It’s assumed that everyone grows up fantasizing about meeting their soulmate and dreaming up the perfect wedding day before riding off into the sunset of lifetime marital bliss. Newsflash: marriage isn’t for everyone. Whether you simply don’t think it’s crucial to your happiness, don’t want to spend the money, or straight-up don’t believe in it (for whatever reason), deciding not to get married is perfectly okay. Before you sign those papers, you should be able to spot the signs that this longstanding tradition is not for you. Here they are.
1. You don’t believe in it.
Some people consider marriage little more than piece of paper, and others think it’s the only way to truly commit. And there’s nothing wrong with either opinion. “Many people feel that you can be married in your heart and you don’t need a legal agreement to confirm your love,” says psychologist Dr. Paulette Sherman, author of Dating from the Inside Out and The Book of Sacred Baths. “They fear it just complicates things by making it about commingling property, assets, and taxes instead about your heartfelt commitment to that other person.”
2. You want to save money.
Let’s be honest: weddings are expensive, and it’s not crazy to not want to spend your entire life’s savings on one day. Considering the average wedding cost in the United States is a whopping $33,391—a nice chunk of a down payment on a home—deciding not to get married so you can keep your money in the bank is a smart move.
3. You don’t feel like you need to prove your love.
Weddings have one purpose: Aside from joining forces with another person for life, you’re also showing everyone important in your life just how much you love each other. Some people don’t see the need and are just fine being committed to someone minus the social display of affection.
4. You have trust issues.
Trust is so important in relationships. Unfortunately, if it’s something you’ve lost in the past due to a partner betraying you—whether that’s through cheating or something else—it can be really hard to find it again in the future. If your trust issues are making it tough for you to commit to a partner through something as serious as marriage, don’t feel like you need to go through with a ceremony. There’s lots of time in the future if you change your mind.
5. You’ve never wanted to get married.
While some people grow up dreaming of their perfect wedding down to the dress and theme colors, that’s not the norm for everyone. If you’re not someone who already has a Pinterest board filled with everything you want on your special day—and it’s not something you see yourself getting excited about anytime soon—you can enjoy being in a relationship without the “I do”s.
6. You disagree with the definition of marriage.
Marriage has quite the colorful history—something not everyone is cool with being part of because they don’t agree with it politically. “Some people feel that historically marriage has been a way for society to repress certain groups,” Sherman says. “For example, at one point some women were treated as property of their husbands and weren’t allowed to vote. And in many countries, gay couples still can’t legally marry. Some people don’t want to take part in an institution that fosters this type of discrimination.”
7. You don’t want to mess with the whole last name thing.
Traditionally, marriage means sharing the same last name. Even though that’s changed in recent years with it becoming increasing common to either keep your last names the same—or even for the man to take the woman’s last name—wanting to keep things simple and avoid the process altogether is a sign maybe it’s best to avoid the whole marriage thing.
8. You want your freedom.
When you get married, you’re legally locked down to one person forever. For some, that sounds amazing—but for others, not so much. If you want to keep your freedom, marriage might not be the best fit for you. Avoiding the paperwork means you can continue doing what you want, when you want, without having to get permission from anyone else.
9. You like things as they are.
If current things are feeling pretty great as they are, why make a big move and get married? “There’s an expression: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Some people feel that if their relationship is happy and works, they don’t need to complicate it with legal repercussions and a ceremony that validates their relationship from the outside,” Sherman says.
10. You’re not sure about the other person.
Just because you’re with someone doesn’t mean you need to get married to them. If you’ve been together for quite a while but still aren’t entirely sure about spending the rest of your life with them, don’t rush off to the altar. Just enjoy being together and see where your relationship takes you.
11. You don’t even like weddings.
If you feel a sense of dread the instant you open a piece of mail and discover it’s a wedding invite, it’s probably no secret that you’re not exactly a fan of weddings. If you don’t even enjoy going to other people’s weddings, don’t feel bad about not wanting one of your own, either.
12. You don’t want to be the center of attention.
When it comes to weddings, there are two people all eyes are on the entire time: the bride and groom. While some people thrive on knowing they’ll be the center of attention and have guests from all over come to celebrate their love, others would rather crawl in a hole and not make awkward small talk with family members they haven’t seen or heard from in years.
13. You don’t want the stress.
Weddings are supposed to be about love—but often times there’s a whole lot of stress behind all those smiles. If you don’t handle pressure well and try to keep your life as relaxed and stress-free as possible, getting married might not be your favorite thing. In fact, it could easily turn into a total nightmare.
14. You hate the idea of planning a wedding.
Some people love getting to sit down and go over every detail of their wedding, from the flower arrangements to the DJ’s playlist. If you’re not a planner, though, you could have a real problem: getting married takes a lot of patience—and a lot of work. If you’d rather just pass on all the stress that comes with wedding checklists—and aren’t into the idea of hiring someone to do it for you—you’re not alone. It basically becomes a second job.
15. You don’t have a real reason for wanting to get married.
When most people decide to get married, they have a very specific reason in mind—most commonly that they want to legalize their love for their partner. That doesn’t mean everyone feels the same way, though. If you don’t have a reason for wanting to tie the knot, don’t feel like you have to. It’s not a requirement of living a happy, fulfilled life, even if your friends make it seem that way.
16. You’re already married—to your career.
Some people become infatuated with another person and want to spend their life making them happy. Then others have another one true love: their job. If you would rather spend your time advancing your career instead of your relationship, keep on being a total boss—there’s nothing wrong with choosing your passion over marriage.
17. You don’t need someone to complete you.
Basically every romantic comedy ever revolves around someone finding the person who makes them feel whole. (You can thank Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire for the iconic “you complete me” quote.) The hopeless romantics of the world want nothing more than to share their life with their soulmate, but if you don’t feel like you need someone to complete you to be happy and satisfied with your life as it is, don’t feel like something is wrong with you. It’s totally okay to be your own soulmate.
18. You don’t feel like marriage adds value to your life.
Between the lovey-dovey reasons and tax perks, there are plenty of draws to marriage. But if you don’t feel like getting married would add any value to your life, there’s no reason to complicate things. Just keep paving your own path and you’ll be just fine.
19. You’d rather spend your money on traveling.
Some couples decide to save up and spend all their hard-earned money on their wedding—just one day of their entire lives. If you’d rather spend that $30,000 (or more) on something else—like traveling around the globe and crossing places off your bucket list—why not? There’s no reason to feel like you need to spend your money on a photographer and DJ if you’d much rather spend it backpacking through Europe.
20. The two of you are always fighting.
Some fighting is totally fine: all couples do it, it’s unpreventable, and totally fine (even healthy). But if you and your partner are fighting non-stop and are never able to see anything eye to eye, getting married might not be your best option—at least not right now. Instead of rushing into a wedding, take your time and see if you can get on the same page before you do anything drastic.
21. You love being independent.
Independence is an amazing thing. If you’re someone who loves taking care of yourself, supporting yourself, and being by yourself—and don’t want anyone else to do that for you—why get married? There’s nothing wrong with being content with “me, myself, and I.”
22. You’ve witnessed the drawbacks to marriage.
If you’re really familiar with divorce, you know how much it can impact and devastate a family—especially when kids are involved. After experiencing something like that firsthand, it’s not uncommon to want to avoid the risk of going through something similar down the line—and instead just continue to build up your own happy relationship without a marriage because of that.
23. You don’t want to burden other people.
Weddings cost the bride and groom a whole lot of money, but they’re not the only ones who take a financial hit. The parents of the bride and groom are also expected to chip in some hefty funds, bridesmaids buy pricey dresses, and travel costs aren’t cheap. If you feel like it’s not worth burdening yourself or the people you love and would rather just go marriage-free, you’ll probably save everyone thousands around the board.
24. You’re not overly traditional.
Some people are incredibly traditional and live by the rules that have guided society for what feels like forever. And marriage is a big part of that tradition. If you don’t feel like you share those same traditional values, mabe a wedding isn’t something you see yourself doing and would be much happier just living life sans legal documents.
25. You’re holding out on your partner changing.
Sorry to break it to you, but if you’re crossing your fingers that marriage is what finally changes your partner into the person you want (and need!) them to be, that’s probably not what’s going to happen. If they haven’t yet, they’re probably pretty stuck in their ways—and having a shiny new ring on their finger isn’t going to suddenly make a major difference.
26. You want to spend your time on other things.
The year before your wedding basically involves one thing: planning, planning, and then some more planning. So any bit of free time you have instantly goes toward crossing all the to-dos off your list that are required for marriage. If you don’t want your wedding to take over your life and would rather spend your time doing other things, don’t feel guilty.
27. Your relationship is like a hurricane.
Sometimes, you meet couples and wonder why they even got married in the first place. Before you decide to say “I do,” be sure to evaluate your own relationship: If it’s constantly full of ups and downs and never feels stable, it might not be the wisest move to make until those problems are resolved.
28. You like being alone.
There are two types of people in the world: Those who need to be around other people 24/7, and those who love nothing more than being all alone. If you like flying solo and would prefer being by yourself, ditching the idea of marriage might work in your favor. (Plus, you’ll get to choose your Netflix shows in peace, which is always a perk.)
29. You’re at different maturity levels.
Marriage is a big deal: you’re signing papers that legally recognize you as partners for as long as you both shall live. If one of you is taking the idea of a wedding much more seriously than the other, there’s a chance you shouldn’t be going through with it. If you do, both of you need to be equally on board with just how serious of a commitment it is so you don’t wind up getting a divorce once it sets in that you’re in totally different places in life.
30. You’re not what you’d call “in love.”
Sure, you can love someone more than anything—but are you actually in love with them? If your love is more of a friendship than a deep relationship, marriage might not be the best next step. Instead, it’s probably better to evaluate where you’re at emotionally and if you’re content with the way things are going in your love life.
31. You’re anathema to change.
If you already feel like you’re at your peak level of happiness in your relationship and would rather keep things the same than risk changing anything, don’t. Some people are perfectly happy without being officially married and already feel more married than couples who have been legally binded together for ages.
32. You don’t like the idea of being a wife or husband.
Some people long for finally being able to call themselves a wife or husband, and others gag a little every time they hear it. If you don’t think the title has a nice ring to it and would rather just stay how you are, it’s probably a sign you shouldn’t be walking down the aisle.
33. Compromising isn’t your thing.
Some people are stuck in their ways and don’t feel the need to adjust their lifestyle to make room for someone else’s. “Oftentimes, being married requires some compromise and joint decision-making because two people are joining their lives and may sometimes disagree on certain choices,” Sherman says. “A good marriage creates enough room for both people’s needs to be honored, and some people would rather just do what they want all the time. They don’t want to consider how that choice will affect the other person.”
34. You don’t want to build up any more debt.
As great as weddings are, the money aspects are pretty out of control. Sure, you can go down to the courthouse and get married without hardly any costs, but planning a big ceremony will put you back thousands and thousands of dollars—something some people decide to avoid altogether so they don’t go even further into debt.
35. You think your partner is as good as you’re gonna get.
Being with someone because you love them is one thing, but only wanting to get married because you’re settling and have come to the conclusion that your partner is the best you can do isn’t good for anyone. If that’s the only reason you’re still in a relationship, it’s time to rethink that relationship.
36. You don’t like monogamy.
When you get married, you’re joined with one other person “‘til death do us part.” While that’s an amazing thing for some, others see it as a roadblock. “For many people, marriage means monogamy, although there are some open marriages. Perhaps you’re someone who gets bored being with only one person, who doesn’t want to remain faithful, and wants to have a variety of partners and adventures and romantic relationships in the future,” Sherman says.
37. You don’t like your partner’s family.
You might really care for your partner, but getting married means becoming family with their family too. If you feel like it’s going to cause you more unhappiness than happiness being added into a group you’re not too fond of, forget the paperwork and just enjoy being together without having to deal with the drama.
38. You’re only following the steps.
If there’s really nothing excitement about marriage to you and it’s mostly just what you feel like is the next step in the progression of your relationship, don’t hit the altar. You should never get married just because you feel like it’s the right thing to do—you should only say “I do” if you’re excited and actually want to take that next step.
39. You don’t believe in needing an other half.
The world lives by the mentality that everyone has an “other half,” and you’re not totally complete as a person until you find that missing puzzle piece. If you feel totally fulfilled on your own, keep doing you: not everyone needs to share their life with another person to be totally happy.
40. You’re annoyed with your partner 24/7.
Little annoyances here and there are totally understandable—and, frankly, quite common. How can you not be annoyed at some things your partner does when you’re around them all the time? When everything they do seems to bother you, though, that’s a different story and is probably a major sign you shouldn’t get married.