What To Do When One Person Is Not Ready

Today I have a new question from a 20-something wondering why a guy can go from hot pursuit and nine months of a perfect relationship to “not being ready” for a relationship.

Q: Dear 40-somethings:

I’ve been going through a difficult time losing my boyfriend due to him not being ready for a relationship.  We are both seniors in college and I think it’s starting to hit him that he needs to figure out his career plan.  He knows he wants to work in a hospital but he isn’t quite sure what he wants to do so I think he is lost inside.  Plus, he lives with his grandfather who is very strict and always tells him that he is too young to be in love (even though he’s 22).

I’m just so lost because we had an amazing relationship and I really believe he’s the one for me.  I never felt so perfect.  He seemed so incredibly happy and has wanted to date me since freshmen year.  He did anything to make me happy and smile and to spoil me.  He seemed so proud to have me as his girlfriend.  I’ve never seen him light up the way he did around me, but now he’s saying he’s not ready for a relationship and that it doesn’t feel right in his heart (now that we have been dating for 9 months).  I’m just so confused and lost and miss him.  I haven’t talked to him in 3 weeks to give him space and time.  Can you give me any advice?


A. While the thrill of new love and the connection that ensues can be so intense in your early 20s, most men and women aren’t equipped or ready to think “forever” at 22. When a guy says he’s not ready, most women will say, take him at his word. If indeed it is space he needs, he will come back. Nothing you do will make him come back. Being unavailable will make him think. Games beyond that will only prolong what was meant to be.  If he does come back, you may not want him anymore. If he doesn’t, know that when you look back on this years from now, you will likely see that he wasn’t the one for you and be happy that you had the chance to experience other relationships in your 20s.

Here is the 40:20 perspective on when one person is not ready….


Dear 20-something,

Unfortunately, sometimes in a relationship, the love feeling starts to wear off for one of the partners. From what you say, it sounds like he’s being honest with you, which you should appreciate.  At least he’s not lying and making up excuses. I know it hurts, but you need to hear what he is saying.


Since at this point, you are not married and you don’t have kids, I would strongly advise you to mourn the loss of the relationship for a few weeks and then move on as best and as quickly as you can. Go out with your girlfriends, date new guys, pursue your interests, and distract yourself. Put your focus on you and not on him. I guarantee from personal experience this will help you.


Sometimes, especially for a guy, when he walks away and realizes the ex has moved on, lo and behold, they suddenly want the ex back!! At that point you will have moved on and are back in the power position and can make a choice if you want to take him back and take the risk that he may do the same thing again. If he doesn’t come back, then you have learned the truth. He’s not the one for you. This hurts but it’s better to know now than after you get married and have kids together.


There are plenty of fish in the sea honey. You just have to be open to meeting them to find them. Sometimes the person we think is “the one” … just isn’t.


Good luck to you, I feel your pain. You will get through your heartbreak, and try to look at this as an opportunity to open yourself up to meeting someone new. I speak from personal experience, and I can promise you 100% that things will get better. I know it’s so hard to believe this right now, but they will!! – 40-something, New Jersey


Dear 20-something,

There is a lot of truth to the adage “timing is everything”.  It seems your timing is off.  It’s tough to go through the heartache and I’m sure it feels like the end of the world, but, if it’s “meant to be, it will be”.   Instead of dwelling on the fact that he’s pulling away from you and assuming that his grandfather, or others, are influencing his decision to date you, you should focus on YOUR career plans and what you want to do with your life.  If he truly loves you and wants you as much as you say, you will be together some day.    There is nothing you can do right now to make him do that, and if you do, he’ll be resentful later.


Your best plan is to mourn the loss of the relationship and reflect back on the love and enjoyment you got from it at the time…but start looking forward to your future.    And frankly, although you may not believe this right now, it’s possible you might get out there and realize that he isn’t the one for you for you after all.  You have a lot of wonderful years ahead of you, and possibly other boyfriends who will adore you and treat you as you say he has. You never know. Give yourself some time to heal from this. Open yourself up to new and exciting possibilities down the road, and most importantly, keep moving forward.  And, if you ever do get back together, you’ll be a stronger couple for it.  – 40-something, San Diego


Men chime in to say it is confusing. The desire for a relationship conflicts with the need to figure out their career and take their time growing up. While 22 seems old enough to you, for many men it is still quite young. As Scott Hess of TRU insights comments,

“The hesitation and fear of commitment you sense from guys in their twenties is actually part of a much broader trend where it’s okay to try on jobs and relationships until you’re in your 30s.”

Most women will agree that the twenties are a time to explore relationships and learn from the highs and lows. Good luck and try to enjoy the time you have to learn.






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