By the time Katherine’s* fiancé called off the wedding, they had signed a two-year lease and were a year into a 16-month engagement. They had 200 guests planning on attending their destination wedding and Katherine’s friends were about to throw her a bridal shower.
“It was just a lot,” Katherine told The Huffington Post. “In addition to thinking ‘this is horrible’ and ‘the path I was on is now changing,’ there are all of these other people involved. I felt this pressure to decide what we were going to do. It made it more public than just breaking up with someone, because you have to involve everyone that you know immediately.”
But like all romantic splits, broken engagements are not insurmountable. Plenty of people have made it through to the other side. Want proof? We spoke to six women, including Katherine, who managed to dissolve a relationship and a wedding at the same time — and came out stronger than ever.
Katherine, 32, New York City, New York
How long were you together? Four and a half years
How did the engagement end? He was the one who ended it because he was unsure of getting married. We had a five-week period of back-and-forth. We were trying to figure it out and work through it. When we finally called it off, it was probably the worst experience I’ve ever had in my life. It was sort of out of nowhere. I was a little blindsided, because we’d been engaged for a year — he asked me. I don’t know why you’d ask someone and then a year later be unsure. There wasn’t some big event or catalyst.
How long were you together? Two and a half years
How did the engagement end? There was a lot of emotional and verbal abuse on his part. As it came closer to the wedding, it escalated. We hadn’t talked for about two or three days, so finally I broke down and called him at work. My intention was to say, “Can we talk tonight to see what’s going to happen?” He didn’t want to talk — he just said, “I don’t want to get married.”
How did you tell people? We had sent out save-the-date cards, but not invitations. I sent a massive email the next day, and my parents told their friends. I called three of my closest friends so that they wouldn’t find out on email.
What did you do with the ring? I didn’t give the ring back. To me, the ring was a gift from him. It wasn’t that expensive anyway — it didn’t break his bank. I kept it for a while and then about two months later, I sold it for practically nothing.
What did you learn from the experience? Maya Angelou has a quote that’s really famous: “When people show you who they are believe them.” I should have done that. That was my mistake. I also learned not to fall prey to the fairy tale if that’s not what you really want. I didn’t want to get married; I still don’t want to get married. I fell in a trap. I was 37 years old, I’d fallen in love and I thought that that was what I was supposed to do. I’ve never really wanted to get married, and I had no business going through the process of getting married.
*Last names have been omitted to protect the identities of the women interviewed.