the myth of the “right time”.
It’s too easy to be implicit in the concept of a ‘right time’ to get into a relationship. The idea that an idealised love can be manufactured, that once all of the prerequisites are filled, the checklists completed, that you will be ‘ready to form a deep commitment. And that the commitment you form will be ‘the one’ for you. If we can just meet someone at the ‘right time’, the relationship will surely be a good one, no?
Self-improvement culture is partly to blame. In this world where everything can be optimised, why not try to optimise our relationships, too?
But reality rarely behaves as commercial influences would like us to believe.
In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke describes that life - whether it’s love, career, family - cannot be distilled down into its separate components, and sorted by perceived ‘readiness’:
Our relationships are not accomplished but lived. They are lived in and through all of the ups and downs, the trivial and mundane, the exciting and thrilling. There’s no such thing as a right time. There’s just time, and how we feel. So when a relationship comes knocking, one that feels ‘right’, although it might be the ‘worst time’ - it may just be that you are scared. Or that you know deep down that this relationship is not right for you, and the story you are telling yourself is one about timing.
The next time you find yourself asking, “is this the right time?”, examine why. Remember to live the question. As Rilke writes; Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.