Should You Wait If They’re Not Ready for a Relationship?


When we’re stuck in a situationship with someone who doesn’t know what they want, it’s incredibly frustrating. As soon as we like someone and hear the words “I’m not ready for a relationship right now,” it feels like we’re suddenly back to square one! 

If you’re tired of not knowing where you stand, you’ve come to the right place. In this video, I share 5 signs that can reveal if someone is ready for a relationship, plus a key question you can ask yourself and use anytime you feel stuck or confused.

When someone tells us they’re not ready, or that they’re not looking for a serious relationship right now, it puts us in a really challenging predicament, especially if we really like the person. 

When we’re attracted, we feel connected to this person; we feel like they are the kind of person we have been looking for. The one snag is that they’re not in the same place as us.

In this video, I want to talk about the five mindset shifts that can help you in dealing with exactly this situation, because the reality is, no matter what anyone tells you about how ill-informed it is to continue down the road with someone who says they don’t want a relationship, in reality, it’s really difficult to take that advice.

We tell ourselves things like, “Maybe they’ll change. Maybe in a month, they’ll feel differently.”

I know there have been times in my life where I didn’t want a relationship, and then I did when I met someone I really liked. So, maybe that will happen. Maybe it’s just that right now, they’re still getting over their relationship, but they need help getting over that relationship.

This logic that we feed ourselves can be very, very compelling. That’s why these five mindsets I’m going to give you today are so important, because I know how hard it is, and you shouldn’t feel shame for finding it difficult to walk away. But I really believe these mindsets are going to help.

By the way, before I get into these, don’t forget to like this video, subscribe to this channel so that you never miss a video, and hit the notification bell so you get notified the next time a new video of mine comes out.

The first mindset shift is asking yourself: “Is the situation between this person and me really equal?”

And what do I mean by that?

When this woman came to me, she said, “I’m dating other people as well. So, we’re kind of doing the same thing.”

But then I asked her, “Is it really equal? Yes, you’re dating other people still. So, on the surface, you’re not hanging around waiting for this person. But the reality is, you don’t want to be dating other people. If you had it your way, you would only be with him. But in his case, he’s dating other people because he wants to date other people. Because he has expressly said that he doesn’t want a serious relationship right now and he wants to date around.”

So this is not a situation where two people are on an even playing field. One of them has no intentions for their love life right now other than to have fun. The other one has full intentions of having a real relationship, is hoping that this person will want one at some point, and is only dating other people right now because he doesn’t want to date her and only her.

We have to be honest with ourselves if we’re truly in a position of equal footing, or whether there is a real power imbalance here, and we’re just telling ourselves a story that it’s all okay because we’re doing the same thing.

In this case, she was essentially settling for something she didn’t want—dating multiple people—hoping that he would eventually want the same thing as her. But he was doing exactly what he wanted to do. There was no risk to him. All the risk lay with her in the possibility of wasting her time, of continuing to date him under a misapprehension that one day, he would want the same thing.

The second mindset shift comes from being honest about the risk.

What is the real risk to us if we’re waiting around, hoping that one day, they are going to want a relationship with us?

Well, there’s a risk of lost time. What if you date this person for another year, hoping that they’ll change, and they don’t? What if they, a year from now, are exactly the same person with exactly the same lack of intentions that they have today? How will you feel about having spent a year of your time hoping that it would go somewhere?

One of the things that this person said to me that was interesting was, “If I decide to cut this person off and say goodbye and not see them anymore, I’m still going to be thinking about him. This person is still going to be on my mind. So is there really any risk to staying? If I stay, they’re going to be on my mind. If I leave, they’re going to be on my mind. But at least if I stay, there’s a chance that something will happen.”

You can see the way we contort logic to continue to do the thing that feels comfortable to us, which is to stay in something, hoping it will get better instead of letting it go.

The problem with that logic is that in reality, if she left this person, yes, she would still think about him for a time, but eventually, if she kept moving forward in life and if she healed from that, she would move on. But if she stayed dating this person, then there’s no end in sight to that pain. She’ll keep thinking of him because she’ll keep bringing him back into her life. Both involve pain, both involve thinking about the person, but one leaves the possibility of moving on and finding someone better, finding someone who actually wants the same things. The other possibility just leads to perpetual pain.

On top of the risk of continuing to date this person and wasting time because they never want a relationship, there’s a different possibility that you keep dating this person, and they do want a relationship six months from now or a year from now, but they want it with somebody else. 

How many of us have been a part of a story or heard of a story where we waited around for someone, thinking that all the time and energy and effort we’ve spent on that person will eventually pay off in the form of them realizing our value, realizing what we’re worth, and what the relationship could be, only to find that someone who waltzed into their life three weeks ago is the person they’re now getting serious about?

In her situation, it wasn’t just the risk that he never wants a relationship. It’s the “How will I feel if I invest all of this time—hoping that in this person’s rotation, I’m the one they’ll choose—and they end up choosing somebody else?” How will we feel about the resentment, the bitterness, the regret, and the anger that we’ll feel toward someone else and maybe ourselves if we go down that path and that happens?

Here’s the third mindset shift, and this is a big one. It’s one that a lot of people never think about: If someone you are dating isn’t being intentional, and they are dating other people at the same time, it will be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for them to truly see your worth.

Why? Because someone seeing your worth requires their presence. They have to actually sit with who we are, connect with what we’re giving them, with what we represent, our values, the connection that we’re building together. They have to be connected and conscious and experiencing that.

But when someone is dating without any intentionality, they’re just dating for fun, they’re not looking for a relationship, and they’re dating multiple people at the same time, they’re most likely never getting that connected to any one of the people they’re dating.

Let’s do an experiment. Imagine that I came to your house and I set up five separate TVs in your living room. And I played—on each one of them—a great movie. So you have five great movies playing at the same time. And then in two-and-a-half hours, or by the time those movies had finished, I came back into the room and said, “Which one was your favorite and why?”

Chances are, you wouldn’t have a favorite. And even if you did, it wouldn’t be a true connection to the value and the beauty and the art of that movie, because you never really experienced it. You didn’t watch it the way the director intended. You had your attention spread across all these different screens, so you couldn’t truly engross yourself in that movie.

None of the creators of those movies should be insulted if you didn’t come away choosing that movie as your favorite, or truly understanding how great that movie was, because you never really watched any of those movies.

That’s what it’s like when someone is constantly dating multiple people. They can’t truly appreciate your movie, the character, the protagonist that is you.

Now, there is always a time in the very beginning of dating where there’s the possibility that someone is dating other people. I don’t want to oversimplify the dating process, because the truth is, the day you go on a date with someone, there’s nothing wrong with the fact that they might have another date lined up for next week. They don’t owe us anything at that stage.

Some people will say, “If I date one person, I’m not going to date anyone else while I do that.” That’s okay. No judgment. But I also think we have to be careful of judging a situation where someone is dating multiple people in the very beginning. 

We just have to measure our own investment very carefully and go, “Do I want to sleep with someone who’s dating multiple people? How far do I want to go? How much time do I want to give to someone who’s still dating other people?” That’s a personal choice. It shouldn’t be a judgment on them.

But it may be in the very beginning that someone is dating around, and that doesn’t mean they’re not being intentional. It might just mean they’re dating around. They’re being very intentional.

So, whether someone is dating multiple people or not doesn’t necessarily give away how serious they are. It certainly gives away how serious they are if someone says, “I’m not in the market for a serious relationship right now. The woman who came to me during our Love Life Club coaching session said he literally said he wasn’t in the market for a serious relationship. That’s a pretty big sign that someone isn’t looking for anything. They’re not being intentional.

I’m not someone who thinks it’s a giant sin for someone to date other people when they first meet you, because I’m of the belief that we don’t necessarily owe each other exclusivity from the first moment we go on a date together. 

Someone is entitled to still shop around. You’re still entitled to shop around. We just have to measure our own investment and make sure we don’t give away more than we feel comfortable giving away while someone else is still dating other people. That’s a personal decision. I don’t think it’s something we should judge other people for.

Normally, when we judge other people for that, it’s because we feel like we gave more than we should have, or we’re upset with how much we gave to someone who never gave us any assurances in the first place.

But what I will say is this: Even when we’ve given someone the benefit of the doubt that “we barely know each other,” and “if you’re still going on dates, that’s okay . . .” I’m not saying you have to be okay with that, by the way. But I’m inviting the possibility that both are okay. Even if you give someone a window of time, at some point, that window has to end. 

If you are in the position that this person I was coaching was, of saying, it’s now four or five months into me dating this person and they’re still wanting to date other people, then their window for choosing you has kind of elapsed, in my opinion. They should know enough, maybe not to know that they want to be with you for years to come, but they should know enough from the time they’ve spent with you to know that “I’m ready to say ‘no’ to other people and give this a real chance to see how it might progress.”

If they’re not doing that, we should never convince ourselves that giving them more time and more of ourselves is going to be the thing that convinces them.

The fourth mindset shift is realizing that all of the risk is with staying, and that not only is none of the risk with you leaving and saying goodbye to this person, but all of the potential, all of the opportunity, lies with leaving.

That’s for two reasons. Firstly, if you leave, you open yourself up to a world of people who are actually potentially ready for a real relationship—a world of people who haven’t told you they’re not looking for anything serious. 

In a sense, when someone tells you they’re not looking for anything serious, they’ve immediately put a period at the end of the sentence. It’s kind of like they’ve told you the ending of this book for now. That this isn’t what they’re looking for. But everybody else in life still represents a question mark. 

The moment someone tells you they don’t want something serious, that should tell you, “Ah, right now, this situation offers no possibility.”

All of the risk comes from staying with someone who may not change their mind, and even if they do change their mind, they may not change it in the direction you want. They might choose someone else, like I said before.

But if you leave, you open yourself up to every other possible eligible person on earth who is ready for something, who might entertain the possibility of something going somewhere.

But even if I was just speaking to the part of you that really does want it to work with this person, I would be telling you that the best chance you have at them seeing your value and turning around to meet you for a real relationship . . . is you leaving. 

When you leave, that person has a shot at seeing your value 1) by missing it and losing it, as well as 2) by seeing you as someone who has standards that they are willing to uphold regardless of how attractive or mesmerizing or charismatic or sexy someone is.

If I could help you snap your fingers and not care about wanting this person anymore, I would. What I’m trying to say is that leaving is not only your best shot at finding something better and finding the happiness you’re looking for in your love life, it also just so happens to be the best chance you have at this person realizing that they do want a relationship with you.

For anyone out there who wants to know how to have these conversations with someone, where you actually speak your standards, I have a free training called Dating With Results that’s essentially a one-hour free training from me that shows you how to do not only that, but so much more. It’s going to make you more confident. It’s also going to show you how to uphold your standards and how to speak them. So that’s at for anyone who wants to take that training.

The fifth and final mindset shift for this video, when someone is telling you they’re not ready and you’re wondering whether to stick around anyway, is to ask yourself: “Is this what I held out for?” 

My guess is that you have been through some difficult times in your love life—that you’ve been through some pain. This person that I was talking to, the person who inspired this video with her vulnerability, was living in a major city, and had felt for a long time like things were just really hard. She had held out for the right thing, for the right person, but had experienced a lot of pain along the way. A lot of pain of being in a big city, of feeling like no one wants anything real, of feeling like everyone is just trying to get theirs, being short-term-ist, being messed around a lot, feeling invisible sometimes. 

Anyone who’s gone through anything like that knows it can breed a kind of scarcity mindset. This feeling of: “I get to the point where I just think I need to take whatever I can get, because nothing’s been happening.”

And then, of course, when someone comes along, when you have attraction with them, and you share some values, and you feel like you get this person, or they get you, and you have an amazing time with them, you get to a point where you go, “Well, maybe I should hang around even though they’re not ready, or they say they don’t want a relationship, because this is the best I’ve got and this is the most connection I’ve felt in a long time. Am I really just going to throw that away?”

But I think we can help train ourselves out of the scarcity mindset when we realize that we have taken our time with our love lives, not suddenly jumping into anything with anyone. Why? Because we have a standard about who we end up with, and the kind of love that we want in our lives. We haven’t lost all of the romance. We haven’t lost hope. We haven’t lost the possibility—the excitement of finding the love we really want to find.

If you’ve been holding out for that kind of love, then you have to ask yourself: “Am I really now, after all that pain, after all that loneliness, after all those different people I’ve said ‘no’ to, or all of the heartbreak I’ve been through in my life, am I really going to settle for this? Is this going to be what I held out for? Someone who tells me that they’re not ready and puts me on rotation with a bunch of other people? This is what I held out for?”

I know the pain that so many of you are in right now—the kind of pain that comes from feeling lonely, or comes from feeling heartbroken, or comes from starting to feel like it’s never going to happen, and how that leads people to make decisions about what to settle for . . . that they should never settle for.

But this last mindset is a crucial reframe. It’s a different way of looking at it, that after all of that pain, after all of that loneliness, after everything you’ve been through, after the heartbreak you’ve endured or all of the lessons you’ve learned up until this point in your life, all of the things you’ve experienced and been through, this is going to be what arrests your attention? This is going to be the thing you held out for?

No. We can’t do that. Absolutely not.

If that last mindset—or if any of these mindsets—resonated with you, leave me a comment. What did it make you think about today? What did it make you think about a situation you’re faced with right now? Let me know what most spoke to you.

If you’re enjoying my content but you’re also a reader, not just someone who likes to watch videos, I have a free newsletter that I’m writing every week now called The Three Relationships, which you can find at Check it out. It’s free. You can sign up right now and I’ll send you my latest edition this Friday.

Thank you so much for watching. I’ll see you next time.

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24 Replies to “Should You Wait If They’re Not Ready for a Relationship?”

  • I liked this video even more after I watched MH’s video on 7 tips for “compatibility.” It made me think about the relationship between avoidance and compatiblity. I think I might be dating an avoider. He says he loves me, calls almost every day (he does have a very busy work schedule) and says he wants a permanent relationship as soon as he gets several personal items off his plate. But there always seems to be a delay or another obstacle. He became much more attentive after he sensed I was losing interest and made clear I was not going to wait forever (he moved out, hired a lawyer and will file for divorce next November which is the soonest his state will permit). I wonder whether he is an avoidant and was previously delaying things or if it is a compatiblity issue (his timing on being in a full relationship with me is different than mine). He talks often about us being together and doing certain things once he is free of his current marriage and financial obligations. But when I try to talk specifics about his plans for us actually living together (neither of us want or need marriage), he has no answer about where we will live, etc. He works way too much but says he is going to stop after he pays off certain bills. So is he avoiding specific because he is really trying to pave the way; or is he making excuses to string me along? That is why I liked MH’s other video on compatibility. It could be some of each. Sometimes it feels like I am getting a commitment without a commitment!

    I have been dating someone for a few months. We originally met a year ago when he was in an active relationship and from time to time saw each other in town. On our very first date we had a conversation in which he specifically said “I am not looking for a relationship”! He was clear in his intent with keeping things casual, wants to date and just have fun. Our connection is amazing and we always find something we have in common. Our time together is full of laughter, deep conversations and fun adventures. I am aware he continues to date others. I attempted to set boundaries however, they seem to get blurred at times.
    As I type this, he actually is spending a week visiting someone a few hundred miles away that he met a few weeks before he met me. He told me about her early into our conversations. This will be the 3rd time they have spent a week together in the past 2 months. Per him, she provides the event, places to visit, relax and they simply enjoy their time together. Nothing more. He says she has no interest in anything but casual.

    I keep thinking because we live in the same city that I actually spend more time with him. We are together more than several times a week. I tell myself because of this we will grow into more. How foolish I now feel. He will return in a few days, text me that he is “back” and will want to see me asap.

    I am determined not to waste another day of my precious time being on his roster and/or being his go to locally. He is a free man and I will not chastise him for something he made clear from day one. I will however be having a conversation Matt encouraged in another video. “If you are not even open to the prospect of something more, I think I need to direct my energy somewhere else. No judgement. My time and energy is precious and I am not willing to invest in someone who is not at least heading in the same direction as I.”

    Thank you Matthew….for reminding my what my spirit reminds me of daily and that is my heart and my energy are precious.

  • I love the way you simplify extremely complicated but common experiences and emotions. It is very helpful and inspiring. However, I do feel there is always the underlying assumption that one is just ready for a relationship and just has to choose and play right. In fact, I believe this person, who is attracted to the wrong people, is in a very similar place emotionally but just plays a different role.

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