There’s a lot of confusing info out there about the natural course of a relationship that leads to marriage. You hear stories of people eloping after falling madly in love despite only knowing each other for a few weeks. Then there are movies like “He’s Just Not That Into You” where one of the characters (Jennifer Aniston) dates the same guy for seven full years without ever being proposed to!
Experiences on either side of this spectrum are undesirable. But what is an acceptable course of courtship that leads to marriage?
Start to Two Months
This is typically the “get to know you” phase where everything is great. All things about the other person are new and exciting. The whole experience is too novel to find any flaws about them. Life is good, and you are in love… or at least you think you are.
Three to Six Months
This is where things start to calm down, but they’re still going well. If you can make it through this phase and still have almost entirely positive feelings about the other person, you’re on the right track. However, if at any point during this phase you start to have legitimate questions about whether or not you could marry this person, that should be a serious warning sign. Of course, it’s worth trying to discuss your concerns first. People are surprisingly willing to adapt to the needs of others. But if you think the problem signs aren’t going to disappear, it could be time to cut ties at this stage before further investing yourself.
Six Months to a Year
This is the make or break point in the relationship. This is the stage where marriage can start to be put on the table. You won’t typically be “getting married” in this stage, but you should develop a very strong idea if that is a possibility before the year is out. The relationship has lasted long enough that you are certainly not in the wrong to question the future of things.
The Second Year
Usually you will reach a point of complete certainty sometime in the second year of dating someone if you will eventually marry them or not. If you realize you won’t be marrying them, be honest and straightforward with yourself. Many people make the mistake of assuming the other person will come around and ultimately spend another couple prime years on a relationship they later come to regard as a waste. The second year of dating is also the time when being proposed to starts to enter the picture. If you make it through two full years of dating without becoming engaged, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Circumstantially, that could be very normal (ie: you’re still quite young, other areas of your lives such as your careers are still in a precarious position).
This should serve as an indicator of the natural course of actions in a relationship. If your relationship doesn’t sound much like the timeline outlined in this article, be on guard and don’t allow yourself to become too attached!