Why It’s OK to Be Dating and (Still Not) Engaged

A young man and woman enjoying their dating life and not worrying about not being married yet.

Photo by Jenna Lynn Photography Auburn, Alabama

You might be here because you really need this pep talk, or maybe you’re starting to get to this pivotal point in your relationship.

It‘s been a few years since you and your better half have started dating. You know what makes them tick, what their favorite food is, and that they need an extra blanket just for themselves on the bed. You know their habits and you love them for even the most annoying quirk. You’ve probably discussed marriage and your not-so-distant future before, yet you feel discouraged simply because you haven’t been given the biggest item of commitment. You see couples who have been together a shorter amount of time than you move to the next step, causing you to wonder why it isn’t you and what’s so wrong with your relationship that you can’t move forward.

I’m here to tell you that nothing is wrong. It’s okay that you aren’t engaged yet, and here’s why.

Every relationship is different (I saw that eye roll). As cheesy and obvious as it may seem, it’s 100% true. You might feel jealous of your friends who are showing off that sparkly ring and already planning weddings. Just remember you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors with that couple. You don’t know if that perfect Instagram couple argues over the smallest things and simply thinks they need to take this step to “save” their relationship. Focus on yourself and your boyfriend or girlfriend, instead of comparing it to the social media posts you see that bring out the green-eyed monster. Remember those posts are not even half the story. Disconnect from that, and then reconnect with what your relationship means to you.

Some days you might feel like you need to be the one that proposes to get things moving, but before you start planning a vacation to Ireland on a leap year, think about this. It’s so easy for the person who‘s champing at the bit to pressure their significant other into something they’re not ready for. It’s important in any relationship for both people to respect what the other person is ready for. Some people want to take it slowly and grow together as a couple before they jump into marriage, instead of finding themselves divorced two years later because they were pressured to take a huge step. Just because your partner isn’t ready to get married at the same time you are doesn’t mean they love you any less; they just might need more time to make sure your love is forever. Your need to be engaged and their need to take things slowly are both important and should be respected and balanced.

You also need to make sure you’re thinking with your head and not just your heart. Can you afford that dream wedding you want? How about that ring you’ve had your eyes on? Your partner may want to make sure they can give you everything you want and deserve before proposing. Take into consideration what‘s going on in your lives right now. Did you just buy a house? Did one of you start a new career? These things can be stressful for even the strongest of couples. If you’re with a person who needs structure or to handle one life change at a time, let things settle down. Marriage isn’t something to take lightly—it’s work and a lot of it. You don’t want to start your journey together during an already stressful period of life.

So, take a breath! It’ll happen with time, and it’s okay if it doesn’t happen tomorrow. Remember that your relationship is strong, true, and healthy—and that’s what matters. Be happy with what you have now, instead of being stuck on what you don’t, and grow your relationship. If you know that your love is solid and that you two are on the same path, then you have nothing to worry about. Every great love story is like a fine wine, it only gets better with time.

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