Are you dating someone with marriage as a goal?
By Amy Schoen — Last updated on Jul 15, 2023
Photo: Getty Images
Time waits for no one, and it certainly doesn’t wait for love to make up its mind.
Dating in the 21st century is a far cry from the courtships of Jane Austen’s day. But, if you have marriage as a goal, you probably wouldn’t mind a bit of that Victorian focus on ‘marriage-minded’ dating to find true love.
The challenge for someone who sees dating as a means to marriage is finding and recognizing a marriage-minded dater.
And that can be easier said than done. After all, people can ‘talk a good game’ when they’re attracted to someone. Likewise, those who are looking for a marriage-minded dater can miss important signs if they fall under the spell of infatuation.
So, what should you be looking for? How can you tell if your partner is marriage-minded or not? First of all, it’s imperative that you not become spellbound by a person’s words. If you’re serious about dating with marriage as an end goal, you’re going to have to pay close attention to actions.
Here are 11 signs you’re dating a marriage-minded person:
1. They have a good character
Integrity, self-accountability, dependability, compassion, empathy, generosity, consistency, thoughtfulness, kindness. When you think about how you want to spend the rest of your life, don’t you want to come home to these qualities?
Pay attention to the little things. How do they treat strangers and service workers? How do they handle responsibility, resolve conflict, and overcome challenges? Good character is foundational to any healthy and lasting relationship, so, your character needs to be outstanding, too.
2. They communicate well
A person’s character will quickly become apparent in their communication.
A person with healthy communication skills chooses words carefully and thoughtfully. They know the impact of using “I” statements and taking ownership of personal feelings and choices. Likewise, they are good listeners and express genuine interest through body language and supportive comments.
The importance of good communication can’t be overstated, as this is the only way you can truly come to know a person. It’s also the vehicle for resolving conflict in a healthy way.
3. They are independent and interdependent, but not co-dependent
A marriage-minded dater isn’t clingy. Wanting to spend time with you doesn’t mean they can’t get through a day or extended business trip without you. If your budding relationship has true marriage potential, both of you will be comfortable being alone, even though you love your time together.
You’ll know how to balance that independence with a healthy, interdependent dynamic. What you want to run away from as fast as you can is anyone whose happiness and motivation are dependent on you. Co-dependence has no place in marriage.
4. They are emotionally mature
The last thing you want in a relationship is a partner who can’t control their emotions. Emotional maturity means a person is able to control their emotions, regardless of the situation. They are reasonable. They listen to your perspectives and don’t discount your feelings.
Good character is easily revealed in an emotionally mature person, as there will be observable responsibility, humility, empathy, and boundaries.
5. They are emotionally available
A marriage-minded dater wants to get to know you and wants you to get to know them. You shouldn’t have to pull teeth to get something out of a person or to have a meaningful, revealing conversation. They need to be open to connecting and not harboring affection for another person.
Vulnerability, the willingness to self-disclose, and the ability to listen without judgment or interruption are essential to building intimacy. And intimacy, of course, is essential to marriage.
6. They live a marriage-directed lifestyle
How you choose to spend your time and money speaks volumes about what’s important to you. It’s no different for the person you choose to date.
Look at current behavior as a reliable predictor of future behavior. The last thing you want or need is a spouse who’s constantly out drinking and partying after work instead of wanting to spend time with you. And you certainly don’t need the insecurity brought on by someone who spends tons of money on frivolous things.
A person will speak to their priorities through lifestyle choices, even when the two of you are apart.
7. They talk about the future with you in it
A marriage-minded dater is thinking about life and love down the road and picturing you along for the ride.
If you notice your date talking about the future — hoping, planning, dreaming — and wanting to know your hopes, plans, and dreams, take heart. This is a great sign that you are with someone who sees your relationship going places.
Again, make sure that this person is not all talk and no action.
8. They are family oriented
How does your date talk about their family? Are they close? Do they make the effort to stay connected? How do they talk, resolve conflict, and support each other? Does your date include you in family functions as though you have always belonged? How does your date feel about children?
If there’s a natural warmth and proclivity towards “family life,” you may be with a marriage-minded dater. Not everyone has the perfect family, though. List what they want despite their less-than-ideal family. Look at and appreciate the work they did to overcome this tough upbringing.
9. They include you in important life decisions
You have to really value someone to ask them for input regarding big decisions. If your date waits to make important life decisions to consult with you first, they may have marriage in mind. For example, purchasing a car or taking a particular job opportunity.
10. They stick around through tough times
When people date with no goal in mind, they often leave at the first sign of trouble. Perhaps you had your first heated argument. Or maybe one of you has to take care of an ailing relative. Perhaps one of you lost your job, or there was a death that’s causing prolonged grieving.
Whatever the nature of the difficult time, a marriage-minded dater is naturally going to want to go through challenges together and be a supportive partner. And isn’t that the kind of person you want when you say, “For better or for worse?”
11. They don’t drag out the relationship without a decisive commitment
If your relationship has gone on for a year or two and you haven’t either proposed or accepted, pay attention. Dilly-dallying with your lives without direction shows no respect for either of your hearts or for time. Just because a man doesn’t have to worry about a biological clock doesn’t mean he should drag a woman along.
Marriage-minded people usually think about children and building a family if that’s a goal of yours. No matter what, you should both know by one to two years where the relationship is headed and have some resolution.
Your time — both present and future — is important. And anyone who steps in to share your time needs to be worthy of it.
Finding a marriage-minded dater is not as big a challenge as you may think
Finding someone who has the same marriage mindset as you may sound impossible, but it’s really not. It comes down to knowing what you want so you can get out there and look for it.
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Amy Schoen is a national expert in dating and relationship coaching who is passionate about helping marriage-minded singles find their true love and create fulfilling, life-long relationships.