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Am I Ready for a Relationship? 5 Signs It's the Right Time

​Well, are you ready? Experts share the best ways to tell if now's the time for you to enter a long-term relationship.

man in a winter coat kissing woman on forehead

man in a winter coat kissing woman on forehead

Chances are, you’ve asked yourself this very question before: “How do I know if I’m ready for a relationship?” It’s only human to crave an intimate relationship with another person, be it a romantic relationship or one of pure friendship. We need these close and trusting social circles for our mere survival. However, in our modern age when we have greater opportunities and access to education, we’re afforded the chance to make our own decisions as to when it’s the right time to settle down. 

We may worry that getting into a relationship at the wrong time might be more taxing than rewarding or that it may dim the relationship’s chances of survival. However, just like anything in life, sometimes things happen when we least expect them to, or we can actively seek it out, notes Rachel Hozlberg, L.M.S.W., associate therapist at Manhattan Wellness. “One might apply to a particular job, while another person may have had the opportunity to come to them,” she says. “A person can look for a relationship by making the conscious effort of going on dates and putting themselves out there, or it may happen organically by pursuing a friend or forming a connection that you may have met at a mutual friend's gathering.”

Jennifer Teplin, L.C.S.W, Manhattan Wellness's founder and clinical director at Manhattan Wellness, agrees that relationships come to people at all different times—when we're looking, when we're not looking, when we're ready, when we're not ready, and the list goes on. “I believe that the degree to which someone focuses on their want for a relationship is what draws attention to whether they're in a relationship or not,” she says. “If you find yourself obsessing over wanting a relationship, chances are you may be more likely to say yes to someone who isn't exactly right just because you want to be in a relationship.” 

While it’s true that you can’t snap your fingers and meet the perfect person in the perfect setting and timing in your life, experts agree that you can work to get yourself in the right mental and emotional place for a relationship to happen. “A healthy relationship is based on the participants remaining individuals and coming together to create something greater than the sum of its parts,” explains Brenna McGee, a licensed marriage and family therapist and coach based in Albany, California. “Therefore, continuing to develop a healthy sense of self and secure boundaries can help anyone be successful in their relationships.”

So how do you know you are ready for a relationship? Here, experts share 5 good signs that signal you just might be.

You are ready to learn how to love.

This one might sound like a no-brainer, but Gabrielle Usatynski, licensed professional counselor and relationship expert in Boulder, Colorado, believes it’s important to be ready to learn how to love when you're looking to find love, especially if you’ve had a past relationship where your trust was shaken or there was heartbreak. “A lot of people feel they are not ready because they don't believe they know how to love another person and want to figure this out before they feel ready for a relationship,” she says. “But all you really need is a willingness to learn how to love, as this is something you can figure out with your future partner together.”

You understand that having a relationship is a value-add.

In other words, if you feel comfortable and confident in your life as a single person and see having a new relationship as a “nice-to-have,” but not something that is absolutely necessary for your happiness, you are ready for a relationship, according to Shemiah Derrick, licensed professional counselor based in Chicago. “It’s important that you understand that a relationship can contribute to your happiness, but it is absolutely not a requirement.” You should feel like the best version of yourself without a relationship so that you also feel that way when you're in one. 

You know what you bring to the table as a romantic partner.

It can be easy to over focus on what you want in a new partner without spending time thinking about what you can offer someone else, notes Usatynski. She urges her clients to pay attention to how they tend to get into trouble in a relationship, like thinking about your last relationship and how you may have contributed to the problems you had. “Solicit the honest feedback of friends and family who care about you and have known you for a long time and ask them to weigh in on whether or not they find you argumentative, conflict avoidant, overly needy, faithful and honest,” she says. “It may be hard to hear their feedback, especially if it doesn't match up with how you see yourself, but it can be invaluable in preparing you for your next serious relationship.”

You can practice mindfulness in your dating and relationship.

If you feel that you can be in the present and take things moment by moment, a relationship might be the right addition to your own life, notes Derrick. “Often, relationships are problematic because you are stuck in patterns or expectations from previous relationships or have moved too quickly and too far in the future, which has caused you to either look for validation or a guarantee,” she says. “Someone who is ready for a successful relationship understands that the ‘data’ they need is always right in front of them and they don't need to seek it out.”

You are looking for the "right" one and not just anyone.

Being complacent with anyone just so that you are in a relationship will usually not end well, according to Michele Miller, L.C.S.W. Senior Therapist at Manhattan Wellness. “When we can identify and focus on the qualities and values we are looking for in a relationship, we will likely end up with a person that we can feel connected and compatible with,” she says. “Even before you pick up your dating life, it is important to reflect on these qualities and understand which are non-negotiable to you so you don't end up in a relationship that does not meet what you are looking for or feel good for you.”