Engaged Relationships

Engaged Relationships

Rose MacDowell

So, you finally got engaged to the love of your life. Congratulations! Now, that you're officially betrothed and a spouse-to-be, you may be wondering: is engaged still considered dating? How long should you be engaged before getting married? And how does engagement change a relationship?

We've got the answers to these questions and more. Join us as we look at the world of engagement,  why being engaged is so important, and what your new status as a fiance means for your relationship.

Engaged Relationship Meaning 

You may think you know what getting engaged means you're going to get married! You love each other enough to want to go the distance. But it's actually much deeper than that. An engagement feels like a personal thing, and of course, it is. You and your partner took a big step toward a lifetime together, with all the joy and hard work that implies.

Things between you feel...different. Better, more romantic, but also more serious. There's a feeling in the air that says, this is for real. You're not just dating anymore. This is for life

But there's a social element to an engagement that's just as important. By getting engaged, you make a statement to the world. Your relationship isn't temporary. You join the pantheon of engaged and married couples the world over who say "I do" to each other, with the hope it will last forever. 

When you get engaged, you might notice that people treat you and your partner differently. This can mean that others:

  • Respect your relationship more. They're more likely to understand your obligations to each other and make allowances for time you need to spend together. Depending on your culture, religion, and family, being engaged may make your relationship feel more valid and legitimate in the eyes of others. 
  • Believe your relationship is real.  An engagement puts your feelings for your partner in a different light. People who thought of your relationship as puppy love, a rebound, or otherwise unlikely to last may feel differently when they see your engagement announcement pop up in their Instagram feed. 
  • Want to weigh in. Friends, family, and even casual acquaintances may want to offer commentary on your engagement. Some may be helpful ("I know just the place for engagement rings for women!"), some may be critical ("a wedding in January?!"), but it's a given: engagements invite remarks, both welcome and not.   

How Engagement Affects Your Relationship

Your status isn't the only thing that changes when you get engaged. Your relationship changes, as well. It's official: you're no longer dating (time to start dropping that F word fiance!), and the term "partners" feels a bit more, well, heavy. You start to see each other in a different light, and it isn't just the sparkle from that diamond ring. 

When you're engaged, every argument can feel like a cause of panic. You've agreed to share the rest of your life together, so any friction in a relationship can seem like a cause for panic, especially if you're newly engaged. You want to make certain you're compatible not only with their personality but also with their finances, negotiating about decorating a house or dealing with each other's family members.

Engagement can also feel like a dress rehearsal. You're not married yet, but you suddenly feel an awful lot like spouses. One of the benefits of being engaged is that you can preview what marriage will look like day to day. This is particularly true of couples who live together. How they cook, clean, and deal with conflict can seem a lot more significant because you're about to commit to them forever. 

Engagement can also be a joyful time of expectation and dreams fulfilled. If your partner is the person of your dreams and you theirs, then being engaged can be a blissful time to relax and look forward to the exciting next steps in your relationship.

Engaged Relationship Problems 

An engagement doesn't always mean soon-to-be-married bliss. If you're thinking, we got engaged and everything changed, you're far from the only one. Relationship problems right before the wedding are common, and stress, expectations, and a short-term shift in your way of relating are often to blame. 

You may think you and your fiance agree on almost everything until it comes time to choose napkins, cake, and the color of the flowers. Weddings are complex affairs, and some conflict over details is practically inevitable. But some problems are more than temporary, and call for a reevaluation of your relationship or ending it altogether.  

Signs to call off an engagement can include:

  • Broken trust. Trust is key to happy relationships of all kinds, engaged or not. If your partner breaks your trust by lying, cheating, divulging private information, or crossing a boundary you'd both agreed to, the relationship deserves a long, hard second look before you say I do.  
  • Abuse of any kind. Like a crisis, engagements and weddings have a way of revealing who we truly are. Financial, family, and relationship stress can bring out the worst in us, and some disagreements are to be expected. But if disagreements veer into abuse, verbal, physical, or emotional, it's time to cut ties -- immediately and for good. 
  • Your feelings have changed. Maybe you were blissfully in love when you got engaged, but that was a year ago or even longer. Now you have the nagging certainty that you don't want to get married anymore, and the wedding is right around the corner. Difficult as it may be, there's no shame in living your truth. Cold feet or pre-wedding jitters are one thing, but if you've lost that loving feeling, it's time to call things off. 
  • You never wanted to get married in the first place. Sometimes the process of becoming engaged and planning a wedding shows you one, very important thing: you're not ready to commit to your partner. Maybe you never will be. Being engaged can show you who you are deep down, and if who you are is a person who isn't gung ho about marriage, then calling off the engagement is the right thing to do.