In 2012, it looked like I had everything. I was very fortunate — young, healthy and dating a man who would do anything for me. After an elaborate surprise proposal (involving horses and a giant sapphire), we were both lawyers on the rise and building our American Dream.
I decided to end the engagement after months of feeling suffocated by my fiancé. With every well-timed cupcake and back rub, I found myself a little heavier and a little less social. Yoga and exercise became too overwhelming to initiate against the guilt he piled on for leaving him alone, even for an hour. He became possessive and angry when I chose to spend time with anyone other than him.
I knew I felt off, but it took a long time to ask why. I found almost no resources to help me understand whether or not my decision to break off the engagement was the right one. Looking back, it clearly was. Our relationship was based on mutual fear, not love or support.
If you are faced with the same situation, how will you know right now if it's the best option, without the advantage of hindsight? I wish I could tell you this is an easy decision. I wish I could hold your hand and walk you through the process. I can’t. I’m not you. Just as the decision to get married is very personal, the decision to end an engagement is only something you will know how to do. My hope is that you can at least take a look and see if any of the following five points resonate with you.
1. The only thing keeping you from ending the engagement is money.
Let's say you're afraid to call it off because you bought a dress, booked a venue, and forked over thousands of dollars to the videographer, photographer, caterer and so on.
My response? So what. You’ve already spent this money. Economists call this a sunk cost. Even if you went through with the wedding, the money is still gone. Recoup what you can, sell the rest, and save the services for later if possible. You know what's way more expensive than a cancelled wedding? A divorce attorney.
2. You would have ended the relationship already if no one knew you were engaged.
If you think you'll lose a few friends or piss off some family members, you are absolutely correct. Huge changes like this tend to make others (not to mention ourselves!) uncomfortable. The discomfort comes from the fear of isolation and being forced to see that we don’t have as much control over reality as we like to think we do.
Your true friends and family will love and support you through this transition. They are the only people you really want in your life anyway.
3. You have postponed the wedding at least once.
I postponed my wedding twice before calling it off. My ex-fiancé was not very happy either time. Looking back, it was clear that I wanted out. Sometimes we do things in desperation, without mindfulness. We don’t even realize what we’re doing until later.
I made excuses as to why I postponed the wedding. My favorites were:
- The venue isn’t available on the dates I want, so I’ll book it for next summer instead.
- I want to wait until after we graduate.
- I don’t know where we'll be living in a year. (Not sure how this could have affected my wedding since the ceremony was in a neutral location …)
- My dress won't be done in time.
- Wedding planning is stressing me out and I don’t need that in my life right now.
- That is so-and-so's anniversary and I want my own special date. (As you can guess, I found many dates that couldn't work.)
Of course, there is an itsy-bitsy tiny chance you may have one legitimate reason to push back your wedding.
My guess? You're just rationalizing.
4. Your body is falling apart.
Shortly after getting engaged, I became very fatigued. Things only got worse health-wise. I was angry and tired all the time. After I broke off the engagement, I had time for myself. I’m not talkin’ snuggle-in-the-corner-of-a-sofa-and-read-time. Instead, I gained:
- Time to observe how I was feeling because I did not have to care for or about another person.
- Time to visit the right physicians because I did not have a wedding to plan.
- Space to heal because I had removed a huge toxin from my life.
- The ability to expand and grow as a spiritual person once my emotional energy was freed up.
5. You are reading this article.
Something has brought you here. Most likely a panicky Google search in the middle of the night ... Maybe a loving friend emailed it to you. If you can discover the root of your concern, you'll have a much better answer to the question of whether or not to call off your engagement.
Here's what I can tell you: when I ended my engagement, a sense of relief washed over me. It felt like I had taken a big test and now there was nothing I could do — fate was no longer in my hands. At that point, the only thing I could do was find my own bliss. So I did.
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