How To Tell Someone That You Are 'Dating To Marry' Without Scaring Them Away

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couple dating to marry

Ahh, "the talk." No, not the breakup talk... the "I want to get married someday soon" talk.

See, there's a large contingent of single, marriage-minded people who are dating to marry. They are likely getting older, and they want to find a life partner, not just another boyfriend or girlfriend to hang out with.

Dating has a unique "extra" to it if you're looking to tie the knot.

Some people call this "dating to marry".

You don't want to waste time with someone who doesn't want what you want.

Your inner voice is always asking if this person could be the one. You pay attention to every clue. Does he want what you want? Are her plans the same as yours?

You look for underlying intentions in, well, everything! And, the more time you spend together, the more you start attaching yourself to a vision of "us" and "forever."

But how do you know if the person you’re dating is marriage-minded, too?

You have to ask!

RELATED: 11 Signs You're Dating A 'Marriage-Minded Dater'

How do you ask if someone is marriage-minded without freaking them out?

First, acknowledge the obvious: men and women don’t think or communicate the same way. Blame it on culture or the human brain, but it's a general trend worth observing. 

That’s not a "good vs. bad" value statement. It's just something to keep in mind.

Women have a 'ticking clock' that men often do not, and men have been conditioned to 'sow their wild oats'. These clashing clichés can cause problems if you don't approach the conversation with light-hearted care.

When it comes to your desire to get married, there are definitely do’s and don'ts to having that conversation.

I recently read a story that made me shake my head because of the obvious red flags.

The author and her boyfriend had been in a steady relationship for four years and she's only now deciding that she likes the idea of getting married.

Needless to say, this has "out of the blue" written all over it.

Chances are, they have both gotten comfortable with their living arrangement. And he's probably even more comfortable with it than she is. All the benefits but none of the "official" commitment.

Men aren’t necessarily the commitment-phobes they are stereotyped to be. But, they do see things differently than women when it comes to perceptions about commitment.

What a woman sees as a dream of togetherness and collaborative success can sound like a loss of freedom to a man — loss of individuality, loss of alone time, loss of fun, and too much vulnerability.

This is part of the reason that finding true love can be so difficult.

Having successful communication about the desire to get married doesn’t have to be scary for either of you.

It just requires a mindset of self-awareness, conviction, compassion, and patience.

When I begin a journey with a new client, we start with that person. Not a file of potential dates or unique places for meeting them. Their life vision is my focus, and for good reason.

If you don’t know who you are or what you want, you could end up with a story like the one above.

Four years into a comfy relationship, and then, bam! You want the whole enchilada and are afraid your partner will walk away from the dinner table if you bring it up.

So work on yourself first.

Who are you? What do you envision for your life? What do you truly want? Have you ever settled for less than you deserve out of fear of never finding Mr. or Ms. Right?

And, another really important question: do you truly want marriage and all the responsibility it involves? Or are you just in love with the idea of marriage?

Do you have a realistic view of marriage or is it just a fairy tale?

This conviction is essential if you're going to have a clear, direct conversation about your potential future with someone you’re dating.

RELATED: Yes, Marriage-Minded Singles Can Find Love Online — Here's How

Why is communication so important when dating to marry?

Because this conviction and clarity within yourself will be the foundation of authenticity and clarity in your communication with a partner.

Before you even talk directly about marriage, you will present yourself as someone who has the appropriate marriage potential.

You will be more likely to attract matches of a similar mindset because who you are on the inside will be authentically communicated to another.

It’s also important because you need to be prepared for the possibility that the person you’re dating doesn’t want what you do… or maybe just not yet.

You need to be able to see the blessing in that honesty without despairing that your vision is unrealistic.

You need to be committed to yourself before you can be committed to someone else.

Knowing what you truly want is essential.

But not allowing your own vision to cloud your perception and acceptance of your partner’s vision is also essential.

The time to broach the subject of marriage isn’t four years into a relationship. And it certainly shouldn’t happen in a "We need to talk," "Where do you see this going?", or ultimatum kind of way.

Think of it as a dance. You don’t pull out your Fred-and-Ginger moves just because you have them. One person makes a move and the other responds. And then there's a response to the response.

Before you know it, you don’t even know who started the dance. It’s just that natural. And no one is stepping on anyone’s toes.

By planting seeds of curiosity and self-revelation early in the relationship, you give it room to grow in a natural, unthreatening way.

When the time comes to have deeper, more direct conversations, choose your setting wisely.

Setting your relationship up for longevity and success starts with the little things.

How you choose your timing for vulnerable conversations now shows how you will likely choose your timing for difficult conversations later.

Men, for example, are often more open and at ease when they are actually doing something.

Whether it’s a hike along a tree-covered path, a walk along the beach, or a round of putt-putt, find an activity that is enjoyable and non-competitive for the two of you.

Remember that this is a person you have come to care about. Patience is important if your partner is going to come to his or her own conviction and be able to express it.

Nonetheless, it’s also important that you have — in your own mind — a realistic timeframe.

After a certain point, you may have to move on from the relationship if it’s obvious that you’re not on the same page and desire different paths in life.

Your readiness for marriage will be revealed as much by your ability to leave what doesn’t serve you as by staying when you recognize what does.

Know that when both partners are marriage-minded people, there's a shared understanding.

Finally, instead of giving a laundry list of expectations and ultimatums, give your relationship time to blossom toward marriage.

Plant seeds early so conversations can evolve organically from generalized "How I see my life" to "How we see our life."

And then pay attention to actions your partner takes in the direction of commitment.

Waiting is one thing. Patience is another.

One leads to a lot of toe-tapping and disappointment.

The other engenders love and gives a positive forecast for a lifetime relationship.

RELATED: 8 Signs The Person You're Dating Is 'Marriage Material

Amy Schoen is a D.C.-based national expert in dating and relationship life coaching. If you’re ready to stop spinning your wheels with online dating and finally find your true love, then download her free online dating checklist and see how you stack up with your online dating profile.