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When is it OK to get engaged?

TLDR: Despite what the averages say, the best part of today’s world is that we’re all on our own timelines (isn’t that wonderful? How boring would life be if we all did the same thing at the same time!). The moral of the story is to give it enough time to make sure you know what you’re signing up for, and always ensure it’s a joint decision.

Tango's Take: Engagement Timelines 🔮

With the average age at marriage climbing from 25.1 for women and 26.9 for men in 2001 to 28.6 for women and 30.6 for men in 2021, Americans are certainly waiting until they’re older to get married. But are they also waiting longer within relationships? According to a 3,100-couple survey conducted by Shane & Co, an engagement ring retailer, American couples date for an average of 2.5 years before getting engaged.

But the thing is that these are averages, and if we’ve learned anything from recent years, the biggest change is that people are getting married on their own timelines. In fact, the last few weddings I have been to were for a couple who were in their early twenties, late twenties, and early thirties. And all had been together for over 3 years when they got engaged.

Interestingly, a study out of Emory University found that couples who are together for over 3 years before getting engaged are 39% less likely to get divorced. Why? They’ve been through more together (including being well out of the honeymoon phase). So what does that mean for you? It depends. If you met in high school or college, you might choose to date for nearly a decade before getting married, especially if you live in a place where people aren’t tying the knot until their 30s. Or maybe, you meet in your late 30s when you know yourself and what you want better, and you opt for a shorter dating period.

Our in-house clinical psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Rothman offers her own advice:

“Everyone is going to feel a bit different about this based on their own relationship history, their family’s and friends’ relationship timelines, their own trauma history, how “trusting” they are, how risk-averse they are, etc. Some of us go faster than others, and that’s A-OK! What’s important is that significant milestones such as cohabitating, engagement, marriage, and having children are thoroughly, openly discussed beforehand. Engagement should only ever be an intentional and conscious decision that has been fully explored by both partners. We’ll leave the timing up to you.”

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