How Long Should Dating or Courtship Last?

how long should dating or courtship last?

Last weekend, I was discussing with a group of friends over a bottle of red wine and the topic of the day was ”how long should dating or courtship last?” Two people seated on another table were eavesdropping and before long they moved closer to our table.

When they joined our table, a question was thrown at all of us to answer and the question was how long should dating or courtship last? Everyone attempted the question based on their own level of understanding and soberness. 

I had something to say too and after the outing, I decided to share it with my readers. But first, I would like to start with some definitions.



A lot of people have absolutely no idea about the difference between the aforementioned words. Dating simply means a form of romantic relationship typically between two individuals with the aim of assessing the other’s suitability as a spouse. 


The result of dating may at any time lead to friendship, any level of intimate relationship, marriage or no relationship at all. While courtship means a type of relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other.


Under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents or mentors, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage. In most cases, the couple is expected to abstain from any sexual act until their wedding night.

There you have it! Both words are not entirely the same after all. Most people date and then enter into courtship to discern their readiness for marriage while other people just date to see where it leads. 


Some people even brush aside the whole dating process and just jump straight into courtship.


No. 1 Incompatibility:

After dating or courting for 6 months or a year, some couples discover that they are incompatible. They may decide to court more to see if they can become compatible before tying the knot. This may prolong the dating or courting period.

No. 2 Financial Instability:

Some people love elaborate weddings and that means more money. When a couple starts courting, they expect to be financially ready by the time the courtship period is over. 

But sometimes, it doesn’t happen the way they plan. So, they have to delay their marriage for a year or two due to the financial instability.

No. 3 Lack or readiness:

As weird as it sounds, some people purposely delay their own marriage ceremony because they are not ready for it. This lack of readiness has absolutely nothing to do with finances.

Some men are so afraid of commitment that they would do anything to prolong their marriage as long they can. They do this because they fear that married life is like being in prison.

They prolong their courtship so they can have freedom to do what ever they want without being questioned by anyone. As long as they are single, they are free!


How long should dating or courtship last?

Personally, I think dating or courtship is a necessary step to take before marriage. I mean obviously it is not advisable to marry a total stranger. It is totally appropriate that you know each other well before committing to marriage. 


It shouldn’t take more than a year to get to know someone except you are in a long distance relationship and you don’t see each other often. 

Nevertheless, dating shouldn’t last for too long if you are financially stable. 

If a man has been dating a lady for 3 or 4 years and he is financially stable, what is the delay for? Is he waiting for a degree of good character from her parents before he takes her to the altar? 

Seriously, after a year or two of dating, a man should be able to decide if he is going to marry a lady or not. It’s not entirely magical but there are certain factors that could determine if the relationship should be moved to another level or not.

Courtship, on the other hand, shouldn’t last more than a year. If you’re already engaged, why wait another extra year or two before tying the knot? If money seems to be the issue, why not plan a cheaper wedding within your budget? 


Things would be a lot easier if we could all cut our coats according to our cloth instead of trying to impress people with an extravagant wedding.

Honestly, dating or courtship shouldn’t last more than five years if the man is financially secure. The benefit of dating or courting for a few years is that it helps couples identify potential problems in their relationship.


It also helps them find out if they are compatible or not. But it doesn’t mean you should hold someone hostage even when you know it might never happen. No matter how long you date or court, you cannot know everything about each other so why procrastinate anyway? 

Now it’s your turn… What do you think?


How long should dating or courtship last?

Recommended reading: