What Is the Average Length of Time to Date Before Getting Engaged?

Plus, an expert shares that the success of a partnership isn't just determined by how long you've been together.

A young black couple gets engaged outside.

Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

Whether you’ve been officially dating “the one” for a few months or for the better part of a decade, you might be wondering how you’ll know when you’ve entered that sweet spot—by this, we mean the period when you know it's the right time to get engaged. When folks on your Facebook feed start flaunting a diamond ring after seeing someone for under a year but then high school sweethearts you know stay ringless for decades, it’s totally understandable to feel confused about the right timeline.

The truth is that, according to experts, there is no magic number to date before getting engaged—but there is an average amount of time that couples date before engagement. According to a survey of 3,100 couples conducted by Shane Co., an engagement ring retailer, the average American couple dates for 30 months, or roughly 2.5 years, before getting engaged.

But of course, while there is an average amount of time, every couple will be different. “There are some couples who know on the first date that they’ve found the one and get engaged quickly, while others take the time to get to know someone well before putting a ring on it,” explains online dating expert and digital matchmaker Julie Spira.

Meet the Expert

Julie Spira is an online dating expert and digital matchmaker.

Spira is of the opinion that no matter what the data says, a couple should go through all seasons together at the very least so that they surpass the honeymoon phase before determining whether or not to stay together for life. “Everyone puts their best foot forward during the courting stage, which is typically the first three months of the relationship,” she says. “When your relationship is brand new, you haven’t gone through the bumps on the road together, traveled on vacation together, or gone through a traumatic event such as the death of a family member or loss of a job.” Taking it slowly, and ensuring you really experience a wide range of ups and down together over the course of a few years bodes well for a lasting partnership.

And research supports this theory. One study published by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found that couples who’d been together at least three years before they got engaged were 39 percent less likely to get divorced than couples who got engaged within the first year of dating.

Clearly, time is on a couple’s side when it comes to the longevity of their marriage. But Spira points out that there’s more to a happy marriage than just many years spent side-by-side. Here, we've gathered the fundamental aspects of a relationship that matter the most when determining whether an engagement—and ultimately, your marriage—will last, aside from the length of time that you date.

How You Communicate and Resolve Conflict

How a couple speaks to one another and resolves their disagreements is one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not they will be able to resolve issues in their marriage. When you first begin dating, small arguments might seem inconsequential, but these initial challenges—and how you handle them as a couple—will set you up for how you navigate more complicated arguments or conflicts in the future.

Your Shared Interests and Values

While couples don’t have to have all the same interests, there should be a shared value system. This includes being on the same page in regard to what family means to you, spiritual beliefs, finances, whether you want to have children, career paths, etc.

How You Handle Finances

The manner in which you and your significant other are able to save, spend, and handle bills is another important factor. “If one is a shopaholic and the other wants to save for the future, a discussion on a family budget is imperative,” says Spira. “Many marriages dissolve due to financial problems, so having a savings and retirement plan from the onset is critical for a successful marriage.”

How You Balance Work and Family Life

Ensuring that both of you make your marriage and family life a priority over work is another key to a happy, long marriage. “More often than not, a marriage has two working spouses to keep up with living expenses,” says Spira. “If one of you decides to be the breadwinner, while the other watches the household and children, take the time to discuss how you will spend your time when you’re not working.”

Knowing When to Get Help

Marriage is hard work. While you might not be able to measure marital success on a scale in terms of time, the same effort (and tons of it) has to be there if two people intend to stay married for life. This won’t always be easy, experts say. If you’re not able to resolve and make updates in an emotionally efficient way, it's best to seek out relationship counseling so that a professional can see where the broken beam lies and help you repair it before you decide you need to tear it down and rebuild from scratch.

Article Sources
Brides takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. https://www.shaneco.com/theloupe/jewelry-education/art-of-engagement/how-soon-is-too-soon-to-propose

  2. Francis A, Mialon H. A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage DurationSSRN Electronic Journal. 2014. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2501480.

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