Does more dating lead to a happier marriage?

What is the correlation between the length of time spent together in courtship and the resulting marriage?

Flirting couple in the park texting on smartphones


According to popular online dating site eharmony, on average couples decide to wait 2.8 years to marry after having showed romantic interest. But today’s question deals with a common dilemma that most of us will have to face at one point of our lives. What is the optimal length of time to date; or a matter of fact IS there such a thing and when does too much dating become detrimental for a marriage. In addition, there are an abundance of third variables and factors that can attribute to a successful marriage such as the timing of the relationship, parental support, and money variables. However, I believe the success of a long term marriage lies within the courtship period between the two mates.

For our purposes, let’s consider the courtship period to be considered the time when you first establish a dating relationship, the period of engagement, and to the eve of your wedding night. My hypothesis is that a longer courtship will ultimately lead to a lasting marriage not ending in divorce.

An article from the New Republic analysis the a study of 952 people in California that have been married for at least three years and found a positive correlation between the length of courtship and reported marital satisfaction. According to the study done by psychologist Scott Randall Hansen, the divorce rates were highest among couples that had spent less than six months dating. These high divorce rates are likely due to impulsiveness or impatience within the relationship that ultimately resulted in an unhappy marriage.

If there is a positive correlation between not dating enough leading to a higher divorce rate, can waiting too long have some adverse effects for a couple’s future?

While most relationships that last up to 3 years usually lead to lasting marriages, relationships that hit 5 or 10 years could potentially not lead to marriage at all. To analyze the reverse causation, data proving that relationships that last let’s say over 5 years would have to result in a higher rate of break up and divorce. To my dismay, I failed to find concrete evidence to support the reverse causality as most of the research happened to be anecdotal relationships posted on online forums.

While we may conjecture to find an optimal amount of time dating before marriage, I believe relationships with people go further beyond statistical measurements and often times are very situational.

Thank you for the read!

-Sammy Lee

4 thoughts on “Does more dating lead to a happier marriage?

  1. Abigail Louise Edwards

    Hi Sammy!

    I think that this is very true! I personally think that the longer a couple is in the “courtship” period, the more likely they are to stay together and not end in divorce. For example, my own parents. They started dating in the 8th grade and have been together ever since. That goes to show that dating for 10 years, ages 13 to 23, can lead to a healthy 20+ years of marriage. Obviously many third variables could also explain this, but it is consistent with your findings. I believe that dating for awhile before committing to someone is always good, it allows the individuals to really know if their significant other is the right choice.


  2. Darby Helen Smith

    I think that this topic is very relevant due to the high rates of divorce that we see in our country today. I think you did a very good job with this blog post because you covered many different factors that could do into the study, even if there is no study that correlates with it out on the internet (the reverse causality). I think it shows that this class is helping you to think of all sorts of possibilities regarding scientific studies!

  3. Caroline Sorrentino

    This is a very relevant topic and definitely science related, great job! While I wish this true, my parents were together for a while before they got married and still ended up getting divorced after 14 years. I think everyone is different especially in this day and age. You see more and more young couples getting divorced and it is very rare to see grandparents get divorced. Social Media definitely has an impact on relationships, from the start to finish. This is both a blessing and a curse I believe. this article from bustle describes the effect social media has on relationships.

  4. Luyi Yao

    This topic is pretty useful! And I also agree with your hypothesis that the longer courtship couples have, the more lasting marriage they get. Also, I like the way you think about this topic. Although the research you shown reveals that high divorce rates are likely due to impulsiveness or impatience within the relationship that ultimately resulted in an unhappy marriage, there is still possibility that couples may divorce due to too long courtship (Maybe Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are an example). Although we can not got a specific conclusion, I believe there is a correlation between the amount of time dating before marriage and divorce rate.

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