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How Long to Date Before Marriage In Your 30s

by Lisa K. Stephenson, Relationship Coach & Author

At the tender age of twenty-one, I remember laying down in my bed and thinking about how wonderful it would be to married with children by the age of twenty-six.

I mean seriously, I had the husband picked out, his career, I was a SAHW and all I did was raise the kids, have great sex with my man, and go shopping with his sister. It was a dream life and I do mean a dream

Fast forward I am nearing thirty-four years of age, unmarried with no children, yay me! But that’s not even the scariest part, the scariest part is that I am leaning more toward a life with no children and simply having a life partner. Let me explain…I’ve been dating since the age of thirteen, lost my virginity at eighteen, and got into my first serious relationship at twenty-two.

That was the man I had it in my mind to marry, but the twist is, he had no license, no degree, and no job. Whereas I, on the other hand, hold a Bachelor of Science degree, was the manager for CVS, and had a car. I stuck it out with him for four years until he eventually did get a car and a steady career after knocking up one of his co-workers. He then fought me on the side of the highway one night after I discovered he’d be living with the baby's mother.


As a woman in her thirties who has been coaching other women in their twenties and thirties for the past seven years, I am now a firm believer that marriage for love should not be the end goal for women. You see, I am not saying do not get married but instead of viewing marriage as an opportunity to spend the rest of your life with the person you love, view marriage as a transaction. I believe when you do so it will lessen your expectations of having that fairytale I dreamed of as a young adult.

I held on to that fairytale so tight that I allowed myself to be emotionally, physically and mentally abused for almost eight years after our breakup. I wanted whatever lies he was telling me to be true so I could forgive him and make my inner child happy—give her the life she dreamed of.

As a woman in her thirties, your goal is no longer to marry for love, it is to marry for security—the love will grow or come later, and so, how long should you wait? Well, the answer is simple, 6 months to a year. When you meet a man and he is pursuing you according to your standards, you need to vet him—leave these childish questions on the playground:

What’s your favorite color?

What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?

What’s your zodiac sign?

You don’t care about any of that. You want to get in and get out, you’re fishing for the important stuff…

What are your feelings on marriage?

What do you do for a living? Where do you live?

When was your last relationship and how did it end?

What are some of your short-term goals?

Once you’ve gotten some of those answers it’s time to express yourself. You tell him that you want to be married in a certain timeframe and have children (if you want them). It’s important that you put this out there to view his reaction and monitor his body language. If he ghosts you, great! He just made room for someone else who is serious. Very quickly I’d like to touch on the topic of ghosting…I hear it so many times and have even seen women crying over these types of men.

As a woman in her thirties, you do not want nor need, nor should you give a hoot about a man who has ghosted you. I do not care if you went on ten dates with this man and you guys swapped spit, he is in the past, he is irrelevant—inconsistency is not a trait you are looking for in a husband, so bid him farewell and move on.

You have to see it as a game and there is a winner. If you’re afraid to vet a man and leave him hanging at the sight of a red flag you will waste your time, meanwhile, another woman who is more cut throat will be making her way down the aisle years before you do. She will have secured her future. Women need to stop viewing marriage as an opportunity to be loved for life, it is a relationship with status. If you do not wait 3 or 4 years to call someone your boyfriend, then why are you waiting that long to get married?

Your time is money. If you’re a girlfriend you’re expected to cook, clean and fuck this man…give up your time, sometimes even stay at home and raise the kids. If an employer asked you to come and work in exchange for free merchandise would you do it? So, why are you getting into relationships and offering wife benefits in exchange for…well…nothing? Start thinking of marriage as a transaction—he wants a wife, and you want security. And believe it or not, most men will respect you for thinking this way.

As women in our thirties, we should not be looking for anyone to be our boyfriend—it’s friends (dating), lovers (exclusively dating), husband and wife. You can get to deeply know each other once you’re engaged to be married. If you’re not happy, you leave, but at least you’ll have security and something to fall back on to compensate you for the time you spent with that person.

Here is some food for thought, most men who are not ready for marriage have not yet found their purpose or a plan for getting there. So, essentially, you could end up being a placeholder (the person he builds on until he reaches his purpose).

Related articles: Late Bloomer

By then you’re no longer the shiny new toy—anybody who makes more money wants more valuable things. We’re like that with our phones, our cars, clothes, and homes—so make no mistake, most men are like this with their women. If he’s not walking in his purpose, move on to the man who is, he is a man ready for a wife.


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