Many women have asked me how long is too long to be dating or when they should expect to see their relationship take a step to the next level. Decisions like this have to be a topic of conversation in the relationship. As a man, if I’m OK with where we stand, or I don’t anticipate getting engaged, we need to have that discussion. I can’t tell you exactly how long is too long, but I can give some guidance on how to work toward finding your individual answer.
Dating is Not Forever
There are a small percentage of people who have no interest in marriage and will date infinitely. That’s fair, and the right thing for those people to do is to let you know up front that this is only dating and it’s not going any farther than this. Pertaining to the rest of us, dating has an expiration date. Dating is an opportunity for me to learn as much as possible about my woman. It’s not meant to be a permanent place of residence in case “something better” comes along. As a man, I have a responsibility to let my woman know and let her family know what my intentions are (if we are serious).
It’s reasonable to expect that serious relationships have a timetable to become fruitful marriages. The timetable is different for each relationship. What we have to consider is if a woman makes it clear she wants to be married and our relationship has grown to that level, she deserves a man who values her enough to marry her, or appreciates her enough to let her go find someone that will. If we are truly selfless, we will think of her needs and desires above ours and either give her what she expects and deserves or allow her to be free to get those needs met elsewhere. Dating is a means to an end, not a synonym for an indentured servant or concubine. If she wants to get married, make it happen or keep it moving.
What is Your Timetable?
I know a couple who dated for 10 years, had children and never got married. I also know a couple, who dated 14 years, has 2 children and did not marry. The woman in each relationship wanted to be married. The man in each relationship might have gotten married—but they didn’t have anything to show them they needed to be married. They lived as though they were married, so there was nothing to make either man interested in changing his circumstances. They looked at marriage as a detriment to their lives, not an asset.
Our time is finite, so we need to respect our own time and desires as such. If you set a parameter to see progress in the relationship, stick to it.
It’s imperative, whether man or woman, to have parameters around what you are willing to give as far as time to a relationship with no direction. Once you have made a decision on what you want and you have a conversation around where the relationship is headed, you have to be willing to move forward in or out of that relationship. Our time is finite, so we need to respect our own time and desires as such. If you set a parameter to see progress in the relationship, stick to it. For example, if a woman were to say, “I expect to move forward in this relationship within the next six months” and the couple has been dating for five years, that’s a reasonable expectation. The parameter is fair and you are giving your mate time to make a decision. The reality is, if they don’t meet that expectation and they haven’t met it for the past five years- six months, what would make you think they will meet it in six more months?! It’s your precious time you can’t get back. Spend it wisely.
Is five years too long? Ten years? Is nine months too long? Some people would say you can figure out if a relationship is going to work in six months. There’s no perfect timetable for everyone. We have to communicate where we stand in the relationship and where we want to see it go. Watch to see if it’s moving in the direction you have planned. If things are going as planned, you will find your timetable is perfect for you.
BMWK – How long is too long to date someone (when you want to get married?)
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