“I’m not ready” is a phrase I hear often, and very often from the men I date when they’re breaking up with me or brushing me off.
I spent a full year recovering from my last string of breakups.
Now, I’m starting all over again, no thanks to the last two men I’ve attempted romantic relationships with. Both of them hawked their thickly sugar-coated “I’m not ready” excuse at me—them trying to keep their shame at bay, I say with bitterness.
I’m starting to see a really infuriating pattern of “I’m not ready’s” populating my dating history.
Men who aren’t ready for me seem to be drawn to me, like sun rays to black surfaces, like moths to flames, like bees to honey, like bloodsucking mosquitos to bare skin, like addicts to drugs.
Like fish in an ocean, I’m swimming in men who “aren’t ready.”
As for me, I love hard, wholly, generously, and too soon. I’m Queen of loving someone regardless of their unforgivable shortcomings. I’m faulted for it too. People tell me I give my heart and myself too easily.
The truth is, I’m always ready for the next greatest love affair—even if there’s a chance it’ll break me.
Each time a relationship comes to a screeching halt, I vow that I’ll take a break from it all. I then return to my dark she-cave of despair where I swear off men and repost passive-aggressive memes that reek of “men suck ass.” I’ll pretend I’m abandoning all hope as I find comfort in my hatred for the opposite sex—but I know better. I know I have an adventurous, big, annoying, loving heart that secretly hopes for passionate love.
Inevitably, I will try again. However, the time and space between my next attempt is growing exponentially. I’m sorry for the man who will diligently wade through my relationship trepidations on his way to my heart. Godspeed, buddy.
My first long-term relationship in nearly 10 years ended two years ago. I loved him. I was ready for him. In my epiphanies of what I wanted in a relationship, the image of him came clearly into mind. After three months, I knew I loved him. He knew I felt that way too.
He told me to not love him so fast, to go slower because he wasn’t ready.
Being told to withhold my love was a new kind of rejection I had never felt. Why wouldn’t someone want to be loved, especially by me?
To accommodate his needs, I stuffed down my readiness pretending it wasn’t there. Yet it loomed daily, eating away at my patience and confidence.
After almost a year, he still couldn’t tell me he loved me.
Our varying levels of readiness for one another led to a depressing and hollow end to our relationship. I didn’t cry. I was just…numb. I still miss him.
Down the road, we made amends. We’ve grown since then to recognize what we appreciated in each other. He confessed his favorite thing about me—how much I loved him.
No matter our amends, that man joined a long line of other men who have not been ready for me. Each failed endeavor to ready a potential partner for the deep love I was willing to give spurred a lack of trust in the universe and my ability to manifest a ready man.
I’ve heard many variations of “I’m not ready,” all accommodated by different, sometimes long-winded explanations. Most of them voiced with twinges of guilt stuck at the back of their throats or at the tips of their type-ready fingers.
“This is going too fast, and I’m not ready for that.”
“I’m not ready because my life is in shambles.”
“I’m not ready because I’ve been hurt.”
“I’m not ready because I don’t know what I want.”
“I’m not ready because I’m afraid of losing my freedom.”
“I’m not ready because I still haven’t done everything I want to.”
“I’m not ready because I’m f*cked up.”
“I’m not ready for anything serious.”
“I’m not ready because I’m facing trauma.”
“I’m not ready because I’m depressed.”
“I’m not ready because I’m afraid to let someone in.”
“I’m not ready because…”
“I’m not ready” is the number one excuse I hear when a man breaks up with me. So either all men aren’t ready, or they use the same guilt-free breakup tactic to escape commitment unscathed. What’s painful is I will never know the truth.
I watch these men failing to look me in the eyes as the words fall from their lips, or I read their carefully curated texts as I suffocate in tears. I remember each word, replaying them in my head, analyzing and torturing myself with unanswered “whys” and self-loathing “what ifs.”
I’m discouraged. Heartbroken. Confused. Angry. Depressed. Resentful. Hopeless. Lost.
What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I keep someone? Why is no one ready for me?
What’s wrong with what I’m offering?
To soothe those “whys” and “what ifs,” I quietly blame myself for every man’s departure, for my imperfections, for not being exactly what they need—whatever that may be.
It must have been something I’ve done, right? I don’t know. Yet, I remain overly critical of things I may have done for months, potentially years after the relationship ended.
Ensuring this will never happen again, I devise another tactic to keep the next one. I strive toward perfection by making my shortcomings invisible, by walking on eggshells, and by doing little to cause conflict. That doesn’t work either. Inevitably, they will and do leave.
I’m done. I’m tired. I’m beyond any auspicious ability to trust men at all. What I’m left with is the one thing I’m certain of: I’m a magnet for men who aren’t ready.
Now, I struggle with the concept of a good, mutual, perennial love. I truly don’t believe it exists for me.
What I believe is this—I will go on grand adventures around the world, bringing back stories of my love affairs with the places I’ve seen and the things I’ve done, all the while clinging tightly to my biting loneliness. I’m trying to see the brighter side of this pity. I’m trying to go from “I’m a magnet for men who aren’t ready” to “I’m ready for a great man, and somewhere out there, he’s ready for me too.”
But this time, I’m struggling. I’ve been telling myself the latter for years to no avail.
I’m no expert on relationships and have rarely had good long-term ones. Maybe I’m not great at dating or relationships. Maybe I’m just a female Ted Mosby 2.0 Always Single Edition.
For other magnets out there going through this, I have no explanation or answers to console your tired ears of, “I’m not ready.”
From the depths of my soul, I wish I could hold you close and nurture that fractured heart and hope of yours. I wish I could help you construct a wall to prevent any unready con artist from charming you into another months-long process of heart-healing. I wish I had the power of premonition and could cockblock the son of b*tches keen on playing with your emotions until they’ve grown bored.
I wish I could protect you from the bitter rejection and heartache reaped from those three heartrending words.
What I will tell you, which is something I begrudgingly tell myself in my attempts at optimism, is this:
You may have sh*t you have to work on, but who doesn’t? No matter—you are not broken. There is nothing wrong with you. You are exquisite. What you have to offer is extraordinary.
If you hear those three words from a man again, believe him, let him go, cry, and move on.
You’ll find someone who is ready for you.