Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.
At some point in your life, it’s likely you’ve said to yourself that you’re not “ready for a relationship.” This lack of readiness to get involved with someone may apply after you’ve just been through a painful breakup, or it could mean never having been ready at all for a committed, intimate relationship. Perhaps you feel that you can’t get involved with someone until you have a more secure sense of your own identity and what you want out of life. It’s also possible that you need time to regroup after a relationship you thought would last forever ended unexpectedly. In any case, your reluctance to find someone to commit to can feel odd or abnormal, given that the rest of the people you know seem to be happily coupled.
According to Purdue University’s Benjamin Hadden and colleagues, “despite the seeming ubiquity of advice surrounding readiness in popular culture, the scientific literature on the role of commitment readiness is near nonexistent.” Still, proposing that timing may be everything when it comes to relationship commitment, the authors put their “Relationship Receptivity Theory (RRT)” to the test. Feeling unready doesn’t mean being afraid of emotional intimacy or even of being single, they argue. They maintain that people may feel ready for a relationship “while being perfectly at peace with remaining single” until they find the right person.