The desire to date other women before marriage is a natural response to thoughts of lifelong commitment. But dating other women when you are in a serious, long-term relationship can be devastating to your current relationship. Using dating to help you find clarity about a future with your girlfriend can cause jealousy, hurt feelings and trust issues that can come back to haunt you years after you marry.
A Question of Commitment
Evaluate your level of commitment to your girlfriend before deciding to date around. Getting a clear understanding of where you are helps you know if dating around is even an option without completely breaking up. Your girlfriend may already be committed to you for the long haul and not interested in seeing other people. Get on the same page by talking about where you are and what each of you expects from the other before stepping out with someone new. Family life author Nancy L. Van Pelt reminds couples that more than a million divorces occur annually and are primarily from those who marry within seven months of meeting. She suggests slowing down in the dating relationship and getting to know your partner well before talking about marriage.
Psychologist Shauna Springer says well-educated couples are dating longer than the standard two years before marrying. Couples are more intentional about the dating and engagement period and are planning for their future before heading to the altar. If you and your girlfriend are approaching the two-year mark or have passed it, dating other girls will not help you determine whether marriage is right for you. Talking to your partner about your relationship and continuing to learn as much about her as possible is the best way to determine whether marriage is the right next step.
Ups and the Downs
Dating your partner through a variety of life’s changes may be a better way to determine compatibility than dating other women. Long-term dating before marriage may help, according to the USA Today article Dating for a Decade. Dating for three or four years or more helps couples feel like there is enough invested in the relationship to support a marriage that will last.
Questions to Ask
Asking some important questions about your relationship helps you determine if it is time to talk marriage or time to call it off. Doing this without dating other women lets your partner know you respect her enough to focus on your relationship rather than look around. Ask yourself if you are ready to be faithful to this person for the rest of your life, recommends Match.com. Do you share the same goals in life and have similar family and religious backgrounds? How are you at resolving conflict? Honest answers to these questions let you know if marriage is your next step.