Dating is a wonderful thing. It is the time when you dress up and make yourself look the best you can. You perhaps have “butterflies” in your stomach, as you go out with someone you find more interesting than the rest of the people you know. It is so exciting to see if this person will be someone you will build a long-term relationship with in the future. Enjoy this season of dating! But watch out for it to become long-term dating!
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However, if you keep dating the same person for a long time, it may be unhelpful to you. Why do we say that? Because researchers have found that long-term dating isn’t good for a relationship/marriage. At the University of Texas, researchers studied 168 couples over a time span of 15 years. They claim that if you spend three years or more dating someone, that marriage is a doomed marriage.
We are not in favor of giving a “rule” about how long the courtship period should be. There is no right amount of time as every couple is different. However, the principle of not waiting too long (to either commit more or to break up) is still there according to the study shown above. Just like it isn’t wise to rush into a commitment that is meant to last for a lifetime, likewise it isn’t wise to stay too long in the phase of courting each other.
We know a girl who dated a guy year after year. Despite attempts to encourage them to make a decision regarding their relationship, they didn’t do anything about it. After more than 10 years, the guy suddenly broke up! She had spent over a decade with the same guy, hoping that one day he would propose. But he didn’t. She probably felt she wasted many years on the wrong guy. She also missed out fertile years to become pregnant as she wasn’t that young. We think we can conclude that after a few years, you should be able to know whether you can build something lasting or not. If you can’t, it is time to consider going separate ways.
The same study showed that those who divorced after two to seven years of marriage were the ones who also did long-term dating in the past. Not only were they into long-term dating, but they also had troubled courtships before marrying. Hence, they married in hope that the relationship would improve. It is like some couples that try for a baby for the purpose and belief that their relationship will improve, when many times the opposite is true. A baby brings tremendous joy, but becoming parents brings along some aspects for couples that mat cause tensions (such as sleepless nights and lack of time to spend with each other.) Actually, according to Readers Digest (2005), happy couples follow the best friends stereotype, with a smooth 18-month courtship.
So if you have been dating for a couple of years, consider where the relationship is heading. Is it going in the right directions? Is there potential to build something to last for long? Or are you actually into long-term dating with a feeling you two won’t be together one day? Depending on how you answer these questions, you may have an idea where to go from here.