At one point in my life, I was knee-deep in planning my wedding day with a man who I considered to be my best friend. We had dated for 3 years, so it seemed like saying “yes” to an engagement and getting married was the next logical step.
The whole thing came crashing down during the week of Valentine’s Day (Oh, the irony!) We kicked off the week with some blow-out fights that centered around nothing in particular.
We ended up breaking off the engagement, and I was completely devastated. Like, “sobbing and sliding down the shower wall night after night for months” devastated.
For years after my engagement, I felt like I wasn’t enough. I thought that I screwed up my one chance at true love. Luckily, I was wrong and learned some crucial lessons that I want to share with you today.
1. You can’t fix incompatibility, no matter how hard you want to.
The truth is that my ex-fiancé was (and still is) a kind, intelligent guy — but he just wasn’t for me. Somewhere deep down, I knew our marriage wouldn’t work, but I think we both strove to make it happen.
Persistence and compromise can be great, but only when you’re fighting for a relationship that’s right for you. Make sure that you and your partner agree on the big things, like how you want your life to look. Don’t compromise on the things that matter most to you.
2. The make-up, break-up cycle is soul-destroyingly painful.
For 3 years after the initial break in our relationship, my partner and I tried to get back together and repair our relationship more times than I can count. One of us would sense that the other was almost ready to move on and then call to desperately try to get their significant other back.
This went on and on until my ex got another woman pregnant and we both finally stopped the vicious cycle we had found ourselves in.
I shudder at the sheer amount of time we both wasted trying to patch up a relationship that just wasn’t meant to be.
3. You should always honor your gut feelings.
On paper, a relationship might look and feel great, but if you feel like it’s wrong, it’s wrong.
I let the hope that my partner was right for me overshadow the fact that I knew that marrying him was a mistake. I wasn’t ready to marry, and I was scared to lose him. And I wasn’t sure what my life would look like without my significant other, and I didn’t want to admit that I failed in my relationship. But at the end of the day, calling off the engagement was the right thing to do.
4. If you’re making excuses, it’s not the right relationship.
Two years before my ex-fiancé proposed, I kept telling him (and myself) that I wasn’t ready for a commitment until I finished school. I even signed up for a specialized trade school after I finishing undergrad so that I could avoid getting engaged. Now I see that decision for what it was: elaborate stalling.
If you find yourself making excuses for why you can’t take your relationship further, examine the real reasons behind them, and decide how to move forward.
5. Don’t get caught up in society’s idea of what’s “right.”
I naively thought that getting married and settling down is just what people do after they graduate college. I wasn’t ready to marry, but as I watched my friends all get married and have babies, I truly felt like I needed to hurry.
Since I was in love with my partner, I never questioned the “monkey-see, monkey-do” idea that I should get married, too.
6. You’ll feel more hurt if you stay in your relationship than if you leave.
I knew that my relationship wasn’t the right one for me, but I stayed for far longer than I should because I knew that ending it would cause a great deal of pain for both my partner and I. I bought into my own horrible idea that I wouldn’t find a better fit in another man. And I egotistically fantasized that I’d crush my significant other if we broke up.
The truth is that in staying, I wasn’t doing either of us any favors. We needed to “call time” when we realized that it wouldn’t work out.
7. “Comfortable” doesn’t mean “right.”
I kept revisiting my relationship because it felt safe. I hadn’t ever felt that way with anyone else, and the feeling of comfort was like a drug to me.
Since I hadn’t gotten over my partner or stopped fantasizing about our relationship somehow working out, the comfort of being around him overrode my desire to look for the right person.
8. Sexual chemistry really does matter.
If you’re going to marry someone, you’d better make sure that you both have incredible chemistry in the bedroom.
Sure, you can work through bedroom problems, but if you’re both healthy and you still feel like you’d rather read the dictionary than get busy with your partner, the relationship might be wrong for you.
9. Unless you’re dead, your chance at finding love isn’t over.
Calling off my engagement taught me that I had some silly, melodramatic ideas about love and relationships. I think back to my heartbroken, shower-floor-crying self and wish I could tell her that she would eventually find love. What I really needed to do was get up, move on, and try again — tear-stained, but wiser.
Whether you just called off an engagement or are simply questioning whether you and your partner belong together, take my advice. Knowing whether to stay or go in your relationship will make all the difference in your future happiness.
Elizabeth Stone is an author and relationship coach. Get a free copy of her e-book, Why Men Lose Interest.
Originally published on YourTango.
Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash