If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you’re considering proposing and perhaps relatively early on in your relationship! It's exciting! But you’re also wondering whether the time is right. How soon is too soon to propose?
We already know how long couples wait on average before getting married, but what does the research tell us about how long we should date to lower the chances of divorce?
How soon is too soon to propose, according to research & data
Well, a study by researchers at Emory University in 2017 surveyed 3370 married or previously-married people and uncovered results about what contributes to a lasting marriage. Turns out, if you're considering taking the plunge, taking some time is, perhaps, a wise move.
This is what the research seems to reveal:
- Couples who dated for one-two years are 20% less likely of getting divorced than those who dated each other for a shorter period.
- Dating someone up to three or more years before walking down the aisle can reduce divorce risk by an additional 19%. So dating someone for more than three years, seems to drastically reduce the chances of divorce by almost 40% compared to under one year.
Now whether this is comforting or concerning, it’s important to note that the number of people surveyed is relatively small. What’s more, the research can only consider married people who are still married at the time of the survey – there’s no guarantee that they’ll be married 5,10,15 years beyond the survey’s collection date.
What’s more, correlation doesn’t mean causation, i.e. just because there seems to be a correlation, it doesn't mean there actually is because there are all kinds of factors that are difficult to track and include in surveys such as these.
How soon is too soon to propose, according to the experts?
But what to the experts say? Jonathan Decker, the clinical director of Your Family Expert, and a licensed marriage and family therapist refers to a book called How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by Dr. John Van Epp.
Epp outlines five phases that are essential to go through before getting married:
These five steps happen almost simultaneously, but the priority you give them is important.
As Decker puts it “don't touch somebody more than your level of commitment. Don't commit to somebody more than you can rely on them. Don't rely on somebody more than you can trust them and don't trust somebody more than you know them.”
So with knowing being the most important phase, how long does it take to actually get to know somebody?
Decker says according to research, “the bare minimum to actually know somebody is 90 days. For the first 90 days, people tend not to show you their angry side, their sad side, or their vulnerable side. They really want to impress you. They really want you to see the best of them. It's only after about 3 months of real contact and connection, that people tend to bring the walls down and show you who they really are.”
So how long should you wait before proposing?
Based on the research and experts, an absolute bare minimum of 90 days. A year at least would be even preferable, whilst 3 years plus at an optimum.
That said, there’s only one thing that really matters… Love. And perhaps how much trust you have in your gut! So, as interesting as the information above is, only you – deep down – will know when it’s the right time to get married. That said, my hubby has a smart approach to many tough decisions and that is to consider how you would advise your best friend if they were in your situation. Would you advise they propose, or wait?