How to handle feeling pressured into a relationship: 8 important tips

In today’s technology-driven age, it seems like dating has gotten harder. In fact, a survey done by Pew Research indicates that most people are having trouble with dating—so if you feel like things have gotten harder when it comes to dating, you’re certainly not alone.

Online dating, social media, and even the simple distraction of having a smart device around constantly all make dating a little bit harder than it has been in the past.

Because it can be difficult to find the right person to start a relationship with, some people turn to be a little bit too pushy when it comes to putting a label on their relationship.

It seems like everyone has been in your position at some point—they like you, but you really aren’t that into them.

You might think they are a great person, but they aren’t boyfriend or girlfriend material.

Or, maybe you just need to get to know that person a little better before you make the jump into being an “official” couple.

Whatever your circumstances, you can take a few steps to help you and your potential partner get on the same page.

Depending on the unique facts of your love life, any of the tips that we suggest might be a good option for your situation.

It’s Okay to Be Single!

Before we dive in, however, it is important to know that it’s okay to be single! In fact, today, roughly 50.2 percent of the American population is single (unmarried).

That is 128.6 million people, so if you want to remain single for the time being (or forever, for that matter), you are in good company.

Relationships are often about finding the right time to connect with the right person.

It can be a challenge just to figure out whether you are ready to be in a serious relationship, let alone trying to decide whether someone else is ready for that next step.

Being in a relationship takes a lot of time and effort, and if you can’t put that effort in right now, and you recognize that—then good for you!

Even if you feel that you are being pressured into a relationship, keep in mind that if you want to be single, then you should feel free to be single!

The reality is that if you want to be single more than you want to be in a relationship, you aren’t going to make a good partner for anyone right now—no matter if that person is Mr. or Ms. Right.

Relationship Pressure Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

The other thing to keep in mind is that the pressure to “move forward” in a relationship can mean different things for different people. It can include things like:

  • Starting a relationship
  • Putting a label on your relationship
  • Going on a “real” date
  • Moving in together
  • Getting married
  • Meeting the parents
  • Meeting friends

While this article generally focuses on the pressure that you feel to start a relationship for the first time, many of the tips and information can apply to all kinds of relationship pressures.

For example, having an honest, straightforward conversation about where you want the relationship to go (or not go) can be effective at any stage in your relationship. Communication is critical in all kinds of relationships.

Without further ado, here are 7 important tips to help you deal with being pressured into a relationship.

1. Talk It Out

You’re likely not going to be shocked that one of the most effective ways to deal with feeling pressured into a relationship is simply to have a conversation with the other person.

Communication is important in every type of relationship, whether it is a romantic partnership or a friendship.

There is a very real likelihood that the other person doesn’t know that you aren’t ready for a relationship or that you don’t want your current relationship to head to a more serious commitment.

Instead, he or she might just think that you want them to make the first move—even when you don’t want them to move at all.

Sitting down and having a conversation about your expectations for the relationship can go a long way.

Explain to the other person that you feel like you’re being pressured into a commitment and why you are uncomfortable with that.

Telling the other person that you aren’t ready or that you don’t see them that way can save a lot of headaches and heartbreaks in the future.

If you aren’t sure how to break this news to your would-be boyfriend or girlfriend, you might try some of the following suggestions.

  • I want to get to know you a little better.
  • I don’t think I can give you the time and attention that you deserve from a good girlfriend/boyfriend.
  • I want to spend some more time with you before we put a label on anything.
  • I really value you as a friend, and I don’t want to change that right now.
  • I’m just not ready for that kind of commitment right now.
  • I need some space to figure out how I feel about getting more serious.
  • You deserve someone that is in the same mindset that you are in right now.

All of these suggestions or even none of these suggestions might work for you—just be upfront and honest.

Although it is tough to have this type of conversation, it will save everyone time and virtually ensure that you are both on the same page about how you’re feeling in the relationship.

2. Give each other some more space.

In some situations, there is a good chance that the other person doesn’t mean to pressure you into a relationship.

Instead, they might just be excited about the possibility of a relationship, and they are ready to move forward.

When you start dating or seeing someone on a regular basis, it can get comfortable enough that it already feels like things are official.

For example, if you already see each other every day or have a designated “date night,” calling yourselves an official couple may only be a step or two away.

But, if that isn’t what you want, it might be time to step away from the situation.

If you’re sending the signal that you want to spend a bunch of time with this person and you’re already acting like you’re dating, it’s easy to see why someone would get confused.

Stepping back from hanging out with that person or simply letting that person know that you need some space can go a long way.

You might also want to pair giving each other some space with a straightforward conversation about how you’re feeling about a potential relationship.

Keep in mind that asking for some additional space doesn’t mean that it has to be forever. Giving each other some time apart can actually bring you closer.

In some cases, it may even help you realize that you do actually want to have a relationship with this person because of how much you miss them when they are not around.

3. Try a letter or note.

While face-to-face communication is usually the best option to talk about your relationship, it is difficult.

Instead of starting the conversation with the scary phrase, “We need to talk,” try writing out how you are feeling first.

You can do one of two things with this note:

  • Use it as a “practice run” of what you’re going to say in person or
  • Give it to the other person and ask to have a conversation about your relationship

Sometimes getting your thoughts down on paper can be a good way to plan out a conversation.

If you feel like the other person isn’t going to let you get everything out on the table in your conversation, giving them a letter to read ahead of talking to them can be a good idea.

Just keep in mind that if you give the other person a letter, there is a chance that they won’t want to talk to you at all, and they may just want to move on.

You shouldn’t use the letter as a way to get around talking to the other person. Close your letter with a note that you want to talk through these things with the other person.

This step is especially important if you want to keep their friendship or if you are at a place right now where you don’t want a relationship with them, but you might in the future.

It might be tempting to communicate with the other person electronically instead of writing a letter.

While email or a messaging app does the same thing as a letter, at least fundamentally, it doesn’t have the same intimacy as a hand-written letter.

Giving the person a hand-written letter will show them that you put some time and effort into thinking about what you wanted to say and that you take the situation—and their feelings—seriously.

4. Invite the other person to a few “friends only” get-togethers.

If you’re only interested in this person as a friend, and you aren’t willing or aren’t ready to start dating, you can send that hint in a more subtle way. Invite that person to your “friends only” events, such as where most of your friends are single or won’t have their partner along at the event.

You can indirectly tell this person that you see them as a friend if you start engaging with them in a way that is more friendly than giving off the boyfriend or girlfriend vibe.

Sometimes seeing you with other people will also help show that person that you act around him or her is also how you act around all of your friends—this can be especially helpful if the other person thinks you’re flirty, but that is really just your personality.

5. Make plans with someone else.

Sometimes the best way to show someone that you aren’t ready to date them is to let them know that you are going on dates or “hanging out” with other people.

For example, if you and this other person usually hang out on Friday night, make different plans this coming weekend. Hang out with someone else you might be interested in dating.

You can even tell the other person that you have a date, even if you don’t. Spending the night on your own but telling the other person you have plans can be just as effective as actually making plans.

Making plans with someone else doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your other friend or potential partner, but it does send a clear signal that you have no intention of limiting who you are dating right now.

It can be a somewhat subtle way to say—“I’m just not that into you.”

6. Set them up with someone else.

This suggestion might seem a little backward, but hear me out. If you have no intention of dating this other person, but you want to try to save the friendship, you might try to set them up with someone else.

Maybe you have a friend that is ready for a relationship, and you know the two of them will hit it off. Make the suggestion that you set them up on a blind date.

Even if the other person doesn’t want to go on the blind date, they will get the very clear signal that you don’t think that you’re “dating” or “official,” and you don’t want to head in that direction.

Just be sure you have a friend willing to go on a date if the person says they are interested in meeting your friend—simply acting like you have a single friend that would be interested in them can backfire in some situations.

7. Be willing to walk away.

There are situations where one person really wants to be in a relationship and doesn’t want to be friends with you.

They won’t “settle” for just dating or being casual—they want a full-blown commitment.

At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with the relationship, or it will never work.

Rushing into a relationship when you aren’t ready, or you really aren’t interested, isn’t going to help anyone.

While you can certainly grow to like that person more, the fact that they pressured you to get where you are in the relationship is likely to weigh heavily in the back of your mind.

You have to be willing to walk away if the other person isn’t getting your hints or your straightforward conversation didn’t seem to work.

Unfortunately, walking away can mean losing a friend.

But if you continue moving down the path that you’re on, knowing that you don’t want a relationship with this person, it will never work out the way that either one of you really wants.

Keep in mind that this suggestion is not to simply ghost the other person.

Instead, walking away is an “all else fails” alternative that shouldn’t happen until after trying a few different methods to get your point across.

Be Careful About “Playing Hard to Get”

In some situations, the other person that you are trying to communicate with about slowing down or giving you more space can mistake your unwillingness to move forward with a relationship right now as “playing hard to get.”

Some people like the “chase” of pursuing someone that they want to date—and that’s fine. But, if it seems like the other person isn’t “getting it,” you might need to take more drastic action.

If you are dropping hints or using some of the more subtle suggestions above, go back to the first tip—and have a conversation about what you want and how you are feeling.

Being straightforward is one of the best ways to ensure that you are being heard and understood.

Setting the Right Tone

No matter which method you use to let someone know that they need to ease the pressure, you need to take action.

You should never feel pressured to move forward in a relationship, and if you aren’t ready, dealing with it now will be helpful in the long run.

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