Statistics show that 2.2-2.4 million women get married each year, but there are no studies counting how many are waiting to be asked to the altar. With women marrying later in life (the average age is 27 for women; 29 for men), and more couples cohabitating before marriage, it's no wonder women are having a hard time knowing when—or if—a proposal is imminent.
How Long Should You Wait?
Torkelson thought her engagement was a sure thing. Three or four months into dating, Torkelson's boyfriend told her she was the woman he wanted to marry. Confident in the relationship, she moved in with him after a year, expecting that he would propose within six months. But each holiday came and went without a ring. Although she believed he was the one, given her age and desire to have children, she couldn't wait forever. How long should she wait?
The longer the better, according to a study on the correlation between courtship and marriage longevity.
The average time for a couple to date before they get engaged is just over 19 months, according to Dr. Ted Huston, a psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin (and corroborated by a poll on ProjectWedding.com). Over the course of 14 years, he studied the courtship and marriages of 168 couples and identified three patterns of dating: fast and passionate, slow and rocky, and in between. "The more boring and deliberate the courtship, the better the prospects for a long marriage," Dr. Huston said in an article in the Los Angeles Times. He Said He Was SURE—So Why Hasn't He Proposed?
But that timeline may not work for some women eyeing the clock. Torkelson didn't want to be almost 40 and trying to conceive. What's worse is that her boyfriend was seven years her junior. "He didn't see what the big rush was because he can have babies for the rest of his life."
"Men under 32 need a lot more time to propose," says April Beyer, CEO and Founder of the matchmaking firm Beyer & Co, which specializes in getting men ready for—and to—the altar. Earning power tends to be weaker in their 20s, Beyer points out, and men may wait to get engaged until they feel financially secure enough to be the provider for a family.