Should You Date Someone For A Certain Time Before Getting Married?

It's 2021, and these days, relationships can take truly any form. Whether you're the type of person who's eager to start a family or you want to avoid the frightening notion of commitment, the beautiful thing about modern relationships is that there are always other people out there that want the same things that you do — you just have to find them!

That said, despite the knowledge that no two relationships are the same, it can be difficult not to fall into the trap of eagerly awaiting an engagement. Making a Pinterest board of your wedding goals? Eyeing wedding dresses as you pass them in the window? Dropping hints to your partner in the hopes that they'll catch on? You're certainly not alone.

But we can't help but wonder — is there an algorithm for the best time to get married? A sweet spot, as it were, for the perfect moment to turn from partners to fiancés? Keep reading to see what experts advise.

Here's how biology plays a part in our relationships

You know that feeling when you're dating someone new and the world is a little brighter, things taste a little better, and life is just a little sweeter? That's love! But for all the lovely moments that lead you to that moment and the undeniably special traits about your partner that make you feel this way, this fluttering in your heart and butterflies in your stomach is a biological response. Yep, it's quite literally hormones — as well as the release of dopamine and norepinephrine — that makes you feel like you're on top of the world when you're in love (via Healthline). 

Imagine if you got married to the first person that ever made you feel that way — you might end up totally regretting it later on when those feelings level out and you're no longer in the honeymoon phase of your relationship. Therefore, while there might not be a tried and true "correct" time to get engaged, there are certainly wrong times to get engaged.

Quality over quantity, advise experts

Experts recommend never rushing into an engagement, no matter how loved up and blissful your relationship is. That's why Ian Kerner, licensed psychotherapist, couple's therapist, and author of "She Comes First," suggests waiting at least one or two years before deciding to get engaged. 

"I've worked with a lot of couples who have strong relationships, and they met and fell in love quickly and really got to know each other's friends and family," Kerner told The Knot. "You want to have some problems emerge and see how you deal with problems together. For me, it's more about the range of experiences that lend themselves to compatibility rather than the amount of time." However, the longer you wait it out, the better the chance that you'll experience these moments with your partner.

Another nugget of wisdom from experts comes down to the length of time being engaged, rather than the length of time dating. Indeed, just because you're engaged doesn't mean you have to rush into tying the knot.

Not sure about marriage? Try out a 'forever engagement'

An engagement symbolizes an intent to marry, not a marriage in and of itself, experts explain (via Engagement Rings Magazine). Therefore, many couples these days are deciding to adopt a more modern outlook regarding the notion of engagement, and they're calling it "forever engagement."

There's a variety of reasons that a person might never want to get married: exorbitant cost, ethical dilemmas, or a fundamental lack of interest. But these reasons shouldn't prevent couples from the exciting stage of being engaged, which many even consider to be the best part of a relationship. That's why some couples opt for a "forever engagement," which is exactly as it sounds: an engagement that never actually leads to a wedding (via Refinery29).

Leigh Bullock told Seven Days that she and her fiancé Mike Avella have no intention of marrying despite having been engaged for over nine years. "We have a great relationship. We have a lot of fun together. He's my perfect partner, and I can't imagine myself with anyone else," she explained. "But neither one of us feels the need for a legal document to seal the deal." 

Ultimately, the decision is up to you — so do what feels right!