How Long Should You Date Before Getting Engaged?

While there’s no one singular timeline that works for every relationship, it’s natural to want to hit certain milestones, especially if you’re getting into your late 20s or even 30s. You don’t want to rush things or make bad decisions in love, but you also don’t want to rest on your laurels and miss the boat on some of the bigger “accomplishments” you’re told to want by society. So how long should you date before getting engaged and then married? Well, that all depends.

Do you even want to get married?

It might seem like a reasonable assumption that all long-term couples are eventually going to want to lock things down by saying “I do,” but that’s certainly not the case anymore. Many couples are happy to just be together and don’t believe that a piece of paper solidifies their relationship in any way. Before you even consider about the right time to get married, figure out if you want to do it at all or if eternally dating is your preferred mode.

Do you know each other inside and out?

It goes without saying that you have no business thinking of marrying someone until you truly know them. The honeymoon period and even the months proceeding will show you your partner in the best possible light. It takes more time together to truly get to know one another’s faults, downfalls, and idiosyncrasies and decide if they’re compatible with your life and what you can deal with. Dating is a time to learn this knowledge – don’t get engaged until you have it.

The average is one to three years.

If you do feel like tying the knot is something you want in your future, a “reasonable” amount of time, according to clinical sexologist and relationship expert Dawn Michael, Ph.D., is between one and three years. However, she’s quick to note that “each couple is different depending on age and circumstances,” so this time frame may not work for you, and that’s okay!

The more time you’re together before marriage, the better your prospects.

A study by Emory University scientists discovered that couples who were dating for at least three years before getting engaged were 39% less likely to get divorced than those who popped the question in the first year. That makes perfect sense!

At the end of the day, you have to do what’s right for you.

If you and your partner decide you want to get married, you’ll intrinsically know when it’s the right time. There’s no rush either – if you’re going to spend the rest of your life together, you have plenty of time to plan your wedding. For now, just enjoy the process.

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