Women Are Dating Longer Before Getting Engaged

dating before getting engaged

We are constantly reminded of the pressures of getting married, settling down and starting a family. Not only does the media continually portray this path as the norm, but the people we surround ourselves with also provide a benchmark for when we think we should be getting engaged. Some publications have determined that the average couple dates for a mere 25 months (just over 2 years) before the question is popped, while others find that couples date for just under 3 years before getting engaged. There’s a lot of societal pressure on what’s considered normal in the dating and marriage world, so we decided to conduct a survey to find out what’s really going on. We surveyed a random sample of 2,072 females in the United States aged 18 to 45 over a course of three weeks to see how long they dated their partners before they got engaged.

dating before getting engaged


Survey Questions, Goals and Parameters

We asked three simple questions:

  1. What city and state do you live in?
  2. How long were you and your partner dating before you got engaged?
  3. How old were you when your partner proposed?

Each of these questions were designed with the goal in mind: to find out how time and age affect relationships. We included the location factor to see how these relationships varied across regions as well. Specifically, we wanted to learn the following:

  • What is the average amount of time a woman dates her partner before getting engaged?
  • Is there any correlation between age and the amount of time spent dating? (ie: do younger people date for longer or shorter periods of time?)
  • Is there any correlation between location and time? (ie: do people from a certain region date for longer or shorter periods of time?)
  • Is there any correlation between engagement age and location? (ie: do people from a certain region get engaged earlier or later than others?)

We defined each region as the following states:

Midwest Region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Northeast Region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont

South Region: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

West Region: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

how long do couples date

Effects of Age and Location on Relationships

The results of our survey were very interesting. First and foremost, we found that the average length of a relationship before engagement is 44 months, or 3.67 years. That’s almost an entire year longer than other studies have stated! We also found that the majority of our sample size was between the ages of 21 and 35 when they were proposed to, and they dated an average of 46 months, or 3.83 years, before the proposal.

Brides who were engaged at the age of 20 or younger are likely to date the shortest amount of time before getting engaged (29 months, or 2.42 years). On the other hand, brides who were engaged at the age of 35 or older dated an average of 40 months, or 3.33 years.

dating before proposal

For those who got engaged at age 20 or younger, the majority across all regions dated between one and three years. Something interesting to note is that the remainder of those in this age group were split fairly evenly between dating for less than one year and more than three years when they got engaged.

Region Dated less than one year Dated 1-3 years Dated more than 3 years
South 28.5% 43.5% 28%
Midwest 21.5% 58% 20.5%
Northeast 31.25% 37.75% 31%
West 29% 40.4% 29.5%


For the age group of 26 to 30 years old, the majority across all regions dated their partners for over three years before the question was popped. In fact, over half of the Northeast respondents and 60% of the West respondents dated for more than three years before getting engaged.

Region Dated less than one year Dated 1-3 years Dated more than 3 years
South 18.5% 38.5% 43%
Midwest 16% 40% 44%
Northeast 11% 38% 51%
West 12% 28% 60%


For the age group of those over 35 years old when they were proposed to, there was a significant trend in the Midwest, with 50% of respondents stating they dated for less than a year before they got engaged. In the South and West regions, data is split fairly evenly amongst the three categories, while in the Northeast over half of the respondents dated for over three years before getting engaged.

Region Dated less than one year Dated 1-3 years Dated more than 3 years
South 34% 34% 32%
Midwest 50% 27% 23%
Northeast 14% 31% 55%
West 26% 38% 36%

We also found that 30% of all respondents dated their partners for at least 5 years before getting engaged. Women between the ages of 21 and 35 spend 46 months, or 3.83 years, dating their partners before the proposal, while women aged 35 or older typically date for 40 months, or 3.33 years.


How Long Do Couples Date Before Getting Married?

Our results provided an interesting insight into the way couples behave all over the United States. The average of over three and a half years of dating before the proposal is a significant amount more than other publications have determined. When you’re in a serious relationship and feel like you’re ready to commit to marriage, every additional month of waiting can feel like an eternity.

Further, the fact that women who get engaged at 35 or older tend to date for a shorter period of time than those aged 21 to 35 falls in line the concept that as you get older and become more experienced, you know what you want and what you’re looking for. This reduces the amount of time necessary to determine whether or not your partner is The One.

average relationship length for engagement

Although our research surveyed a comprehensive sample size of women in the United States, keep in mind that there are a variety of factors that should be considered when you are thinking about getting engaged. These statistics and averages, based on information provided by voluntary parties, can provide a peek into how long a couple typically dates before popping the question. Each relationship is unique and will take different amounts of time to reach the point where you’re ready for the next step.

Thank you to The Wedding Report Inc. and WeddingVibe who helped us conduct the survey and analyze the data.

View the full survey results here.

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