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How Long Should You Date Before You Get Engaged? 17 Signs To Your Answer

Many people have an opinion on how long should you date before getting engaged. The truth is, it depends completely on the couple and their situation. 

how long should you date before getting engaged

We feel so much pressure to have achieved certain milestones by a certain age. Especially with social media, it seems like there’s a ticking clock over all our heads to play catch up to our peers. But it’s a complete waste of time to measure your so-called progress against someone else’s. How long you should date before getting engaged is completely up to you and your partner.

Saying that there’s a timeline for every single relationship is a load of rubbish. Seriously. [Read: How soon is too soon to move in together? 41 signs you’re both ready!]

We have choices in a modern era

We have choices these days—we can live our lives in the way we want to without conforming to any so-called rules. If anyone says differently, just ignore them. Who made these rules up anyway?

One of the biggest pressures in a relationship is when to pop the question. We’re under the belief that a man should be the one to propose, but what if you’re not in a relationship with a man? Can you not get engaged? What if you’re a woman and you want to do the proposing? Again, who made up these rules?

It’s a good thing that we’re all rule-breakers these days, that’s for sure. [Read: Love vs. in love – What makes them so different and yet so similar?]

This does bring to mind a big question. If we’re pressured to walk down the aisle after being with someone for a while, how long should you date before getting engaged?

Assuming that you actually want to tie the knot at some point in your life—remember, not everyone does—when should you be taking that step and putting a ring on it?

Ah, another debate! [Read: Should you settle for less when you can have so much more?]

How long should you date before getting engaged?

There’s no right or wrong answer!

The bottom line is that some couples date for 10, 15, or even 20 years before getting engaged. Some couples never get engaged but continue to cohabit like a married couple would until they’re old and gray.

On the other hand, some couples meet, date for a month, and then fall so hard for each other that they’re running off to Vegas to have an Elvis-officiant wedding.

It’s such a varied bag of possible situations, but not one of them is wrong. Only you know when you’re ready to take the plunge.

It’s even possible to be engaged for a long period of time, and possibly stay engaged but never set a date to get married! [Read: 67 must-knows to get engaged and before and after secrets no one tells you]

Nobody can tell you that by the point of dating for three years, you must be shopping for rings. Nobody can tell you that marrying your partner will make you any happier than you are now. It’s a personal choice and one that only you and your partner know the answer to.

If we really do have to put an average time on it, *and let’s be honest, you’re still itching to know what other people are doing* then it seems that around one to two years is the average amount of time before people go shopping around for rings. However, some still consider that to be quite early! [Read: Relationship timeline – 16 most common dating phases of a relationship]

The biggest signs you’re ready to propose

If you’ve spent some time thinking about marriage and you think you’re almost there, what are the signs that you’re ready to pop the big question? Here are a few to consider:

1. You’ve talked about marrying each other

This is a bit of a deal breaker. If you’ve never mentioned marriage and it’s never once popped up in conversation, it’s best to wait.

However, if you’ve both discussed it, either in passing or seriously, then you can probably say that now is a good time. [Read: What does love feel like? 33 signs what you’re feeling is true and real]

2. You think of the future as a unit, rather than an individual

In a marriage, you and your partner have to work as a team. You make decisions together, you fail together, and you succeed together.

So, that means you need to see each other as a unit and not two individuals who happen to like spending a lot of time together.

3. You both want the same things

It’s vital that you’re both on the same page about the key things in life, such as having children, core beliefs, and values.

That doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, but these are pretty huge subjects that you need to be thinking along the same lines about. [Read: Self-concept – how we create and develop it to control our happiness]

4. You like how they treat other people, not just you

How does your partner treat the server at a restaurant? Are they always polite? And how about how they treat your friends and family members?

It’s important that you like how they treat others and that not you’re just wrapped up in how they treat you. It says a lot about them as a person.

5. You’ve experienced making decisions together

If you’ve already started making big decisions as a team, you’re halfway there. This chimes back to what we said earlier about being a unit and not two individuals.

If you can work together to make sound decisions, that sets you up well for the future. [Read: The most important decisions you should never let your partner make for you]

6. Your conflicts rarely get nasty

Everyone argues occasionally. These conflicts can actually be positive if they help you to express pent-up emotions and solve problems.

However, if you both fight nasty and end up in a toxic environment during and after, that’s not a great sign over the long term.

7. You’re starting to think about married life

This is a pretty big sign, right? If you’re thinking about marriage and seeing it as a good and positive step forward, then, for sure, you’re ready to pop the question!

8. You’re open to premarital counseling

Not everyone will go down this route but being open to it means that you’re serious about your relationship and that you want your marriage to work.

Premarital counseling can help you to iron out any issues before you get married and can help to make sure that you’re on the same page about the things that count. [Read: Relationship counseling – signs you need it to save your love]

Signs it might be too soon to pop the question

Of course, when considering how long should you date before getting engaged, there are also signs that it’s just not the time yet.

1. You’ve been together less than a year

Look, some couples go and get hitched after three months of knowing each other and everything turns out wonderfully.

But it’s the exception and not the rule. For the most part, you need to get to know one another over a longer period of time to make sure that you’re compatible.

If you’ve been together for less than a year, enjoy spending time together and take the pressure off a little. There’s plenty of time for that later on. [Read: Honeymoon phase – what it is, and 53 signs to know how long this stage will last]

2. Your relationship is highly passionate

A little passion is a good thing. But if your relationship is only about passion, it’s likely to be stormy. It could also be that you won’t handle the tough hurdles that marriage can bring because your heightened emotions are just a norm in your relationship, and rational thought just flies out the window.

Most couples who have these highly passionate relationships are either still in the honeymoon phase or the relationship is a little too chaotic to consider marriage at that point.

3. You haven’t met the important people in their life

You’re not going to be invited for lunch with their folks after one or two dates. But if you’ve yet to meet the important people in their life and you’ve been together a while, it’s not the best time to consider marriage.

Basically, you’re not there yet and they probably don’t see you as long-term material at this very moment. It doesn’t mean they won’t, or that they’re not considering it—it’s just a little soon right now. [Read: How to not screw up when you meet the parents for the first time]

4. You’re not sure about their values

You don’t know them well enough at this stage to think about getting hitched. Remember, you need to be on the same page about all the important subjects in life and your values are certainly on that list.

Don’t rush it, but spend some time having conversations about the things that are important in both your lives and work out whether they’re in alignment first. [Read: Higher standards – why going low only leads to lousy relationships]

5. You’re still not that familiar with the details of their life outside of you

Again, you don’t know them well enough yet. You’re very sure about the things you do together and how they feel about you, but the rest is somewhat blurry.

To have a happy and long-lasting marriage, you need to know about this person inside out. That means understanding their life as a whole.

6. You’re more excited about the idea of getting married than the actual relationship

This is a big pitfall for many people and something that you need to be careful of. If the idea of marriage is attractive to you, ask yourself why. Do you think people will look at you differently, or that you’ve somehow ‘made it?’

If you’re more interested in the idea of having a ring on your finger or having someone with your ring on their finger, wait a while.

You need to be excited about uniting your life with your lover, not the status of being married. [Read: 58 best and worst reasons to get married and signs you’re not ready for it]

7. You have arguments that sometimes turn ugly

Everyone has arguments; that’s normal. However, as we mentioned earlier, if your arguments turn ugly most of the time or even some of the time, that’s a sign that your relationship is either not on track or you’re just too passionate at this current time.

Work on what is causing these issues and wait it out. [Read: Relationship arguments – 38 tips and ways to fight fair and grow closer in love]

8. You haven’t had an argument yet

You might think this is a good sign, but it’s not. You’ve either not been together long enough to have an argument or you’re keeping your feelings pushed down.

Look, it’s normal to find things annoying about your partner, and from time to time, we disappoint our significant other. These are common reasons to argue. If you’re not doing any of that, ever, ask yourselves why. [Read: The first fight in a relationship – 25 things you need to do next]

9. You’re not sure how your partner feels about marrying you yet

It’s too early. Seriously. You need to know how your partner feels about all of this to risk asking. The fact they’ve not mentioned it or even hinted about it could mean that they’re just not ready yet.

Take the plunge only when you’re ready

Only take the plunge and get engaged when you’re ready, and not when so-called society tells you it’s acceptable. If you want to pop the question after three months and you’re sure it’s right for both of you, we say go for it.

Time is no measurement of the depth of a couple’s love.

If you want to get engaged, run off and get married in secret, then that’s your prerogative too. Timelines don’t matter. [Read: How to elope and have your fairytale wedding]

Quite frankly, we have no idea who decided what these so-called acceptable timelines are anyway.

It could have been a person so drastically unhappy with their own life that they wanted to put excessive pressure on everyone else and make them miserable too!

The only person whose view on marriage you should listen to is your own, and your partner’s, of course. Everything else is just noise.

[Read: New relationship doubts – 22 toxic and normal signs to read what you feel]

So, how long should you date before getting engaged? It’s personal, but when it’s the right time for you, you’ll know. But it goes without saying, you should only ever produce a ring when you’re sure and ready!

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...