Got Marriage? How Long Is Too Long To Date?

BY: - 27 Dec '07 | Relationships

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I received an email from a reader the other day asking me how long did my husband and I date before we got married.   She said she was in her late thirties and had been dating a guy for more than 6 years..but he has not proposed to her yet.   He had various reasons for not proposing: needs to get himself together financially, wants to go back to school and make advancements in his career, etc…

I don’t think she wants to break up with him because she  says he is  a good guy.   My opinion is that she needs to move on because her needs are not being met in that relationship.  It does not take 10 years to know if you want to marry a person.   If you don’t know within the first year, the chances are, this person is not right for you.


Ladies, here’s a guy secret: He knows within the first few weeks if your marriage material, he  know’s within the first year if he wants to marry you. After that it’s a free-for-all. Believe me when you see what you want it doesn’t take long to move on it. If it’s taking years and years something else is going on and it’s not because he wants to get himself together. Please don’t fall for that one. Everyone is not perfect nor do they need to be but believe me it’s easier for two people to work on something than one person by him or herself.

Special note to my long, long term relationship folks, maybe it will happen one day but chances are against it and the more you invest the harder it is to leave. In the meantime you could be blocking your blessings. Who knows what you’re missing out on while your mate boyfriend\girlfriend is messing around.

We’ll be talking more about this soon with additional input from authors and relationship experts so stay tuned… In the meantime let us know what you think the time limits are if any….. leave a comment or if you have a story you’d like for us to consider posting email it to

About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 528 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.


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113 WordPress comments on “Got Marriage? How Long Is Too Long To Date?

  1. Long term relationship

    I really don’t think one can place a time period on love! Getting married can be based on alot of different things. It’s different if you have no kids with that person vs. someone who does. I also think it has to do with age, maturity and money. Although not everyone wants a big wedding I’m sure if the money was right majority of people would do it. I think that also plays a big factor in relationships as well!!

  2. Courtney

    Why do people thank God for sending them someone to shack up with? Is that sincere gratitude? Do they truly believe that God works that way? I have heard ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’ say that God has blessed them with someone…..that they happen to be living with and happen to be having pre-marital sex with.

    When God sends your mate, He will also give you knowledge and wisdom to make the right decisions regarding BOTH parties. He will teach you how to NOT cause the individual to sin against Him.

    A mature man will know within the first year of courting the mature woman. The mature woman will know the mature man is ready when he SINCERELY asks her to be his bride.

  3. dazzy

    I think we should take age into consideration. I just turned 20 a few months ago and i’m a rising junior in college. Many of you are saying a man knows within a few months if he wants to marry you and after a year is too long to wait for a proposal. I couldnt imagine myself right now dating a guy and start talking marriage within months or even the 1st year.Now, if you’re like 26, pushing 30, or over, then yes, I do think marriage is something that should be discussed early on in the relationship. If you two don’t plan on growing together and establishing a permanant relationship, what is the point?

    As far as money is concerned: you both should know your financial situation so I dont think the female should be expecting a ring if you know he can’t afford 1 and/or a wedding at the time. BUT i also believe, like a lot of people have said, if that man wants to marry you, he knows it. Perhaps he could express that to you, out of respect for you & not wanting to have you going through the motions for years, and show you that he is working towards being able to provide a ring and pay for the wedding because he wants to marry you. With this being said, keep in mind pride issues men have. It may make him feel like less of a man if money is an issue so be compassionate, but not a fool.

  4. Rocklust

    My boyfriend of six years is saying that he wants to marry me, but he says he is too young. He is 25 and I am 23 and we live together. I feel like we are stuck in a rut. I think that he thinks since we are already living as if we were married, there is no need for marriage. But he also says that he is getting his financial situation in order to afford a ring and wedding costs, but I need to wait one to two more years. Is this too long to wait? Am I wasting my time and becoming that girl who is always just going to be a girlfriend?

  5. girl in pink

    I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years now. We have been talking about marriage for about the past 2 years and we are getting married next year. And I have been perfectly fine with the way things are between us. I think only you can decide for yourself when you will be ready for marriage. But for me, 1 year of dating is not enough time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a very long courtship, as long as both of you are on the same page about your future. If you feel like you’ve been waiting around for a few years and nothing is happening, then move on. But if you are fine just dating for now, no matter how long you have been together, then so be it. Some of you are acting like if a man does not propose after 1 year then he is automatically cheating or he’s just a loser. I don’t get that!

  6. Desert Flower

    Wow what a topic. As a christian woman I believe that you must first commit yourself to Christ and next your relationship to Him. It’s not easy. Dating can be so confusing when you are totally dependent upon your own “feelings”. The situation becomes even more difficult if a dating couple becomes physically involved (which is against God’s direction), this creates a whole new set of issues and emotions. As far as time, I do agree that it is difficult to put a real specific time line on any relationship because we are all unique and unique in the way that we interact as couples, but I also strongly agree that when you know what you want (especially if you have been in prayer), you go after it (just like a career, or any thing else you want) because you don’t want to risk not getting it and it does not take a long time to figure that out. I agree that age is a factor, in the time line issue, but the older you get the less time it takes to make that decision, for real.

  7. Ponderer

    After reading all of these comments I had considered something myself. I have been in a relationship with a guy for the past 3 years but have known him for 5 alltogether. We dated on and off for the first two years but it was mostly developing our friendship.
    I lived three hours from him during those two years so it was never really a serious thing.
    Then I decided I needed to move back to finish my degree and help my father in his company. After I moved back we started to see each other more often and eventually it blossomed into a relationship.
    He is a great guy and thoughtful and sweet but he has not proposed to me after these three years. I could sit here and moap myself and think, well he’s never going to marry me. If he was going to or wanted to he would have dont it already.
    However, every person is different. Some people take longer and want to be absolutely sure that theyre with the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. We both come from homes that ended in divorce so we both agree that its important to get to know that person as best as you can.
    For me, I would say yes if he asked me but I dont know if he’s there yet and it’s not good to rush someone either. I’ve had plenty of girlfriends who gave their guy an ultimatum of two years and all of them have ended in divorce.
    We live in a society where everything is rushed and everything has to be now or else never. If two people are happy together and love being with each other, why put a rush order on things? Just enjoy it and if its meant to happen it will happen.
    I see the majority thinking that there should be a time limit on when to propose, even if you havent gotten to know them as good as you should, but I also noticed that the majority of people in america end up in divorce. Maybe people should reconsider what they think is a guideline for marriage.

  8. Mary

    I just came upon this site. I have been in a relationship for 6 years. We each have our own home, jobs and friends in the same town. His kids are grown and off on their own, my girls are just off to college. I was married for 19 years, husband hit mid-life and left very dramatically. I was very clear when I met and started a new relationship that I am not a dater and that if we took our relationship past friendship it would be with the intention toward marriage. My boyfriend has been married twice before, bad choices both times on his part. We are both smart, involved, educated people. At this point in my life (50) I know that I need to put intellingence over emotion and make a decision. I love him and want to be married to him. The explanations of 1. I want you to achieve your goals first, 2. I have problems communicating with your daughters, 3. (Now that the girls are away at college), I do not want to be the reason your girls do not come home for college holidays – you would begin to resent me.
    I believe in us or would not have invested the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional time into our relationship. He states that he just doesn’t want to make another mistake. I am asking your help, decision making tools. Thanks

  9. Dimtj

    I like the comment “if it don’t fit, don’t force it.” I think most of us search for answers and ask opionions because deep down we already know. There are a lot of valid points on here related to age, career, education, religious beliefs. But the key to all situations is honesty. Honesty with yourself about what you want, what you desire and what you need. Honest about the person with you want to be. Facing the harsh realities and living with the truth saves not only our time, whether it be 6 months or 6 years. Happiness I think does tell us the truth. If you are not happy, both happy, then something isn’t right. Neither party should be forced or cohereced into making something happen, whether to get married or wait on getting married. For women who set a dead line those men had to make a choice that they were interested enough and deemed their women worth calling them on their demands. When you speak up for your desires only two things will happen. The listening party will either step up or step away, but whatever their decision I have learned and have been learning watch their actions not just what they say.

    As for my current and personal situation, its been five years, going on six coming november 2011, if we make past June. I walked away once because they key I was not happy. He was content but I was not happy and the situation remains the same. I gave him an ultimatum, then we got back together because we were both needed for different reasons but not the reasons worthy of marriage or a serious relationship. I also agree with the comments that were made about “you knew” or a guy knows. I have time after time witnessed men make a committment to women that I thought, wow, really is he serious about her? But if someone is into you then they are in and there are never excuses for someone who means business.

    Hence my wake up call from this relationship, this time I am out once out and will take this 5 year learning experience with me into the future for hopefully a promising happy and healthy relationship with a committed and willing partner who shares similar outlooks or just enjoying my life and career single living. Because marriage isn’t about finding someone to make one happier but about being happy, content and enjoying life as you are, marriage is a added “icing on top” type of benefit when someone who is in a good place as you are is able to share life along and with you.

  10. Sweetsunshyne

    I agree it does not take years to figure out if you want to marry your partner. I do think u should be planning your nuptials by year 2. When you know you know

  11. Creativesifu

    Man secrets from a 40+ year old:nnAn observant man knows usually the first time he meets you if you are the ‘One’. The ‘One’ causes us to change our behavior. Theu00a0’One’ makes us immediately reassess our present situation. Is she more valuable than my male friends, am I willing to give up Sat football/golf, how long will it take me to buy a ring, how soon can I take her to meet the folks or the relatives. If you are the ‘One’ its like he is a secret agent and you are the mission.nnIf you are not the one he will cater to your expectations. If you don’t have a time table he will cater to your lack of time table. If you don’t expect faithfulness he will not provide faithfulness. If a man is constantly trying to test your boundaries it is only to see what he can get away with with you. It means secretly in his subconscious mind, if I lose her I don’t really care.

  12. Araq

    Honestly, I used to think negatively   about the waiting factor,and I know some people use ‘ the   wait’ as a crutch, as an   excuse…But then   I remember, that God is the best of planners.  I have witnessed long term relationships resulting in divorce shortly after finally making to move   to marriage. I am not stating that the act of getting married caused the split.
     My older Mothers in the church told me “you finish how you start”.     You can not start off accepting playing or pretending then miraculously expect the relationship to be something real;it would never  last because the foundation is faulty… I started off playing house, married a year later and was divorced two years later.. I am currently single and yes choosing to wait, like   Ruth for my Boaz not any of his relatives or any of his Bozo buddies.   Imagine waiting 9 years! We all witnessed a princess earlier this year   who married a   prince.     I recall how their union conveyed that quiet   solemn   strength solid…and   that   is   what I want.

  13. stressedmomma

    I came across this blog as i sought infor to guide my current situation. I’m in a relationship where we’re pushing 2years 9months n we have a son who’ll be turning two in november. we’ve had the marriage talk n the guy keeps saying am the One. but no ring is forthcoming n am growing weary. more so coz of the fact that we dont live together. i hate being being a single mom. coming from a single mum family i feel so bad coz i know wot we went through as kids, missing the father figure n i dont want that for my son. am at the point where i want to call it quits. i love this guys so much. but am wondering if he’s serious about settling or just stringing me along so he cant lose touch with his son yet has no intention of committing.

    1. Ronnie_BMWK

      I think that it is very realistic for you and him to be able to set goals and targets and work towards achieving them.   Identify the things that will make him feel ready to make a commitment…is it money, career education?   Is he working towards making improvements in those areas or is he using those things just as excuses to put you off for another year. It’s ok if he is not ready…but it is not ok if he is stringing you along and not willing to set expectations.

      Married or not, you have to think about your child and how you will be able to co-parent with his father.

  14. Mr.NiceGuy

    I disagree with the statement you have saying that if a man doesn’t know  he wants to marry within the first year then he probably isn’t going to marry you. This is false. First you can not go categorizing every man by saying there is a specific time line or set of rules that every man follows to determine wether or not their going to marry you. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve witnessed from my own personal experience that in the first year a man and women are still in the representative stage of there relationship (The representative stage is when a women/man is showing you all the good parts of themselves, and their personalities in a relationship). From my encounters with this stage I’ve deduced that it will take more than a year sometimes two years sometimes longer to really feel like you know the person your dealing with and to be shore that this is the women for you. (Again this statement does not represent every man. These are my feelings, and my feelings alone).  

    1. Amberjheard

      I agree with what you had to say. You shouldn’t generalize. I read a quote that said “you should date someone all four seasons before making a lifetime decision.” I do think a year is a good amount of time to get a feel for someone, but it shouldn’t be the rule. I think this pressure of having a specific timeline is what causes many of us women to put undue stress on our relationship; not so much because of what we think or want, but because of what we think we’re SUPPOSED to want after a certain amount of time. Both people need to be sure, and they need to take whatever time it takes.

    2. Anonymous

      Mr Nice Guy’ I have to agree with u. I feel that as you are approaching a yr and the relationship is progressing steadily’ its ok to continue with it. However, by th 2 yr mark, a decision to UPGRADE the relationship, should be in effect. I ended a yr long relationship last dec. that was not going anywhere! I knew he was not marriage material, nor was he the man for me! So sometimes we do know, we choose to settle, see if it will get better and/or string the person along! Ms LawSchool

  15. Real Love99

    TO EACH ITS OWN!!!, me and my husband dated for 8 years before we got married AND I am so thankful we did. Our relationship is what dreams are made of…. : )

  16. believesinloveandmarriage

    I have read at least a page worth of comments and no one noticed that the writer never mentioned whether or not she has talked to her boyfriend about wanting to get married. The discussion is the first step. Marriage has to be negotiated. That dialogue  or lack thereof, will make or break a relationship.

    You may think you want to be with someone for the rest of your life until you find out that the other person has different ideas about money, family, children, personal and career goals, etc. Different ideas alone don’t mean that the marriage can’t work, but how those differences will be rectified day to day need to be worked out and negotiated to some degree, prior to going down the aisle. . . A lot of people are in love, but it doesn’t mean that they can work together. Additionally,  self knowledge that you need  to make a relationship work doesn’t always come after only 24 months.

    I would like to know more about the writer’s situation. It sounds like the boyfriend is feeling inadequate. . . Does she make more money or have more education than he does? This is a major factor in a man’s confidence about his ability to be a “provider”, though in truth, the girlfriend may need a “partner” rather than just a “provider.”

  17. KatieM

    We cheated the system. We were best friends (without benefits) and companions for about a year before we decided to date. We decided on marriage within the first 6 months or so and were married on our 1 year anniversary. So, we pretty much say we dated that year we were friends (we don’t really count that, but for the getting to know one another issue it definitely counts!) So.. altogether a year and a half of dating, about 3 months of actual engagement and BAM a wedding! I thought our timing was wonderful.

  18. Amber

    I think that every situation is unique. I do agree that both people know relatively quickly if they feel you’re marriage material, but a number of things can happen through the course of a relationship that can prolong taking that step, I’ve know people who dated for six years or longer that did eventually get married. I know the idea of dating that long to get married scares me, but I also don’t want to assume that just because I’ve been with someone for a year that it means he should be ready to give me a ring.

  19. Tiffany B Poppins

    This is an old post that I just came across in my daily readings on this AWESOME website. I’ve been seeing a guy for about 3 months now. Its progressing well. I have met his family and we’re planning to introduce him to mine. But when I told my friend I was giving him a full year or we’d just be friends she looked at me as though I was insane.

  20. Dholley07

    well a year isn’t really long enough to really know someone and in my situation I dated the same man I with for a year got pregnant and family wanted us to get married you get married when you are ready and mature to make this type of decision we are both ready spiritually mentally and finacially now three kids and 12years later si it depends on the people and what they are ready for.

  21. Justchecking

    Being in a relationship for 2 years, I can honesty say that I’m getting a little curious to when and if a marriage proposal will happen.   The two of us have agreed to remain abstinent before getting married so we both are trying to do the right thing alone that line.   What concerns me is feeling that because he is still trying to get himself together will further continue to delay him from making an actual commitment to me.   I’m also near my mid thirties and would like to have 1 or 2 more kids if possible (I have one already from a previous marriage).   I truly love and respect this man but I don’t think sticking around while he tries to figure out WHAT his next move is the best decision for me in the long run.  

  22. Anita Swanagan

    A year is long enough. This gives you time to learn more about each other and know if you are compatible.   After 18 months you are just spinning your wheels.   If you are not walking down the aisle after a year then you need to be walking out the door.

  23. My2Cents

    My fiance’ and I dated for over 5 years before he proposed.   My sister and her husband dated for 13 years before they were married.   I don’t think this is something you can put a time limit on.   It depends on the couple and the relationship.   I’d rather date for 5 years and be married til death do us part, than date for 2 years and be divorced in 1.

  24. guest.

    My boy friend and I known each other for at least 10 years. thats since high school. we have been dating for 3 1/2 years. With in the first year of us dating we had a little girl together. before that 4 months into the relationship he randomly bought me a ring as a promise ring. than a couple weeks later him and i talked about sometime in the future we would love to get married. a couple more months go by and im 6 months pregnant. he bout me a wedding band as an i love you gift is what he calls it. he stopped buying me rings and started to buy necklaces and clothes such as hoodies and socks for me for christmas. He invited me to go on a summer vacation to florida with his family. I have a son from a previous marriage he also invited him as well. Everytime I watch the wedding shows or talk about it he just makes a barfing noise or say serious your watching that, or he would say anything and walk by me. Today. We have been living with each for as long as we have been dating. I always wonder if he is going to propose. but he tells me. I want to work on my credit and get a better career so we can be able to pay for the wedding, we already bought a house together. lately for the past year. we have not talked about taking the engagement step. Should I leave or wait a little longer. I know he loves me just as much as I love him. But I feel like we will never get married. For my first marraige I was 19 when I got married. It lasted a year and half. I am now 25 and he soon will be 25 in Feb. What should I do? Is he ever going to propose? I dont know what to do anymore. We have had some really bad fights, with words and visical too. And we have overcame those. It made us stronge. So will hever propose or not? What do you “The Exsperts” think?

  25. Teepayton1

    I would say a year is long enough to make your mind up to know if you want to spend a life time with that person.If she does’nt get a comment keep it moving.Why should he comment to you when he can get everything free?And then leave you for someone fresh and new.

  26. Mrs.2B

    I have a friend who started dating her boyfriend when we started college in 2004 (she was 18; he was 22). She graduated 4 years later and moved back home,did a grad school program for a year and moved in with him. They still aren’t engaged or married. I am concerned because I’m trying to figure out what they are waiting on. It’s been 7 years. I understand that she was doing school but what that’s just an excuse to me. I am currently engaged and in grad school. It’s not easy but it can be done.

    I think we set ourselves (women) up for failure when we do that. Research says that in super long relationships with no or forced engagements, either the couple doesn’t marry or the marriage ends in divorce. We have to do better, demand and expect more. Plain and simple.

  27. CECEgurl

    I dont think of relationships within time frames. My mother is on her 4th divorce and she is younger than 50 y/o. I know I want to take my tim with whoever will be my husband. I am currently in relationship with someone. We have been together over 5 years ( i dont know exactly- b/c I wasn’t pressed in the beginning – just having fun) I was   in my first yr of college and he his second yr when we first started dating. After a 1 1/2 years of officially dating   ( i was 19 y/o he was 21 y/o) we got our own place together.A year later we got pregnant ( OF COURSE!) to the dismay of our parents… We are still together…and things are ok.. I make the excuse that we are still young and still learning and I haven’t thought about marriage in a long time. Our son is two now. Even if he proposed to me I dont even know what I would say. I mean eventhough   i am only 23 and he almost 25..I feel like I have been with him so long I dont want to get to know anyone else so I feel like we will get married later on but I am not rushing it because I do not believe in divorce.. ( I guess??!!!!)

    1. KT

      Wrong. We are all here because we know we are in a dead end relationship we wish had a happy ending complete with a bouquet toss. But we arent.

      You have a house and child with this guy and he won’t marry you? Yikes.

      Sorry to say he will just marry the next gal and soon, more than likely.

      I’m still in my own home. No kids…no reason he won’t marry me except truth he doesn’t want to

      I ran into last man I loved a few days ago. HE was never getting married. least to me. Yeppers, he’s happily engaged.

      I’m picking men who like me alot. Love? Maybe not so much.

      I fear you did the same.

      Now…time to mentally gear into breaking up then just do it.

      Good luck to us. Lord knows ships we are on are sinking.

  28. ready to wed

    I am 27 years old, single mother and my boyfriend is 36 also a single dad. We have been together less than 6 months but I feel strongly I want to marry him and am ready now. He is amazing and loves me and my boy. He says he knows I am future wife but wants to be finically stable. We are having an issue with abstaining and that is another reason why I am not sure if I should stay and enforce strong boundaries on our relationship so that the fornication does not continue or do I just walk away. I have expressed to him that if he knows then why wait. Am I being too pushy being that it has only been less than 6 months? I want to be married and I also want to live right for God. I have made up my mind to not continue to fornicate and he is on board with my decision but there is still the marriage issue? Is it too soon to expect him to propose?

  29. Hilary

    My boyfriend and I have been together for six years starting a seventh year. We have a five year old and my other two children living with us. I want marriage an have tried to talk to him about it and he gets mad at me for mentioning it. I am not expecting a huge ring or wedding. I have been married and divorced, and he has never been married. I will be turning 30 this year and am starting to wonder if I am wasting my time.

    1. KT

      Yes, you are wasting time. Men marry women they want to marry.

      I’m waiting too. I’m not sure I’d marry now if he asked me since I’ve now officially been nagging about it.

      Moving on is just so darn hard. So we wait until they show up with their new wife?

      Girl. We need to go.

      Best to us all.

  30. Pingback: Couples Spotlight: Jonathan & Wynter Pitts « cj

  31. Pingback: Dating 5 Years And Not Married – My Blog

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Why are there so many SBF’s?

BY: - 31 Dec '07 | Dear BMWK

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One of our readers, Nicole asked this at the end of her comment on “how long is too long to be engaged”:But this is the question I want answered! Why does there seem to be such a high number of single black women vs. other ethnic groups? I’m sorry, I just don’t buy the whole the black men are in jail theory.

BTW I love this blog!

I’d like to hear what everyone thinks on this one, please add your comment or if you have a long story email it to us at so we can post it for everyone to see.

In the meantime be careful of the stats and stories you see in the media. That’s one of the reasons we made this blog, we want to show that not all black woman are single and not all children are living in single parent homes. We know that is the case sometimes but I also know lots of households with two parents that are doing quite well but you never hear that side of it. We’re here to destroy the stereotype that there are no successful black families, married with children! And on a side note we’re going to start profiling married couples with kids that are doing it! We just locked in our first couple so keep on the lookout for that feature.

Back to Nicole’s comment, a few weeks ago my wife and I had a conversation about how the media always says blacks are most likely to get this, die from that, live this way, etc… and it sounds like we’re SOL in most cases. Can all of this be true? Are we most at risk for every disease? No not at all, but its all about what they make the numbers do then how they run with them when they come out. I just read about a positive study that was done on AIDS in the black community and a negative study, guess which one was in every major news outlet and which one didn’t see the light of day, not even in the black media?

Check out this blog by Janks Morton who made a movie called, “What Black Men Think?” he asks questions such as, “Are there more black men in college or in jail?” You’d be surprised by the answers.

About the author

Lamar Tyler wrote 2229 articles on this blog.

Lamar Tyler is co-creator He also is the co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing.


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