I received an e-mail from an online friend who has concerns about the length of time that she and her SO have been dating. With her permission, I am quoting her email, but leaving out some personal details to keep her identity anonymous. She wrote…
…I have been struggling lately in my relationship. We have been dating for a total of four years. It isn’t very often that he discusses marriage. I know that the distant relationship is not ideal for marriage right now. However, I can’t help but think that it will never happen with him. He shows no urgency in this area. We are going on five years and still no sign of an engagement. I have so many frustrating questions. What do you think? Have I wasted four years in this relationship? How long is too long when it comes to dating?…”
Keep in mind that I am not Dr. Ruth. As a business student, I do not claim to have studied any area of therapy or counseling. My only “qualification” is experience. With that said, here are a few thoughts that I felt could help my friend, myself, and maybe others. I hope it is understandable.
- Your story is different from others. Trust God’s timing.
Yes, it’s hard to see other people experience a moment in life that you desire so much. Being sad would be a normal reaction, but it’s a matter of perspective. Rather than letting jealousy enter in your thoughts, be happy for others. Everyone has a different story. You have to trust that God has a plan for you and His timing is perfect. I have a friend getting married this year and a cousin having a baby within a couple of weeks. I am excited for both of them and I celebrate these momentous times in their life alongside them. Be happy for others and know that God wants to fulfill this in your life.. in His timing.
- Look at the bigger picture, the time will come!
What are the circumstances that might be keeping marriage from happening right now? For me it is the distance, us both trying to finish school, and other factors. It doesn’t mean that my boyfriend doesn’t WANT to marry me, there are just an order of events that need to happen first. That’s probably why guys are usually the ones to propose, they tend to think more rationally when it comes to “love”. Right now might not be the best time and that is okay. It will be worth the wait. Again, God’s timing is best.
- Your relationship is still growing.
An engagement ring or marriage license is the next step into a commitment to one another. I do think it is important for a couple to progress down the road of matrimony at a certain point. However, dating is a time to go through ups and down and learn more about each other. You don’t have to have a ring or a license to continually grow stronger together. Learn as much as you can about each other during this time. More importantly, learn more about yourself as an individual. You may be disappointed because he hasn’t popped the question, but you can still progress together until you are both ready.
- The last resort when enough is enough.
Every relationship is different. Every relationship comes to the point when it is time to make that next step. It isn’t fair for a desiring partner to be in a relationship with someone who never has intentions of getting married. On the other hand, it isn’t fair for someone to feel forced into marriage. I can understand why some people come to the conclusion that they have dated “long enough”. You’re hurt and tired of feeling like your time is being wasted waiting on someone who is not going to make a commitment to you. He may have good reason, such as priorities and timing (explained earlier), which you should carefully consider first. If not, it may be best to create a timeline. Consider the amount of time that you are willing to continue waiting for that commitment. You can not force him to marry you (you wouldn’t want to), but you can decide what is best for you. Once that 6 months, a year, 2 years (whatever your timeline may be) has passed, carefully consider the relationship, your desires, and what is best for your life and future. At that point, I think each person’s intentions will become clearer. Understand, I am not telling you to give up. I think this choice should be a last resort for couples who can not see eye to eye or aren’t willing to compromise. Keep in mind, if there are legit reasons that a proposal is being put off, it could very well be worth the wait!
Inspired by the prompt : amazingadvice