They say, “when you know, you know,” and many married couples swear they knew they’d met “the one” after just five minutes with their current spouse
However, for every happily married person who was sure it was love at first sight, there is a heartbroken divorced person saying, “I can’t believe how wrong I was.”
Now, we may feel––or know (hey, I’m no sceptic)––that our relationship is special. But it is still wise to think twice before rushing into an engagement.
Studies show that couples who are together for longer before getting married have a higher chance of staying together.
That said, if you are in your thirties and want to have children, you may not want to wait around for too long to see if your partner will end up deciding to get down on one knee or not.
Here is some general advice about how long to date before marriage, depending on your age.
How long should you date before marriage?
If you are in your 20s, date for at least 3 years before marriage. If you are in your 30s or early 40s and want children, you should still date for at least 1 year before getting engaged. If you are in your 50s, date for 3–5 years. That said, whatever age you are, just enjoy your partner’s company and only get married when you are 100 percent sure they are the one.
Every relationship is different, and these guidelines are just that: guidelines.
That said, there is something to be said for being cautious when it comes to something that is as serious a romantic, financial, and legal commitment as marriage.
So, if you feel like you can afford to wait and there is no pressing reason to tie the knot, then do wait!
How long to date before marriage in your early 20s
If you are in your early 20s, date for 3–5 years before marriage. You have plenty of time to have children if you want them. Statistics show that people who date for 3 years before getting engaged are approximately 50 percent more likely to stay together. So, do yourself and your partner a favor and wait to get engaged––you’ll be improving your chances of staying together.
If you are in your early 20s and meet someone you could see yourself spending the rest of your life with, it is completely understandable that you would feel excited about getting engaged and married.
And while you may be right that the person you are with is the one for you, there is no reason to rush into things. Just because the first date went well doesn’t mean you should start fantasizing about the house you’ll buy together.
If you end up tying the knot, you’ll have a lifetime to be married, buy a house, and raise children—if that’s what you want to do.
What you won’t have a lifetime to do is be in your early 20s having fun with your partner with little to no serious financial or professional responsibility or commitment hanging over your heads!
Also, why not move in together as a first step? Studies show that co-habiting before marriage significantly increases a couple’s chances of staying together.
How long to date before marriage in your late 20s
If you are in your late 20s, date for at least 3 years before marriage. You will still be a good age to have children and you will enter your engagement knowing that your relationship has worked in a variety of different contexts, which will inevitably crop up over the course of those years.
People who meet their soulmates in their teens or early twenties often lament that they didn’t meet them in their late 20s.
Meeting the one in your late 20s is a blessing. You’ve had your early 20s to explore, travel, learn about yourself, and establish a clear sense of identity outside of a romantic relationship.
And all this while not being in the position of highly successful people in their 40s and 50s who have to cope with dating someone who is busy all the time.
Now that you know who you are and what you want, you will be better able to choose the person who complements your lifestyle and values.
That said, just because you’ve found a fellow Marvel enthusiast who likes it when you say, “I love you 3000,” doesn’t mean you should be less cautious with your heart (and finances).
While you may be at the perfect age to fall in love and begin to think about lifelong commitment, you should still wait a while before getting engaged.
If you want to be in the best statistical position to have your relationship last, then you should wait at least three years before one of you gets down on one knee and asks the other person to spend the rest of your lives together.
Many women in their late 20s feel the pressures of fertility beginning to creep up on them.
Don’t let that pressure cause you to make rash decisions. You still have plenty of time to have kids.
And if you’re worried about fertility, consult an OBGYN so that you can have a clear, accurate picture of your prospects of having children.
How long to date before marriage in your 30s
If you are in your early 30s, date for 2–3 years before marriage. If you are in your late 30s, date for at least 1 year before marriage. These timeframes consider the biological pressures for women in their 30s who want to have children. If you don’t want children, then date as though you were in your early twenties and wait for at least 3 years before getting engaged.
The question of how long to date before marriage in your 30s is certainly trickier than the question of how long to date before marriage in your 20s.
In your 20s, there is literally no reason to rush. You have a lifetime ahead of you to do everything you could possibly want or need to do.
However, as soon as you enter your 30s, you may start to feel a creeping pressure—both from within yourself and from society at large—to begin thinking about tying the knot, settling down, and having children (if you want them).
And there’s no point in denying it—there is a biological reality that needs to be taken into account if you want to raise kiddos.
That said, if you’re in your 30s and don’t want to have babies, you can date for as long as you want before marriage. Take your time and enjoy your time getting to know your partner properly before tying the knot. Aim to date for 3 to 5 years before making any long-term commitments.
How long to date before marriage in your 40s
If you are in your 40s and want children, date for at least 1 year before marriage. If you are in your 40s and don’t want children, take your time dating before marriage. If you aren’t worried about either your own or your partner’s biological clock, there is no reason not to date as though you were in your early 20s.
If you are in your early 40s and want children, date until you are sure you could see yourself living happily with someone forever.
You’re savvy enough by now to know whether you would clash with someone down the line or not. That said, just make sure you’re being honest with yourself about your compatibility. If you were sitting there on the first date wondering how to say no to second date and have managed to quash your concerns, make sure you have quashed them for the right reasons.
So, if it genuinely feels right and you could see yourselves being happy parents, don’t feel like you have to wait the usually recommended 3 years before getting married.
If you want children, you should honestly just for it. At a certain point in life, you have to trust your gut and go with what feels right.
If you’re happy with someone, don’t worry too much about timeframes. If you know that you are compatible with your partner and value marriage as an institution, then hey, just go for it!
If you spend your whole life being too cautious you will miss out on a wealth of experience. Don’t be too scared to take a leap of faith. You’ve lived long enough to know what you do and don’t like in a partner.
If you don’t want children, what’s the rush? Enjoy your partner’s company for at least 3 years and then decide whether marriage is right for the two of you.
How long to date before marriage in your 50s
If you are a woman in your 50s, chances are you either have children or know that you have probably don’t want them, so take your time and date for at least 3 years before marriage. If you are a man in your 50s, you are in the same position––unless of course, you have a younger partner who wants to have children, in which case try to date for at least 2 years before marriage.
The question of how long to date before marriage in your 50s will depend entirely on your life circumstances.
Are you already a parent? Would this be your first marriage?
The truth is that only you can know what is best for you.
That said, the general advice that the longer people have been together before getting engaged the longer they will probably stay together still stands.
If you feel like you can afford to wait, try to see out 3 years of dating life before making a lifetime commitment to your partner.
Hey, it’s me, Steven. Dating and relationships have always fascinated me. On Dategosu, you will find my best tips to make sure your next date is a great success!