Experts Say You Should Date This Long Before Getting Married

How long do you think is too long to wait for a proposal?


Do you ever have moments when you think of an artist and you devote an entire music listening day to nothing but them? Recently, that's what happened when Brandy came to mind. She recently got honored with BMI's President Award and boy does sis deserve it. Brandy has some hits, you hear me? HITS. One song that has always been my favorite was never an official single. It was off of her Full Moon LP and the title is "He Is". If you've never heard it before, click on that hyperlink and let it richly bless you.


Anyway, whenever I listen to that, it makes me think "This is a perfect song for a wedding" and that gets me all sentimental, so then I go to YouTube to watch some Black Love marriage proposals. The three that I happened to watch this time, they each had a moment that stood out to me in particular.

First was Breanna Aponte and Dre Smith who got engaged this time last year. They have, a movement really, called WorthTheeWait because they are remaining abstinent until marriage. Something that Dre said was, "It's funny how God will sometimes give you exactly what you asked for, just to show you it's not what you need." That was in reference to all of the wrong ones that came before his now-fiancee'. And yes, Dre, that will preach.

Next was Mitchell and Chanel. Mitchell proposed this past May and he decided to do a scavenger hunt for his lady. Mitchell told Chanel in a text that since he knew that she loved reality television, the entire day was going to be devoted to providing her with her own reality television experience (aww). He really did provide her with the royal treatment too.

Then there's Lexi Laure and her man David Jose. I think it went down in June or July. David was out here having different people in Lexi's life handing her red roses before he even said a word. And when he did get down on one knee, he said, "I knew from the moment that I met you, and we started praying together every night, that you were the one. 'Cause I know my mom prays for me every day. And, if it wasn't for a woman like that, I don't think I'd be where I'm at today." Whew.

All of the couples are beautiful. They are also on-time reminders that love is real, marriage remains relevant to many people and, when a man is ready, he'll move the ends of the earth to let the woman who he loves and desires know it.

Now here is where I'll tie all of this in. When I heard some of the couples share how long they've been dating, that got me to thinking about some of the articles I've read regarding how long two people should date before they decide to walk down the aisle. I'm not sure if the findings will surprise you or not. But, at the very least, I hope it provides you with some serious food for thought; especially if you've been seeing someone a while and you're wanting things to go to the next level.

What a Christian Married Couple’s Facebook Survey Said


I'll just say, before even getting into what scientific research reveals about this, I've had clients who dated for two years and got a divorce, and also clients who dated for 10 and ended their marriage. The reason why I think it's important to lead with this point is because, although there is good and valid information out here that can apply to all couples, no two people, together, are exactly alike. There are nuances that makes each relationship quite unique. Now, with that said, I do think that if you're currently in a serious relationship—not just in your mind, but the guy you're seeing agrees with you (see "5 Signs That You're In Love (All By Yourself)")—and marriage is what you desire, some of the data here can offer a helpful perspective.

With that said, before getting into what the experts and their research revealed, I think it would be well worth your time to check out the video "How Long Does It Take For A Man To Know?". The married team, Jerry and Tanisha Flowers, are some of my favorite Christian speakers on relationships. Anyway, they conducted a study of their own that consisted of 200 married men. When they asked them how long it took them to know that they had met their wife and, as a result, they started putting steps towards getting married, guess how long they said? A year or under. Less than 12 months, y'all! Oh, there are some gems in that video too:

"A man knows a wife or wife material when he sees it. And a man knows a woman he'll play with and never marry. And a man knows when there's a woman that he can get all of the husband privileges he desires, and he never has to give her his last name."

"There is a difference in the way the 'counterfeit' pursues and the way the 'Godsent' pursues. The Godsent always has a clear destination, but the counterfeit? He doesn't; his is always cloudy. The Godsent is crystal clear about his destination; he's trying to get you to the altar. He's trying to marry you—that's his pursuit. And he's not just saying that with his lips; he's complementing that with his actions…even when you have hiccups, even when you have hard times, that is not going to detour him; he is your Godsent. This means he is sent to you, he is assigned to your life…when I look at God in the Scriptures, I don't see him changing his mind a lot. What God sends you, it is yours. The counterfeit, he has no destination. He may mention marriage, but he has no intentionality, no consistency of getting you to the altar."

Let the collective Church say "Amen!" I have written a few pieces before that pretty much echo their points (see "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife", "Why I'll Never Call Someone A 'Boyfriend' Again" and "One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material"). Plus, most of the husbands that I know said they knew when they had met their one; they also knew that they had to make some quick moves so that they wouldn't lose her.

Something else that the Flowers shared in that video is that data can't be debated. When there is a general consensus that points to one overall point, there is always some relevancy and truth to that. So ladies, if 200 men said that it took only a year to know who their life partner should be, and your man has been dragging his feet since for-e-ver, at least consider sending this article to him because really—short of him being really young, living in another state or trying to complete a certain life goal in order to make the quality of your life with him better…what's the hold up?

What Research Has to Say on the Issue


If what I just shared isn't enough to convince you that a man knowing that you are his queen shouldn't take a billion years (some would say even five), here's a little more meat to chew on. Penn State University once conducted a study called The PAIR Project. Their findings brought them to the conclusion that couples who were together a little over two years (25 months, to be exact) had the highest marriage success rate. By the way, the two years includes dating and engagement. Meanwhile, according to a study of 3,000 couples at Emory University, those who dated for three years or more were around 40 percent less likely to end their marriage than those who knew each other less than a year. Three years of dating. Hmm. Let's keep going.

I also found an article onPsychology Today's website that said two years is a good amount of time to date before making the next step. Meanwhile, an article on The Knot featured Tammy Nelson—a woman who has her PhD, is a licensed relationship therapist, board-certified sexologist and author. What she stated was, "There is no magic time frame when a couple should date before the engagement, but the rule for any happy and successful marriage is to realize this—all couples go through a 'romantic love' phase. This lasts anywhere from 2 days to 26 months, and then the couple will enter into the power struggle or the conflict phase of their relationship." There goes the two-year mark again. Terri Orbuch, another woman who has her PhD and is also an author, basically co-signed on this in another piece on the topic stating, "Studies show that it takes at least 12 to 18 months before the passion and lust decline and you can finally see your partner for who they really are, faults and all." So, she's clocking in at around a year-and-a-half.

OK, so that is still hovering around the two-year mark. It looks to me like, according to the experts, it takes approximately two years to seriously date, experience life with someone and then come to the decision that you want to spend the rest of your lives together (and once you do get engaged, experts say that it shouldn't take more than about 13 months to plan the wedding and jump the broom). Not 10 years. Two years.

So, there you have it. If you're currently in a relationship, you desire to be married, your partner knows that and has expressed the same sentiment, and it's been longer than 24 months (give or take a couple of months)—again, this article might be worth forwarding along to him. Not so much because the two of you have to follow suit with statistical information, but because it's a good idea to see if there is some sort of forward movement in that direction. Because if you're not careful, it's really easy to let another two years go by, then another two years…and chile, then another.

I've read the comment sections enough across all platforms to be confident that you all have something to say about all of this info. So please, sound off—even though plenty of data states that roughly two years is more than enough time to date and officially prepare for marriage, what are your personal thoughts? Is that too much time, too little time or just enough?

Because honestly, if you're dating with a purpose and that purpose is marriage, there should be some sort of time frame and plan involved, right? I think so. Just make sure that "he" does. Does he? How do you know? What has he told you? Better yet, what has he shown you? Time is tickin', so again, all of this is definitely some real and relevant food for thought...right? Indeed.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Love Is Patient. But Is Your Relationship Just Wasting Your Time?

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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