how to proceed, first you’ve got to know why you don’t want a relationship.

Understanding your own motivations can help you manage the problem – if it is a problem.

It may be that you don’t want a relationship because the time just isn’t right for you.

If it’s fear that’s holding you back, you may regret your decision not to enter into a relationship later.

If it’s ambition or simple desire to be unchained to another person, then your desire to stay single may not be a problem. Maybe you’re just too happy to change.

Common Reasons People Don’t Want a Relationship

Know the reasons that hold people back from relationships. Do any of these reasons ring a bell?

Past trauma. Some people avoid relationships because they’ve had bad experiences with previous relationships.

They may have been caught in an abusive relationship, or they may have been in a relationship that ended so badly, they simply aren’t ready to go through another relationship.

If this is you, then you may need more time. On a side note, traumas can lead to deep unhappiness. Consider seeing a therapist if you’re struggling to get over a dark moment in your past.

Fear of commitment. Some people have a fear of commitment that doesn’t stem from trauma, but simply exists for its own sake.

Fear of commitment can hold people back from living their life, taking advantage of opportunities and showing love to people who they have special feelings for.

If you have a fear of commitment, ask yourself why. Examine your fear. It may be that you could wade into the waters of a relationship while still maintaining boundaries.

Taking on new commitments a little at a time can help some people get over their anxieties.

Emotionally unavailable. People who are emotionally unavailable often suffer from anxiety or fear that prevents them from opening up, being honest with others, or being honest with themselves.

Often, this anxiety comes from previous trauma. Maintaining emotional distance can lead to unhappiness, especially if your emotional distance stems from fear.

You may be preventing yourself from finding happiness. Know when to get help.

Career is priority. If your career is your priority, then it may be that you’re getting enough personal satisfaction from your work life.

If this is the case, you might not be interested in anything that would distract you from what you love to do.

If you’re getting so much personal satisfaction from your job that you simply don’t want to pursue a relationship right now, listen to your heart.

You might be ready for a relationship later after you’ve had a chance to advance in your workplace.

  • One caveat: make sure that your career truly is your focus. For some people, focusing on the career is a way to mask fear of commitment. If you’re not sure what your true motivations are, try writing down your feelings, or talking to a friend. Journaling and introspection can help you understand what’s happening deep down.

Know the Signs You Like Him

So, how can you even know if you like him?

If you’re a little commitment-phobic or inexperienced with this type of thing, you might not be very sensitive to your own feelings.

Tuning into your body and your own mental and emotional desires can help you make the right decision.

You Can Be Yourself Around Him

When you’re around him, you should have no trouble expressing who you truly are.

At the end of the day, you should feel like he knows things about you that other people don’t, because you’ve been able to reveal yourself to him.

If you feel like you can’t tell him your true feelings or emotions for fear he won’t like you, then this is a red flag that your relationship isn’t healthy.

You Might Feel a Little Flustered in His Presence – But Comfortable Too

If you like him, then you’ll probably feel a little flustered when he’s around.

You might find yourself wondering how he’s reacting to what you’re saying, if you’re pleasing him, if he’s happy, and so on.

Being that focused on someone can be distracting, which can make you feel at times like you’re not able to keep up with the conversation. This is natural!

At the same time, you might feel extra comfortable when you’re in his presence, as if he brings out the best in you.

You might think you could spend all day with him. Other friends might say you “glow” when he’s around, or that you have a good energy when he’s present. These are signs that you like him.

You Look Forward to Talking to Him

Do you find yourself thinking about him and the next time you’ll talk to one another? Do you wonder what you’ll say and how he’ll react? Do you look forward to your meetings with him? Do you imagine your future conversations?

And, do you do this with other people you know, or is he different? If he’s getting more attention from you than your other friends, then this is a likely sign that you like him.

You Talk About More than Superficial Stuff

When you speak with him, what do you talk about? You probably discuss the usual stuff, whether that’s movies, music, sports, favorite trends – but do you talk about your feelings? Your past experiences? Previous relationships? Desires for the future?

Have you gotten to know one another well? Do you know what annoys him? Does he know what annoys you? And, do you both accept each other for who you are?

If you like one another, then your topics of conversation probably vary between superficial little things, and deeper, more important subjects.

You want to share those things with him – you want to share everything with him.

Physical Attraction Is Present, but It’s Not Everything

If you like him, then you’re probably physically attracted to him. Maybe you want to touch his hair, run your hands through his beard, brush hands when you’re walking down the street.

At the same time, physical attraction shouldn’t be everything. You should look forward to your conversations for more reasons than wanting to stare into his eyes.

If you feel a mixture of physical attraction and pleasure in your conversations, then this is a sign that you like him.

  • On a side note: if the physical attraction outweighs everything else, be cautious. You need more than a strong sexual desire to enjoy a stable relationship with him.

Signs You’re Not Ready for a Relationship

So, then how do you know you’re not ready for a relationship?

There are actually many signs that you’re not ready for a relationship. Everyone is different.

Below are the most common and obvious signs that a relationship isn’t right for you right now.

You’re Not Happy With Yourself

You can’t be happy in a relationship if you’re not happy with yourself.

If you’re constantly feeling down about yourself, if you suffer from an overwhelming lack of confidence, if you’re too wrapped up in your anger, mistrust or displeasure with your life, these toxic feelings could poison any relationship that you begin.

If you’re generally feeling unhappy with yourself and your life, then you likely need to work on self-repair and self-esteem building before you’re ready to be in a relationship with someone else.

See a therapist. You might be ready for a relationship after you’ve done some work on yourself.

You Feel Dread When Relationships Come Up in Conversation

Do you want to change the subject anytime someone mentions that they’re interested in a relationship – even if they aren’t talking about being in a relationship with you?

Do you avoid bringing up relationships with your family members?

Do you want to run when anyone of your preferred gender brings up how they feel about relationships?

You’re not ready for a relationship. Find out why.

You’re Just Not that Interested

If you feel bored just thinking about the everyday reality of relationships, then you probably shouldn’t be involved with anyone right now. Relationships aren’t for everyone.

Some people just feel disinterest when they think about being in a relationship with another person.

If that’s you, then you may very well grow into the kind of person who wants a relationship several years from now. Maybe you just need to have more life experiences and sow those wild oats.

How to Date Casually, Without Getting Deep Into a Relationship

You may not be ready for a relationship, but you can still go on dates – if this is an option that interests you both.

Dating casually could ease you into the relationship, and later you may discover that you’re all in and ready to be serious. …or you may discover that he’s just wrong for you.

Either way, going on dates can be revealing and healthy, if you approach dating in the right way.

Be Honest and Open

Don’t lead him on. Tell him upfront that you’re not ready for a commitment.

You would like to date, but you don’t want a relationship at this time. Be clear about what this means to you. Set the ground rules. Do you want to see him every week, or will there be weeks when you don’t get together at all?

Do you want to talk every day? Every few days? Most days? Are there activities you don’t want to engage in on dates?

Find out the answers to these questions yourself, then tell him what you would like.

He may not want to date you under these circumstances. …or he may be thrilled at the idea of taking it slow. Either way, you’ve got to be honest with him.

Focus on Fun

Keep the relationship all about fun. This is a good way to get comfortable with one another without wading too deep into relationship territory.

Who needs romance when you could be white water rafting, bike riding or attending film festivals?

Spend time together engaging in physical activities.

Alternatively, choose activities that are so mentally engaging that you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking deep into each other’s eyes (like watching television, going to movies).

This is a great way to enjoy one another’s company without an awkward moment that one of you might regret.

How to Tell Him You Don’t Want a Relationship

Maybe you’ve decided that you don’t want to date, you don’t want a relationship – you just want to stay friends.

Knowing how to tell him what you want can help you navigate this admittedly challenging situation.

Most important to remember is that you need to approach the situation with confidence, certainty, and clarity. If you’re not willing to establish boundaries, miscommunications can happen.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could hurt him if you’re not careful. Be compassionate and understanding of his feelings, even as you’re firm about your own. These tips can help.

Express Your Feelings

Express your feelings clearly. Why don’t you want a relationship? Help him understand your position, so he can decide (with open eyes) how he would like to proceed.

Don’t Let Him Convince You Your Feelings Aren’t Valid

Remember as you’re having this conversation that your decision to not be in a relationship is a personal choice that you get to make.

If he can’t respect that, then you’re probably better off without him. If he tries to convince you to be in a relationship against your wishes, this is a very clear sign you two aren’t right for each other.

Know When to End the Conversation

If he feels upset about your revelation that you don’t want to be in a relationship, this could lead to an argument or a bitter conversation.

Remember, you’re committed to standing firm in your position.

If it seems like the conversation is going in a dramatic or negative direction, then it may be time to walk away.

Let him know you would be willing to talk to him after he’s calmed down, but your decision is final.

How to Get Over Fear of Commitment

Is it a fear of commitment that’s stopping you from being with him? If so, this fear of commitment could be holding you back from being your best (and happiest) self.

If you’re unhappy about your situation, you might be able to fight back that fear of commitment – and find love.

Is Fear of Commitment Normal?

Lots of people suffer from fear of commitment. You’re not alone, so don’t feel like you are. Your feelings are valid.

However, if it’s fear that’s preventing you from entering a rewarding relationship with another person, you might end up unhappy. It may be time to overcome this challenge.

Examine Your Fears

Some people need to work through their fear of commitment in therapy. Others simply need to talk to friends and family to work through their feelings.

Knowing the source of your fear can help you take control of your situation. Be honest with yourself and with others when discussing your unhappiness.

Suggest Relationship Terms You’d Be Comfortable With

You might be able to overcome your relationship fears if you can ease into a dating situation slowly.

Suggest relationship terms that you’d be comfortable with, including physical and emotional boundaries you’d like to maintain for the time being.

Maybe you’re not comfortable being physically intimate yet, or perhaps you don’t want to see each other more than once per week.

Going slow at first may help you feel comfortable so that you can speed up later. If he’s not interested in going slow, then he’s probably not the right person for you right now.

Ask Yourself: Is He the Problem?

It may be that you’re feeling commitment-phobic because he’s not right for you. Continue to examine your feelings when you’re around him.

Do you have more negative feelings than positive feelings when you’re together?

Does he make you smile? Does he make you feel bad about yourself? Does he put you down, or do you want to put him down? Are the feelings inside positive when you’re around him?

Take your emotional temperature during and after the times when you’re around him. If he’s not right for you, this should become apparent when you examine your feelings honestly.

Know When to Get Help and Make Changes

If you aren’t ready for a commitment because of a trauma that happened in your past, then you very likely need some help during the healing process.

There are many ways that you can get help. Therapy can help you sort through emotions that you don’t understand or don’t like.

There may also be lifestyle changes that can help you through this problem.

Changing your diet and nutrition, practicing yoga and meditation, and exercising can help you feel more confident and happy.

Your Feelings ARE Valid

One more thing to remember: your feelings, whether you’re afraid of a commitment or ready to enter a relationship, are valid feelings.

Be kind to yourself, even as you’re struggling with these challenges.

If he’s right for you, he’ll be willing to take it slow if that’s what you need.

When you’re honest with him, he should strive to understand your position.

Remember to be kind to him too. If he’s ready for a relationship and you’re not, this might be hard for him. Show him compassion, even as you’re letting him down.

Let him know that the feelings you have are complicated and that you may be ready for something in the future, if you believe that to be true.

Avoid burning this bridge, especially if you might want to be with him someday years from now.

Avoid Making Promises You Can’t Keep

If he’s asked you to start seeing one another, and you know that he likes you, it can be hard to say things like, “I don’t want to be in a relationship with you.”

It sounds so final. Some people try to soften the blow by saying they might ready to date later.

If this isn’t true, you’re only putting off till tomorrow what you should be saying today.

Avoid making any promises you can’t keep. It’s not fair to him, and it puts you in the uncomfortable position of having to let him down again in the future.

Give It Time

Be patient with your feelings. Sometimes people feel pressure to rush into a relationship when all they need to do is wait just a little bit longer.

Maybe he likes you, but your feelings just haven’t caught up yet. Give it a few weeks or months, and then re-examine your feelings.

You never know, by waiting just a little while, you might be able to change your whole outlook.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook.

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