Relationships are big deals. Huge, even. Maybe monstrous. If they weren’t they’d be called relation-boats or relation-canoes. Dare I say relation-kayak. No, it’s a relationship.
That might have been a terrible vessel joke, but there’s no denying the enormity of relationships when it comes to the sacrifices made to make them work. We trade out brunches with our girlfriends for day-long dates, flats for heels, and our interests for someone else’s. Sure, sometimes you end up with something really beautiful. But other times you can’t believe you could be so unlucky to capsize (that was the last water reference, we swear).
Dating and relationships are so complicated they even literally come with a manual. We wouldn’t need the thousands (maybe millions) of books in circulation about how to be marriage material, finding the right partner, following your heart, and noticing the signs that he’s just not that into you if relationships were easier to navigate. Alas, people are profiting off our crazy (sometimes humorous, sometimes painful) search for love.
Save yourself a trip to the bookstore (or ten dollars on Amazon) and read on to see if you should be in a relationship right now based on your responses to these questions.
20Do My Friends And Family Say They Never See Me Anymore?
What used to be weekly gatherings on Friday night and regular texting has turned into hurried chats in the street once every few months. When they call to invite you to a last-minute brunch you decline. In fact, the only time you have even initiated a get-together was weeks ago when a date canceled on you. They are just about one more missed happy hour away from staging an intervention and you know it isn’t fair that you keep leaving them hanging because you would hate if they did that to you (and you promised you would never be that person). In your quest for love, you have forgotten about the people that truly love you unconditionally.
So, the next time the girls want to hang out, just say yes. And then say yes the time after that, too. These are the relationships you need to be working on, not just the romantic ones. If your date isn’t willing to move his plans around for you and doesn’t understand how important these other relationships are in your life, then he’s not the one anyway. Trust us, it will feel good to again be the friend that the other ladies can count on to cheer them up. Plus, you’re going to need their opinion the next time they meet a guy you’re crushing on.
19Am I Still Holding Onto My Last Relationship?
You gave everything of his back except that one t-shirt that he didn’t even like. You should have thrown it away, but you kept it because it smells like him. You also saved all of your photos together because if the two of you can work it out (for the fifth time) you don’t want to have to admit that you didn’t have faith.
You’re living in the past, which means you can’t possibly move forward. If you’re still hanging onto that relationship, then you are stuck being the person you were in that relationship. Or, as Mind Body Green put it, you’re using the past as a sort of safety net because you think when things get tough you can land back there to feel okay again.
You’re holding yourself back from future success and love because constantly bringing up your ex-boyfriend’s name isn’t doing you any favors in the dating department. It’s fine to grieve the end of a relationship and, just like any type of grieving, people go through the phases in varying timelines. But if you’re convinced that dating someone new will help you get over the loss more quickly, that might be false thinking. Plus, it will likely be more obvious to the other person than you think it is that you’re holding back a bit.
18Am I Forgetting To Take Time For Me?
Sometimes we forget to take care of the “me” part of “we”. Chances are if we’re forgetting to make time for our friends, we’re also forgetting to make time for ourselves (or we make time but are quick to drop it if something else comes up). If you can’t remember when you last did something for yourself like schedule a pampering service or read a good book (or go to the gym, we know it’s hard to get motivated) then it’s time to take back your own calendar. If that seems too daunting right now, then at least take five minutes to do some deep breathing or walk around the block. Your body will thank you.
No matter how you do it, it’s important to build in “me time”. And, as cliché, as it might sound, it’s absolutely acceptable to take a step back from dating and relationships to put yourself first (you deserve it). The people that can recognize they should take a moment to run inventory of their own lives and then take action to address their own needs are better for it. A clear mind translates into a rejuvenated person, making you better for everyone around (most importantly yourself).
17Am I Lusting For Travel And Adventure?
This might seem obvious, but if your summer plans have already been locked in and include multiple weekends away to the beach, seven weddings, and a two-week trip to Europe then this isn’t the best time to be starting a relationship. Of course it is possible to add in a few dates here and there (hopefully he likes having coffee at the airport), but if you’re the type of person that is going to get the travel bug again once September hits then you aren’t going to want to be tied down (and having someone to miss you and to send travel pictures back to is not a good enough reason to be in a relationship that you aren’t physically present in).
Too often we tell ourselves that there will be plenty of time later in life to see the sights. While this is true in some cases, we forget about all the other stuff that will be taking up time as we age. True, we might find the perfect travel partner in a few years and we will want to do everything with him. But that doesn’t quench our thirst for adventure now.
The open road is calling, go get it.
16Do I Keep Choosing Partners That Aren’t Right For Me?
If your last few relationships have ended with the phrase, “you’re great, but…” then maybe it’s time to take a look at the type of people you’re dating. It’s possible you’re stuck in a pattern of choosing the wrong partners because you aren’t willing to open up to other opportunities. Just because something feels familiar, doesn’t mean it’s right.
As creatures of habit we tend to develop a certain “type” in our brains (tall, socially outgoing, previously unmarried, ambitious, funny) and hold onto that for dear life. If we meet someone that doesn’t fit our profile we don’t even make an effort. But is this the best way to go about dating?
According to Huffington Post you definitely should make a list of deal-breakers and stick to them, but maybe you can loosen up a bit and try dating outside your type. Instead of immediately thinking a guy shorter than you is a deal-breaker, give it a shot with the next guy. And maybe it would be nice to date an introvert for once, puzzles and movies at home can be just as nice as going to a club.
But if you’re on the ninth guy in a row that is still living at home, then maybe it’s just time to take a break and hit the reset button.
15Have I Lost Sight Of What I’m Really Looking For And What Makes Me Happy?
Back to the point about hitting the reset button. Whether in a relationship, seeking a relationship, or totally single, there is a valuable tool at your disposal known as a reset button. While we sound a bit like an infomercial, this can be yours for the always low price of $0. All you have to do is commit to using it.
You might be hesitating to reset because you think it is going to slow you down. Rather, it can actually offer clarity and set you in the right direction quicker. By denying yourself a chance to reset you will likely continue to fall short of your expectations.
Think of a reset as a roadmap (really Google map because nobody uses actual paper maps anymore). You can’t expect to end up where you want to go if you don’t know how to get there. In the same light, use a reset to detox from the things that have been impeding your journey to get to your desired destination. Only you know what you want and what makes you happy. Get there. Do that. Unplug, unwind, and, when you’re ready, position that compass due north again. Your truth lies just ahead.
14Have I Been Feeling A Lot Of Stress Lately?
Life for any twenty or thirty-something female is stressful. There’s endless amounts of projects at work, a serious fear of missing out that leads to overcommitment on the social front and dodging questions from your parents about what you’re actually doing with your life. Maybe you’re also dealing with a sick pet or family member. Add in the demands of a relationship (making plans, finding something to wear, having to be “on” all the time) and it goes from manageable as long as you don’t sleep more than four hours per night to absolutely overwhelming. Maybe you don’t need that stress right now.
You will probably remember from your college psychology class that there are different types of stress, good and bad. You also might remember that both kinds of stress can still cause a stress reaction. Even if you’re experiencing the good kind of stress like going on a date, it’s still stress and it still wears on your body. If you’re feeling close to your tipping point don’t add more stress. You might be a little sad that you’re missing out on something, but what you need more than going to that concert with a guy you barely know is releasing some tension.
13Have I Repeatedly Given All Of Myself With Little In Return?
Elizabeth Gilbert might have said it best in Eat, Pray, Love: “I disappear intothe person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion…my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, mydog’s time—everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check”.
Don’t be afraid to admit if this sounds like you, but also don’t be afraid to change it. Constantly depleting yourself for someone else is an exhausting (and not sustainable) way to live. Love yourself enough to take back what you’ve given and set healthier boundaries. You’re a rock, but you don’t need to be their rock all the time (and definitely don’t give up your dog).
12Am I Currently Talking To More Than A Few Guys At The Same Time?
You’ve got a profile set up on every dating site you could find and you accidentally double booked yourself for drinks and dinner with two different guys on the same night. Your calendar looks more like an itinerary and you’re pretty sure you got Bob and Steve mixed up, which is super embarrassing. There’s just so many dates to go on and so little time.
Maybe casual dating is your thing and it’s been working for you. More of a three-date maximum, no strings attached kind of thing with multiple guys at once. It’s fun, flirty, and harmless. But when one of those guys wants to take things to the next level, do you delete the other contacts from your phone?
Prepare yourself for the quality over quantity lecture. If you’re at a place in life when you want to just meet as many people as possible then your quantity approach is okay. However, if you are set on finding a lasting relationship using this tactic you might be on the wrong track. Building a relationship of any quality takes time and effort. If you’re not going to stop talking to the other guys to pursue something then don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out.
11Is My Bank Account Running On Empty?
If you’ve been eating ramen noodles for dinner every night this week (acceptable only in college), maybe you need to take a closer look at your finances.
The credit card debt seems to pile up during a relationship. There’s movie dates, dinner dates, weekend trip dates, and gifts. This is on top of your rent, student loans, car payment, and maybe all too frequent shopping excursions. While honesty is the best policy, telling someone on a first date that you’re broke is sure to limit the possibilities of snagging that second date.
Before you start seeing someone, Forbes recommends understanding your own spending habits and taking control of them. Set aside “fun money” in your budget each month. If you spend it all in the first weekend of the month out with your friends then you will just have to wait it out until next month. You will quickly start to see where your money is going and can gauge whether or not you can realistically fund a relationship at this point.
If you’re already in a relationship, according to Forbes it’s wise to talk about money and set standards. Don’t agree to do something you can’t actually afford because you’re too afraid to say something. Chances are your partner will understand and the two of you can come up with another, cheaper plan (and if he doesn’t understand that is never going to change).
10Am I Afraid Of Being Alone?
According to Huffington Post, nearly one in three adults fear loneliness. A fear of being alone may be rushing you into relationships that you don’t actually want without even realizing it. It can also be pushing you from one relationship to the next just so you don’t have to sit with the uncomfortable feeling of not having Saturday night plans.
You don’t have to subject yourself to an anxiety attack just for the sake of eating at a restaurant alone, but try to get comfortable by yourself even if it’s just an hour or two at home on the couch. According to The Cut, spending time alone can increase creativity and calm you. It will also teach you things about yourself. As the only person in the room you can be your own observer and learn a thing or two from the thoughts that pop into your head (we know sitting with your thoughts can be scary, but there are benefits).
Once you know you can survive alone and push out those negative thoughts that have been driving your serial dating habits, you’ll be more inclined to spend your time with other people because you want to not simply because your fear tells you to.
9Have I Been Basing All Of My Decisions Around Other People?
Let’s face it. We can be a little indecisive when it comes to our own lives (but we’re super good at giving other people advice). When we’re in a relationship (or trying to be) many of our choices center on the other person. If I take this promotion, will he be okay with my longer hours? If I change my hair color, will guys still find me attractive? If I say what I’m really feeling will the relationship be over? If you haven’t made any decisions for you lately, it’s time to start.
According to Bustle there are some easy steps to take to start making and living your own decisions. To begin, know what you want. This might be easier said than done, but if you have clear goals in mind then you won’t need to run through a decision tree every time a choice must be made. Also, ask others for their advice if you want, but don’t base your final decision on someone else’s plan for your life. You will learn to trust yourself and you are the most important judge. And of course, listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Everything you decide today affects who you are tomorrow. So choose for you.
8Am I Constantly Trying To Change My Partner to Fit My Idea Of A Perfect Guy?
Fixer-upper projects are for home improvements, not real-life relationships. Write that down, you’re going to need it. It can be hard not to project ourselves onto our partners. Maybe we want them to dress a certain way, find new hobbies, ditch their friends, or hold down a higher paying job. Maybe we even try to counsel them based on what we would do rather than just offer a listening ear because we think this time we are finally getting through to them. Guess what? They’re not you. And you’re (probably) not a licensed therapist.
If you’ve tried in the past to get someone to change, you were probably not successful. And that’s good. You would most likely storm out of the room if someone tried to stuff you into a preconceived box. If your idea of a perfect mate is someone that graciously shows affection, demonstrates he’s your number one fan, and is always trying to better himself then don’t be with the guy that never has time for you and lacks ambition. Waiting around for him to change is a waste of time and hurts you both. Look for mister-holds-hands-in-public, he’ll be somewhere next to sir-gives-a-lot-of-compliments adjacent to guy-with-the-great-career-prospects.
7Am I With Someone Just Because I Feel Like It’s What I’m Supposed To Do?
Society can be a cruel, cruel place for a woman. We’re pre-conditioned to spend our teen years thinking about boys, our twenties dating boys, and our thirties getting married and having babies. That prescription isn’t for everyone, but you’d never be able to tell based on how many people still hold that expectation.
You’ve probably been victim at least once to a friend (or even complete stranger) asking when you plan to settle down. That phrase ignites a sort of burning anxiety because you have no intention of “settling down” (whatever that actually means), but you question whether or not you should. JUST DON’T GO THERE.
If you are looking for a boyfriend because you want to write “in a relationship” on your Facebook profile so that you can feel like one of the gang, go ahead and pause. Those pictures that you see of other couples all over social media represent a split second in their lives. That’s not the full story. And being pressured into a relationship simply because it appears everyone around you is happily in love is not the answer.
Generations of women before us followed societal rules, but our generation has been breaking rules since the day we were born. Feel free to break this one, too, and ignore the notion that you need to be with somebody.
6When Things Don’t Go Well After A Few Dates Am I So Heartbroken I Can’t Leave The House?
If you went on three dates with a guy last month and still haven’t changed out of your sweatpants after he never called back, there might be a problem. You can take some time to bemoan the current state of things (and gather the girls to make yourself feel better), but a month-long pity party isn’t the way to go. You’re fabulous, get back out there!
Part of dating and relationships in general is dealing with heartache. This is true for everyone, even people that end up with their high school sweethearts still face challenges. If you’re not willing to risk being hurt, you won’t ever have the chance to find love (unless you’re okay dating the pizza delivery guy that comes over twice per week). We know getting hurt is the worst, but you’ve been through it before and it will be okay.
But sometimes it’s not okay. Maybe you’re usually a person that gets over breakups quickly and you don’t even understand this version of yourself. It was three dates, not three years. You keep thinking you should be totally fine by now. This might be a red flag indicating you need to take some time away from the dating scene and focus on yourself.
5Have I Struggled To Be Faithful Or Honest With Partners In The Past?
Reportedly, one in five Americans has been unfaithful. We don’t necessarily believe people will always repeat the same mistakes, but it does happen. If you’ve been known to stray from your past partners or keep them at a distance, you might want to figure out why before you enter another relationship.
According to Bustle, physical intimacy plays only a small role when it comes to unfaithful relationships. Sometimes people just aren’t compatible, but more often than not someone strays in search of an emotional connection or out of boredom. If you’re someone that needs new excitement and an adrenaline rush on a regular basis, it’s important to recognize how that might impact long-term relationships.
Maybe your past partners have been great in other categories but haven’t been able to meet your emotional needs. Maybe you don’t feel appreciated or validated. So, you’ve strayed in search of that piece and ended up hurting everyone in the process. If you can understand the importance of the emotional connection you will be more likely to notice when it’s missing and address it early on.
But you can work on yourself, too. Putting up walls around your own heart makes you emotionally disconnected and your partner will feel it. Make sure you’re ready to let that person in and be open and honest. Starting from a closed-off place doesn’t leave much room.
4Am I Enjoying My Independence?
Let us proclaim from the tallest mountaintop that independence should be applauded. If you’re on cloud nine because you can leave your clothes laying all over the apartment, play the kind of music you want to hear at all hours of the day and night, and fly out of town on a whim then more power to you.
If you’re enjoying the newfound freedom and like having your own schedule then don’t rush back into a relationship quite yet (remember when you said you couldn’t wait to be single again?). This is your time to shine and set your course (and save some money). Take advantage of it by being you and doing what you want when you want. These opportunities of full self-control are fleeting. We’ve probably already mentioned this, but spending time with yourself and getting to know what you desire is a great way to ensure you’re going to be with someone later that wants those same things.
Embrace strong, independent you and conquer whatever it is you want to conquer. You’re not being selfish by hanging onto your independence (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). Plus, don’t we always hear how much guys like independent women?
3Do I Often Miscommunicate My Feelings To Other People?
Raise your hand if someone has ever stopped talking to you (until you worked it out) because they misinterpreted what you said. Raise your hand again if what actually happened was that you didn’t properly communicate and you can totally see how it was misconstrued.
Communication goes beyond caps lock screaming, emojis, and shorthand. Poor communication can have dire consequences in a relationship, just ask anybody that was broken up with without a reason. Nobody can read your mind, so we have to get past this notion that our partner should just be able to tell when we’re upset or in need of something. We need to get better at communicating our likes, dislikes, wants, and emotions.
If the people that spend the most amount of time with you have made mention of some of your communication trouble, it’s probably true. Out of everybody these folks should know what you actually mean when you say something and can decipher the codes you’ve constructed. So, take note when you’re telling them about the obnoxious thing a guy did on your date and they ask you what you said (or didn’t say) that triggered it. Chances are you think you’re communicating the thoughts in your head, but you’re not.
2Am I Currently In A Relationship That I Know Isn’t Going Anywhere?
You worked so hard to find someone and stick with them all the way through the uncertain dating phase and into a full-fledged relationship. Maybe they’re not ready to get more serious and you are, or maybe the opposite is true. Maybe you’ve just realized over time that you don’t share as many interests as you previously thought. Unfortunately, you can’t see a way forward and every day is a painful reminder that you aren’t living your best life. Now what?
According to Smooth, a new study found that people are more likely to stay in a relationship (even an unhappy one) if they feel as though they have contributed a significant amount of effort, time, and money. It’s hard to think of these things as having been an investment into determining what we want (an important life lesson), so we justify staying because we don’t want to start over and lose what we’ve already given.
There are really only two options: stay or leave. If you stay, you’re giving up more of yourself that you could be putting toward something or someone else. That void is unlikely to be filled by doing more of the same thing that isn’t working.
Only you can be the judge, so try to channel strong, independent you for the answer.
1Am I Willing To Commit If The Right Person Comes Along?
There’s never going to be a perfect time to date and it almost never works out that relationships start exactly when we’re ready. We have a lot of other things to juggle, but that’s not going to change anytime soon. So if we’re putting ourselves out there for the right person we should be okay with the chaos when that person comes along. But sometimes we’re not.
If the thought of getting a hamster scares you because you don’t want to be something’s everything for two years because you have work, friends, and Netflix-binging to tend to then maybe (just maybe) you have a bit of a phobia when it comes to commitment.
You spent your whole life afraid you would fall in love with someone that decided years later he didn’t want to marry you, but actually the whole time it was you with the fear of walking down the aisle. And that’s okay, it’s better to be honest with yourself then end up in a runaway bride type situation. Don’t panic. Commitment can be a scary thing especially when it hits us unexpectedly (the good news is committed relationships don’t drop out of the sky so you have plenty of time to see it coming).