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Ending an Engagement

Ending an Engagement


Dear Rachel,

I am engaged to be married yet recently reached the conclusion that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with this man. It is not a case of cold feet, it is a situation where our goals and desires in life are just so different. Even when I got engaged I knew it was a mistake. I know I need to end this, but for some reason I find that every time I try I just can’t bring myself to do it. Also, the invitations are already out and so much money has been put into the wedding. But even more importantly, I really do care for him and love him and don’t want to hurt him. What should I do?


Dear Overwhelmed,

There is no question that breaking off an engagement, especially when it is so close to the wedding, is a very difficult thing to do. At the same time, you sound pretty convinced that you have legitimate reasons for wanting to, and it sounds as if you got engaged for the same reason that you could potentially marry this man, which is fear of ending the relationship.

Assuming that it really is in your best interest to end this, then not only should you for your sake, but for his as well. Would you want him to marry you if he felt about you the way you do about him? While you may feel that you are doing him a favor, it is no favor at all, and quite a disservice. In truth, if you care about him and love him as you say, do not let him marry a woman who knows she doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with him.

You cannot marry a man out of guilt, responsibility or fear of letting him or anyone else down. When you marry a person, it must be with the belief that this is your soul mate and the person you want to spend your life with. Marriage is not easy, it is an incredible amount of work, but an essential ingredient is that you are both heading in the same direction in life and have the same end goals. Therefore, if he is not right for you, then ultimately you cannot be right for him either.

Another important thing to remember is that he does not need to be a horrible person to be the wrong person for you. If anything, he could be a great guy, just a great guy for someone else. You have to be honest with yourself and with him and discuss how you are feeling. If your relationship really does have a future, then this will give you an opportunity to discuss what can be done and how you both feel about one another and this potential marriage. However, if that is not the case, then you will give him the opportunity to make his own decision once he is aware of the entire situation.

In terms of invitations being out and money having been spent, while perhaps uncomfortable, that has nothing to do with a decision regarding the rest of your life. The only way you can marry this person is with the strong conviction that this is your soul mate. Anything less, and you are being terribly unfair to the both of you. I assume you would not want him marrying you to avoid letting down a florist and hall! Now is the time, before you are married, to truly think about what lies ahead and then to discuss it with your fiancé. It could very well be that because you care about one another, you will recognize that this marriage may very well be a big mistake.

Much luck and may you be blessed with clarity and to very soon marry your true soulmate, whomever he may be.


"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Anonymous February 1, 2014

I called off a civil wedding ceremony a day prior. At that time, it felt like the right decision to take. Its been 3 months since and its been like a rollercoaster of emotions love, anger, guilt..etc. We've been dating for over 2years and I have moved away to another country for him. I put on the line a lot for this relationship. His family never fully accepted me. his brother and sister in law sabotaged our relationship and were always rude to me. But the problem is that my ex never knew how to stop their behaviour and stand up for me. Instead he blamed me for not being able to adjust in his family. This has affected our relationship and brought a lot of tensions. At some point I just couldn't say 'I do'. I still care and love him, and deep down really hope for things to become better. His family is mad at me for cancelling. And brainwashes him at every opportunity. I know he cares about me a lot but can't go against his family. Am I just not seeing what I need to see?!? Reply

Nadia August 25, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Hi, I going through the same situation but I have not cancelled my wedding or have told him anything. His brothers and one of his brother's wife have really hurt me and unfortunately the last time my parents witnessed it. I love him very much and I honestly think he's the love of my life but I am not willing to be with his family. What was the outcome on your experience ? I just honestly do not know what to do. Reply

Anonymous California June 14, 2013

I ended mine too He was almost prince charming but when he got upset he would become verbally abusive..i knew deep down i had to end it ...when i finally did he called me a day later to break up with me even after i did it the day before. It was like he wanted to take credit for it. I know now that he showed his true colors and they are ugly. Reply

Adam May 13, 2013

I got engaged after 3 years of knowing this girl that I would of done anything for. We took a break fir about 6 months in the middle. I know she loved me deeply, but ultimately chose her crazy parents over me. She was struggling without them in het life. I hated them they hated me, I mostly hated them because the physically and emotionally abused their daughter. I am no pushover I am regular new yorker that stands up for himself and not be pushed around, they didn't like it. My point you could never get between mother and daughter it such a strong bond. You might try and fight it but it will only last so long before it is broken off again. I learned the harshest twice. I can go and tell you the phone calls her parents made to my family, but it is not worth it.

Hey good luck you will find another girl not as attached to her parents, as will I.

Good luck bud. Reply

Anonymous Columbus August 23, 2012

Feeling not to brave I just yesterday evening broke off my wedding to my fiance, whom I live with and moved to Columbus, OH for. We are both so lost as to what the next step is. For whatever reason, my gut was telling me that something was off. I had to listen to it, because in the end, this huge step is about me too. My heart is absolutely breaking looking around and seeing all of "our" things that we bought together, including the house that he bought for us. We've made our house a home, and now that we're not getting married, what's the next step? Just live in relationship purgatory? I'm so sad over having to do this to him, and to us, because lord help me, I do love him. Please help. Reply

Anonymous Rosharon, Tx July 20, 2012

Confused Im engaged and living with my fiance i have two girls. The oldest isnt his but the baby is Im just too confuse and feel like i need time on my own! I still love my ex boyfriend and dont see myself with my fiance for a life time. Me and my ex boyfriend started talking a while back seen each other already. I really want to break up the engagementbut dont know how i dont want to hurt my fiance bc his a really nice,dedicated person he accepted my oldest daughter and doesnt know i been married before and quite honest my ex boyfriend does he knows almost all.... I would like to break it up by telling him i need time, and i want to work so i can start being independent again. Please HELP! What should i do???? Reply

Anonymous hubbardston, ma June 15, 2012

breaking up I miss my sig. other. I moved out due to his verbal abuse (alcohol) but hoped to find a way to stay together, with him going for help. He now won't communicate with me. I miss him, didn't expect this. He feels 'at peace' since I am gone and after a wonderful weekend together, he will not call or see me anymore. It's like he is making the decision to end it when he was the abuser. He is hurt that I moved out and said he has had time to think and feels he needs space. I am shocked at the abruptness of his ending our 7 year relationship. I am devastated and just didn't see him breaking it off . How to heal this broken heart? I miss him, not the drunk man, the beautiful soul before he drinks is who I miss... I love him and I'm in a lot of pain. Reply

sousmarin cairo April 20, 2012

just i want thank u for ur usefl informatio.really i don't know what i should with my fiance .he is very kind ,good guy but till now couldnot love him despit i am very sensitive girl but i donot know so i decided to end it but every time i couldnot say any word becouse i donot want to hurt him but it 's not the right way i know. Reply

Anonymous April 9, 2012

health issues in the sense what happened??? economic issues what happened?? is the girl too backward in economic status?? 2 ppl with almost same interests can definitely go together. Reply

Anonymous New York March 13, 2012

What about two people with almost same interests? So, my questions is, what happens if two people have almost all interests same?

I know this couple. They got engaged really fast (within 3 months), but I don't really know if they are planning a marriage as fast as they got engaged. Thing is they have almost the same interests. Maybe what they don't have in common is that they don't do the same job...
I somehow also know that they got engaged because there were economic and health issues in the plot. Let's just say that the one needed a woman and the other one needed someone to take care of her because she also had health issues (apart from the economic problems).
Can this work in the future when they overcome their problems? Or is it really their problems keeping them together for now?
What is your prediction/opinion? Reply

Alan San Antonio, TX December 25, 2011

I Did it a two days before I just broke off my engagement to my girlfriend of two years our entire relationship was rushed but happy not a lot of fighting at all we were instant bestfriends but the moment i gave her a ring it felt more like marrying her family than her. the major reson i broke it off is we are to young in my opinion and im also in the military about to hop across the pond. so i didn't want to leave my young "wife" behind two mounths after we get married. so long story short it was rushed, we are young, and the entire situation was wrong so be a little selfish if you know in your heart and mind it ain't right then just end it you'll save yourself a lot of headach in the long run. Reply

Anonymous Montreal, Quebec/Canada August 29, 2011

She did it The question I have is that I am the groom and she ended 3 days before, but I believe its because her Mother did not like me and I had a fight with her mother so they thought I was not the right one. I know I will apologize for what I said to her mother, but my heart says she is my soulmate and I have to fight for her love and heart, so I ask are there stories of those who get back together after something like this happens? Reply

Anonymous San Francisco, CA June 27, 2011

I was in the same boat. I called the engagement off. He was very hurt, but I know deep down it was the right decision.

I have periods of guilt. Many of my friends/family came forward with "we think you made the right decision" after I broke the news.

You may want to talk it over with a friend that you know will support you and your decision. It takes a lot of courage to hurt someone, but in the long run you're hurting them less.

Given the dates of these posts, you've probably already made your decision? Reply

Anonymous Cape Town, South Africa February 22, 2011

Too Fast I just got engaged to alovely man, but am having serious doubts now and dont know what to do. I was engaged for 4 years abd my heart was broken, this guy was there for me every second of every day. Now we have only been together for 4 months and are engaged. I feel so pressured and so rushed and our engagement party is in 4 days time. I dont want to hurt him and i know everyone will say i told you so and have something to say and his family are going to hate me. What do I do? I feel so confuzed. On one hand i think maybe im just freaking out and maybe we will be really happy and on the other im really confuzed and think this is moving way too fast, we should still be dating and getting to know each other. Please give me your comments! Reply

Extra T. Alien San Diego, CA October 26, 2010

Legal ramifications When you get engaged, you don't officially do any sort of legal paperwork then, do you? Of course, you later have to get your LICENSE, but up until that, if you get engaged, wait a couple of months to get your license, are you in any legal way bound to each other if you were not living with each other? And, in the event that you break the engagement before getting a license, are you free and clear of each other (in terms of community property, etc). Reply

Anonymous New York, New York August 25, 2010

From the one who was dumped It was a long time ago. Decades ago. I do know now I am very glad it didn't work out, but at the time - to be dumped was hideous and embarrassing. He dumped me because I started to have flashbacks of severe abuse I suffered as a child ( he was a big deal in the local mainstream Jewish community and didn't want to fuss with anyone who needed some counseling to work it out; he wanted a pretty woman who could be at his side at parties and Federation affairs.)
He could have made it a LOT easier if he had expressed great remorse. He also could have asked my forgiveness at the next High Holy Days. That's what would have helped. Anyone breaking off the engagement at the very last minute: Help the person preserve their dignity; ask for their forgiveness at the next High Holy Days. (Even a letter will do.) Reply

shirley westlake vill, ca January 29, 2010

ending an engagement You know, I actually know somebody who went through with a marriage cause she could nto figure out how to end the engagement. Silly as it sounds, they were divorced four months after they were married but not before driving everybody around them crazy. Do yourself a favor. Do the right thing by him and for you. This is your Eternal soul --you cannot afford to be dishonest to yourself. You have to be your best friend. Reply

Susan Nergman East Hanover, NJ January 12, 2010

Getting away from my boyfriend! I wany to get away from my boyfriend. He has plans to move out of state and take care of me. We do not talk about the same thing. He bores me and there is no attraction. I have got to change. He says when we get to California I can go. Reply

chanie Jerusalem, Israel March 7, 2009

To the Comment Before Mine (Anon, Orlando) You sound like you feel very hurt. The two of you used to get along, and now she seems to be so scared of being hurt again, that she attempts to hurt you. It is a subconscious attempt, on her part, to take control of the situation, and to end it- without being hurt. If she feels that she's in charge, and there is a logical reason for you to dump her- ie, you don't get along- then she will be less hurt when you do so.

What you need to understand is that she went through a very traumatic and hurtful experience just before you met, and may not have had time to heal. Though she does love you, as you saw before, her subconscious mind has taken over and is saying, "Just like x hurt me before, so will you. I need to make sure that I don't get hurt, because obviously, I wasn't worthy of x, and I'm not worthy of this guy, either. The only way to make sure I don't get hurt is by making sure that he dumps me- and it's for a reason I consciously caused." So- that's what she's doing. Reply

Anonymous Orlando, Fl January 26, 2009

ending an engagement I have the same problem, except I am the man and im wanting to call it all off. I love this girl, but things just arent the same anymore. We fight and argue every chance we get. We purposely say things to down eachother and hurt eachothers feelings. We know eachothers weaknesses and we hit one another where it more hurts. I have never cheated on or lied to her one time, and thats the honest truth. I know i love this girl but i just cant see this being real much long. I knew her for a very long time before we got together. She was my best friends girlfriend for 4 years and then a month after they broke up because he cheated on her we started dating. We've been together for a year now and it seems like she thinks that I am him and that I am out to hurt her. I thought the trust issues were going to end. Ive come tosee that it was just the begaining. I dont know what else to try or do. Its now where im just in a bad mood just being around her. This isnt meant. Im not the one for her Reply

Ryvka July 19, 2008

Why to end it? Reading all these comments, I realize everyone suggests that she should break-off. But what if he is really her soulmate? What if she could have a great life together with him? What if all her issues could be resolved after a difficult but open and sincere discussion? What if he can make her feel that he actually is the right man for her? It's not because she has doubts that she is completely wrong! Every single bride, at one point or another of her engagement, has doubts. But not all engagements end up breaking-off, and not all doubts conduct to divorces later on...
So yes, have this crucial conversation with your fiance, and hopefully, have a great great Mazel tov, and many many happy years of marriage! Reply

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