There are many viewpoints on dating and marriage. Your mom may believe that you should date for two (or more) years and be sure your partner is the one before you tie the knot, but you may believe that it’s love at first sight and you want to get married now – six months down the line.
What is the best option? Dating for longer before you get hitched? Dating shorter and figuring stuff out during married life?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. What is best is what’s right for you AND your partner.
However, it is good to know what other people do, so there are some dating before marriage statistics you should know, as well as some other info on this very interesting topic.
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How Long Should You Date Before Getting Married: 10 Interesting Statistics
- Most couples generally date for two to five years before they get married.
2. A doctoral thesis published in 2006 found that couples who have only dated six months before they got married are at the highest risk for their marriage not working out. Impatience, impulsiveness, and incompatible personality traits makes it easier for couples to give up on their relationship.
3. A more recent study that was published in the Economic Inquiry found that the couples who dated for a year or two weren’t as likely (20%) to divorce as those who dated for 12 months or fewer. Couples who dated for three years or longer had an even better chance of making their marriage work as they were 39% less likely to get a divorce.
4. An even older study dating back to 1985 has similar results: The longer a couple dated, the higher the probability that they would experience a happy marriage.
5. The average length of an engagement is 12 to 18 months.
6. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1970, men generally got married at the age of 23, while women were 20 years old. These days, the average age for getting married is 28 for men and 29 for women, indicating that people tend to focus on their education and careers before they get married.
7. The Pew Research Center has some interesting dating before getting married stats. From 1995 until today, there’s been a 4% increase (from 3% to 7%) in adults who live with an unmarried partner. So some people may choose to just cohabit instead of getting married, or cohabit before they tie the knot.
8. Not a statistic, but an interesting fact: Shirley Temple got married after knowing her partner for all but 12 days and then experienced wedding bliss for more than 50 years.
9. A 2017 report by Bridebook found that couples took nearly five years after they started dating before they wed. A more careful look reveals that the couples dated for an average of 1.4 years before they moved in together, lived together for almost two years before they got engaged, and then spent 20 months being engaged.
10. The report also states that most people have an average of two serious relationships before they settle down with the person they consider as “The One.”
Is Dating for Longer Generally Better?
According to the statistics, dating longer is usually better. It gives you an opportunity to get to know your partner, find out how compatible you are, and decide if you do see a future with them by your side.
Rushing into things means you only get to see the best side of your partner, and then you are basing your decision to get married on that. It’s no secret that you and your date put your best foot forward during the early stages of your dating experience.
After all, your relationship is still brand new and you haven’t gone through the tough times together to see what you are really made of and how a challenge can strengthen or break your relationship.
This always reminds me of the famous quote by Maya Angelou: You can tell a lot about a person by the way [they] handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. It takes time and opportunity to really know someone.
However, you may be one of those “magical” couples who just instantly know they’ve met their soulmate and that this person is THE person for them.
A word of warning here: When you are in lust (not in love), it’s easy to confuse infatuation with real love and thinking your partner is “The One” when they, in fact, aren’t.
Main Signs You’re Ready for Marriage
There’s a huge difference between YOU being ready to get married and your RELATIONSHIP being there. Here’s a list of the main signs that you and your relationship are ready to walk down the aisle:
1. You’ve Soul Searched
It’s all great and well that you think you want to get married, but just pause for a moment and brutally and truthfully answer these questions:
Do you know who you are? Really?
Have you done some soul-searching? What have you done to become self-aware? And do you practice being self-aware every day?
The point of soul searching is so you can get to know yourself and be authentically you. After all, you want your loved one to love and accept you for you – the imperfectly perfect you that you are. And your partner needs to be self-aware too and be authentically who they are so you can love and accept them (and not have them suddenly change on you).
Only then can you really know whether they are the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
2. You Know and Understand Each Other’s Love Languages
It’s essential to know what your love languages are and those of your partner. Without this understanding, you won’t really understand that your partner loves and cares about you.
The 5 main love languages are:
- Quality time – Building intimacy, going on dates, and focusing on your partner without distractions.
2. Physical touch – Hugging, cuddling, snuggling, kissing, and sex.
3. Words of affirmation – “I love you.” “I miss you.” “I really love it when you …”
4. Acts of service – Making your partner breakfast in bed. Doing your share of the chores. Supporting them during the good and bad.
5. Giving and receiving gifts – Buying them a pair of gorgeous earrings because they hinted they like them. Getting your partner an anniversary or b-day card.
So take the time to learn your partner’s love language and help them understand yours so you can feel just as loved during the dating stage as during the marriage stage of your relationship.
3. You’ve Been Through Hard Times and Do Conflict Constructively
When it’s moonshine and roses, it’s easy to get lost in love and lust. But you and your relationship really get tested when you and your partner experience hard times.
You probably know what conflict and challenges can do to couples, right? It brings out the ugliest sides of each person as they tear into each other by criticizing, judging, and belittling.
There is a better way to navigate conflict: by doing it constructively. You need to know what you do in conflict situations and how you react, and then work on this so you can hash things out with your partner using healthy communication techniques.
A kind reminder: If your dating experience with your partner has so far been fraught with negative conflict, red flags, and drama, it WILL NOT get better once you are married. People don’t change; they simply show you more of who they’ve always been.
4. You’ve Talked About the Big 3
Money. Religion. Sex.
Three topics that you never address in polite conversation, but they are topics you must discuss with your partner. You need to know:
It isn’t good enough to think you’ll figure it out once you tie the knot. NO! You both need to be brutally honest about these things before you get engaged or seriously consider marriage.
5. Your Relationship Is About Reciprocity
Your romantic relationship should be about equal effort – give AND take. If you are doing all the giving or all of the taking, you are in an abusive relationship and you should get out now, not think about walking down the aisle with your partner.
You and your loved one need to put in the effort to make your relationship work. Be there for each other and stick together, during “better or worse.”
6. You Implicitly Trust Your Partner
Trust is one of the foundational elements of a successful and healthy relationship. If there’s no trust between you and your partner, your relationship will be filled with drama and conflict. And it’ll be over before you know it.
7. You Feel Safe
This goes hand in hand with trust. You need to feel safe with your partner. They should be your person, and you should create a safe space for each other so you can hold space and be a soft place where you can fall – during your successes and failures.
It Isn’t All About the Number of Dates
In the end, it isn’t about how long you should date by societal, cultural, or familial standards. You need to do what’s right for you, and your partner needs to do what’s right for them.
Don’t ever settle or get married because you want a wedding. A marriage isn’t a wedding; the wedding day is a celebration of your love for each other – and that’s it. It’s not about the glitz and glamor; those are just the icing and cherry on the cake, or niceties to make the wedding day pretty.
A marriage is much more serious, and you need to know what you let yourself in for. It’s a commitment that’s forged by love and sticking together through the good, bad, and ugly times. You have a responsibility toward your partner and they toward you – it won’t be all moonlight and roses, and the honeymoon phase may not even last as long as you think it will.
Rather be realistic about what a marriage entails. Go for couples or marriage counseling before you tie the knot, work through the hard stuff so you are better prepared, and call it quits if you have any doubts or notice any relationship red flags.
You may love the sound and idea of “a happily ever after,” but this only exists in fairy tales, no matter what society tries to make us believe.
A real happy ever after requires real work and real commitment as you and your loved one navigate all that’s life together – the ups, the downs, and the plateaus.
If you are honest with yourself, you’ll know whether you have doubts about whether your partner is the right one for you. Doubts are there for a reason, and you should listen to your gut (aka your soul).
Be sure you are ready before you exchange wedding rings and say “I do.”