When speaking about relationships, we often discuss what would make someone a good man or what would make them a good woman in terms of being a partner. I think what often goes overlooked, is the introspective aspect of building a solid foundation with someone, and what it really means to be "ready" for a relationship.
It doesn't matter if you find the man or woman of your dreams if you're not ready to have them in your life. It also brings about the possibility of the harsh truth that they may not be interested in you in return, if you're not in the right place emotionally.
So, what does this all look like?
You will be as good as you can, as often as you can.
I was going to say "you're ready to do your best for someone, every day" but let's be realistic -- we are all human and we all have good days and bad days. We can only give so much and sometimes need to be supported ourselves.
What's important here is that you're ready to put solid, consistent effort into your partner, your relationship, and even developing yourself. If you're not ready to do that, then it's best to not commit to someone who would do it for you (yet).
You'll put someone else's interests ahead of your own.
There is compromise and sacrifice in every relationship. This could mean anything from watching a type of movie you don't like, to moving to a new city or state for the one you love. The bottom line is, in a happy, healthy relationship -- your partner's happiness is just as important as your own.
Your willingness to put them first at times is a signal of your readiness to commit.
You understand the importance of communication.
Communication is the backbone of a relationship in terms of keeping both partners feeling heard and understood. Nobody can read your mind, nor should they expect you to try to read theirs. Being able to openly and honestly communicate with the person you're committed to can make or break your relationship.
You've got some semblance of a path in life.
It's difficult to plan a future with someone who has no future plans for themselves. Things change and life throws curveballs at us -- nobody can be expected to have it all figured out, but giving it a try is a good start.
You can let the little things slide.
No matter how well two people get along, odds are you will not like every. single. little. thing. about the other person. There may be small quirks that you've got to accept (and maybe ignore). If you get annoyed by everything they do, it will cause unnecessary tension in the relationship.
You're ready to accept someone as they are.
You can't enter into a relationship with the hopes of molding someone into who you want them to be. It's important to note that in a healthy relationship, both partners will motivate each other to become the best versions of themselves -- this is not the same as trying to change someone's nature.
Happiness comes from the ability to be honest, and the ability to be honest comes from being able to open up to someone without being judged.
You don't look for someone to complete you.
You, right now, are a whole complete person. If you think you need to be in a relationship in order to be "complete," you will always be looking for something you can never find. True fulfillment and satisfaction comes from within, and you cannot fully, effectively give yourself to someone until you've found it.
You don't need someone to complete you, only someone to accept you completely.
You are happy being single.
If you're not happy being single, you won't be happy in a relationship. As said in the point above, true happiness comes from within. Single is simply a word to describe someone who is strong enough to live their life by themselves until the right person comes along to share it with.
If you're constantly searching for a relationship out of loneliness, you will find yourself with the first person who comes along that is interested in you. We all need to have the dignity and self-respect to only commit ourselves to those who deserve it, and the only way to be able to wait for that is to be happy before they come along.
Your ex is no longer a factor.
We all have a past, and the new person in our life needs to be able to accept that. But, we also have to accept that about ourselves, and be able to leave it in the past. Obviously this is not cut and dry if there are children involved or other mutual commitments independent of the relationship.
I understand that in some rare occasions people stay friendly with their exes or maybe even spend time together, but in most situations, in order to truly move on we need to spend time completely cut off from them. No communication, no time together, nothing.
Until you are completely over your ex and can give your full time and attention to someone new, it is better not to commit.
You are ready to blend your life into someone else's.
While a relationship cannot be your entire life, it does permeate its entirety. You become connected with their friends, families, hobbies, pets, living situations... and they become connected with yours.
Sure, some privacy is important, but your willingness to fully accept someone into your life and routines is what will let the other person know you truly care and are ready to make a commitment to them. They will become your teammate in taking on life together. You will be building bridges between your lives rather than walls.
More important than some sort of "checklist" though, is something nobody else can ever tell you -- how you feel inside. I believe when we reach the right phase in life or come across the right person, we will know we are ready to leave the single life behind and build a life alongside them.
But, until that person comes along, it's important to work on ourselves and define our own happiness which we can then share with them.
When you are ready, you will know.
James Michael Sama is a writer, actor and public speaker who writes regularly on his website jamesmsama.com