Monday, November 19, 2012

How Long Should You Date For?

It's a question that seems to pop up in casual conversation. How it pops up, exactly, I cannot say - I'm going to list it under "one of those things".

Of course there is no set number, because that's silly, everyone is different. So why ask the question?!?

Because, although there is not set date, everyone still has their own idea of what that number (or range) should be. So here's mine: 1-3 years. I used to say 2-3 years, but what I'm doing now is counting up to the point of the engagement instead of the wedding.

Now there are a few caveats that I want to mention.

Firstly, how much history do you have with this person? 
Some couples have known each other for years before they started dating. Since they already know each other fairly well, they may date for a significantly less amount of time than a couple who started dating shortly after meeting each other.

Secondly, what is your proximity with this person?
Long-distance is a big factor in any relationship (long-distance marriage is a thing!) and so that can also determine the length of time of just getting to know the person. Even if you're in the same city, conflicting schedules do exist.

Thirdly, what is your age?
I think for the most part, courting shortens the older you get. And why wouldn't you, you have time to make up! Likewise, you have a lot more time when you're in your late teens/early twenties.

Others disagree with me about my 1-3 yeas range. Some say it is way too long, others have said it is way too short. I sympathize with the latter group, because I write this piece with a Christian view in mind and 5 years dating is a ridiculously long time (If you can think of a justifiable reason, leave a comment below).

Okay, now how long until you know you want to marry the person you're dating? I would say about six months. On average, it shouldn't take more than six months to know 'this is the person I want to marry.'

"Six months, but you still want to date for at least a year?" Yes, and here are some of my reasons why.

This is a big one, but don't think this list is ranked by priority. Weddings range in price, depending on what your budget is. The challenge is finding the funds for the actual living together part (after wedding). Are the both of you going to be working? Where are you going to live? How much are you going to live off of? These can all seem like daunting questions at first, but it's always good to discuss them, at least during pre-marital counselling anyway (yeah, I think PMC's are awesome ideas!). 

Waiting a year provides you an opportunity to see the person (and they see you) through all seasons of life. This is where the figuratively meets the literally (where the 'rubber meets the road'). You can both see your bright summers when you're the most happy and depressing winters when you're most sad. Sure people change and you can't let the superficial aspects of a person be the anchor in which your infatuations lie. (ha, infatuations lie - get it? Punny!). I say let the seasons come as they may and the two of you ride those seas.

A question I have for married men is usually their reflection on their own wedding party. Responses vary but one that stuck out to me was, "I wish I had her brothers in there". I think that at least a year provides you an opportunity to not only know each other, but know each other's family. Personally I would love it if I knew her brothers well enough that I was completely comfortable in having them in my wedding party, because family is family.

As long as you are both on the same page, and one is not always left questioning anything stage of the relationship, then it's great.

I think 1-3 years is a happy range. Besides, time just flies by so quickly that I'm sure either of you would even notice.

Now, how long from an engagement proposal to a wedding? A different question. That is why you should read my new upcoming book, ENGAGEMENT. It's about taking what feels like purgatory to some for a season, and turning it into a purgaparty. Pre-orders available now.

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