Are You Really Ready For A Relationship?

BY: - 26 Oct '11 | Relationships

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I recently had a conversation at a friend’s birthday get-together that I felt I just had to share. It started when one of the women there responded to a compliment on her outfit by saying, “Well, that’s one of the perks of having a cheating boyfriend.”

As you could imagine, I was curious to know why she would say something like that. She said that her boyfriend was a serial cheater, but his six-figure income and lavish gifts helped her look past his indiscretions. While she admitted that she had also been unfaithful, she certainly didn’t seem satisfied with her situation and talked about her desire to be in a relationship with someone who actually treated her the way she felt she should be treated. Her statement didn’t come as a surprise, but that entire conversation revealed something about her that is true of many people who say they want to be in a relationship: She. Was. Not. Ready.

Our culture suggests that relationship-readiness is determined by some combination of education, job security, and physical attractiveness. Those factors are indeed important, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. There are many other aspects to being ready for a relationship, and I believe every person should ask themself  the following four questions to determine whether they are really ready.

What Would I Bring To A Relationship?

People are naturally inclined to look out for their own interests, but relationships can’t flourish if we consistently act out of selfish motives. Therefore, it is important for us to be just as clear about what we can give to a relationship as we are about what we’re looking to get from one. Love expresses itself through giving (e.g., time, resources, etc.). Too often, however, our actions are driven and influenced by lust, which is more concerned with fulfilling our own desires. Healthy relationships often require us to put the needs of someone else ahead of our own. This is hard to do if our only concern is what someone else can do for us. Before you make a commitment to someone be sure you at least know what you can offer a potential mate emotionally, socially, financially, and spiritually. You’re probably not ready for a relationship if you only want to spend time when it’s convenient for you or only think about gifts when you’re receiving them.

Am I Available?

Another indication of readiness is when we are in a position (physically, emotionally, socially) to give and receive love fully. Many people aren’t able to do this because they are 1) currently in a relationship, 2) carrying the dead weight of emotional baggage, and/or 3) unable to commit the time and energy necessary for sustaining a good relationship. Oftentimes receiving love can be just as difficult as giving it because so many of us have become accustomed to dysfunctional relationships. Our perspectives become so skewed that poor treatment, unmet needs, and the cycle of relationship drama seem normal. Getting rid of dead weight relationships is also important. Sometimes the fear of loneliness causes us to hold on to a person we know would be an unsuitable partner, but giving that person access to our time, energy, and emotions leaves us in a poor position to meet or actively engage someone who actually wants to love us fully.

What Are My Standards?

Contrary to the opinions of some, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having standards. While this is not gender specific, oftentimes women, especially black women, are made to feel that their standards are too high. This is due in part to a society that constantly reinforces the notion that there is a shortage of eligible men. The key is not eliminating standards, however, but focusing them on the things that matter most. A person’s “list” should be composed of traits that are absolute necessities, leaving room for flexibility in areas that are “nice-to-haves.” Being firm with standards comes after a person knows who they are (identity) and what they want out of life (purpose). A person who lacks those two elements is vulnerable to settling for trash and convincing themself it’s treasure. There’s only one caveat regarding standards. There is an inverse relationship between the number of non-negotiables and the number of potential mates, so there will be a lot fewer people to choose from if you have 100 than if you have 10.

Can I Be Faithful?

Let me make this perfectly clear: a person should not be in a relationship if they cannot, or will not, be faithful. This is something that seems obvious but it clearly isn’t something that everyone adheres to. We have all seen examples of the damage that infidelity does to relationships. It is the ultimate act of selfishness in a relationship. Unfaithfulness erodes the foundation of any relationship, breaks trust, and often does irreparable harm to attempts at building intimacy. That is why it is critically important to evaluate our ability to be faithful before entering into a committed relationship.

Got Your Answers? Then Read On  

It’s important to know the answers to these questions because relationships require mutual giving and selflessness, physical, social, and emotional availability, boundaries, and faithfulness. Too often people only want to be in relationships for their own benefit. This type of mindset is a perfect recipe for disaster. The few minutes I spent talking to the woman at the party reminded me that simply wanting a healthy relationship is easy. The hard part is putting yourself in the position to actually be in one. Desiring a healthy, loving relationship is great but it matters little if our paths are not in sync with our intentions. We do ourselves a disservice when we say we’re ready for a relationship but remain selfish, unavailable, unclear about our standards, and unwilling to be faithful. It takes a great deal of introspection and honesty to tell whether we’re on the right path but it’s worth doing what it takes to get on the road of readiness.

BMWK, how do you know you’re ready to be in a relationship? Have you ever gotten into a relationship before you were ready? How did it turn out?

About the author

Delano Squires wrote 25 articles on this blog.

Delano Squires is a blogger and public policy strategist in Washington, D.C. His primary interests are contemporary African American culture, fatherhood, and families. He is also a contributor to The Root.


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33 WordPress comments on “Are You Really Ready For A Relationship?

  1. JF

    Great job on this post!!! This is something that I talk about all the time and you’ve totally articulated a very strong and often ignored concept. This is the question that we all need to ask before we even begin with anything serious. If we can be honest with others, and most importantly ourselves, we can end a lot of heartbreak, emotional scarring and unnecessary unhappiness before it even starts. This is the million dollar question. If we can focus on making ourselves ready, I think we’d be better people in general because we’d be working on cutting out certain set backs ie money, physical, maturity, emotional, career, education etc. You’ve also indirectly touched on something else important, which is being ready for the type of person  you want. I’ve asked folks this “would you be the dream person…to YOUR dream person”. I find that many people want these incredible people, but may not have the same to offer them. I feel this list, this line of questioning Squires presents will definitely make people better for a potential mate, for a strong relationship, better to those around them and just a better and strong person in general. All it takes now is some honest in the responses to these questions and self reflection…
    Great job!

      1. H Latisa


  2. Women Are Gamechangers

    You are so right about a person who knows their own identity and purpose for their life. Once people understand who they are then they will attract a like minded person. Once a person knows why they are here then the person they meet will be a support to them. Great article!!! ~As always love

  3. Msk2980

    Excellent article! This truly explains why many of people are not in relationships, let alone relationships that are healthy. This article also indirectly underlines how a lot of our  non-romantic relationships (i.e. family and friends) need to be re-examined, especially in regards to how we treat those we claim we ‘love’. The behaviors we display in our most intimate relationships tend to transfer to new ones and we must be cognizant of this so we will work to be genuine, loving, forgiving and peaceful with those in our worlds presently and then with those that we allow to enter it in the future.

  4. Terez

    My feeling is, when it comes right down to it, most people are not willing to put in the amount of effort it takes to be in (and maintain) a healthy relationship. If many of us would just be honest with ourselves about how truly ready we are for a mature relationship, much drama and heartache could be avoided.   Delano, thanks for writing such a provocative post which I’m sure will be food for thought for many.

  5. Pingback: Relationship Advice For Black Women. Are You REALLY Ready For A Relationship? | MyHoustonMajic - KMJQ Houston's Home for the Adult Urban Community

  6. Desiree

    You bring up some excellent points.   I like the part about “what are your standards” because alot of times people relax their standards just to have somebody….even if its not the right somebody.   Alot of tmies when people are misteated in relationships, you have to ask the most important questions –> not why are they mistreating you, but why are you allowing yourself to be mistreated? ~Desiree

  7. Pingback: Are You Really Ready for a Relationship? | Lip Service | News with Attitude

  8. Pingback: Building Successful Relationship » Blog Archive » Are You Really Ready For A Relationship? | Black and Married With …

  9. DaughterofherKing

    Great article…. well written and defined… U’have hit the nail straight on the head.
    I am particularly happy with each stage.

    I think if we were all took a sec to think and apply some wisdom it will save us a heap load of trouble and regrets.

    I am learning and I grateful this site helps to reinforce  my values and perceptions on life…….

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Steven Manus

    This is timeless advice, Delano, and applies to everyone.  To develop the internal strength and clarity which enables us to offer our very best in a relationship may take a bit of time.  It OK to wait before jumping in.  Its OK to make sure we have some internal stability, and are able to focus on giving, rather than getting.  And, its really OK to develop a friendship with our potential sweetheart, and find a set of  common values, standards, and beliefs.

  11. Smartgyrl

    Many good points in this article, especially regarding knowing yourself, what you want, and what you have to offer.

    The article, however, doesn’t acknowledge or reflect two other key realities: 1) sexual monogamy is an unrealistic ideal for most relationships. We are conditioned to want it, but it is not inherently necessary for a healthy, happy relationship. Choosing non-monogamy has to be dealt with honestly, not from a place of denial, resentment, or anger at not getting what you think you should have.

    2) As much as we are taught to idealize romantic relationships and the fulfillment we think will come from them, everyone does not get the same amount of fulfillment from intimate romantic relationships. You have to be honest with yourself about not just your readiness for a relationship, but also about the relative importance of romantic love compared to other types of fulfillment in life. For some women, material security or sexual passion may be more significant and more fulfilling than romantic love. That doesn’t make them bad persons or sell-outs. We need to stop judging each other based on idealized assumptions about what’s real, what’s fulfilling, and what’s more important in someone else’s hierarchy.

    What’s important to you is not necessarily what’s important to the next woman. As long as she is clear about her needs, priorities, and capacity for giving, it doesn’t mean she’s operating under false consciousness if she chooses differently from you. She’s not bad for not making the choices that society tells us we should make–namely, prioritizing an intimate/monogamous partner relationship over just about every other form of fulfillment.

  12. Kenisha Skinner

    Great article. I started looking into the BMWK site because I feel that I am currently ready for a serious relationship that could lead to marriage. I’ve always been the type to not consider marriage, and when it was It was brought up that was my cue to move on. Now I’m older and I’ve been seeing this one guy for a while, I feel like I have fond that person that I can see myself spending my life with, but now I’m faced with your very statement “We do ourselves a disservice when we say we’re ready for a relationship but remain selfish, unavailable, unclear about our standards”. when I bring up the question “where is this going? where would you like it to go?” I call it getting a taste of my own medicine.

  13. Pingback: #TBT – Are You Really Ready For A Relationship? – Truth, No Chaser

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#MarriageChat Wednesday: Making My Marriage Stronger

BY: - 26 Oct '11 | Marriage

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Our online Twitter party resumes tonight October 26th and the topic will be: Making My Marriage Stronger!

The discussion will be centered around how spouses can work to make their marriages stronger.

We’ll be on Twitter using the hashtag #marriagechat when we talk about different methods of making your marriage stronger.

It takes place on Wednesday October 26th from 9PM-10PM EST using the hashtag #marriagechat on Twitter. To easily follow the conversation you can use either of these tools:

Beginner (Tweet Chat):

Advanced (Tweet Grid):

Join us each week as we strengthen marriages across the globe using the power of Social Media and the Web. Every Wednesday we’ll have special guest panelists, giveaways and information that you can use to strengthen your marriage and your community. We’re excited and hope that you are to.

How To Join Us:

1) You’ll need to have a Twitter account. If you don’t have one you can sign up at

2) It’s a good idea to follow our Twitter accounts for info on upcoming chats (@marriagechat @blackandmarried, @lamartyler, @ronnietyler). Every week, we’ll post a series of tweets about our guest and the topic for the week prior to Wednesday.

This Week’s Details:

This Weeks Topic: Making My Marriage Stronger

When: Wednesday October 26, 2011 9PM EST\6PM PST


Beginner (Tweet Chat):

Advanced (Tweet Grid): (Once you’re in add your Twitter name to the Grid on the right)

Hashtag: #marriagechat

Who To Follow This Week: @marriagechat @blackandmarried, @lamartyler, @ronnietyler,

About the author

Lamar Tyler wrote 2229 articles on this blog.

Lamar Tyler is co-creator He also is the co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing.


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