scorecardHow long you should date before getting engaged, according to therapists
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How long you should date before getting engaged, according to therapists

Julia Naftulin   

How long you should date before getting engaged, according to therapists
LifeScience2 min read
ABC/Contributor/Getty Images
  • People have long debated if couples who quickly move from dating to engagement are more likely to get divorced.
  • Some data suggests this is the case, but it isn't conclusive.

Celebrity couples including Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly and Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker have recently made headlines for their whirlwind-romances-turned-engagements.

Both couples got engaged after dating for less than a year.

Some data suggests people who have shotgun marriages after less than a year of dating are more likely to get divorced than couples who have dated for at least a year.

Though every couple's situation is different, therapists told Insider certain physiological changes that happen when a person experiences new romance could blind them to relationship red flags. As a result, someone could potentially confuse newness with love, therapist Shara Cherepes, who practices at Connections Wellness Group, told Insider.

"We can easily feel 'in love' a few months into the relationship as we are presented with the best parts of our significant other. The idea of newness permits us to increase the attraction and pay less attention to faults or issues we may have," Cherepes said.

Feel-good hormones spike at the start of a new romance

With that feeling of exciting newness comes an increase in dopamine, a hormone that increases feelings of happiness, according to Cherepes. At the same time, levels of the hormone norepinephrine can increase and lead to more alertness and stress, she said.

Additionally, a person's serotonin, another hormone that helps stabilize a person's mood, drops. This can lead to increased anxiety and less sleep, Mike Dow, a therapist at Field Trip Health in Los Angeles, told Insider.

Together, these physiological changes can contribute to that giddy feeling that people use to characterize new love.

"The 'love' that we see in popular culture is actually attraction," Cherepes said.

This phase should last for about six months, according to Dow. As a person spends more time with a partner and they become familiar, their hormone levels stabilize and their experience of "love" will change, for better and for worse.

To know if you're blinded by lust, reflect on your partner's flaws

As your body returns to a baseline around the six-month mark, you're likely starting to go through challenges with your partner.

Whether it's about money, family, habits, or communication styles, couples can only begin to notice these differences with time, Cherepes said. In extreme cases, a whirlwind romance can blind a person to red flags and lead to a toxic dynamic, she said.

If you're concerned you could be wearing rose-colored glasses in your new relationship, focus on communication and be honest with yourself about the person you're dating.

For example, if you feel head-over-heels for your partner but you have yet to discuss your values and goals for the future, it could mean you're moving quickly for the wrong reasons, therapist Tammy Nelson told The Knot.

Make sure you discuss these topics before an engagement to make sure you're compatible, said Nelson.

And if you learn your partner doesn't share the same values as you, or if they exhibit unhealthy or erratic behavior, be honest with yourself instead of hopeful they'll change, Dow said.