We see it in chick flicks or on a Monday night drama all the time: “I can’t marry you,” she exclaims, fleeing the altar in a blur of tulle and lace, jumping into the getaway car with the slick “other guy.” That might be a climactic storybook ending in the movies, but it’s not how I broke off my engagement to my ex-fiancé last April.
When I finally made the decision to discontinue the relationship, I was sure that my world would come crashing down. Despite my initial desire to relocate to Mars, I sit in reflection months later and know in my gut it was the best decision I could have ever made.
What brought me to the point of cutting ties after the dress had been purchased and the cake chosen? Here are three red flags I wish I had paid attention to much sooner:
Red Flag #1: The “ICK” factor.
Whether you call it intuition, or “thin-slicing” as Malcolm Gladwell does in his bestseller, Blink, we process bits of information that lead us to an internal conclusion. If it feels wrong, it probably is. I ignored my inner voice so many times; during the first panic attack I had in the fitting room selecting my wedding gown, when the wave of nausea hit after clicking send on each confirmation email. We all have an inner “Jiminy Cricket”, so listen to him.
Red Flag #2: “It’s not supposed to be this hard.”
Do the pros outweigh the cons? This is a standard of living that can be used for many more situations than just relationships. It’s true that relationships take work, but are you investing time, love, and energy yet feeling ever more drained? Or do you bring out the worst in one another? Then it is not the relationship for you. “It’ll get easier,” he’d say. But if the cons outweigh the pros for an extended amount of time, it’s time to say goodbye. Forget the deposit on the church, forget the designer wedding gown in your closet - cut your losses, learn from the experience, and move on.
Red Flag #3: “I don’t trust you.”
German writer Walter Anderson said, “We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” So, can you trust him? Unfortunately in my case, we struggled with trust issues from the very beginning. This stemmed from past relationships and even with one another throughout the course of our friendship. We kept trying to “wipe the slate clean,” but with one of us always questioning, it was a dance routine I was tired of learning the steps to.
Ten months later, I’m thankful that I had the courage to call my wedding off. Contrary to my worry about becoming a single old maid with 47 cats, my dignity is restored and I look forward to the bright future ahead. To the bride-to-be’s ignoring their instincts and blaming it on “cold feet” or pre-wedding wedding jitters, I challenge you to take a closer look at your relationship. Have you examined all of the red flags? Is it time to put up the white flag and walk away, instead of walking down the aisle in a white dress you wish you never put on in the first place?
Hope is a freelance journalist and marketer as well as the founder of
. A lover of good quotes, good books, and superb coffee, she just launched her wedding planning business, as this said experience made her realize that wedding planning is probably the most exciting thing ever (with the right groom, of course).