Issue #13 |November 2009

Today’s Topic: Assess Your Relationship Readiness

People often seem to believe they are ready for something simply because they want it.

- Conscious Dating Workbook

Isn't wanting a relationship enough?

Wanting a relationship and being ready for a relationship are two very different things. In our urgency to find a partner (sometimes fuelled by our fear of being alone or that time is running out) many of us rush into relationships with little preparation. In doing so, we may fail to lay the important groundwork which would help ensure our long-term relationship success.

This is like the person who wants to run a marathon and thinks they're ready for it simply because they want to do it. Without preparation and training, their chances of success will be greatly reduced - and they actually risk harming themselves.

Don't ask me to wait

Many of the single men and women whom I have coached are initially very anxious to get into a relationship. And that's understandable. Some have been career-oriented for a long time and now long to experience a partnership. Some have remained in a difficult relationship for many years, and once free, are anxious to finally pursue a more satisfying situation. Some feel so overdue for a relationship (or so old!) they assume they MUST be ready!

Taking the time to prepare for a relationship may seem like a tall order. However I assert it is well worth the effort and patience required. One individual I coached was very impatient - she wanted a relationship yesterday! After honestly assessing her relationship readiness, her impatience faded. In fact, she said she wanted to defer getting into a relationship for at least 6 months, while she attended to the things that were actually interfering with her availability.

Here are four questions to consider in evaluating your relationship readiness:

1. What TYPE of relationship are you ready for?

Take an honest look at your situation. Are you looking for a long-term commitment OR is short-term recreational dating more appropriate? You may want a long-term relationship eventually, however be truthful about whether that time is NOW.

There are many reasons you may opt for short-term recreational dating for awhile. If newly single, you may need time to regroup and adjust to the ending of your last relationship. Or perhaps you're intensely involved in a work project (business start-up or graduate degree) or have personal responsibilities (children or aging parents) which mean you don't currently have the time or energy to invest in a committed relationship. This doesn't mean you will never want a long-term relationship. It just means that you don't want one now.

If this is the case, you don't have to apologize. However you do need to be honest. You may simply wish to date for fun and socializing, with no expectations for the future. If so, you will need to share that information with prospective dates, so they in turn can choose if this works for them.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a committed, long-term relationship, tell the truth about it. Don't pretend that you have no agenda, if in fact you do. Otherwise you'll be setting the other person up for feeling misled and lied to.

2. Do you know what you want and require in relationship?

If you do want to date with the goal of a long-term relationship, it's important to be clear about what you want and require. A relationship isn't separate from the rest of your life. Your personal aspirations, dreams and life goals will impact the kind of relationship you want. If your passion is extreme sports, you may want a partner with a high tolerance for physical risk taking. If you're studying to be a medical specialist, you may want a partner who is prepared to accept your many years of training and a limited income.

Your desires arise from your values. Your values inform your life-style choices and determine what gives you meaning and fulfillment. They are intensely personal. If you don't know what your values are or what values you need a partner to share, you'll have difficulty selecting a partner with whom your values are aligned.

Whether or not you realize it, you also have relationship requirements - those "deal-breakers" which have caused you to leave relationships in the past. These are the black and white "must-have's" for a relationship to work long-term for you. For example: You may have a requirement around having children or being monogamous.

Knowing your requirements is a critical step in screening out unsuitable matches. This is so important when physical attraction is at play, which may skew our perceptions of another. Making choices based on your non-negotiable requirements ensures that a new relationship will have a solid chance to succeed.

3. Are you fully available for a relationship?

Many factors can limit your ability to participate fully and whole-heartedly in a relationship. For example:

  • Outstanding legal or custody issues can undermine or complicate a new relationship.
  • Emotional unfinished business from past relationships can colour our perceptions and our willingness to trust.
  • Negative beliefs and low self-image can sabotage our relationship efforts.
  • Work-related pressures or long hours may limit a relationship's development.
  • Health concerns or financial issues can affect available time and energy for relating.

While none of these things preclude having a relationship, they are all factors which can detract from a person's actual availability. Although you may want a relationship, it's wise to honestly ask yourself: Are there issues in my life which would limit my availability for a relationship?

4. Do you have effective dating and relationship skills?

While eager to date, some singles lack confidence in initiating social contacts (getting dates) and screening prospective dates for suitability. Many singles (both male and female) tell me that they are fine responding to people who show an interest in them - but are uncomfortable seeking out the people they themselves find interesting.

Effective dating also involves disengaging from people who aren't a fit for you - and honouring your own emotional and physical boundaries. This may involve improving your ability to authentically and assertively communicate, as opposed to "people pleasing" or "going along" to avoid friction.

Negotiating differences and resolving conflict are essential skills in a relationship. Many individuals have never learned effective conflict resolution skills - so problems remain unresolved, festering under the surface or erupting in regular, repetitive arguments.

If Mr. or Ms. Right should appear today, have you taken steps to improve those relationship skills that were lacking in your previous relationships? Or are you hoping that it won't be necessary? That next time will be magically different?

Ready for love

We all want what we want when we want it. However sometimes the universe acts protectively by not giving us what we want before we're prepared for it. So if you are impatiently awaiting a loving, long-term partnership, I recommend doing your homework. Invest in your own clarity and relationships readiness - emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally and legally.

Good relationships don’t just “happen”. However you can lay the groundwork for a good relationship through developing your own relationship readiness.

Invitation to action

If you're single or divorced, I warmly invite you to contact me to book your personal Relationship Readiness Assessment. Gift yourself this confidential, complimentary hour of coaching. You will gain a clear map of the areas that could block your dating and relationship success - and come away with suggestions for dealing with them.

For those of you already in relationship, you are welcome to forward this information and offer to any single or divorced friends whom you think might appreciate it.

Shirley’s Update:

I love to support singles in finding the relationship they desire. Contact me about the new and improved Conscious Dating Self-Discovery and Readiness Program. This comprehensive program can help you avoid past mistakes and give you the tools for making pro-active and healthy choices in dating and finding love.

Shirley Vollett BSW PCC is a Life and Relationship Coach, with over 20 years of combined experience in counselling and coaching. She delights in helping pro-active individuals make positive changes in their lives, their work/business and their relationships. Her clients appreciate her ability to listen deeply, her compassionate wisdom and her support in staying focused. Contact Shirley for a complimentary intro phone session. If you are experiencing a challenge or are eager to make some changes, explore how coaching works and how she can help. Click on a link below or visit her website at
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Copyright © 2009 by Shirley Vollett. All rights reserved.