Why Dating is Crucial During Your Engagement

Ahh, engagement. 

Perhaps you’ve waited what feels like forever for this time in your life. You’re on the path to merging your life with your one and only, and the question has finally been popped and answered. Congratulations!

For many couples, something strange starts happening during the engagement period. Amidst wedding planning, cake tastings, dealing with family dynamics, and organizing what may be the biggest event of your life to date, many couples become more distanced from one another.

engaged couple together in Dallas, TX

It seems like a bit of a contradition, to think that as you take one of the greatest steps toward solidifying your relationship, you could also become more disconnected than you’ve ever felt.

If you find yourself in this position, or simply feeling like you’re not on the same page as your partner anymore during this crazy wedding-planning season, don’t lose hope.

There are steps you can take, and they are simpler than you may think. Believe it or not, it’s time to bring your relationship back to the basics.

This is where the importance of dating comes in.

One of the things I always ask couples who are doing premarital counseling with me is, “so how’s your dating life right now?”

Most of the responses sound something similar to this:

“Dating? Umm…yeah, right!”

“We’ve gone out a couple of times this month…but we are really focusing on saving up money for the wedding.”

“We go out to eat together most days…”

“Dating has kind of been put on the back-burner for now, we’ve just got so much going on - I’m just looking forward to the honeymoon!”

Yes, the word back-burner has been used to describe dating status during engagement season in my office before.

There’s a few reasons why this needs to be called out:

1. Dating is a critical part of keeping a relationship strong and healthy.

Dating to relationships is like exercise to physical health. You need a healthy dose of dating in your life, or your relationship may begin to wilt like an unwatered flower. The scary thing is that we don’t see our relationship wilting as we would an flower that is obviously reaching to be watered.

It is important to define what dating is (see #3 on this list). Once you’re clear on that, be sure you can realize when you need some lovin’, and learn to express that to your partner. It is on both of you to make sure that your relationship remains a priority throughout this hectic time.

couple getting married in Dallas, Texas

Some things to consider that may tell you a date is warranted:

  • Feeling distance between you and your partner
  • Feeling alone, isolated, or that you’re drowning in wedding-planning
  • You haven’t talked to your partner about anything other than wedding details this week
  • Feeling like you miss your partner
  • Hearing your partner say that they miss you

2. Dating actively shows your partner that they are a priority to you. And, come on, who doesn’t love that?

The engagement season can lead many people (men and women) to feel insecure about the relationship. So much focus is placed on external factors and decisions that need to be made that it’s common for couples to forget to touch base with each other. It becomes “assumed” that you both love and care about each other, and less and less shown.

If you can take the time to plan out intentional ways for you and your partner to connect (let me say that a little more simply: DATE), you will reap the benefits of a closer relationship that is reflective of two people who care about, and prioritize, each other.

Your partner may not beg or plea with you to go on dates. Maybe they do. But sometimes, we forget to say what we need. Other times, we aren’t seeing the signal our lover is putting out.

Suffice it to say: you need to go on dates. Your partner needs to go on dates with you. It is a lifeline for your relationship and will help ground you.

Dating is a great way to remind yourselves what- amidst all the craziness occurring around you- this is all about: each other.

3. Dating is intentional and goes beyond the norm of every day adulting together.

Too many couples consider stopping off for a quick meal together after a long day of work a date. 

I’m not necessarily dogging this; my husband and I do this often and usually end up having some really great conversations during this time. 

But, this has also become a norm for couples in today’s world, and let’s be real - we’ve all got to eat. 

couple going on date in Dallas, Texas

DATING is when you go beyond the normal motions of your day to really show your partner that you care…to prioritize your relationship and do something a little more special than Netflix and pizza (although I would absolutely consider that a date if it’s not something you already do every day). 

Consider the ways you can add a unique twist to your dates. Perhaps you get food and go eat by a lake or at a scenic area. Maybe you do dinner and a movie to get both of your minds off of the wedding planning to-do list discussion. 

The more time you can spend together and NOT discuss a long list of items to get done, the better the quality of your date will be! Remember, it’s about strengthening your bond and really tuning into your partner. Both of you are important enough for this to happen. Your marriage will thank you for it.

Feeling inspired to go on a date now? Share your plans with us in the comments!

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Liz Higgins, MS, LMFT Associate

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in Dallas, Texas. I help millennial couples and individuals cultivate the best relationships and lives possible! I am also a relationship expert blogger and contribute relationship posts to Today.com, The Gottman Institute, Huffington Post, and more. I look forward to an opportunity to work with you on your journey towards growth, healing, and change. I am supervised by Dr. Ken Bateman, LMFT-S, LPC-S.