7 Signs It's Time To Call Off Your Engagement, According To Experts
Making the decision to call off an engagement is tough, no matter how long you've been together. But if the idea of marrying someone doesn't feel right, it can be the right route to take. This is something Bachelor in Paradise star Nicole Lopez-Alvar recently realized, which prompted her to part ways with Clay Harbor during the season finale. Later, she explained Harbor wasn't being truthful about his intentions, so instead of moving forward, Lopez-Alvar chose to take a step back and focus on herself.
And this is something anyone can do, no matter the situation. After all, "the long-term gain of your future happiness (and presumably your partner’s) and not settling down with someone you feel isn’t right for you, should outweigh the short-term losses," Jaclyn Witmer Lopez PsyD, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle.
After calling things off, you may feel a sense of embarrassment, and you'll have to cope with confused family and friends. But Witmer Lopez says to remember that ultimately, it's not about them — and it's important to do what's best for you. Focus on what you learned, what you want, and then find ways to move on.
Of course, not all relationship problems need to result in the end of an engagement. But if any of the below sounds familiar, experts say you may want to check in with yourself, before getting married.
1. The Wedding Planning Has Taken A Toll
Planning a wedding can be stressful, so don't be surprised if you and your partner have a few disagreements along the way as you make decisions. This is entirely typical, and nothing to be too concerned about.
It is, however, a red flag if you're fighting like proverbial cats and dogs, especially since "planning a wedding is a microcosm of what building a life together will feel like," Lauren O’Connell, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "You have to compromise on issues which effect finances, tastes, family and friends," and that can give you a glimpse at what's to come.
"If planning the wedding together is torture," O'Connell says, "why would buying a house, raising kids, and handling bigger, more complicated life situations together be any easier?" Unless you're willing to go to couples therapy, it may be a sign you need to go your separate ways.
2. You Can't Move Past Your Differences
"Each person brings their own unique values, belief systems, and dreams into the relationship and the hope is that by the time you’re engaged, these will be mutually understood and mostly aligned," Witmer Lopez says. But even if you've talked about your values — and your plans for the future — it may become evident that there are differences that you simply can’t move past.
These might include issues like infidelity, impossible family dynamics, and secrets coming to light, she says, which can all be contributing factors to calling off an engagement.
3. You're Being Taken For Granted
"Sometimes when a couple gets engaged, no matter how long they’ve been dating, relationship dynamics may shift," Witmer Lopez says. So take note of any dealbreaker issues that arise, such as a sense that you're being taken for granted.
"New stress arises with wedding planning, merging finances, etc., and one partner may become complacent," Witmer Lopez says. If you've repeatedly communicated your needs to your partner, and haven't noticed any change, it may be necessary to reconsider your future together.
4. It's More About The Wedding Than Anything Else
If it's become obvious that you're more focused on wanting to be married in general, than married to this person in particular, it's more than OK to call off the engagement, O'Connell says. So go ahead and be honest with yourself. Do you want to be married to your partner? Or did you just get caught up in the idea of it all?
If the latter is true, dig a little deeper. Marriage is something many folks view as a "next step" in life, or an achievement that needs to be unlocked. But before you make such a big commitment, take a step back. If it seems like you and your partner have lost focus, it may be best to wait.
5. You Felt Pressured To Get Engaged
"Sometimes a decision to move to the next stage [...] is made because the alternative is breaking up," she says. "It also can be pressure from outside the relationship due to family questions, or feeling life is passing by while your circle is all getting married, having babies, etc."
If you're getting married for any of these reasons — and not because you genuinely want to be with your partner — you may want to take some time to focus on yourself and figure out what you really want in life.
6. You Hope Marriage Will Smooth Over Problems
"If you ever find yourself thinking, 'It will be better once we’re married,' call it off," Doares says. "Maybe you don’t feel respected or heard. Maybe you feel like you’re fighting to be included in most of your partner’s life. Maybe there are too many arguments or just not agreeing on one major thing."
While it may seem like tying the knot, and officially committing to each other, will erase these problems, that rarely ends up being the case. You'll still be the same two people and have all the same issues, only now you'll be legally connected.
It's better to work on these issues together, or with the help of a couples therapist, to see if you can sort them out before getting married. You may very well find solutions and decide to stick together. But if not, it's also OK to break up.
7. You Don't Want To Let Anyone Down
If you're having doubts, it's important to trust your gut and do whatever feels right — even if you've spent a lot of money on the wedding, and already invited all your guests. "Going through with it is worse than the temporary embarrassment of calling it off," Doares says. So if that's what you feel is best, go ahead and do it.
"Marriage is challenging enough when both people are whole-heartedly committed to it," Doares says. "If one of you isn’t, it more than likely will result in divorce anyway. If the answer isn’t an unequivocal, all-in yes, then it should be a no, at least for now." Focus on what feels right, and rest assured that — either way — things will all work out in the future.