Putting yourself out there can be really hard, especially if you’ve been hurt by a previous relationship (or several previous relationships). It’s tempting to either avoid dating altogether or to hold yourself back with the people you do date so that so you don’t catch feelings in an attempt to protect your heart. We’ve all been there, but are you closing the door on the world of love without realizing it? Here’s how you know.
It’s been a while since your last date. There’s nothing wrong with this at its core. Spending time with yourself is very important, but you won’t find love sitting alone watching Netflix. Maybe start a new class at the gym or a new running route or coffee shop. Even small changes in your every day can open you up to a whole new group of people. Even if you’re not actually looking for a romantic partner, you could at least be open to the idea if someone great came along.
All of your friends are settled. Everyone around you is picking out paint colors, baby names, or wedding dresses and you’re still booking vacations for one and playing the third wheel on nights out. Sure, there’s no specific timeline you need to follow and you’re not behind if it simply hasn’t happened for you yet. However, if you actually want a relationship, it may be time to venture out and push your boundaries.
You never make it to the third date. You find a guy you like and you enjoy a couple of dates with a bit of texting in between, but the minute it starts getting comfortable, you cut cords and are back on Tinder before it can escalate to anything real or even potentially long-term. Why is that?
You don’t talk to family about dating. No one has stuck out enough to you to make you want to tell the family about them. Maybe you’re holding back getting to this stage to protect yourself, but sometimes you have to take the plunge. Speaking to your family about them could make it less of a big deal too and therefore release some of that pressure.
You have a long list of must-haves when looking for a partner. Sometimes the pickier we are, the harder it is to find that perfect person, but maybe you’re doing that deliberately so that you always have the excuse that they just aren’t right. Sure, standards and boundaries are important, but it’s rare to find someone that checks off every single box on your list. Is that really such a bad thing?
What’s even on the list? Are you being honest when thinking of your list? Does it really matter that they wear odd socks or put milk in first when making a cup of tea? Focus on the personality traits that you truly find important. Do you need someone who’s calm and collected to balance your fire? Are kindness and compassion more important than confidence or does determination trump funny? These key character traits are what will underpin your relationship and these are things you should focus on.
You cancel plans quicker than planning them. Sometimes social anxiety can be a huge hurdle to overcome, especially when it comes to dating. However, sometimes pushing the boat out and doing something that scares you can be good for you. It might not end up being the perfect date, but it could make the next ones less intimidating too.
You dodge any deep questions. You keep dates light and easy, dodging any important questions and not really asking any questions yourself. You’re here for a good time, not a long time! Maybe finding out more about them will help you open up and you will find you have more in common than you initially thought.
You stall when it comes to taking the next steps in a relationship. Maybe you’ve found someone but are stalling taking the next steps. Not introducing your partner to your friends and family, not wanting to meet theirs, and trying to keep your relationship in that new bubble could be signs of holding back. Coming out of this bubble is a scary step but can make your relationship stronger once you start meeting the important people in each other’s life.
Does holding back mean they aren’t “The One”? If they were the one, wouldn’t it all be a bit easier and straightforward? Maybe. Or maybe not. It’s up to you to decide who and what you want your relationship to be, but if you aren’t driving it forward, it could come across as not being that keen and ultimately you could be sending the wrong messages to your partner.
You can only go at the speed that feels right for you. Don’t feel pressured or rushed in a relationship as it will just cause more issues down the line. You want to enjoy the moments and new stages, without feeling overwhelmed and if you have had difficult past relationships it can be a real transition to feel comfortable in a new relationship. Take your time and if your partner, friends, and family care and support you, they’ll let you move at your own pace. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
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