Last Updated on April 8, 2023 by Angela Vaz

You’ve been dating for a while.

You really liked them.

Things were going great, and you thought this would eventually move into a relationship.

And then they drop the bomb on you, “I’m not ready for a relationship.”

Maybe they tell you that they really care about you and enjoy your company.

Perhaps they really love spending time with you.

But they also tell you things like:

  • The timing isn’t right.
  • They’re starting a business, or their work is currently way too much, and they can’t handle a relationship at this point.
  • They’ve just come out of a serious relationship, and they need time.
  • It’s just too soon.
  • They don’t know what they want right now.

On and on, it may go.

And you’re really bummed.

You can’t understand why they gave you so many green signals when they’re not ready to commit.

You don’t know what to do.

If you wonder how to respond to him when he’s just said, “I’m not ready for a relationship.” keep reading.

But before that really quick, get my free guide on how to really reset your life.

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What does “I’m not ready for a relationship” mean?

What does I am not ready for a relationship mean

It means that they’re just not ready to commit to a serious relationship with you.

It means they don’t know what’s going to happen or they’re not ready for a relationship with you.

It’s as simple as that.

There are loads of reasons why people say this:

1. They may not feel like you’re the one

This isn’t on you at all.

Maybe you’re a lovely person, and they really enjoy spending time with you, but they just feel like there is some incompatibility between you and them.

Maybe you both have different goals and values.

This is quite normal, and it’s perfectly alright.

Either way, a relationship between two people who don’t have the same goals and values will never work.

2. They may not be fully healed yet

They may have been in and out of many relationships and may not have made peace with their recent breakup.

Or they have a lot of issues that they’re dealing with, and they may not be ready to make a commitment to someone else.

In this case, respect the person because they’re bold enough to tell you that they’re not ready for a relationship.

3. They want to play the field

A lot of people aren’t monogamous.

They don’t like being with just one person.

So, if they tell you they are not ready – believe them.

If you are looking for a commitment and you can genuinely feel that they aren’t ready to settle down, let them go.

Accept the fact that they’re just not the type to be in a serious relationship and let them move on.

You will save yourself from a lot of heartbreak.

4. They are indecisive

They may not really know what they want.

You will meet many people who don’t really know what they’re looking for and are just constantly uncertain in life.

You are much better off without this person in your life because you will only waste precious time being with a person who doesn’t know what they want.

They are going to bring you down with their uncertainty.

And trust me when I say that it is only going to drain you emotionally.

So, again, let them go.

It is the right thing to do.

Let’s move on to how we can respond to this situation if it happens to us.

How to respond to “I’m not ready for a relationship”?

How to do you respond to I am not ready for a relationship

1. Take it at face value

Believe them when they tell you that they are not ready for a relationship.

I’ve already covered multiple reasons why they may not be ready for a relationship, but it doesn’t matter in the end.

The reason has very little value because it doesn’t change the fact that they aren’t ready to get into a serious commitment with you.

So, accept it.

It may take some time to come to terms with it and make peace with this situation, but it’s okay.

Take your time to digest this news and accept it.

2. Do not try to change them

You don’t have control over anybody except yourself.

That’s basically it.

You can only control your actions and how your life is going.

If they aren’t ready, make your peace with it.

They are an adult, and they have made their decision.

There is no point in trying to convince them of how great you both are and how beautiful your life will be if you are together.

Understand that it is not your job to convince someone to love you or be with you.

Love and commitment is a two-way street.

You’re better off alone than being with a person who is in two minds about being with you.

3. Take comfort that you got to know now than later

Take comfort that you got to know now rather than later

It’s better late than never.

You may be regretting that you’ve spent all this time with this person, and they finally tell you that they’re not ready for a relationship.

But it’s not a waste.

No relationship is a waste.

People enter our lives for a reason.

And just because they didn’t end up being our lifetime partners doesn’t mean that it was all for nothing.

Take away the important lessons and let go of everything else.

Maybe you learned a thing or two from this relationship.

Perhaps it taught you to be more understanding or patient.

Appreciate them for being honest enough to tell you the truth.

4. Be honest about your wants and needs

You cannot build a relationship with anyone over lies.

Don’t play games and try to play reverse psychology games with them.

Don’t say things like, “Me too, let’s just see where it goes.”

This is bad for obvious reasons.

You’re the only one who is going to lose if you try to save face or play for time.

They are not going to change their mind.

And it isn’t right to lie about what you want.

Instead, be honest and say, “Okay, I understand how you feel. But I am looking for a serious relationship.”

It doesn’t matter how it turns out.

It is important to be honest, no matter what happens next.

5. Talk to them and listen without bias

If you’re not satisfied with them saying, “I’m not ready for a relationship,” ask them what they mean by that.

It’s okay to clarify and know the reason.

Talk it out.

Listen to them patiently without bias.

The conversation may hurt. But it is important for both of you to understand what is happening.

Every relationship is based on good communication.

6. Evaluate everything you’ve just heard

Evaluate everything that you've heard and take time to process it.

Take some time to process what you’ve heard.

It’s not always easy to respond to a heavy statement like this.

We are human beings with a lot of feelings and emotions.

So, take some time off if you need it.

If you were caught off-guard when they said it, take some time away from them to process this news.

Spend some time with family and friends or do something that gives you comfort.

Work or do a hobby that you love.

Even journaling and mediating help because it helps you clear your mind and observe what is in front of you.

It will help you gain a clear perspective.

You don’t always need to react immediately.

You can take a day or a week to come to terms with this news.

It’s perfectly alright.

7. Make a decision

Now that you’ve had time to process the news, it’s time to make a decision.

Please know that if you really love someone, it doesn’t mean that you should stick to them like glue.

It is important to love yourself as well and know that it’s okay to walk away – especially if they cannot commit to you.

Choosing to stay also means that you don’t value yourself and your needs.

You will only set yourself up for heartbreak.

So, if they tell you that they aren’t ready to commit – let go.

Unless they are very serious about you and are ready to make some sort of compromise or deal that both of you can agree to.

For instance, if they ask for 1-2 months and they will let you know what they decide, ask yourself if you’re truly ready to wait.

But don’t be too hopeful, because when people do this, they don’t really know what they want most of the time.

They’re only clinging on because they don’t want you to move on.

So, make a decision and stick to it.

Walking away is never easy.

It requires a boatload of courage and willpower, but it will give you a lot of peace in the long run.

It’s okay to express disappointment when you decide to let them go.

You can say things like:

  • “I understand that you are not ready, and I honestly wasn’t prepared for this.”
  • “I am sad that this is ending, but I know it’s for the best.”
  • “I am sorry it didn’t work out the way I was expecting it to, but I know we are both doing the right thing.”
  • “I am sorry we can’t go on, but I wish you nothing but happiness and love.”

8. It’s okay to love someone and know that they aren’t right for you

It's okay to walk away and still love them

It may hurt walking away from someone who you felt was right for you.

Maybe you really liked them or even loved them.

Perhaps you genuinely felt like they were the right person.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to love someone and still realize that they are not compatible with you.

It’s alright to love someone and know that you both have different goals and values.

And it’s okay to love someone and walk away from them because they’re not right for you.

Love doesn’t always equal happily ever after.

You both can love each other and decide that you aren’t meant for each other.

That’s okay.

It’s perfectly acceptable.

9. Be warier in the future

When I was online dating, I made sure to tell anyone I dated that I was looking for a serious relationship.

I lay all my cards on the table, and I’d state that I wasn’t dating for fun. I wasn’t interested in hooking up.

I was genuinely looking for someone I could spend the rest of my life with.

It is absolutely necessary for you to be honest about your wants and needs when you’re dating.

You don’t need to go all out and say, “I want marriage and kids.”

It’s not only going to scare off people, but it will also show that you’re more interested in the outcome than the person.

It is okay to say you’re looking for commitment, but you’re also willing to be patient and see where it goes.

It means that you want a commitment with someone only if:

  • They are compatible with you
  • You both have the same goals and values
  • You have decided that this is the person you want to spend your life with

And that’s okay.

This is how healthy adults date.

10. Know that something good is coming your way

The universe will keep sending us the same lesson if we don’t learn from it.

This is something I have picked up along the way.

I had major control issues, so I was constantly met with havoc and uncertain situations.

Until I learned to move with the flow and let go, I did not find happiness.

Remember that when you let go of someone who isn’t right for you, you’re making space in your heart and life for someone that will be right for you.

Just because you love someone doesn’t always mean they are right for you.

Let them go so that you can find someone who IS right for you eventually.


Navigating relationships isn’t easy.

We don’t always get it right.

Sometimes, we mess up because we don’t know any better.

Don’t beat yourself up because you chose someone that wasn’t ready for a relationship.

You made a decision based on the knowledge you had at that time.

So, it’s alright if it didn’t work out.

Pat yourself on the back and move on.

Keep the lessons with you and remember to be more careful next time.

Here are a few more posts that may help you:

Angela is a 30 year old Illustrator and Blogger living with her 2 adorable labradors in Bangalore, India. She has a degree in Psychology and Human Relationships from the University of Toronto. When she's not writing her heart out or drawing, you'll find her sipping chai and reading non-fiction books.

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