How to Handle “I’m Not Ready to Settle Down Yet”

Individual Power
By Barbara Rose, PhD

How can one person’s needs be met if the other is not ready to give what is required to allow a romantic relationship to
evolve into a meaningful lifelong union?

If one person is ready to move forward, ready to create a more intimate connection, and the other is not, what then?

Many people could have reached the level of intimacy and commitment they desired if they had only received the patience,
compassion, and understanding of the other. Yet many people are childish when it comes to matters of the heart.
Many do not have the patience to work on a relationship if it does not fulfill all of their expectations as quickly as they would like. As a result, you have breakups, people longing for each other, people with pain in their hearts, when simple compassion and understanding could have brought them all they desired over time.

Many people end relationships because they do not understand that friendship is the key – that they need to build trust and enjoy the company of the other without all the formal dating or courtship behaviors.

Yes, courtship, dating, sex, romance are all vital to a romantic relationship, but there are many people who have issues
of intimacy to work through first. Many people need to go slowly and build trust, reaching a certain comfort level
with someone before they can commit themselves. So in this case, if one is ready for a committed, exclusive relationship
and the other is not, instead of hastily and prematurely ending the relationship, turn it into a friendship.

Stop the pressures of dating and courtship.

Allow yourselves to bond in a deep, respectful, and trusting union as
friends, as best friends.

If the attraction is there, if the chemistry is right, if the two of you have much in common and share meaningful
goals, why should that beautiful experience be ended completely?

Instead, you can continue the growth and development of your friendship, which, after all, is the true
foundation of any real marriage. So if you are ready for commitment and your partner is not, release the pressure and just be friends. Best friends. No sex, no dates, no candlelight intimacy. You will find that as the bond of friendship grows, as the trust deepens, the one who was not previously ready suddenly is ready. And you have been there all along. You reached from your heart to

give understanding instead of demanding a commitment of emotions and actions the other was just not ready to give.

Time heals fear.

Time builds trust, and love grows over time.

You may find, however, that the physical chemistry is still strong. If you genuinely want to share love-making or passion with each other, do not deny this or suppress it, because to do so causes tension. Go with the flow of your genuine feelings. If you feel attracted to each other, show it. If you want to sleep together and hold each other, do so!

There is no wrong in showing love.

The wrong is to deny your love, your chemistry, and your feelings only to conform
to a rigid belief or “should” with regard to society’s dating or courtship expectations. There is no “should,”
there is only truth. If you feel love and attraction, don’t withhold it; show it.

If one of you desires a monogamous relationship and the other is simply not ready for that, then you must decide what is most important to you: genuinely sharing the time you do have together or settling for not having each other in
your lives at all.

When you allow the word “should” to control your life, you find that you are no longer in control of achieving all you
want. This is not the same as “settling.” Settling is when you deny what is genuinely in your heart because your head tells you it is wrong and that you “should” do or not do something.

Is it truly wrong to sleep with someone you adore and are physically attracted to just because you are not ready to make
a formal monogamous commitment?


Is it genuinely wrong to sleep with someone you care for deeply and are attracted to because it is not an exclusive,
monogamous relationship?


The only “should” that can appropriately govern your life is that you should do what is genuinely in your heart. No matter what society tells you, no matter what anybody tells you, if it is true and right in your heart, then it is true and right for you. That is being your own best friend as well as a best friend with the one you love but are not formally committed to.

Commit to the genuine truth in your heart. Express that, and you will feel validated, whole, and complete within.
One reason relationships fail is that one person seeks validation by the other. But when you validate your own worth,
when you receive respect and admiration from yourself and do not need it to come from the other, then you will possess a
quality that is the foundation of pure love: the ability to give.

  • To give understanding in place of expectation.
  • To give patience in place of haste.
  • To give compassion in place of ego fulfillment.
  • To give friendship instead of demanding a commitment the other may not be ready to make.

For as you sow, so shall you reap. As you give, so will you be given to in return. As you reach out of your comfort zone
to be there for the other, you will find that in time, they will reach out of their comfort zone to return your goodness to you.

They will give, they will commit to you, for you will have shown them that you are worthy of their commitment, and
they shall ask you to share your life with them.


it is the one who endures both the good times and the difficult times who ultimately wins the love, respect, admiration, and commitment from the other.

It is very rare to have someone in your life who will be there for you as a true friend; this is a gift.

Relationships are testing grounds; they test the bond, the endurance, the respect for oneself and for the other.
How can you expect someone to make a lifelong commitment to you if they do not first see that you are capable of meeting the challenges that arise during the early stages of a relationship?

You see, life brings challenge. Life brings circumstances that you must overcome. If you love a boyfriend or girlfriend,
and they cannot be there for you through the early challenges of the relationship, how can you possibly expect
them to commit to you for life?

Couples who have successfully worked through the challenges of their relationship will tell you that it requires work
on self

and beyond the needs of self to truly be there for the other; it takes work to build a relationship that can endure the tests of life and the test of time.

When you’re not ready, but you can’t let go:

Life will keep giving you the same challenge in all of your personal relationships until you face it head on and work it through.

For example, if you have a problem with commitment or intimacy, you will find that same challenge in each relationship,
until one day you meet that one person who causes you to look within – to search your heart to find the answer. For
when you find true love, another soul with whom you feel an indescribable bond, that person will cause you to seek within
to heal the problem that blocks the flow of happiness you deserve in your life.

And when you do seek within for a solution, you will have all you truly desire. If you do not, then you shall live with regret.

To seek or not to seek is always your choice.

You can choose to run from one empty relationship to another, year after year, or you can choose to realize that fulfillment comes when the bonds of love and friendship are combined, and that those bonds are far too valuable and precious to discard once you have found the one person who causes you to turn yourself around. When you have healed
through that relationship, you will be ready to commit yourself to that person with true love.

© Copyright 2001, 2003, 2011 by Barbara Rose, All Rights Reserved. Excerpt from Individual Power: Reclaiming Your Core, Your Truth and Your Life. Published by The Rose Group (2003) ISBN: 097414570X.

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17 thoughts on “How to Handle “I’m Not Ready to Settle Down Yet”

  1. Hi, my name is Austin and me and my girlfriend have been living together for 2 years now. I know I’m not ready to settle down but at the same time I feel that I could never let her go because she fits me so well. She is perfect for me in every way but sometimes I feel like we are in two different parts in our lives. She is 21 almost done with college and I’m 19. I still like to go out with my friends on the weekends when she just wants to stay in. My parents live on the other side of the country but I would have places to go if we did break up. I just don’t know if she would be willing to stay friends if I told her I’m not ready. And if she wasn’t I don’t know if I could let her go. Should I stop putting it off and tell her? Or just see were it goes?


    • Dear Austin,

      You said it perfectly when you wrote:

      I feel that I could never let her go because she fits me so well.

      You are both really young. You CAN remain a couple and give it a few more years before you get married. It’s SO RARE to find someone who fits you so well. Trust me on this one! You can have a heart-to-heart honest, genuine and transparent talk with her about how you like to go out and come to a mutually agreeable solution that you are BOTH happy with. Perhaps one night stay in together, and the other night ask her to join you when you go out with your friends.

      I truly wish you the best, stay true to your HEART and you will always make the best choices!



  2. I just broke up with my girlfriend of 2 1/2 years. I am 33 and she is 29. Everything was great in the begining with us but then 6 months in to the relationship things changed. Long story short, I felt like i cared way more than she did and she cared more about hanging out with friends, etc. Today we had a conversation and she finally admitted that she is not ready to settle down like I am. She said she hasn’t gotten everything out of her system and is not ready. This hurts be because she really convienced me that this is what she wanted and pursued me for that matter to now tell me that she isn’t ready. She has issues within herself that she told me she didn’t realize was an issue until she met me. We had our closure conversation today, and I feel that I should leave her completely alone. However, i can not lie and say i am still not in love with her. But i know i need to let her go for my own sanity and to protect myself. I read your article, which is great by the way, and I guess I would like to know if I should still try to pursue a friendship with her? I know I can not right now because this is still new and all I do is get disappointed by her and continue to hurt myself in the process. I am just really hurt right now. I have mixed emotions. I feel betrayed…i feel like i was strung along and now to have my heart broken like this, it just really hurts and i do not know what to do. she is really a great person. we just did not see eye to eye on relationship issues and i now know why. any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated. thank you.


    • Dear SP,

      So sorry for the delay in replying to you. The best advice I can give you is to move on with your life completely and view her with loving compassion so you no longer feel bitter. At least she told you the truth, and was good enough to be completely honest with you. I know all too well how it hurts, and I also know that you will adjust as you focus on your own life purpose. You’re still really young and I know if you open your heart to meet a new BEST FRIEND your friendship can blossom into a life long true love and marriage.

      I share this with you because this is exactly what I did and have never been happier! I truly wish you the same, you really deserve it!



  3. I was just praying and asking the spirit, do I leave or stay because he is not ready for a committed relationship. It’s not easy though, he says he only sleeps with me, but he has many female friends that have feelings for him. He said he feels broken after his wife left and doesn’t know if he can love again, but has very strong feelings for me, that I have cracked the block a little, but feels if he forces it, I will end up hurt. Of course I don’t want anything forced, we have a beautiful close friendship that I don’t want to loose. We help each other with our kids, (both single parents) and even started working together. But we get very close, then he pulls away, then comes back in, It’s been a yoyo lately, and very tiring on my emotions. Coming across your article I think is the answer to my prayer. I think giving him space to heal and continuing to be his best friend is the best loving action. I’m relieved I don’t need to leave.


    • Dear Tiffany,

      I read every word you wrote very carefully and I urge you to read the book Stop Being the String Along: A Relationship Guide to Being THE ONE.
      As you have such deep feelings for him, this close then not close, friends but really wanting a real relationship where you are both on the same page is not the reality, and I want to help prevent you from being hurt and wasting a lot of time. I share this with you because I was in nearly the identical situation. I can promise you that the guidance in String Along and the identical results women have shared with me from all over the world have saved them from years of “waiting in there” which is usually heart crushing.

      I send you lots of love and hope you will give it a read – it changed my life, healed my deepest pain for the identical reasons and I am positive it will do the same for you.

      Sending you much love,


  4. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest websites online. I most certainly will recommend this website!


  5. usually i do not write on blogs, but i would like to say that this article really convinced me to do so! congratulations, very nice post. {…}


  6. Thanks for this, it was very interesting. I’ve been dating my boyfriend Adam for just over a year and a half now and he graduated last year and spent this year at university. Before dating him, I had been in a relationship for 2 years with this other guy. After dating this other guy (not Adam) for about year and half, my best girl friend committed suicide completely turning my world upside down. As a result, the relationship I had with that other guy completely fell apart, despite the extensive therapy I was in. At the time, Adam was my best guy friend. I denied feelings for him for a long time because I didn’t want to ruin the friendship but I was crazy in love with him and always have been. He brought me out of a major depression and when the school year came to an end, he had to prepare to leave to university. I don’t endorse long distance relationships, I usually hate them and think young people should just live it up. But I was crazy about him and couldn’t lose him, the thought alone killed me so we decided to stay together and do long distance. It was hard. We were both completely faithful, I visited him lots, I’m crazy about him, would do anything for him, all that crazy fairy tale crap etc. When he got home, I was thrilled and so excited to be with him again. But…I found out that he failed 5 of his courses. He went from straight A’s to straight F’s and I had no idea. I’m not really sure if he shut me out completely when he was at university, or if he really just didn’t do anything so there was nothing to tell me. He sat in his room for days once playing video games instead of going to class…I called him almost every morning at 8am to wake him up to tell him to go to English because I knew he was failing and he would just say YEP yep…and go back to sleep. He also slept in and missed a midterm worth 20 percent of his grade. He also hangs out in a group of about 12-17 girls, where he’s one of two guys and the other guy is gay…This is not the Adam I fell in love with. I know university changes things but he won student of the year for his academics when he graduated and now he’s failed 5 courses. I’m really worried about him but at the same time, he isn’t opening up to me about what’s going on in his life and I can’t force him to do that so I feel helpless. So he came home for a bit from university and then I find out that he’s super short money and so he has to go up to Alberta and leave me here (again) so that he can make money to re take the courses he failed…He’s in a hard faculty so I get that. But seriously, I feel so annoyed with him. I know it’s not really his fault, he has to have a job, and I can’t go to Alberta because my job is here. He had to go to university, I get that too. It’s just frustrating when he fails all of his courses and has to leave me to make enough money to re take them…Anyways so on top of that, lately I have been feeling like I have no idea who I am anymore and that ever since Celia (my best friend) took her life, I have no idea what I want from life or friendships or relationships or anything. I haven’t been single since almost 2 years before she died (so 4 years ago) and I feel like I maybe just need to adjust to life on my own a bit, figure out who I am as opposed to who I am when I’m in a relationship, discover what I like to do just me, not what I like to do with romance? If that makes sense. However, Adam is the love of my life, and I’m crazy about him. He is trying really hard at his job in alberta and he’ll be home in a month or so before possibly going out again. He is more committed to me than I’ve ever seen any man be to a woman and says he’ll prove to me that he’s better than he’s been the past year. He treats me amazingly…when he’s here. I just feel like if he’s not here, I should take the time to be single and figure my life out a bit? Do I sound crazy to you? I want to be with him but I also want to just enjoy being single and independant and adjust to all the changes that have happened in my life this past year. I haven’t flirted with a guy since I was 14, its been one relationship after another. I’m afraid that if I don’t experience other things for a while, I won’t appreciate the amazing connection and bond and friendship that we’ve nurtured as much as I should. And I want to spend the rest of my life with him. We’re best friends as well as lovers so it’s tricky. I can’t picture growing old with anyone but him or opening up to anyone like I have to him. I can’t lose him but I feel a little bit less committed than usual. Not as in I want to cheat on him, I just don’t feel like being super committed right now when I barely even know myself. I’m afraid that if I tell him I don’t feel one hundred percent committed or whatever, that he’ll think I’m just trying to let him down easy or that he’ll think I really don’t want to be with him. But I do, just not sure if I want it now? But on the other hand, if I ride things out a bit all of this could pass, maybe I’m just stressed out and over thinking, what do you think? Please ay advice would me much appreeciated.


  7. Isn’t this the opposite of what Rose tells us to do in the String Along book? Should I or shouldn’t I be understanding of the man that originally showed intimacy, then backed off….but still wanted to date. (date me exclusively) How long is too long to wait to see if they will get over their fear of a relationship?


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