Ending an engagement is more than just a plot twist in primetime TV. That sh—t happens IRL, too.
But that doesn’t mean it’s any less dramatic. Calling off a wedding is, obviously, a big deal, and the decision to do so isn’t one that most people take lightly. And that’s especially true if the person that calls off the wedding is the same one who popped the question in the first place.
We asked a few guys who called off their weddings why they did it—and what happened next.
Allow them to explain.
“The relationship I had with my ex was great for the most part. I loved her and still do today, right this minute, actually. But it just wasn’t going to work. She knew a lot more about what she wanted out of life than I did by the time we hit our late twenties.
She wanted to get married and have kids before she turned 30. So my decision to propose was reactionary to a series of conversations we had about whether I wanted to marry her and if I wanted to have kids with her. I figured this was what I wanted or would want, even though I hadn’t exactly planned on getting it all going when I was still figuring out my career and things like that. But at the time that didn’t seem like reason enough to not propose. So I did, she said yes, and then about three months later I called it off, right before she decided to buy a dress she’d found.
“I was honestly kind of pissed about how I felt like she had kind of given me an ultimatum—like, ‘Propose or lose me forever, and I’ll start a family with another guy.’ She never said as much, but it felt implied. It made me feel replaceable, I guess.
“It didn’t end well. She told me I should have talked with her about all these things before putting a ring on her finger, and she was right. Her parents gave me a bunch of shit, too, because they were weirdly hell-bent on their daughter getting married. Her brother messaged me on Facebook and threatened to beat my ass.
“We haven’t really spoken much since I moved all my stuff out of the apartment we shared. I called things off about a year-and-a-half ago, and she’s getting married this summer. I don’t know how to feel about that, but I guess I feel like it’s better him than me.” —Dylan W.
“I had been engaged for a few months to a beautiful, amazing, and intelligent woman I’d been with since college. We’d both moved to New York after school, living together the entire time. When I proposed, we’d been together for over four years. I just assumed she was the girl for me, which is why I proposed. I started a new job a few months before I proposed, and not long after they hired this woman that I felt an immediate attraction to. I can’t really explain it. It’s not like she was any better than my fiancé, but I developed feelings I couldn’t control.
“I ended up cheating with this woman one night after work. Then it happened again. After that, I came clean to my fiancé and also told her that we shouldn’t get married. She said something like, ‘Well, you cheated on me. Of course I’m not going to marry you.’ I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to be with this girl from work or not at the time, but I couldn’t get married when I had feelings for someone else. And I couldn’t avoid telling my fiancé what I’d done.
“After that, I moved out and my ex hasn’t talked to me since. She pretty much booted me out of her life, and I understand why. I lost a lot of friends, too. I bet eventually we’ll have to go to the same wedding or something and that is going to be very awkward. It didn’t end up working out with the girl from work. We weren’t right for one another and my guilt got in the way too. I haven’t dated seriously since.” —Peter G.
“Calling off my wedding wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction. It was something I started thinking about a few weeks after I popped the question while we were on vacation. I had extreme anxiety over it. I know that most people experience something like this, but it was taking over my entire life. It’s one thing to be nervous, but I was a complete wreck. I wasn’t looking forward to my wedding at all.
“I talked with some friends and family about it, and I eventually decided that these things I was feeling probably meant I wasn’t ready to get married yet. When I had this conversation with my girlfriend, she pointed out that I should have thought about all of this before I decided to
buy a ring and propose. I had, or I thought I had, because when I proposed I felt like I was doing the right thing. I told her I wanted to stay together, but she said, ‘If you don’t want to marry me now, I can’t wait around for you to be ready.’ That moment hurt a lot, but it was also the truth.
It wasn’t fair for me to keep dragging her along with me if I didn’t know when I’d be ready to fully commit. We’d been together four years and change by then. When you’re in your thirties, you don’t want to wait another four for someone to maybe or maybe not propose again.
“After that we didn’t talk for a long time. Now we’re in touch if we have to be, but we’re not friends. We just have a lot of the same people in our lives, so we put up with each other. I think I made the right decision. I’d rather have called off the engagement than have gotten married when I wasn’t ready and end up divorced.” —Harry J.