How can I know what relationship is right for me?
Understand what’s best for you in the different stages in your life
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
Love, dating and romance can bring their own difficulties to your life regardless if you are single, dating or in a long term committed relationship. Choosing to commit to someone can be a big deal and there may be different times in your life where you will or will not want that. A relationship should be something that adds enjoyment to your life, and if you are finding that a relationship only brings you difficulty it is important to prioritise your own happiness.
Deciding to be in a relationship
When a relationship is going well it can be the best feeling in the world. When it’s not going so good there are feelings of hurt, sadness, anger, rejection and isolation. Your confidence is low and it can be hard to think clearly. Just remember that if your partner puts you down then they’re not worth it so move on. If you are feeling pressured to do something you don’t want to do or don’t feel comfortable with you can say no. Respect your own choices and make sure to respect your partner and that they respect you. If you are getting involved sexually then it makes sense to know about the risks and do something about them.
Choosing to be single
Not everyone has to be half a couple. Being single can be more fun as you are free to do your own thing, be with your friends whenever you like, have your own interests and you don’t have to take into consideration a partner. It’s much more important to develop friendships with both sexes than to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Whether you are casually dating or in a relationship it is important to always use protection when having sex. Check out our Health section for all you need to know about contraception, sexual health and STIs.
Can’t make up your mind?
All relationships are unique and move forward at their own time and pace. Sometimes though, one partner wants to move faster than the other. You may be happy and content with where you are, but your partner wants more commitment from you. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing to date or choosing to be single. Trust in your judgement and don’t be afraid to make change if something doesn’t feel right.
Why you may have issues with commitment
It’s too soon
There is a big difference between someone wanting to move in with you after two years of a committed relationship and them wanting to move in after a couple of months. Not wanting to commit to something or someone when it has only been a short amount of time does not mean you have commitment issues, it is sensible and you should never feel rushed into something you don’t want to do.
You like your own space
Committing to someone else means that your life will change, you will have to think about someone else in your day to day life and prioritise them at times. It is understandable why this can seem daunting to people. Commitment isn’t something you should feel pushed into. Forcing yourself to commit when you aren’t ready will just cause tension between you and your partner. Be honest and take your time in building your relationship, you will know when you are ready to commit and if you don’t feel that way maybe they aren’t the person you want to be with.
You have been hurt before
When someone breaks your trust it can be hard to put yourself out there and trust again. It is normal to be afraid of starting a new relationship and committing to someone if your last relationship ended badly. Give yourself time, spend time with someone before jumping into a relationship again. Unfortunately there is no certainty that a relationship will work out and risk is always involved in committing to another person, but if you are able to enjoy a relationship and be confident in it then you will be able to take positives from that experience even if you do not end up together.
There might be too much pressure
Maybe you would be willing to commit, but your partner is making you inadvertently rethink, because he/she is asking for so much commitment all at once and is not giving you enough time and space. Commitment doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you can commit to being exclusive with your partner but not be ready to live with them. This does not reflect on your feelings for them, it just means that it is the right choice for you at the stage that you are in in your life.
Remember that a certain fear of commitment is normal. If you were able to jump into a big commitment without any thought it might mean you actually don’t care that much. Worrying at least shows that you care and take the idea of commitment seriously.
How to handle it
Talk about it
Instead of constantly going back and forth and arguing about your inability to commit, sit down and have a proper talk where you each get the chance to speak without being interrupted. Often times, a quiet but public place is the best area to chat about things. You could go for a long walk or sit in a quiet pub and hash it all out.
Think of a compromise
Maybe you don’t want to see your partner every day or live together, but maybe you could see each other three times a week rather than twice.
Talk to someone about it
If you are not sure what you want, seek out some counselling. You could also attend couple’s counselling – together is best, but it is possible to attend couples counselling on an individual basis.
Listen to your heart
It truly knows what you want and need and has the ability to get beyond what your mind is trying to frighten you with.
Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you’re over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.