Sometimes it seems like every single guy in the world is out there trying to find Mr. Right. (Not everyone, of course; some guys are perfectly happy to be single, and that’s a valid choice.) Frustrated by the search, some men hear advice like this when they complain to friends: “When you’re really ready, he’ll show up in your life.” So how do you know when you’re ready?
Here are some signs that you’re not ready for a relationship:
- You imagine that a relationship will raise your low self-esteem;
- You look to a relationship to give your life purpose that it now lacks;
- You have very few healthy, caring relationships of any sort now, and you figure a lover is a good place to start.
Becoming part of a couple doesn’t provide these things; instead, it requires them before you are ready to start the relationship.
You’re also not ready for a partner if you are overwhelmed by unfinished business – especially the business that comes from having recently broken up with someone else.
These rebound relationships are almost always a disaster. If you’ve recently left a relationship, the pull to find a new partner can be strong. Resist the urge. You’ve got work to do first to figure out what there was for you to learn and anything you might do differently next time. You’ve also got emotional work to do: grieving, working through sadness or anger, whatever. It’s as if the first guy has to finish moving out of your heart before there is space for anyone else to move in.
Some criteria for readiness are exactly the same as for anyone else interested in emotional health and well-being. For instance, guys who are ready for relationships have a healthy sense of themselves. They understand and respect differences and individuality, and don’t lose themselves or overwhelm a boyfriend when they are dating. They are generally positive and realistic about life and have basically healthy values and priorities. The way they lead their lives is consistent with those values and priorities.
They are capable of being rational and logical. They can certainly get angry, but they do so in healthy ways. (Unhealthy ways would include either denying anger and acting it out in a passive-aggressive manner on the one hand, or becoming explosive and out of control on the other.)
How do you act when you’re hurt or confused? Do you become so passive and dependent that you lose your sense of yourself, or do you express your feelings and work through them? It’s perfectly healthy to have negative feelings sometimes. When we find ourselves becoming a prisoner to that sort of negativity, it impairs our ability to connect well with others. We are at our best when we have access to the whole range of our feelings.
Someone who is actively addicted to alcohol, drugs or anything else is not going to be successful in maintaining a healthy relationship for very long. Addictions are “jealous lovers,” and won’t tolerate a rival for long. Compulsive patterns of behavior keep us distracted from being totally present to someone else. That just won’t work. Deal with the problem, and then go look for Mr. Right.
John R. Ballew, M.S. an author and contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHER or John R. Ballew, M.S. - www.bodymindsoul.org.