Relationships

How Long Do You Need To Date Someone To Know If You Want To Marry Them?

By Keelia Clarkson··  6 min read
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Sure, every relationship is different – but we all long to know: is there a magic amount of time you’re supposed to date before you’ll know if he’s the one?

The decision to get married is one of the most life-changing choices we can make; it’s a commitment that we’re ideally not supposed to break (if you have to do paperwork to get out of it, it was never meant to be temporary). The entire point is that we’re melding lives with another person, choosing them as our partner in everything for the rest of our days.

So obviously, it’s not a decision to make lightly or quickly. Marriage is a partnership that’s worth waiting for in order to get it right – which of course leads us to question how we can truly know if the guy we’re dating is the one to pledge our life to.

More often than not, we assume that the amount of time we’ve invested in the relationship should give us the answer, asking ourselves just how long we should date someone before we can accurately assess whether or not we should marry them. So, is there a magic amount of time we should date, after which the answer will just present itself through a series of signs and clues?

Time Alone Can’t Give Us the Answer

As tempting as it is to just leave it all up to the amount of time we’ve invested in a relationship, that can’t be our reason for choosing to marry someone. Every relationship’s timeline, as well as the people involved, are wildly different; what worked for one couple might ruin another’s chances. Hoping that the answer will appear in the sky after two years of dating is just going to let us down because, ultimately, we’d still wonder if the decision was right when we didn’t make it ourselves.

We’ll still wonder if the decision was right if we didn’t make it ourselves.

If after so many months or years with someone, we got an anonymous note telling us we’d passed the predetermined amount of dating time and we were supposed to get married now, we’d still have a question in the back of our mind because we allowed an external circumstance to make a decision for us, rather than owning the decision ourselves.

The Dangers of Getting Married Too Quickly

After dating enough frogs, finally running into a prince can awaken in us a need to lock him down, and fast. We’ve only been seeing the prince for four months, but he just seems so perfect in every way that we can’t imagine a better match ever coming along. Plus, our parents got married after dating less than a year, and it worked out wonderfully for them – for them are the key words here.

Jumping into marriage quickly won’t work out well for everyone, especially if it’s coming from a place of panic, worry, or immaturity. Panic tells us our clock is ticking and we’d better act fast; worry asks us if we think we’ll ever find someone to love us like this again, and if we’ll ever amount to anything without him; immaturity assures us we’ll feel this deeply and passionately for him forever, and that we should grab life by the horns and go for it.

Jumping into marriage won’t work out well if it’s coming from a place of panic, worry, or immaturity. 

After rashly making a life-altering decision, we’re left to pick up the pieces and figure out how in the world to make this marriage, which we ran at top speed into, work in the long term.

The Dangers of Waiting Too Long To Get Married

Then, there’s the other side of things – maybe our parents’ marriage ended in divorce and we’re afraid of the same thing happening, so we decide we won’t put the pressure of being the one on our relationship, and just date. And in the back of our minds, we think that settling down with a husband one day would be nice, and even desire it. But before we know it, we’ve been together for seven years, and the topic of marriage has never come up.

Dating for years without even discussing marriage points to a lack of intentionality or to a fear of commitment. When we’re dating without intention or with a fear of committing, it’s easy to let the months and years go by without necessarily recognizing how long we’ve been together, because we didn’t enter the relationship with a vision for what we wanted out of it. And we might’ve even fallen into the trap of feeling like we were married, acting like a wife to a boyfriend, all while either one of us is able to leave easily.

Dating for years without discussing marriage points to a lack of intentionality or to a fear of commitment.

Some couples would prefer to wait 10 years before tying the knot. But for many, after dating for years without taking any major steps forward, the relationship’s dynamic is solidified, so it can feel almost impossible to shift the dynamic to a more mature, permanent one.

If Time Won’t Tell Us, What Will?

While the amount of time we invest won’t necessarily hold the answer, what will is the amount of purpose and intentionality we invest. Date with a vision for what you want out of a relationship, and intentionally get to know someone by spending quality time together, asking meaningful questions, and weighing whether or not their ideals line up with yours.

When we’re astute and thoughtful with how well we date someone rather than how long we date them, it might end up taking less time before we can know for sure if we want to marry them. But in the end, getting our answer before a certain amount of time shouldn’t be our goal, but instead, getting to know them meaningfully and fully.

Closing Thoughts

The quality of dating will always outweigh the quantity. The only way we’ll feel secure in marrying someone, no matter the amount of time together, is if we date them with intentionality and our personal vision for life in mind.

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