Believe It Or Not, Most Women Eventually Marry

Statistics Show Most Women Eventually Marry

If you believe marriage is in decline, think again. A new government report has found that 8 in 10 women will get married by the time they turn 40, a figure that is virtually unchanged from the 1990s.

82 percent of high school graduates will marry by the age of 40 and 89 percent of college graduates will as well.

“The idea that marriage is on the decline and fading away, that picture is misleading,” said Andrew Cherlin, a demographer at Johns Hopkins University.

“Lifetime marriage is far lower today than it was during the peak years in the 1950s, when more than nine-tenths of the adult population married at some point in their lives. But the new report suggests that the decline may have stopped in recent decades,” Mr. Cherlin said, as lifetime marriage rates have changed little since the 1990s.

The real changes in society aren’t that marriage is somehow obsolete, but rather that:

a) Divorce rates are still high because people marry too quickly based on attraction rather than values.
b) Women are having kids at epic rates outside marriage – 50% of women between 20-30 give birth out of wedlock
c) People get married much later than they used to.

But, no matter how you slice it, most women do eventually marry. According to the report, 82 percent of high school graduates will marry by the age of 40 and 89 percent of college graduates will as well.

So for all the noise created by the fiercely independent “I never want to get married” types who criticize my advice for assuming that most people are looking for marriage, guess what?

Most people are looking for marriage.

If you’re not, you’re the exception, not the rule.

Read the full New York Times article here and share your comments below.

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Comments:

  1. 91
    Fusee

    In relation to Fiona #85 and Tom #94:
     
    I find indeed unfair to advice someone against following their dream, especially when the dream is achievable, and especially when the advice comes from people not at all in the same situation. If we do not want children (or can easily imagine ourselves without) we are not going to be the best judge of what Fiona should do. And although Evan experienced similar anxieties, it was a very different situation since he was in control of the timeline and had alternative options to have biological children. His wife is probably naturally cool, but given the fact that his strong desire for marriage and children was very clear to her, she could certainly afford sitting back and letting him figure everything out. She knew he was serious and that there was no no advantage for him in letting time fly by.
     
    From what I understood from Fiona’s comments (Fiona, correct me if I got it wrong), I have the impression that her order of preference for possible outcomes would be:
    1st choice: marriage and biological child with her husband
    2nd choice: biological child by herself with donor sperm
    3rd choice: marriage without any child
    4th choice: no marriage, no child
     
    The husband part if out of her control, but not the child part. And given the fact that she stated: “if I am going to be left, I would rather take the risk of being left holding the baby than left grieving the loss of being able to have babies”, it seems unreasonnable to me to tell her to focus on finding a man and allow him three years before deciding for marriage. Her risk of ending up with her 3rd or 4th choice would skyrocket. She obviously prioritizes having a biological child, so supporting her in fulfilling her 2nd choice seems more reasonnable to me.


    We can criticize her desires as much as we want, but Fiona simply wants what most women have always wanted. The bad news is that her first choice is hard to get by, especially in the late thirties, but the good news is that nowadays she can bypass the husband step and still have her 2nd choice. A acquaintance of mine, not even 30, is about to give birth to her baby boy that she concieved with donor sperm. She decided she wanted to be a mom and went for it courageously. She is gay and probably would have anyway elected to use that route had she waited for a partner, but she did not wait (or even looked for one) because being a mom was more important to her, and she was ready. Although I do not have the same desires, I find her choice valid, especially since she has carefully considered all implications and that she is focused on her future child’s well-being. She has built a strong, diverse, and supportive community to help her during pregancy and the first few weeks of motherhood. I’m part of it.
     
    @Tom #94: “ascertain” is a bit of a strong word. How can we truly ascertain anything?
     
    The way I proceed is simply ask what their relationship intentions are as soon as they start becoming physical (when they start trying to hold me for example). I listen to what they say and from there, decide whether or not it’s worth explaining my goals. If they look at me blankly, it’s not : ) If we both admit that we are interested in developing something serious IF things work out (of course, at that point we do not know each other well enough, we’re simply talking about goals), I keep dating them with not much physical involvement (nothing beyond kissing and hand holding) until it’s more comfortable to ask more directly what their longer-term goals are and how they plan on getting there (six to eight weeks, depending on how the relationship naturally evolves, how many dates we have each week, how horny we are, etc). By the time I have sex, it is not only exclusive and pretty serious, but I also know that the guy is looking for a wife. We still have to build the relationship and evaluate compatibility, so we might never actually marry (and it’s okay, no desperation here : ), but at least I’m not involving myself with a not marriage-minded man.
     
    Of course I can be misled and sometimes we think we want something and end up changing our minds, but the combination of delaying sex + discussing goals + asking some though/deep questions really offers a good way to discover the man’s relationship goals, maturity/readiness level and encourage him to “disappear” if it’s getting too serious for him. I want him to disappear quickly if he does not have the same goals. Obviously any non-committal or simply confused person would not enjoy postponing sex and having all these conversations. Only serious folks will tolerate them and find them even useful.
     
    Basically, it’s about asking for what you want to know. Asking is not pressuring. If he feels pressure where there is no pressure, it’s his problem, not mine. I stopped worrying about “coming across as pressuing” since I do not pressure people. If a guy asks me for sex, is it pressure? No, he’s just asking, isn’t he? Pressuring is trying to extract something from someone against their best interest. I will never try to extract marriage from a man. I want the man happy as much as I want to be happy. If he wants to explore how great a wife I could be and if he wants to show me how great a husband he could be, good for us. If not, next!
     
    Makes sense?
     

  2. 92
    Clare

    Fusee @ 99

    I think your way of proceeding (as described in your 5th and 6th paragraphs) is pure genius! :) 

  3. 93
    Fiona

    Karl – it seems that you got Fusee’s comments and mixed up with mine but not to worry. I do not agree with you that in general men marry the women they have dated – they don’t. They marry one of many women they date. If you want to advise your friends not to marry a woman in my situation, I can’t stop you. That is your prerogative. I wouldn’t advise anyone in my situation to wait 3 years so does he gain? Most women in the two generations above did not have to wait around for 3 years for a man to marry them and plenty of those marriages worked out just fine. There are also plenty of marriages that end even though people dated for several years first. Unless you have a crystal ball, you cannot know what will happen. Marriage does not come with a guarantee no matter how long you postpone it.

  4. 94
    Catherine

    Whether or not a woman wants children she needs to avoid wasting an excessive amount of time on men who are not in the zone to commit to anyone. If a guy doesn’t know whether he wants to commit after a year, will he ever?

    Every day we grow older and less attractive and let us face it ladies, men are visual. You can’t afford to waste your youth and beauty waiting around for some bozo who may never get his shit together, to get it together.

    To be fair to some men, some actually say there are not in the zone for anything serious, but we stupidly hope they will change their minds, when they will not.

    The warned us, so we persist in chasing/witing for them them at our peril.

    Ladies once you hit your 40s you are stuffed, as very few men in the 40s will  date women their age, if they can get a woman 15 years younger they will
    go for her. Let us face it, the younger women are generally thinner, and youth is beauty.

  5. 95
    Fusee

    @Karl #95:
     
    “I would say that discussion is pointless, becuse any marriage-minded man in his 30s (or older) will be giving you clear signals long before the 18 month mark.”


    Totally agree. It’s been my experience indeed. For some reason I tend to attract marriage-minded people, and they do tend to give those signals early on, even if they would make terrible husbands or would be totally incompatible to me. My problem has never been to attract them (my problem lies elsewhere : ), but I empathize with women who have that problem and/or who get stuck with LTR-minded men in relationships that do not actively progress towards marriage/children. That’s why I cringe at the advice of “giving him three years” with no additional suggestion to monitor what’s going on in their minds. Here I’ve been suggesting ways to clear up some uncertainty and encourage progress when things get stuck. A discussion might be pointless. Maybe not so pointless. Some men are less expressive or simply less self-aware than others. You – Karl – and of course Evan are the exception to the rule. Your marriage-minded mindset, acute self-awareness, analytical spirit, and understanding of women make you different. You may wonder what women’s fuss is all about. Well, it’s because most men are NOT like you, even if they are not bad either of course. You have not had relationships with them, we did! With someone less expressive, less self-aware, less analytical/logical, and less empathetic, we women need other ways to find out what he wants and when he is going to want it when time is scarce. Some women resort to game-playing or ultimatums. Now that is pointless. I choose to have slightly uncomfortable curiosity-based discussions in between wonderful dates where he feels great. To each their own. For me it’s been working great to eliminate non-compatible prospects early on and deepen a bond with the right one without having to wait for years, but I’m aware that it’s not for everyone. You need to be willing – like me – to be “less effective”, and to let a lot of men go, even “good ones”. For me it’s the way to go because I do not have the energy to date many people, I’m in a place in life where being in a temporary relationship is uncomfortable (more than being single), and therefore prefer to invest my energy in a very limited pool of more promising prospects. I have all the time in the world to be married, but once I’m involved with someone, I do not want to be in limbo for too long. I will change my strategy in my 40s if still single at that time, because my life situation will be completely different. 
     
    “My recommendation is to (mentally) take stock of the relationship every 3 months…”
     
    Amen! Your recommendation is what I mean by people “needing more relationship advice”. I have not read the whole blog as I’m still pretty new and limit my screen time as much as possible (although this blog is pretty addictive : ). Giving more time is wise, of course. Giving three years to a relationship without carefully monitoring progress is foolish. Therefore if we advice people to take more time, let’s remind them to ALSO monitor progress during that time and utilize it to investigate what has to be investigated. Of course, you did just that. Of course I do that too. But most people do not manage their relationship. Like any project, it needs careful management, together with one’s partner. Instead, people just go with the flow and slip into a comfortable routine. Yes, people need to be told EVERYTHING. People tend to like receiving a rule and following it blindly, hoping it will be The Solution To All Problems.
     
    “You just listed five additional traits that your partner will “absolutely need” to have if you want to be “on the fast track lane”.
    See the problem?”
     
    I now do, thank you for pointing out my illogical train of thoughts!
     
    Time to stop my long ramblings for now : )

  6. 96
    Karl R

    Fusee said: (#103)
    “You may wonder what women’s fuss is all about. Well, it’s because most men are NOT like you,”

    Most women are not like us either. A lot of women have the exact same traits that women complain about in men.

    Fusee said: (#103)
    “once I’m involved with someone, I do not want to be in limbo for too long.”

    Nobody enjoys being in limbo, but it’s an unavoidable part of dating. During the first 2 months (or so) of my relationship with my fiancée, I was getting some seriously mixed signals from her. (I later found out that was because she wasn’t sure that she wanted to pursue a long-term relationship with me.)

    While I dislike being in limbo, I’d gotten rather accustomed to it. Two months feels like a long time, but it’s not that long in the development of a serious relationship.

    Fusee said: (#103)
    “Instead, people just go with the flow and slip into a comfortable routine.”

    There’s a difference between patience and paralysis. Patience is necessary. But if the relationship plateaus for to long, then it’s time to move on.

  7. 97
    Jane

    @ Fusee:  Regarding your comments in both posts #90 and #99, I agreed with, much, if not most of it!  I would only tweak your specific dating behavior a bit for myself, but generally I really  liked what you laid out there as well.

    @ Fiona: “If you want to advise…Marriage does not come with a guarantee no matter how long you postpone it.”

    I didn’t quote the whole thing, but I definitely agreed with it.  Also, was Fusee right that that is the list of priorities for you?  If so, there is another option.  You can get your eggs pulled and frozen for when the time comes.  It’s in vitro, with the sperm donor being your husband, and the egg donor being your younger self, courtesy of the storage facility.  Much like the other options, it’s complicated w/ no guarantee, but unfortunately, that’s the case for quite a few of these choices.  At least then, if you wanted to take the advice of the majority you could, find your husband, and once in vitro happens, it goes right into your uterus, and you carry it to term, even after menopause.  Just a thought…

    My apologies if this come out brusque…
    @ Karl R…

    Evan’s in his 30s. I’m in my 40s. Readers have referred to us as examples of “self-aware” men.  Maybe some men in their 50s, 60s and 70s will tell you that you will be fine getting married after 12 or 18 months. I’m not sure how much “older” you’re referring to. But the two of us are saying that two years is risky.

    You two are not the only two men in the world, and you two may be self-aware, but you’re flawed, just as I am flawed, just as all humans are flawed.  Do I have to list the litany of examples we all come across in life of men who decided early, and are still together? I don’t think it matters, since I think you will see things the way you want (which is fine; it’s just that the inquiry seems false), but I don’t have a specific age.  I’m not trying to make mandates on human nature when we all grow differently.  Some self-aware men will know very young, mid-20’s.  Some Mid-50’s I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  It depends on the individual man. 
    You don’t think so, ok.  And I don’t feel like bogging the thread down with various examples, which you may just counter with your own.  I can, off the cuff, say one, since I know him intimately.  He was in his late 20’s, knew within weeks he wanted to marry my friend, less than a yr later engaged, 7 months later married, and 15 years, and children, later, still is married.  But that’s not the only man.  So instead of elusively basing men on you, or Evan, or my friend, let’s just agree that there are a variety of men out there.
    We’re not bookies. It’s a big enough risk that I’d advise my best friend against it.

    It’s not about being bookies, it’s about giving women the information, but not trying to actually think for them. I’m surprised you can’t see the difference there.  So, yes, I may even caution myself that this would be a tougher way to go, but it’s not my choice to tell her to do it, or not.  I don’t know how she feels intimately, although I might have an idea.  I don’t know if letting that desire go to soon will be too much for her, or if she’s fine moving away from it, like the client Michelle was.  You treat your friends how you want, and I will treat my friends how I want.  But for me, I don’t think it’s cool to dissuade a woman from at least trying if that is what she wants, and doing that with probabilities and stats.

    Really? How?  That sounds like magical thinking. It’s like claiming you can override the impaired judgment that comes with drunkeness. I know some people who believe they can do it. I don’t know anyone who actually can.

    Nope.  But I will use your general analogy.  It’s not like claiming you’re not impaired when you are. It is akin to tolerance.  Some people have wicked low tolerance, and just the teeniest bit of alcohol sends them over the edge.  Frankly I wouldn’t believe it, if I didn’t see it myself.  I have a high tolerance, and many people do.  They can consume large quantities of alcohol and function well.  And NO – to head this off, that doesn’t mean under any circumstances you should break the law, like driving a vehicle over the BAC recommended.  But notice they don’t ban all alcohol from your system, so even law enforcement allows for a variance, albeit slight.  People are affected by different kinds of alcohol, and people have varying effects – some mentally fizzle, but their coordination is unaffected.  Others keep their acumen, but stumble worse than a toddler.  And people’s tolerances have changed over time, with weight gain/loss, age, quite a few factors.

    So yes, you can override a dopamine rush.  You’re not in it 24/7.  Different people have different capacities when it comes to the will.  It occurs at varying times, and in varying degrees.  I’ve had relationships where dopamine didn’t kick in until much, MUCH later.  Others, where it kind of came, and went.  It was not this all-encompassing drugged out, nonstop rush.  And I am not the only one who has experienced this.  And again, I’ve read much of the recent news regarding the various neurological findings.  And I value it, but that doesn’t mean it should apply to every single person, at every single time.  But I want to get back to this topic, but at the close, to highlight something else.
    I have two adopted siblings and two adopted nieces. I suppose your options depend on how badly you want children.

    Before I respond, I want to quote what Helen said: “I think we need to make a clear distinction (because it does exist in real life) between those who want to have children and those who want to have their own biological children.”

    I thought I had always made it clear, since the very first time I posted, that I was talking about women who wanted their own biological children.  In fact, this is what I said in my first post (# 53):
    Now if someone doesn’t want kids, or is happy with the differing alternatives from being a step parent, to adopting, to just being a more metaphoric mom to a neighbor or god child, then feel free to ignore everything I just said.
    I have already acknowledged this.  And having adopted children, of any kind, is not overriding menopause.  Even pulling your eggs out and having them artificially inseminated is not overriding menopause.  It is finding alternative methods, because you cannot.

    It’s called a risk/benefit analysis. If you spend more time evaluating how you and your partner get along, you can better judge the benefit of being with your partner, as well as the risk.

    Yeah, I know.  That’s what I was advocating.  But you didn’t call it that in what I quoted – you likened it to gambling, and called the men who’d be interested gamblers, and that I disagreed with.  If you said something like, “in a risk/benefit analysis, this doesn’t seem prudent”, then I would just see we have different degrees of what we consider worth a risk, and I probably wouldn’t have commented.  But since I’m here, yes the more time you spend analyzing, I think is good, because that is how my mind works.  And you can spend great amounts of time assessing the relationship, regardless of the time frame.  Of course, not everyone does, and many people far more intuitive than myself can cite cases, examples, and studies of how you can also over-analyze, over-think, and over-calculate a situation where it would have been far better to go with your gut.  And much the the very recent neuroscience that is coming out is showing how you don’t need one or the other, but a good balance of both – depending on the situation.  And if there is any situation that would warrant that balance, it would be love, and romantic attachment.

    To come back to the other comment.  You know Karl R, when I replied about the dopamine rush, I wondered if I should have elaborated further, and if I didn’t, if you would challenge it.  Eventually, I decided to say it to get my opinion out there in general, but figured I wouldn’t detail it, since that’s partially tangential, and really, I had already committed to some other issues here.  And you challenged it.  I also thought that about my menopause comment.  But I figured that I already acknowledged alternatives in my earlier response, even said to throw out everything I’m saying if that’s the case (which I think is pretty strong), and with the wording, I figured my intent was evident.  And you challenged that. Additionally, I noticed something missing: anything that actually indicated you agreed with me on anything.  No one is 100% right or wrong.

    So this leads me to believe that you actually don’t want to have a discussion, you want to argue, and specifically with me.  Should I just ignore it?  Do you really want me to go into expansive detail, in an already long thread, on everything you disagree with, or don’t see the way I do?  I guess we’ll see where it goes.

  8. 98
    Fiona

    Fusee has my priorities right and thanks Jane for the egg freezing suggestion which is a good idea. I don’t think Evan and Karl are making bad suggestions -I think they are just pointing out that the longer you know someone the easier to be sure you are making the right decision before the decision is made which is logical. Unfortunately though this is not necessarily always practical. Sometimes I wonder in general if our fears of making a wrong decision can lead us to postpone making decisions for longer than we need to rather than just living life and accepting  that most decisions we make turn out to right and those that are wrong are rarely irreversible.

    1. 98.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I think that if you actively date online and go out with one man a week for the rest of the year, you’ll find love and won’t have to be so panicked about freezing your eggs.

      You and your husband will figure it out together.

      If you panic about the baby thing, put off dating, remain fearful that a guy won’t commit, give off a vibe of desperation, have your own child, you will find that it’s extremely hard to date as a single mother of a toddler and you might not find love for many, many years to come – and even then, you’ll find a divorced man with his own kids, complications and baggage.

      Date now. If you want a safety policy and money is abundant, freeze your eggs. But it’ll be far easier for a man to commit to you if you know he’s marriage/kid oriented and you GIVE HIM TIME to choose you. Did you read today’s newsletter? If not, you really gotta get on my list.

  9. 99
    David T

    @Fiona 106 
    A long delay to make the exact right decision is often worse than making a potentially wrong decision and then recovering. Fear of making the wrong decision can leave you paralyzed and you go nowhere. Even Evan went into his marriage not 100% confident if it was going to work until they were a year or so into it, but I bet he had confidence in his and his wife’s relationship toolkit and that however the marriage turned out in the end, he would manage.  Make a decision once waiting won’t really give you that much more information on which way to go. . . and be confident in your ability to recover if it is wrong.
     
    Fiona, sounds like you are thinking hard about your alternatives. Comes down to this:  as long as you are confident in your ability to make a go of whatever path you end up on and to be happy in your life, the choice you make now doesn’t matter much. Each direction (have a child solo, or look for love first and diminish the odds) takes your life to a radically different place, but what really matters is your ability to make that place into a home that you are happy living in.
     
     
    @107 Evan, I do agree that dating while married with kids, especially small kids is very challenging, and if you have a kid on your own you are less likely to find an long term loving relationship.
     
    It all comes down to priorities. If having that bio kid is more important to Fiona, she might be willing to sacrifice their odds of a happy/successful LTR. I don’t recall Fiona’s age, but late 20’s to early 30’s rings a bell. If so, I believe she does have some time unless there is some very specific reason to have a child NOW and might as well try your 52 dates prescription.

  10. 100
    Mia

    So go out with one man a week for a year and Fiona will find love, in her late 30s and after probably 20 years of dating and the accompany disappointments? It’s that simple? I have followed this advice since March – after trying it for several months at a time in 2011 and 2010 and having been involved in less formal “dates” with many, many men over the years –  and all I have to show for this latest round is a broken heart from a once a week guy, increased bitterness about being rejected like a stray dog right and left, and lost time that could have been spent doing things I care about, like being with friends, spending time on the water on a nice summer evening, furthering my career. I even consented to my nagging foreign aunt putting me on some foreign match.com-like site where people look for spouses! I made a deal with myself that I would follow this advice for the rest of the year, no matter how badly I wanted to quit, but how do women know it’s really going to work? Are some people meant to not ever be loved? Should some of us just say, I’m clearly seen as a dumb, unlovable barynyard animal by the opposite sex, may as well focus on friends, career and travel? I just don’t get when one should call it quits and stop wasting time on crap that has a 100 percent failure rate.

    1. 100.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Mia – Respectfully, you don’t get it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

      YOU seem to think that the alternative to your way of dating is to “call it quits and stop wasting time on crap that has a 100 percent failure rate”.

      Except that dating DOESN’T have a 100 percent failure rate. As we’ve pointed out here many times, over 90% of women get married. I’m guessing that a large part of that 10% doesn’t want to or is gay. Which means that pretty much EVERYBODY who perseveres ends up getting married.

      All this stuff about “some people are meant to never be loved” is just your confusion and pain; it’s not reality. Not for the vast, vast majority of other people.

      Here, Mia, some quick free dating advice. Once I give it to you, I expect you to sign up for my newsletter, purchase my eBook, join me in FOCUS Coaching so you can actually start LIVING this advice instead of complaining that dating sucks.

      -You tried dating regularly for several months at a time in 2010 and 2011? That’s like saying you’re fit because you joined a gym twice for three months each time. I dated regularly for TEN YEARS – stopping when I had girlfriends, of course. The reason I give advice is not so you can take ten years, but rather to save you all the trial and error that I went through. When I tell you something, it’s based on more experience than you could possibly imagine.

      -“Bitterness about being rejected like a stray dog” – Get over it. It’s called dating. If 99% of men are NOT your future husband and you have JUST as much power to say no to a man as he has to say no to you, why the victim mentality? EVERYONE goes through this process. The difference is that other people don’t question their own self-worth or believe that there are NO good men out there. They just shake it off, realizing that it’s nothing personal, and get back out there for another date the next week.

      -Your aunt put you on a foreign dating site? And it’s not working? Shocking. That’s not being open. That’s being ridiculous.

      -Do YOU think that you’re a dumb, unlovable barnyard animal? Are YOU content giving up on love before you’ve even started living? If not, then get off this “woe is me” stuff. Maybe the reason that you’re struggling to connect with men is that you secretly believe these things – and men can pick up on it. Men and women respond to confidence – not desperation, fear, exasperation, negativity and all the other traits you’re showing here. Doesn’t matter how cute, smart or kind you are. If you hate dating, don’t believe in the goodness of men, and spend months involved with once a week guys (when you can easily dump them to clear your slate), the onus is on YOU for where you’re at.

      Sorry, but it’s true.

      When you’re done coaching with me, you’ll see that in twelve weeks, your city is the same, Match.com is the same and men are the same. The only thing that’ll change is you. If you’re open to it, get started above. If you’re not, I’m not going to spend any more time explaining how easily you can make love happen for you.

  11. 101
    Fiona

    I will sign up for the newsletter list then. I did read Why He Disappeared which I found useful in getting closure on a two year relationship that ended with a phone call that I had been torturing myself over for a few years so would be interested to read more.

  12. 102
    Karl R

    Jane, (#105)
    Your beliefs about dopamine seem to be contradicted by the studies using functional imaging of people’s brains. Can you find any studies or other scientific evidence which supports your beliefs?

    But for the moment, let’s assume that your beliefs are correct, and some people’s judgment is less impaired when under the effects of dopamine, etc.

    If someone has potentially imparied judgment, do you think they are in a good position to judge whether they have impaired judgment?

    To me the statement, “I would be able to tell whether I had impaired judgment,” sounds as self-delustional as, “I would remember if I’d forgotten something,” or “I would know if I was mistaken.”

    I know a few people who are aware that they have poor judgment while drunk. They discovered this by repeatedly making poor decisions while intoxicated. I don’t recommend using this method with infatuation and marriage.

    Let’s make a comparison of two people making a decision.

    Person #1 thinks:
    “I might have impaired judgment right now, so I won’t make any major, life-altering decisions until I’m sure my judgment isn’t affected.”
    Person #2 thinks:
    Some people have impaired judgment under these circumstances, but I’m sure I don’t. There’s no reason to wait before making a big decision.”

    Which person sounds like they’re exercising better judgment?

    If a person has impaired judgment, they should wait until they’re sure they don’t before making major decisions.
    If a person might have impaired judgment, they should wait until they’re sure they don’t before making major decisions.

    Your belief that a person might not be impaired is irrelevant. In either case, the best decision-making process is to wait until you’re sure you’re not impaired.

    You can wait until the infatuation has worn off, or you can get a functional MRI to measure your level of impairment.

    It takes two to tango.

    The decision to marry takes two people. And if my fiancée decides that she made a bad decision (after the wedding), then my marriage is going to fail. Therefore, I have to be certain that her judgment isn’t impaired either.

    By waiting until we’re past the infatuation stage, I ensure that we’re both capable of making sound decisions.

    Jane said: (#105)
    “So yes, you can override a dopamine rush. [...] Different people have different capacities when it comes to the will.”

    Do you have any scientific evidence that willpower can overcome the impaired judgment caused by dopamine? Do you have any scientific evidence that willpower can overcome the impaired judgment caused by alcohol? Do you have any scientific evidence that willpower can overcome any of the other effects of dopamine or alcohol?

    I haven’t found anything suggesting that willpower can overcome intoxication (of any sort). I did find an article (discussing narcotics) which stated, “In the earliest stages of intoxication the will power is destroyed”. Since the author was the U.S. Commisioner of Narcotics, I’m not sure that was an unbiased, scientific opinion.

    I also ran across a discussion on ScienceForums.net, but I can’t tell whether the participants had any particular expertise in the subject.

    If you believe willpower allows you to overcome the effects of dopamine (or alcohol), you’re back to magical thinking.

    Jane said: (#105)
    “You’re not in it 24/7.”

    I agree, and the science supports you.

    The functional MRIs tested subjects twice. In some experiments the subject looked at a picture of their significant other, then looked at a picture of something else, and the results were compared. In other experiments, the subjects were told to think about their significant other, then they were told to think about something else.

    The dopamine effects occurred when looking at or thinking about the significant other (and presumably related situations). They didn’t occur when the subjects were focused on something else.

    Are you capable of deciding whether to marry someone without thinking about them?

    Jane said:
    (#105)
    “He was in his late 20′s, knew within weeks he wanted to marry my friend, less than a yr later engaged, 7 months later married, and 15 years, and children, later, still is married.

    If I made my decision whether or not I should marry based on a coin toss, I would have a 50% chance of making the right decision. It’s possible to make the right decision based on a coin toss (even though you and I would recommend against it). It’s also possible to make the right decision while dopamine is impairing your judgment. But is that decision going to be much better than random chance? Is that decision as good as waiting to make the same decision with a clear head?

    Some people have taken a large (and usually unneccessary) risk by making a decision while their judgment is impaired. Some of them have gotten lucky and avoided the negative consequences of that risk. Thinking about all those people might make you feel better about taking a risk, but it doesn’t decrease the risk. Nor does it lessen the negative consequences.

  13. 103
    Fiona

    Karl, your way is clearly working for you so that is great and you should stick with it.I agree that the longer you are with someone, the better you know them.

    However, by waiting for a very long time, a lot of people seem to think that they can eliminate risks that are a natural part of life altogether. They can’t. Every relationship is a gamble. There are people out there who have been dating for 3 years or more who don’t get married out of love but out of habit/fear of getting back on the dating circuit again which is not a good reason but they do.

    I know people who married after 1 year and are happy with 3 kids 11 years on and yesterday I met a couple in their 90s who married after a year during WW2 (when hanging around for years was not viewed as a sensible approach) and are still married 68 years later. I also know people who married quicker than 3 years who are unhappy. They may have got married too soon for them but too soon for one couple isn’t necessarily the same for the next. On the flip side, I know someone who dated for 11 years then married but divorced 4 years later, and someone else who dated for 4 years, has been married for 2 and a half and now thinks she has made a terrible mistake.

    Length of time dating does not mean that things aren’t going to happen further down the line. There used to be a concept of the 7 year itch. From what I have seen, whether a marriage is going to last or not seems to depend more on how committed people are to making it work in spite of their differences (assuming that neither party is abusive or develops an addiction etc), and ability to resist temptation when one party is attracted to someone else.

    I prefer to avoid comparing someone who is still on the edge of an infatuation stage (and some people who get married may not have been in it in the first place) with being drunk or on drugs because, unlike an intoxicated person or someone high on drugs, an infatuated (as opposed to obsessed) person with plenty of dating experience is normally still capable of rational thought and recognising intolerable behaviour. Many of us have walked away from unhealthy situations with people that we were very attracted to because we knew it was trouble.

    1. 103.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Fiona:

      Your examples are useful, but they ignore Karl’s point. Every relationship is a gamble. It’s less of a gamble if you do your due diligence to eliminate as many foreseen risks as possible.

      People who got married after 1 year and are still together are simply LUCKY. The fact that you know a number of couples who did this also makes them LUCKY. Because they didn’t have remotely enough information to know if they were compatible for life. They had their passion, their excitement, and their wishful thinking. If 25% of people who get married after one year stay married, that means that 75% ended up getting divorced. The presence of thousands of instacouples doesn’t mean it’s the wisest plan of attack.

      People who married quicker than 3 years who are unhappy? Of course, you know them. That’s because there are lots of unhappy people out there. People who are fearful, depressed, insecure, mean, unemployed, abusive, clueless, etc. It doesn’t matter if these people marry after one year, two years or five years – whoever ends up with them is going to be miserable. The person is the variable, not the time.

      People who dated for 11 years and got married mistakenly? Yep. Also predictable. Clearly, those people were incompatible and at least one of them DIDN’T want to get married. But out of fear or pressure or sunk costs, they decided to take the plunge, instead of listening to the voice that kept them from tying the knot for 11 years.

      The facts show that the people who are most ripe for divorce are those who a) got married too quickly, b) those who waited a really, really loooong time before getting married, c) those who had a bumpy courtship with multiple breakups. The people who stayed together usually had courtships that lasted, on average, for two years and four months.

      Your anecdotal evidence actually supports my case. It’s not your responsibility to force him to propose in 18 months because you’re afraid that your clock is ticking or that he’ll bail. Your responsibility is to invest your time in an honorable, marriage-oriented man and, knowing this, give him all the time he needs to choose you independently. If, after 3 years or so, he hasn’t proposed, I’d probably recommend walking away. Walk away after a year and you’ll lose all but the most impulsive and weakest minded men.

  14. 104
    nathan

    “The people who stayed together usually had courtships that lasted, on average, for two years and four months.” Right. On average. Which means that if you take a large group of married couples, and add up their collective time together before marriage and divide it by the number of couples, that is what you will get. I have been watching this thread unfold and basically think that the insistence on waiting for a set amount of time is being overly justified. I appreciate the guys comments about not marrying just because your partner wants to have children now, and is worried about loosing her “window of opportunity.” However, I disagree with the insistence that the 2 1/2-3 year wait is ideal. I’m not convinced that everyone experiences the chemical rushes of infatuation the same way, regardless of how many scientific studies are thrown in my face. None of the relationships I have been in were the same in that regard, and frankly as I always say on here, reason and research are good tools, but not the final arbiter of our love lives. Evan’s point about women walking away after a year, though, is a good one. It happens sooner in some cases – this “need” to have everything settled quickly. Some men do the same thing. Quitting a good relationship that isn’t fully clear yet isn’t the same, though, as insisting people wait for X number of year, or that those who don’t are probably in for trouble. Point being that I do think these things take some time. But how much time exactly really depends upon each couple.

  15. 105
    Catherine

    Hi Evan

    I agree that marrying after a year is too soon, but I think the guy needs to demonstrate  some degree of seriousness about the relationship at the one year mark 

  16. 106
    Christine

    Well, I actually believe the take away point here is just making sure you’re not making a life-long decision only based on short-term physical attraction.  I’ve learned this lesson the hard way!  (but thankfully woke up in time and didn’t marry any of the guys I had that crazy-making sexual attraction for, or I’d be working on a divorce right about now)

    Mia@109, I really do sympathize and empathize with your frustration, when I keep going through it too.  I’ve even had my own experience with the meddling Asian family!  I just remember that it comes from a good place and they are well-intentioned (if clumsy) in trying to help you find love. 

    It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.  You can still do things that interest you, hang out with friends, spend time with family…all while still looking for love.  When I date, I try to balance dating with other activities (i.e. work, road trips with friends, spending time with my adorable baby nephew) to try to keep my sanity.  That way when a certain date doesn’t work out, it won’t devastate me because I still have other things in my life that bring me joy.  I think of it like my job search, where I’ll face a lot of setbacks and disappointments, but only need ONE in the end.  I faced a lot of rejections when I searched for a job, but then ended up with one that is bigger and better than I even dreamed of.  Persevering through disappointment has rewarded me in other areas of life, so I think it will with love as well (only love will give me a much bigger reward).  I’m realistic enough to know that I’m outside most men’s preferences (at least in the online dating world, where the 20-something white women seem to have the most options…most men I’ve seen don’t want a 33 year old Asian woman like myself.  Or, they just want some “exotic” flavor of the month when they do).  While it can get frustrating, that doesn’t bother me to the extent it used to.  I don’t want or need most men, just ONE that is right for me.  I don’t care that I don’t appeal to the majority as long as I eventually find the right one. 

    I’m also trying to learn not to internalize rejections or let them get to me.  All it means is that I’m not a great fit for some man or don’t quite fit into his lifestyle…not necessarily anything about my worth as a person.  Unlike close friends and family who really know me, some man can’t be a totally accurate judge of me after just a few emails or one dinner date…so that makes it easier for me to just shrug those off and move on.

  17. 107
    Soul

    @Nathan # 115

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. An average is just that: an average. As such and by itself, it does not tell much actually. It’s all about nuances, as you pointed

    1. 107.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Nathan and @Soul – Sorry, guys, but your analysis isn’t hitting it. You’re stuck on the fact that people CAN get lucky in love by getting married during the 18-36 month attraction phase. I’ve already acknowledged that, but it’s dumb luck. As Karl pointed out. Most couples who get married fast fail. Next, you point out that 2 and a half years is average. Therefore, some people get married faster and survive. As I’ve already acknowledged, of course they do. I’m not reducing love to hard and fast rules; I am using science to help people make healthier long-term decisions. Waiting a longer time before tying a lifetime knot is a good guideline for couples. There is very little to be gained by marrying quickly based on “just knowing” and passion and then discovering that you were actually incompatible. If your love is true, you can make it for two years without buying a ring. And that goes for the over-50 set as well, who is just as prone to bad decision making and lust as the younger set. I had a 57 year old client who fell hard for a guy who was married SEVEN times. She slept with him, found out he was still on Match.com after he said he committed to her. Shocker. My mom was a 58 year old widow who married a nice guy after a short courtship. She got divorced two years later. Turns out that nice was his only quality – he had few social skills, poor health, and was in financial disarray. Literally, the ONLY person who NEEDS to consider speeding up the marriage process is the 40-year-old woman – and, if she has a boyfriend who is also serious about children, HE will choose to do the right thing on his OWN terms WITHOUT your pressure.

      I know this because that’s what I did. I was engaged in 16 months, married in 20. And I wasn’t sure I made the RIGHT decision until six months AFTER we were married. That’s the chance you take when you rush things. Thankfully, I had a LOT of experience helping guide me before I tied the knot. Most people don’t.

      So yeah, I’m sticking with my claim that you can wait until you BOTH feel comfortable and you’ve BOTH gotten over the “you just know” giddiness. The exceptions don’t disprove the original guideline.

  18. 108
    Ruby

    I’m almost 50, so I’m not sure I’d want to wait 3 years to decide on marriage. Besides, I’ve dated enough so that I don’t think I need to. I can’t imagine finding anything better than what I’ve got, and we’ve been dating less than 6 months. A year and a half would be enough time for me, but we’ll see how things go with my current boyfriend!
     
    If I were 20 years younger, yeah, I might need more time, but as I said earlier, age and experience make a difference.

  19. 109
    Fiona

    Well Evan if you are right I guess I’m never getting married because I want my own biological children more than anything else in this world and I cannot afford to wait 3 years to see if maybe a man will marry me (or not) even assuming I can meet someone in the next few months. Even if the guy decides he wants to marry me when I hit 40 and then I find I can’t have children (which is not unlikely) infertility of one party puts a major amount of stress on a relationship and creates a huge risk of divorce in any event. I do not see either adoption or raising someone else’s children instead as an alternative that I would be happy with as I will always be wondering what it is like to carry and give birth to a child (and you can’t adopt at that age in the UK anyway).

    I guess if men want children and they know they need a long time to get married, they would generally be better off seeking someone younger than 35 and women really do need to go all out to find a partner in their early 30s if they want children.

    I am still hoping that I am going to have a bit of calculated dumb luck though. 

  20. 110
    Ruby

    EMK #120
     
    I get what you’re saying, but a man who has been married 7 times should raise an eyebrow under any circumstances. Guys who sleep with women without taking down their profiles are common at any age. And I don’t know how long your mother’s courtship was, but if it was less than a year, that could pose a problem.
     
    Women definitely face more age pressure than men, whether it’s a ticking biological clock, or a fear of getting too old to attract a man. I also think there’s still a romantic fantasy floating around of the white knight swooping in to “rescue” us with a whirlwind courtship. Some might equate the short time period with a romantic sense of “knowing” that this person is the one. Courtships go through stages, and they happen whether a couple is married or single, but the earlier stages are certainly easier to navigate before marriage.

  21. 111
    Joe

    Those of you who are quoting the 2.5-year average and using it to state that since it’s an average, there are couples who got married in a shorter period of time have you also remember that there are couples who got married in a longer period of time.  That’s why it’s called an average!

    If detailed statistics were available, the more useful stat would be the mode: the most frequent number.  If it takes 50 out of 100 couples 3 years, even though the average is 2.5, that is more useful information than the simple average.

  22. 112
    Jane

    @ Nathan -Right. On average. Which means that if you take a large group of married couples, and add up their collective time together before marriage and divide it by the number of couples, that is what you will get.

    Thank you for your post; I agreed with much of it.  But I especially agreed with the bit I quoted, because I began to l feel as if the very nature of what prob & stats are, and why we use them, were becoming unrecognizable.

    @ Karl R: It takes two to tango.

    It does.  Consider my dance card full.  I can’t even answer your questions, when you aren’t comprehending what I’m saying.  Case in point, I never said you can override actual drunkenness with willpower. What I said was this: how long it takes for someone to get drunk, combined with the specific manifestation of said drunkenness, not to mention its duration, is relative to the person.  There’s no universal standard.  Further, in a similar fashion – as in akin; as in like; not exactly the same thing down to the letter; not identical, but sharing commonalities- the same characteristics can be said for dopamine: the manifestation, duration, and levels vary for individuals. 
    Is their research to show that.  Yes, I could probably even show it in some of the studies you are referencing (I’m interested in the subject; I’ve read much about this).  But I’m not.  I only engage on that level with people I believe are arguing (in the classic sense) with me in good faith. So, if you want to chalk up everything I’ve said to some magical mystery tour of thinking, fine by me! 

    @ Evan: So yeah, I’m sticking with my claim…

    If you believe that strongly in it, I would expect you to.  What I didn’t expect, and what actually saddens me at the moment, was that you would feel the need so strongly that you would throw other couples under the bus.  Why do I say that?  Because of statements like these:

    People who got married after 1 year and are still together are simply LUCKY. The fact that you know a number of couples who did this also makes them LUCKY. Because they didn’t have remotely enough information to know if they were compatible for life.

    You’re stuck on the fact that people CAN get lucky in love by getting married during the 18-36 month attraction phase. I’ve already acknowledged that, but it’s dumb luck.

    I could have used an example of one of numerous couples I read online, but I didn’t think it would hold weight, since I wouldn’t be able to truly say I knew them.  Much Like Michelle’s story, actually; I give it weight based on what you say you know about them, being involved.
    The couple I mentioned would fit in with the examples Fiona gave.  And I know them: know the intimate details of how they came together, what was the process that determined their choice in one another, seen with my own eyes the ups and downs, and struggles of their union, as they lived it year in and year out.  They are not successful because of luck, or dumb luck.  They did not go into the union based on some brainless, dopamine high.

    Yet, you moved from talking about what is likely, to making judgments on vast groups of people, who you don’t know. At all.  You may know plenty couples who fit what you are saying.  But you don’t know them all.  And you didn’t differentiate.  You made a blanket statement that either people subscribe to this specific timeline, or their very successful marriages are just based on dumb luck, without knowing anything about them.  And you didn’t have to do that.  You could have easily just chalked it up to standard deviation, where there are usually outliers, or things/people not in the norm.  But instead, you chose to dismiss these unions.  And although this would be a tiny population size indeed, Karl R is engaged, you’re married for several, with a little one, and one on the way, but the couple I know have been married over 15 years – well past the 3, 5, and 7 years where marriages often implode – and they’ve done it with many children.  And I can’t speak for Fiona’s examples personally, like I can this one.  But I am sure some of hers are also successful, and you can’t just chalk it up to luck.

    But I have been feeling for a while now that this has touched upon something deeper than what is being discussed.  And frankly, if the conversation is going to turn in this direction, never mind.  When I initially posted I thought how tragic would it be for a 44 yr. old to wait 2-3 years on a man who doesn’t marry her, and a couple of months later she enters menopause.  Or a 44 year old woman who wants to marry, who has most of her life, to hear, “Oh well, everyone marries eventually.  Keep at it!”  But I’ll bow out here.  Because really, at the end of the day, I won’t be here, nor will anyone else here.  These are intimate, tough decisions that no matter the myriad of advice either way, she has to reconcile in her own soul; one way or another.

    1. 112.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I think everyone is taking these guidelines a bit too literally, as if I’ve said it’s impossible to have a happy marriage if you marry before a year and a half. Rather, I said that it was prudent to wait a longer period of time so that you don’t make a huge mistake that will cost you years, dollars and children. I’m assuming no one would try to argue with that point.

      So then it’s just a matter of details. Since science says that blinding attraction can last between a year and a half and three years – and during that phase, you don’t always see your partner clearly – I think we can all agree that it makes sense to, at the very least, wait until the high rush of new love wears off. We still on the same page? Good.

      This is all about risk management; gathering as much information as possible to make a smart long-term decision. If you’re driving 90 on the freeway because you’re in a rush to get to your destination, you’re very likely to miss your exit. This is what I caution women (and men) who think that they must MARRY NOW. You really don’t have to.

      Jane’s point about couples who broke up 15 years later is completely irrelevant to this discussion. If he becomes an alcoholic at year 12 and he never had that tendency before, she has every right to divorce him and she could not possibly have seen that coming during courtship. Such anecdotes are asking for hindsight when it’s impossible. But I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they’ve gotten divorced, and, in looking back, seen character flaws in their partners that they should have acknowledged sooner. But they didn’t. They were caught up. They were in love. They wanted to lock it in. And they were wrong.

      Finally, Jane, NO ONE said that a 44 year old should wait 3 years to get married if she AND he want biological kids. Don’t put words in my mouth. I pointed out that the only exception to the 2+ year guidelines should be women of late childbearing age, but if they’re with men who are serious about being fathers (which they should be), they really don’t have to worry, because HE’s feeling the exact same pressure. I was the one who rushed into marriage. My wife never pressured me. That made my decision a lot easier than if she were giving me ultimatums because of her fear. If HE wants kids, you don’t have to do anything but sit back and let him choose you. He knows what’s at stake.

  23. 113
    SS

    Evan, you said… the people who stayed together usually had courtships that lasted, on average, for two years and four months.

    Wouldn’t this courtship time include the engagement period? From the way I read this, we’re talking 28 months from the time a couple decides to become exclusive to the wedding date. I think this sounds perfectly reasonable, but I think it’s quite different from the idea that an average man needs three years before he decides he’s ready to marry. It sounds like this average guy probably who has a 28-month courtship proposed around the 16-18 month mark (so a little after a year) and then a wedding took place up to a year later. 
    It seems the contention some of us have with your timeline is not the 2-3 years until marriage part, but the idea that a “reasonable” man needs three years before even deciding that he wants to marry his girlfriend. If we’re talking to women over 30 here, and specifically in their late 30s, I can see why they would balk over that. I balked over that myself when a 38-year-old man said he’d need three years before he was ready for marriage (and I was just 30 then, so nowhere near the end of my biological clock), but I said that was too long for me. Obviously, we broke up and I married a different guy… here it is, FOUR years later and that first man has still not married anyone. I would have been taking a huge risk (and likely a bad one) to stick with that man and subjugating my needs for his “just because.”  That’s why I agreed with Fusee when she said that it really shouldn’t be about his needs or your needs… it should be about two people with similar desires and ideas about how they’d like to move their relationship forward.
    Do I believe that marrying after one year is the best move to make? No… even though it has worked for a good number of people. But do I think it’s out of the ordinary for a late-30s man to propose after a year and maybe marry a year later (which would be a 24-month courtship)? Not really… I think the older people get, the more they know what they want — especially if they’ve been dating a lot — and most are not acting out of mere infatuation. 
    I just want to make sure I understand how we’re measuring the time of courtship, because I think that would make a big difference in interpreting your point of view.
     

  24. 114
    nathan

    Evan, if I get married, I’ll probably be on the slow end when it comes to deciding. I rarely rush into anything because when I decide to commit, I stick with whatever it is with a fierce tenacity. Above, you recommend that a woman walk away if, after the three year mark, she hasn’t been proposed to. I can see myself being that guy, and I can see other good partners being that guy. Which is another reason I question hard and fast timelines because at the end of the day, they’re always going to be about pressuring someone. The woman who wants to move fast is pressured to step back. The man who isn’t ready after 3 years is pressured to move forward.
     
    Here’s the thing. I agree with the guideline. I especially think that getting people to delay marriage until after 18 months together makes total sense. But guidelines are meant to offer guidance, not to be used to browbeat others into acting or believing in certain ways. It’s the insistence that you are right, and the rest of us are wrong that makes so many people bristle on this point. Not the guideline itself, which again, I think is useful as a general point of guidance.
     
    You suggest that your “luck” getting married after 20 months was supported by lots of experience. I’d just say it was time for you and your wife, even though you weren’t sure. The majority of people that comment on this blog are over 30. We aren’t lacking in experience. Although we have varying levels of understanding what makes up a healthy relationship, lack of experience isn’t an issue for most of us. In my view, it’s more about figuring out a way to take guidelines that you and others offer, and use them in our particular situations. Some folks need to be more patient. Others need to be more willing to take a risk.

  25. 115
    SS

    I should have said, “he’d need three years before he was ready to think about marriage, not to be ready for marriage.”
     

  26. 116
    Helen

    If I may throw a “radical” idea into this discussion: friendship.
     
    Because I feared the browbeating that nathan 126 so aptly describes in his 2nd paragraph, I hadn’t mentioned that my now-husband proposed after only 5 months of dating. But the important point is that we were friends for half a year before dating.
     
    Now, those of you who are mathematically inclined are probably adding this up and seeing it’s still less than a year of knowing each other before we were engaged. But I truly believe the friendship stage was crucial, and made the dating stage faster, because we knew we liked each other. If there’s something that’s so important in a relationship that never gets talked about enough, it’s that you have to LIKE each other. Not passion, not romance – you have to like each other as human beings and friends. Otherwise, how will you last throughout a marriage?
     
    That’s why I’d go against the advice given to Mia of trying to date someone new every week. Dating is such a narrow and high-pressure way of getting to know someone. Since she’s still young and seems insecure about herself as a romantic partner, I’d advise her to take at least half a year off dating completely. I’d advise her to learn to look at other people as human beings who could be friends. Not as potential romantic partners (the men), and not as potential romantic rivals (the women), but as human beings.  This would enable her to take a step back, relax, and see people as who they are: the whole picture, not just some very pressured, very taxing, very narrow niche of “romantic partner” or “romantic rival.” We’re all much more than that.
     
    The reason I think it takes less time to marriage if you’re friends with someone first is that you wouldn’t be friends with someone if you didn’t like them, and mutual liking is crucial in any long-term relationship. You get to know the other person in a more relaxed setting, and learn if you can tolerate his oddities and he yours. I would advise any opportunities to join activities where the focus is on something else, not dating, so that you can get to know others in a friendly way. That good friend could someday become your beloved spouse.

    1. 116.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Agree with you about friendship, Helen. 100%. There’s one thing you’re not factoring in, however. This isn’t how one goes about finding a relationship. There’s nothing proactive about it. You just have to hope to make enough good guy friends who are not instantly attracted to you and keep your fingers crossed that one of them blossoms into your husband. That’s a nice sentiment but a poor strategy. It would be like saying “Take six months off of your job search, don’t do any interviews. Meet a lot of people. One of them might one day become your employer.” Is networking a good idea if you’re unemployed? Yep. But without actually going on an INTERVIEW, it’s hard to get a job.

      So, is dating ideal? Not by a long shot. Most people are slaves to chemistry and don’t think of friendship as the cornerstone of a future. Certainly not on Date 1. But going out with one new guy a week doesn’t prevent any woman from having a social life, meeting men organically and feeling relaxed around men. Dating is a necessary supplement to “real life” so that you have the chance to form a romantic connection.

      Because what’s not acknowledged in your post is that many men don’t WANT to be “friends first”. If he sees you and thinks you’re cute, he’s going to ask for your number. He’s not going to wait. He’s not going to take six months to be friends. He’s going to take you on a date and try to kiss you and see what happens. Again, not ideal. But it’s reality.

      Taking six months off dating just means that there will be six months that she will likely not fall in love.

  27. 117
    Fusee

    @Fiona #121:
     
    It looks like you really know what would make you the happiest, as well as what would be the most devastating for you in the long-term. You are your own expert. I sincerely wish you the best of luck!
     
    I agree with the following commenters, and especially find the following quotations useful to the conversation:
     
    Jane #124:“You made a blanket statement that either people subscribe to this specific timeline, or their very successful marriages are just based on dumb luck, without knowing anything about them.”


    It’s dumb luck if your marriage (contracted within ANY timeframe: 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 7 years, whatever) to someone you did not carefully investigate ends up working fine because it just happens that both parties were actually compatible and (were or became) skilled at relationships without previous confirmation of these facts. Nothing to do with timelines, although obviously the more time you have before signing your marriage papers the more chance you have to learn (by careful investigation or by dumb luck) something about the other party.
     
    However, asserting that you CAN’T know someone in 12-18 months just because you yourself can not, is dismissing all of us who CAN, and who affirm that without being in any haze. My boyfriend and I agree that we indeed know one another really well at the one-year mark, and we both admit that the “high” has loooong been gone (since after six weeks of dating or so). There is much more to discover and learn about one another – for sure! – and that’s what a marriage is all about, but we’ve been resolving issues and digging deeper and deeper into our expectations, flaws, and fears since the two-month mark. Although I concede this was not common to be out of the haze and already deep in the trenches a couple of months into dating, this has been our experience and it is valid. Does it mean we are ready to make a decision? Not quite yet, and serious concerns are being raised, so it is not that likely that we will choose to unite in marriage in the end. But we are talking about it and actively working on it. It’s not taboo, and thankfully we will both know before having invested three years of our lives into this relationship.



    SS #125:“It sounds like this average guy probably who has a 28-month courtship proposed around the 16-18 month mark (so a little after a year) and then a wedding took place up to a year later. It seems the contention some of us have with your timeline is not the 2-3 years until marriage part, but the idea that a “reasonable” man needs three years before even deciding that he wants to marry his girlfriend.”


    Exactly. But as someone else noted, this is an average, and even if SS’ timeline does sound good to me, it might not even represent what one single couple of the study has actually done! Anyway I will reaffirm that to my opinion timelines are one of the numerous items to agree on or compromize about. In most cases, the woman will be the fastest to feel ready (for better or worse) but not necessarily. It should not be a gender war but a negociation to have with one’s partner. If simply talking about goals and timelines to reach them is a no-no “because he is feeling pressured”, then I’d argue that there might be other issues to deal with first, such as unhealthy communication and inappropriate power dynamics.


    nathan #126:“Although we have varying levels of understanding what makes up a healthy relationship, lack of experience isn’t an issue for most of us. In my view, it’s more about figuring out a way to take guidelines that you and others offer, and use them in our particular situations. Some folks need to be more patient. Others need to be more willing to take a risk.”


    Exactly. Let’s not compete with numbers to prove our experience. I (thankfully) did not need hundreds of dates to get a clue about relationships. Also our individual personalities are testimonies of our fears and how we compulsively try to alleviate them. There is nothing more fear-triggering than the prospect of marriage. Now that is a serious decision to make. If you do not feel fear at all when considering marriage to someone, you probably are on a “high”. The experience of doubts and fears is a good sign that you are probably well grounded in reality.
     
    From reading comments, it’s pretty clear to me that a diverse range of personalities is represented here:
    1. The risk-adverse, willing to go to great lengths to methodically reduce risks as much as humanely possible.
    2. The one who will test their luck, by taking a deep breath and going for it, while accepting in advance the consequences of a bad decision.
    3. And then the one somewhere in the middle, reducing risk somewhat while thinking that there is no “risk zero” and that entering a marriage will always be a leap of faith. Educated- and knowledge-based faith, but faith neertheless.
     

  28. 118
    Michelle

    “If HE wants kids, you don’t have to do anything but sit back and let him choose you. He knows what’s at stake.”

    I love this, and it applies to situations where having kids is not at stake, just remove the “if HE wants kids”.  Men aren’t stupid.  Actually, I’m often surprised about how intuitive they are.

  29. 119
    David T

    @Fiona 121


    It sounds like you are closer to the end of fertility than I thought.  I recommend you harvest and freeze some eggs if you can afford it and keep on dating for at least a little while. Build your social network and friends. Maybe you can find some like minded women who are considering solo parenting. 
     
    Joining a cooperative network of women like that, or even sharing a house with one or more of them would make all aspects of life much easier, swapping child care, covering each other during work emergencies etc. We have something in the United States called co-housing.  Living in something like that even if it is mostly couples would still fill some needs. Any of these scenarios will still be harder and emotionally lonelier than a spouse, but much better than being completely on your own.
     
    I hope you find your love, but if you are wise to be thinking outside the box in case you don’t.  I applaud your courage. Blessings.

  30. 120
    Fiona

    David, that’s really sweet of you.

    Thanks and to Fusee too. Evan seems to be getting a bit of flack on timescales but I essentially agree with what he says in 128 and the last paragraph is a bit more reassuring.

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