Taking It to the Next Level. When are you ready? What if he’s not?

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It’s tough to figure out when it’s time to take the next step in a relationship. This month we’ll explore how to know you’re ready and what to do if your guy isn’t. We’re not talking about the big “I do”. We’re at the beginning, when your guy seems like the only one you’d ever want to be with. He seems perfect, the relationship, and life, do too. You’re deep in new relationship energy (NRE)

NRE is always mutual. But, the way we experience it, and what we want to do with it, isn’t necessarily. At some point it’s important to get on the same page. I tend to fall into the “jump in immediately” side of the spectrum. I’ll attempt to balance my advice to include those of you who don’t.

It’s important to be honest about your emotions. You might be head over heels in love, or absolutely terrified. Maybe both. Probably somewhere in the middle. All of that emotion is due to the hormonal and energetic reactions to your guy. They will naturally mellow over time. Usually in three to six months, more like nine if it’s long distance. Even if what you’re feeling isn’t extreme you’ll know when things mellow out. That’s when you start thinking about what you want from the relationship.

Eventually you get to know your man better, and see his flaws. If you still think he’s perfect watch out. Amazing is fine. Lots of potential? Even better. Don’t get serious until you know a real person, not an ideal. Once you’re ready, feel him out. Eventually you need to let him know how you feel.

Hopefully he responds with how he feels about you and where he’d like to see the relationship go. Honest communication is important. Gently push for an answer if he seems reluctant. You need to know what he wants long-term even if he isn’t ready for it yet. Slowing things down is fine as long as he’s clear that he’s interested.

It’s hard to be the one who slows things down. Even harder to tell someone you’re not looking for more with him. Listen to what he’s trying to tell you even if he’s not being direct. Watch out for the guy who strings you along while keeping his options open for a better prospect. He’ll commit just enough to keep you around. You’ll never get a serious commitment from a guy like that.

If he’s not ready ask him why. You need a solid answer to decide if you’ll wait for him. There’s nothing wrong with saying something like: “I really like you and want to be with you. If you’re not into it, then cut me loose.” But, be ready to let him go if he does.

What if you’re the one who wants to slow things down? Be honest. If you like him but aren’t up for a relationship, tell him. If you feel like he isn’t the guy for you, let him know. Avoiding the conversation isn’t the answer. You may hurt him, but it will be far worse later. If you feel like you’d be settling, move on. Stringing someone along in case someone better shows up is never the right thing to do.

We have so much hope at the beginning of a new connection. It can be hard to be open, or ask someone else to be. But, better to suffer a little broken heart now than a devastating break up later.