What is The Average Dating Time Before Marriage? Stats & Signs

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The average dating time before marriage is a subject of great interest on discussion platforms like Reddit and Quora. While some advocate for a substantial period of 5-7 years before considering marriage, others believe that the common estimate of 1-2 years is insufficient, potentially leading to relationship failures. But what is the precise average?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the average dating time before marriage, as well as the signs so you can know that time has come. Scroll down this Viva Wedding Photography post to find the clearest answer!

1. Average Dating Time Before Marriage Statistics

1.1. Average Dating Time Before Marriage in America

The world of marriage is full of traditions and expectations, and timelines for engagement and wedding are no exception. But what does the data actually tell us?

Studies by The Knot 2023 Engagement and Jewelry Study suggest that the average couple dates for two years or more before getting married, with nearly 70% of couples surveyed falling into this category. However, this doesn’t paint the whole picture. There’s a significant portion (around 30%) who get engaged after dating for less than two years.

Two years or more is the common time to get married for most couples
Average dating time before marriage in America (Image: Wedding Wire)

Looking deeper, the study suggests a “sweet spot” between two and five years. More than half of the 5,000+ couples surveyed fell within this dating range before getting engaged. Additionally, their internal data shows the average engagement length for US couples marrying in 2023 was 15 months.

1.2. Average Length of Dating Before Marriage by Generation

However, recent studies highlighted by Brides reveal that millennials, those aged 25-34, appear to stand out from the rest. This generation has a tendency to wait for quite some time, around six and a half years, before making a decision.

average relationship length before proposal
Average Length of Dating Before Marriage by Generation (Image: Pop Sugar)

This data suggests that millennials, as a whole, may prioritize a longer dating period to build a strong foundation before making a long-term commitment to marriage. This could be due to factors like establishing careers, financial security, or simply wanting to be extra sure about their partner before tying the knot.

1.3. Taking Time Before Marriage May Lead to Stronger Unions

A 2015 research reveals a relationship between the duration of 3000 couple’s dating phase and marriage success. It show that couples who dated for 1-2 years before engagement had a 20% reduced divorce rate compared to those engaged within a year. Notably, couples dating 3+ years had a substantial 39% drop in divorce chance.

These findings show the possible benefits of long dating time before marriage. By allowing the initial passionate phase to settle, couples gain valuable time to build a stronger foundation. This extra time creates a better awareness of each other’s personalities, communication styles, and long-term objectives, potentially leading to a more fulfilling and durable marriage.

Straight Talk: Does The Length of The Relationship Matter Before Marriage?

While these statistics above offer a glimpse into common trends, remember they shouldn’t dictate your own timeline. Take the time you and your partner need to build a strong foundation for your future, regardless of how long it takes.

>>> Read more: Engagement Party Etiquette: A Guide For A Joyful Celebration

2. 6 Signs You’re Ready to Propose

So how do you determine your own timeline? Assess the signs listed below and compare them with your own relationship. If you find that all aligns with your situation, then it’s likely that you already have the answer you’re seeking.

2.1. You’ve talked about a happy marriage

Contrary to common belief, proposals should not come as a “surprise.” We advise not making the proposal until both people know exactly what they want from a relationship. Yet the proposal’s when, where, and how could be a nice surprise.

Your partner should have already been thinking about possibly marrying you before you popped the question. When two people are ready to become engaged, they’ve had talks in which they’ve both indicated a wish to get married soon.

average amount of time dating before marriage
You’ve talked about a happy marriage (Image: verilymag)

2.2. You think of your future as a unit instead of as an individual

Another sign to detect whether or not a couple is ready to tie the knot is by listening in on their plans. When talking about the future, you stop using “I” and “me” and start using “we,” “us,” and “our” instead.

Even when daydreaming about your honeymoon phase, your spouse is always a part of what happens. The way you talk about your future together (with phrases like “our house” and “our kids”) suggests that you are working toward that goal.

Average dating time before engagement
Average time spent dating before marriage can affect couple’s happiness (Image: Jacob Lund)

2.3. You’re on the same page about all the big stuff

One should know precisely what their partner is looking for in a spouse before getting engaged. In one example, “Do they want to tie the knot? Is monogamy important to them? Are children something you’re looking forward to as a couple?” To make sure you’re on the same page, it’s essential to ask each other these questions before starting a family. Here are some key areas to explore together:

  • Finances: Discuss spending habits, saving goals, and how you’ll manage shared expenses.
  • Religion: Explore how important religion is to you as a couple and how you’d raise children with your beliefs.
  • Values and Politics: Ensure your core values and political views are compatible for a harmonious future.
  • Lifestyle: Discuss where you want to live, how you’ll share household duties, and how you spend your free time (socializing, hobbies, relaxation preferences).
  • Personal Habits: Talk openly about your individual habits related to alcohol consumption, health practices, and how you each manage stress and well-being.
average dating time before marriage
Things to consider before weddings (Image: Rccaustin)

2.4. You like how they treat people, not just how they treat you

While their loving behavior towards you is important, take time to observe how your partner treats others outside your relationship. This includes friends, family, and even strangers. Their overall approach to treating people reflects their core character, which will likely become more evident in the long run. After a few years, when the highs of early romance have worn off and you’re deep into both the stressful and tedious minutiae of regular living, that will be pretty evident.

average dating time before marriage
See how your partner treats her/ his surroundings (Image: Hack Spirit)

2.5. You’ve experienced making decisions together

A strong indicator of readiness for marriage is your ability to navigate decisions together, big or small. This means working collaboratively while respecting each other’s viewpoints. If you’ve established a pattern of resolving disagreements respectfully and finding common ground, it suggests a solid foundation for a happy marriage.

2.6. Your conflicts rarely get nasty

Healthy conflict resolution is crucial for a happy marriage. If disagreements turn disrespectful or hurtful, it’s a sign to hold off on getting engaged. The green light comes on when you and your partner have a history of resolving conflict productively. This likely involves learning to stay calm and avoiding negative behaviors.

how often to meet when first dating
You are always nice when it comes to arguments (Image: Buzz Feed)

3. What to Do If You Aren’t Ready for the Engagement

Hearing wedding bells…in your partner’s head, that is? If you love them but marriage feels like a leap you’re not ready for, don’t panic. Here’s a step-by-step on how to navigate this situation and keep your relationship strong.

3.1. Honest Self-Reflection

The first step is to understand your own reservations. It involves a deep and sincere look at your personal thinking and the reasons behind it. Maybe you want to achieve certain financial goals, or maybe you want to clear the air regarding any relationship-related doubts. Even if you’re not ready now, do you have an idea of when you might be?

Marriage is a lifelong commitment, and you should feel confident, excited, and prepared to take this step. So, it’s perfectly okay to not be ready right now. Don’t blame yourself for any hesitations; they’re simply signs you’re being thoughtful and responsible. The key is to identify these reasons and understand them.

3.2. Open Communication with Your Partner

Open Communication with Your Partner
Open Communication – Average time to date before engagement (Image: Photo Images)

Start by initiating a conversation in a calm environment where you can comfortably express that you’re not yet ready to propose, providing clear reasons for your stance. It’s equally important to actively listen to your partner’s feelings and concerns.

Validate their perspective by acknowledging their emotions and showing empathy. You could say, “I know marriage is important to you, and I can see why you might be surprised by this.” This will help them feel heard and understood, reducing any potential insecurities that might arise.

3.3. Strengthen Your Relationship

While waiting to propose, focus on fortifying your relationship’s foundation. Dedicate time to plan and enjoy activities that not only create cherished memories but also reinforce your connection. These activities could range from relaxing weekend retreats to exploring new hobbies together.

Remember, marriage is a partnership, not a competition. It’s important to be on the same page without pressing each other.

how long to date before moving in
Average dating time before moving in – Strengthen Your Relationship (Image: The Healthy)

3.4. Consider Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling can be a great way to enter marriage feeling confident and prepared. It provides a space for you and your partner to discuss important topics, develop healthy communication skills, and identify any potential areas of concern before they become bigger issues. Under the guidance of a qualified therapist, that conversation will be directed in the most effective way.

average dating time before engagement us
Average dating time before engagement – Consider Premarital Counseling (Image: Talkspace)

>>> Further reading:

The average dating time before marriage differs for every couple. Although there is no definitive guide for how long a couple should date before getting engaged, looking at national averages might give you a good idea. Most importantly, both of you are on the same page and eager to take your relationship to the next level. You can choose your case best if you deeply discuss it with your partner.

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