How do you know when you’re ready for a relationship?

If you can indulge me for a moment, I would argue that it
is impossible to be “ready” for a relationship.

In briefly reflecting on my many years of dating, I think
it is striking how no two people have ever tested me in quite the same way. The
challenges I faced with Byron
were different from those I had with Trey
and different from those I encountered when I
deleted my Tumblr
. In turn, all three are different from the struggles I
have in being with Shen.

Relationships are hard and nobody says that enough.

In my experience, friends – straight or not – tend to respond
to this realization in one of two ways. Those who defer dating strive for
personal perfection in their careers, physiques, and personalities. Those who
dive headfirst into dating do so by hoping to learn as they go along. Both
approaches have valid points to make. One should never enter a relationship “just
because”. Similarly, one can only learn some things through practice.

Unfortunately, both sides tend to overlook the middle
road. Perfection in oneself – to say nothing of one’s partner – is impossible. In
ways both minor and major, we will always be broken. Conversely, if we do not
stop to reflect on why a relationship did not work out, it is too easy for the
intoxicating thrill of a new date to be more desirable than a connection or an
uncomfortable moment of self-realization.

In either case, people end up middle aged and probably unhappy
for different reasons. In the former case, it is because they have never kissed
a person and are the only person among their friends for whom that is true. In
the latter, it is because they have dated scores of people and yet never felt
more alone in their lives.

I think most of us lean one way a bit more than the other.
If you recognize a bit of yourself in what I have written, I would encourage
you to dip your toes in the other pool. You do not have to download every dating
app ever created and schedule back-to-back dates. You do not have to renounce
dating or commit yourself to a person who makes you miserable. However, a touch
of wildness or a bit of introspection will probably be more illuminating than
one expects.

In either case, I think it is incredibly reassuring and
consoling to remember that everyone who has ever been in a relationship but is
now single has had a failure rate of 100%. Relationships are hard – but that is
normal.

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