As a professional counselor, I have worked with countless couples whose problems and strife stemmed from the fact that they were desperate for love, though not necessarily prepared for what love would actually entail.
There is a stark difference between wanting love and being ready for love.
When it comes to being ready for love, it often has so much less to do with the things we tend to equate to readiness—such as age, financial status or educational attainments—and so much more to do with this one simple equation:
Healthy person + healthy person = healthy relationship.
Now, we all know there is no such thing as complete health or wholeness. Our entire life is a journey, striving to become more like Jesus every step of the way. Being ready for love doesn’t require perfection, but it does require perspective. In order to be ready for love, we need to have some sort of understanding of what this journey will entail.
Just like any significant journey, finding love requires time, planning and a whole lot of preparation. In order to be ready for love, there are a few things you need to be deliberate about dealing with and taking care of in order to be at the best place that you can be when love comes along. Of course, you’ll have to wait for that special other person, but here are a few guidelines for knowing you’re ready to be in a serious relationship:
You’ve checked your baggage
When it comes to looking ahead at where you want to be, it’s crucial to know where you are here and now. While there is no such thing as achieving perfection, it is possible to become an emotionally healthy person by recognizing and dealing with issues from both past and present.
Unhealthy behaviors, problematic thinking and emotions you haven’t dealt with can be the root to some serious problems both internally and relationally. Take the time to invest in getting to know yourself, and most importantly, begin the process of seeking healing from the wounds, hurts, habits and hang-ups you’ve experienced along the way. Dealing with these things while standing alone will prepare you that much more for joining your life with another.
You know what you’re looking for
In order to be ready for love, you have to have an idea of what love actually looks like. You have to know who you are in order to know what you want in a relationship. You need to establish healthy limits and boundaries by determining the places you are unwilling to go and the people you are unwilling to go there with.
It’s important to have a healthy understanding of the kind of things you need in a relationship, but more importantly, the kind of things you don’t. Understand the things that are important to you and then no matter how tempted you may be, don’t ever settle for anything less. Your relationship can only be as healthy as the people in it, so if you’re serious about love—be well—and then choose well.
You have proper expectations
It’s important to take a good look at your expectations when looking for love. There are so many wonderful things a relationship can add to your life- but there are also things it cannot do.
Relationships can’t give you purpose, security or self-worth. They can’t make you content or complete, because they were never meant to do those things. They can’t heal your wounds or erase your problems, but they can enrich your life in so many ways if you engage them in a healthy way. Get your expectations in the right place, and know the difference between what relationships can and can’t do.
You’ve got the go ahead from friends and family
Think of the people in your life who know you the most. The ones who love you, encourage you and invest in your life. At the end of the day, these are the people who should have permission to speak into your life and encourage you along your journey.
If you find at some point that the people you trust most are harboring reservations or concerns about your relationship status, it would be wise to take a second look and consider their observations. Though you should never base a relationship on the opinions of others, it’s important to take trusted feedback and wise counsel into consideration.
You’ve talked to God about it
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget about God’s role in the world of love and relationships; even for those of us that deliberately connect with God about other significant choices in our lives. Leaving God out of this most vulnerable piece of our lives means missing out on insight, leading and direction from the One who knows our hearts even better than we ever could.
For those of us who are believers, now is the time to listen to His spirit and allow Him to speak into your life more than ever before. Finding love and entering into a relationship will shape your life more than so many other things. It’s a process that needs to be covered in God’s power, peace and perspective. Do yourself the favor of a lifetime by inviting God to be a part of it.
When it comes to finding true love, it’s more than just feeling ready and so much more than just wanting to be ready. Just like any significant journey, it requires preparation and planning. It’s a challenge for you to become the greatest version of yourself so you can engage in a healthy relationship to the best of your ability.
Take the time think through who you are and where you are at today and ask yourself: What are some steps I may need to take in order to be ready for love?
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.