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10 Signs You Need to Break Off Your Engagement

A woman in a wedding dress thinking about these signs you need to break off your engagement and contemplating her decision.

Being engaged is exciting and amazing. You’re happy, you’re exciting for the future, you’re relationship is moving forward, and you and your partner are confident that you want to spend the rest of your lives together… forever. Or are you?

Sometimes, certain traits and feelings about your partner don’t come to light until after the ring is on your finger and it can leave you feeling unsure about your relationship and where you’re headed. Before you vow to spend the rest of your life with someone, keep an eye out for these 10 signs that mean it might be time to break off your engagement and walk away.

 1. You can’t get excited about anything related to the wedding.
It’s normal to be nervous, but if you find that you can’t get excited about wedding planning (your bachelorette party, trying on wedding dresses, or hair and makeup trials) it could be a sign of a possibly bigger issue, according to Carolyn Wagner, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist. “It would be wise to examine what’s getting in the way of you enjoying these things like you deserve to.” Even if you’re the more reserved type, you should still get excited about marrying the love of your life.

2. Your fiancé cheats at his bachelor party.
So this may seem like a completely obvious reason to walk away from a relationship but you’d be surprised by how often this happens. A recent study shows that one-third of bachelors cheat at their bachelor parties. “Surprisingly, this is one of the few times a man will admit to cheating because it was his ‘last chance’ to have sex. Oftentimes, men do it because they’re not ready for the responsibility of marriage and could be too cowardly to break off an engagement. He could be hoping that once you find out he cheated on you, you’ll do it for him,” says Dr. Caroline Madden, an author and a therapist who specializes in infidelity. Definitely put the marriage (and perhaps the relationship) on hold until you address the infidelity.

3. You’re waiting for some of your partner’s behaviors/beliefs to change.
You thought that taking the relationship to the next level would make them save more money, drink less, and spend more time with you. Or maybe there were other behaviors you were hoping would change while dating… and they haven’t. “Unfortunately, problematic behaviors while dating rarely resolve themselves just because you get engaged, or married, or have kids. These things need to be addressed directly and mindfully worked on. If something is still troubling you, it’s time to have a serious conversation and possibly delay or call off the engagement until it’s resolved,” advises Wagner.

4. You’re not having or enjoying sex anymore.
Your sex life shouldn’t be fading this early in your relationship. If you find yourself cringing through sex, doing it as little as once every month or few months or have to fantasize about another person to get turned on, your next stop shouldn’t be the altar. A lack of sex does not bode well when you think about what your sex life will be like for the next 60 years, says dating coach, Josie May. If there’s no attraction or desire for one another, it could eventually leave one or both of you to seek sex elsewhere.

5. You realize you’re getting married for the wrong reason.
Perhaps you only wanted to get married because all of your friends are married, you’ve reached a certain age, someone is in the military and about to be deployed, there was an unplanned pregnancy, he has money, he’s the first guy that ever loved you, or you’re just tired of being single… there are a lot of reasons to get married, but are these the right ones? A marriage based around circumstances rather than love is likely to fail. If you feel yourself simply going through the motions and questioning the reasons why, then it may be time to end things.

6. Your fiancé trash talks your friends, family, even you.
It’s not uncommon for some men to treat a ring almost like a bargaining chip. (AKA, “If I give you a ring, you stop/start doing this.”) Break things off if your partner doesn’t love and accept who you are and who you surround yourself with, advises life coach Samantha Siffring. “If your partner blows up your phone while you’re out, criticizes all of your friends, or restricts when you can go out, it’s a major red flag of future abusive behavior. Don’t let your partner ruin your relationships with other influential people in your life.”

7. You can’t see yourself with this person for the foreseeable future.
Do you really envision the future you want with this other person in it? Any doubt is a reason to stop and think. “This isn’t about lack of imagination, but rather, you can see the party, glitz, and glam of the wedding, but you don’t actually WANT to be married to the person you are with. Having a great party on your own with you as the center of attention might be what you could try instead of saying words you don’t mean to someone you don’t love,” says licensed therapist, Dr. Donna Oriowo.

8. You haven’t set a date and he/she dodges the conversation.
Even if you both want a longer engagement if there’s no date set or even a timeline established, then you haven’t solidified the engagement, explains relationship writer and author, Samantha Gregory. “Too many times the engagement lasts for years. The engagement is not a permanent state of affairs.” For some, getting engaged is the goal and they don’t have any plans or focus beyond the ring.

9. You discover some major secret or learn about something they’ve been withholding.
There are certain secrets that come out that are so surprising that they show that you really don’t know the person you’re about to become legally entangled with. Maybe they’ve been married before, have children, have a hidden drug addiction, are very deep in debt, have a rap sheet, or you learn they’ve cheated on you. Anything big like this means you need to put the breaks on the engagement so you can sort through the issue before moving forward. Breaking off an engagement is much easier than going through a divorce.

10. They demand to sign a prenuptial agreement at last minute.
Prenups are common. It’s fine if you’ve talked about a prenuptial agreement before the engagement, explains Gregory. However, it is a sign of distrust to demand one AFTER the engagement. You may feel like you got tricked into saying yes and now don’t agree with the terms of the prenup. “This is a big topic that should be discussed before the engagement if one or both are persons of wealth/means and/or involved in a family business,” says Gregory.

Breaking off an engagement is a serious decision, but so is getting engaged. When people are caught up in the excitement of the moment and momentum of a relationship, it can be hard to stop and think about whether saying yes and bonding yourself to this other person for life is really what’s best for you both. When considering your decision, keep in mind these red flags and trust yourself and your judgement. Walking away from something can be hard but it will save you a lot of heartache down the road.

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