If your partner says these 7 phrases, they aren’t ready to fully commit

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely heard certain phrases from your partner that have left you questioning their commitment.

Perhaps it’s a significant other who seems to waffle on plans for the future or a casual date who always keeps things vague and non-committal.

My first encounter with this was with a former boyfriend who would always respond with “we’ll see” or “maybe someday” when asked about our relationship’s future.

I tried discussing, questioning, and even outright confronting — but nothing seemed to bring clarity.

Eventually, I had to accept the painful truth.

Here are 7 key phrases that helped me understand his signs of reluctance and that I wish I’d recognized earlier.

1) “Let’s just go with the flow”

Most of the time, this phrase seems easygoing and spontaneous at first.

But when it comes to commitment, this phrase can be a red flag. Why?

Because it often indicates a reluctance to make plans or set expectations for the relationship’s future.

This phrase struck a chord with me during my past relationship.

Whenever I brought up topics like moving in together or planning a vacation months ahead, my partner would casually deflect with “Let’s just go with the flow.”

It took me a while to realize that this wasn’t just a laid-back attitude — it was his way of avoiding commitment.

This non-committal approach can leave you feeling uncertain and insecure about where the relationship stands.

While it’s important to respect a partner’s need for space and time, consistent vagueness about the future is a sign that they may not be ready to fully commit.

Pro tip: Have open and honest conversations about your expectations and recognize when someone is not on the same page as you.

2) “I’m not sure what I want right now”

Hearing your partner say, “I’m not sure what I want right now,” can be disheartening, especially if you’re clear about your intentions in the relationship.

The thing is that this phrase is often a sign of uncertainty. And what’s more, it can be a subtle indicator that they’re not ready to fully commit.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people’s actions often reveal more about their intentions than their words.

When someone is uncertain about their feelings or the future of the relationship, their actions may align with their lack of commitment.

For example, you might notice them avoiding discussions about the future, hesitating to introduce you to family and friends, or being noncommittal about plans.

In my experience, when I heard this phrase, it was accompanied by mixed signals and inconsistency.

It became a pattern that kept the relationship in a state of limbo.

Yes, I can’t deny that it’s normal to have doubts and uncertainties. But persistent ambiguity about what one wants can be a warning sign.

So what’s the solution?

Distinguish between the two. It’s normal for your partner to be unsure about some aspects of their needs, but constant vagueness is a different issue.

3) “We need to focus on the now”

pic1827 If your partner says these 7 phrases, they aren’t ready to fully commit

It’s one thing to be uncertain about what one wants, as discussed previously, but it’s another when your partner consistently says, “We need to focus on the now.”

As for me, while this phrase felt like an appreciation of the present at first, it quickly became a subtle way for my partner to dodge commitments for the future.

Honestly, every attempt to discuss future plans or dreams was met with a reminder to focus on the present.

It wasn’t about mindfulness or living in the moment, though. It was avoidance — a tactic to sidestep any serious talk about where our relationship was heading.

I found it hard to face the fact that my partner’s insistence on the present was his way of eluding the future.

It’s especially painful when you’re mentally and emotionally ready to take the next steps together.

And I’m not going to tell you it’s easy.

No, confronting this reality isn’t easy. It involves asking yourself hard questions:

Is the focus on ‘now’ genuinely about enjoying the present, or is it a shield against planning a future together?

However, being aware of this pattern is the only way to understand your partner’s readiness to commit.

4) “You’re always criticizing me”

Another phrase that often raises a red flag in relationships is “You’re always criticizing me.”

This common statement can reveal a lot about a partner’s readiness for a committed relationship.

In healthy partnerships, constructive criticism plays a vital role in fostering personal growth and mutual understanding.

However, if your partner routinely sees your feedback as unwarranted criticism, it may indicate their reluctance to engage in the kind of open communication essential for a long-term commitment.

When faced with this phrase, it’s important to consider the dynamics of your interactions.

Are your attempts to discuss areas of concern being interpreted as attacks?

This could be a sign of a deeper issue, such as a lack of willingness to address and work through relationship challenges.

To be honest, I wasn’t completely aware of the importance of taking criticism in relationships until I listened to Justin Brown’s video about things to look for in a life partner.

His reflections highlight that an integral part of a healthy relationship is not just about giving feedback but also about how we receive it.

When a partner consistently labels your concerns as criticism, it might signal an avoidance of deeper issues or a refusal to acknowledge their role in the relationship’s dynamics.

The key is in the balance.

Constructive criticism should be about growth and improvement, not about pointing fingers or assigning blame.

It requires a level of trust and respect, where both partners feel safe to express their thoughts without fear of being labeled as critical or demanding.

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5) “Let’s not label things”

Whenever I heard my partner say, “Let’s not label things,” it gave me pause.

This phrase can be a significant indicator that they’re not ready to fully commit. It suggests a desire to keep the relationship undefined and, in a sense, unanchored.

Look, we often use labels to define the nature of our relationships and set expectations. 

You may not like labeling things, but trust me, it does have a positive influence on your relationship.

An aversion to labels often stems from a fear of commitment.

It’s as if by not naming the relationship, one can avoid the responsibilities and expectations that come with it.

Let’s be clear: it’s okay to take time to understand what you both want.

However, if “let’s not label things” becomes a long-term stance, it’s worth considering whether both partners are on the same page.

In any relationship, it’s important for both parties to feel secure and understood.

If you find yourself constantly in a label-less limbo, it might be time to have an honest conversation about where things are heading.

Because understanding each other’s expectations is key to a healthy and committed relationship.

6) “I’m just really focused on my career right now”

pic1717 If your partner says these 7 phrases, they aren’t ready to fully commit

When your partner frequently says, “I’m just really focused on my career right now,” it might initially sound like a valid and admirable reason for not diving deeper into the relationship.

But could this focus on their career actually be a subtle sign that they’re not ready to commit?

It’s a bit of a puzzle, isn’t it?

On one hand, we all want to support our partner’s ambitions. On the other, when this phrase becomes a recurring theme, it might indicate that they are using their career as a convenient excuse to maintain distance.

Here’s the twist:

Being career-driven doesn’t necessarily mean one can’t be committed to a relationship.

Again, they just need to keep balance and you both need to achieve mutual understanding.

Because putting their career before the relationship raises the question of where the relationship truly stands on their list of priorities.

Believe me, you need to support each other’s goals, but not at the cost of the relationship’s growth.

7) “I don’t want to ruin what we have”

This final phrase might sound like they’re cherishing your current relationship. But again, this phrase can often be a subtle warning sign that they’re hesitant to deepen the commitment.

Let’s face it, this phrase can be a masterful way of maintaining the status quo.

It plays on the fear of losing what you already share, keeping the relationship in a comfortable but stagnant zone.

While it appears to come from a place of caring, it can actually indicate a reluctance to move forward and evolve together.

But you know what?

True commitment is about being willing to take risks and grow as a couple. It involves stepping out of the comfort zone and embracing the changes that come with a deeper connection.

Consistently using this phrase is a clear indication that your partner is not ready to fully invest in the relationship’s potential.

This is where you need to pause and reflect:

  • Are you content with staying in this safe but unevolving space?
  • Or are you looking for a partnership that grows and thrives through both challenges and successes?

Answering these questions will help you realize that you deserve a relationship that moves forward, where both partners are willing to invest, take risks, and grow together.

Final thoughts: Take the reins of your relationship

While recognizing these signs is only the first step, the real power lies in how you respond to them.

Yes, you need to take control of your relationship destiny and make informed choices that align with your needs and desires.

The solution starts with open, honest communication.

Sit down with your partner and discuss your concerns. Express how these phrases make you feel and ask for clarity on where you both stand. 

If you find that your partner’s reluctance to commit remains unchanged despite your efforts, it may be time to reassess your relationship.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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