How many times have you heard the eye-roll-worthy excuse from the person you’re dating that they’d love to be with you, it’s just “bad timing”? It seems like a total copout, and many times it is. After all, if someone wants to be with you, it won’t matter what else is going on in their life, right? Well, not so much. According to new research, timing really is important when it comes to having a happy, successful relationship.
In a new report published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers at Purdue University explained that “despite the seeming ubiquity of advice surrounding readiness in popular culture, the scientific literature on the role of commitment readiness is near nonexistent.” However, study co-author Benjamin Hadden were sure that not being ready for a relationship didn’t necessarily mean being afraid of relationships or commitment-phobic. To prove this, they set out to test their “Relationship Receptivity Theory.” After all, it’s possible to be totally ready for a relationship but not to want one, or to want one but be unprepared for the realities of what being a good partner entails.
Sampling both adults and college students, Hadden and his fellow researchers first determined the correlation between relationship readiness and interest by asking participants to measure their “commitment readiness” as well as providing insight on topics like avoidant attachment, fear of singlehood, and desire for a romantic relationship.
From there, they followed the responders’ romantic path and found that those who self-assessed as being ready for a relationship not only actively pursued those connections but were far more likely to be happier and invest more of their time in energy in those relationships once they were formed. This highlighted what researchers referred to as “the unique nature of readiness as a construct.”
To put that in layman’s terms, timing really does matter. If someone feels like they’re not in a good place to be in a committed relationship—even if they’ve had successful relationships before or desire to have them in future—they’re less likely to form healthy, thriving connections. This is because a person’s self-perceived “readiness” affects their subsequent behaviors, including the previously mentioned willingness to put in the time and energy required of good relationships.
The takeaway? Maybe the next time the person you’re dating blows you off with the excuse of “bad timing,” you should thank them—they’re doing you a favor.