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17 Signs for Calling Off an Engagement

Last updated on November 18, 2022 by Brooke Aldrich

Even when you know you shouldn't go through with your wedding, calling off an engagement is never easy. Not only do you need to tell your fiancé, but you must break the news to your friends and family. There are also the logistics, like canceling your wedding dress and informing your vendors that the wedding is off.

You're not alone in calling off an engagement, though. Jossey Bass, author of There Goes the Bride: Making Up Your Mind, Calling It Off & Moving On, writes in her book, "I thought I was alone, but people have been coming out of the woodwork. It's just not discussed because it's not the romantic side of the wedding story." According to Jossey Bass, approximately 15% of people call off their weddings every year.

If you want to learn 17 signs that it's time to call off engagement, this article is for you.

17 Signs It’s Time to Call Off Engagement

1. You have poor communication 

Communication skills can be improved for most couples over time. However, if you and your partner cannot compromise on anything, you may need to pay attention to your intuition. 

For example, if your fiance is overly critical of everything from your favorite color to the wedding gown you choose, you may want to reconsider your relationship. Constructive criticism1 is different from nit-picking everything you do.

2. You are not on the same page about family

you are not on the same page about family

Many families have certain values that they follow, like empathy towards others, work ethic, or educational values. As long as you and your partner respect each other's families and values, you're on the right track. 

On the other hand, if you're constantly getting into verbal fights, disagreements, and disrespect, it's a sign that getting married may not be the best option. Values are hard to change in other people. 

3. There is a part of you that wants to call it off

It always sparks the question, "if they knew they shouldn't, and they wished they hadn't, then why did they?" It's a good question, and it's one that many people face later in life.

Listen to yourself if you feel in your heart that something is off in your relationship. Many people end up married and then divorced because they ignore their intuition. 

There's no reason to stay in a miserable relationship because you are afraid to let someone down. Don't spend a bunch of money on a wedding that you don't want to have. 

4. You’re being taken for granted

Planning a wedding is stressful for many brides and couples. However, if you feel like you are doing all of the work and not getting any support, you may need to talk to your fiance. 

After you communicate your needs, see if your partner steps up. If he doesn't, he may be taking you for granted. Being taken for granted will erode trust over time. It's a deal breaker. If your partner doesn't take you seriously, reconsider getting married. 

"Even the most intense feelings cease when neglected and taken for granted."- Anupama Garg

5. You feel pressured to get engaged

If you keep seeing friends getting married and having babies, or your mom keeps hounding you to "give" her a grandbaby, you might be getting married because of pressure. None of these are good reasons to get married, though. 

If you're feeling the pressure, take a step back for yourself and rest. Make sure that getting married is something that you want and not something that society and your family are pushing you to do. You might regret your choice later in life. So, take the time now to pause to feel your true desire.

6. You don’t want to let anyone down

Yes, it's a bummer to have to tell your friends and family that you're canceling a wedding, but it's better than getting divorced later because you don't want to let someone down. If something feels off to you about getting married, don't do it. In a few years, you will look back on this experience and realize that you made the right choice.

7. Your partner doesn't spend time with you

Perhaps you've been engaged for several months but don't see your partner much anymore. It may be that your fiance isn't interested in continuing to get to know you, especially if he isn't helping out with the wedding or spending any quality time with you.

When your partner isn't participating in your relationship, it's putting a lot of extra pressure on you to figure everything out alone. Talk to your fiance and see if you can get on the same page. If not, you may decide marriage with this person isn't worth it. 

8. Wedding planning has taken a toll

Wedding planning is stressful for most couples. Both of you will likely have different styles and desires for the wedding. However, it may be a red flag if you are both fighting over everything from finances to who to invite to the wedding. If planning a wedding together feels terrible; buying a house, raising kids, and building a life together will also be challenging. 

9. He still talks to exes

Lots of people think that it's okay to stay "friends" with exes, but it often means that the person is not over their ex yet. Let your partner know how you feel. If, after you talk, he still doesn't respect your concern, this could be a negative sign, and you should consider calling off the engagement. 

This quote sums it up perfectly, “your partner shouldn't have to remind you to cut off communication with your ex. Only then can your relationship move forward."

10. He lies to you

he lies to you

Have you ever caught your partner lying to you? It could be something big or small. It's never okay to lie in romantic relationships. It says a lot about a person's character if they can't be fully honest about their life with you. 

Your partner doesn't necessarily need to tell you every detail about their past relationships, but he should be honest with you if you ask. If you have any doubts that he is lying to you, don't ignore them. It could be signaling that you need to break off your engagement. 

11. He tries to get attention from the opposite gender

Is your partner trying to get attention from the cute waitress? Is he flirting in front of you or spending more time with another woman besides you? It's easy to think this isn't a big deal because, after all, you're the one getting married to him. But, if it bothers you, talk to him. 

Is it like pulling teeth getting him to spend time with you?
The key to solving is understanding men on a much deeper emotional level. The number #1 factor that causes men to behave this way is actually relatively easy to change with a few subtle things you can say to him.

Take this quick quiz to see if he actually likes you!

If he doesn't honor your concern and doesn't stop, he may not be able to be loyal to you in the long run. You'll be happier breaking off the whole thing right now because this may mean that you're in the wrong relationship. In order to keep moving forward, your partner needs to respect you and stop flirting.

12. Your partner is abusive in any way

If your partner is abusive toward you in any way, end the relationship ASAP. This includes emotional or physical abuse. 

Emotional abuse is not always as easy to spot as physical abuse. Still, it's very damaging to your relationship and your self-confidence. It can include humiliating you in front of others, isolating you from friends, gaslighting you, and shaming or threatening you. 

If you notice these signs of abuse2, end the relationship immediately. Get support from a trusted friend, family member, or therapist if you need it.

13. You’re in it for the wrong reasons

If somewhere in the back of your mind, you feel like you're in the relationship for the wrong reasons, pay attention to the signs. For example, maybe you're in a relationship for financial reasons, or you're terrified of calling off the engagement. 

If this is the case, you should reconsider this engagement. Staying in a relationship for economic reasons can lead to resentment in the future for both you and your partner.

14. He doesn’t give you physical space

Relationships need physical space and emotional space at times. Many couples struggle to figure out how much is too much. When it comes to physical space, many couples engage in pre-marital sex. However, if you're not in the mood and your partner doesn't respect your need for space, that may be a warning sign. 

To move forward, you both need to be on the same page about sex and emotional space. Your boundaries need to be clear and respected. If your partner doesn't honor your space, you're making the right decision by breaking it off. 

15. Break it off if your partner doesn’t respect your family

break it off if your partner doesn't respect your family

If you notice your partner saying your parents are "illogical," nip it in the bud. Don't wait until your wedding day to speak to your partner about respecting your family. Often people start out very welcoming and kind when they first meet family, but if it changes over time, you need to be aware. 

It's important for your partner to respect your family, regardless of whether you have a happy relationship with your family or a strained one. It wouldn't be a wrong choice if you decided to end the relationship for lack of respect.

16. It’s time to call off the engagement if he doesn’t make you part of his life

In order to keep moving forward in any relationship, it's important to know who your partner is. If you wake up one morning and realize that you don't know much about your partner, you may be alienated from his life.

It's important to know before marriage if your fiance wants you to meet his family and friends. He should want you to be involved in his life and be interested in getting to know your friends and family too.

Schedule time with your partner if you're worried. Depending on how he responds, you may discover that you don't have anything in common anymore. It's not worth being in a marriage with someone who doesn't involve you in their life.

17. If your “happy engagement” is only seen on social media

Do you post lots of "happy couple" moments on social media? Like pictures of your fiance down on one knee proposing to you? It's fun to post positive moments on social media, but ensure you are not just pretending to be happy3 to show off to your friends and family. Ask yourself if you genuinely want to get engaged or are more excited about wearing a wedding dress and posting more stories online.

Breaking Off an Engagement – How to Do It

1. Be prepared to end an engagement

Be very clear about your feelings before ending your engagement. Ask yourself if you want to stay in the relationship to grow before marriage. Or do you want to end the relationship altogether? Give yourself a few weeks to feel it out. 

Then, communicate clearly with your partner. Be prepared if your partner decides they don’t want to be in the relationship anymore, even if you do.

2. Talk to your fiance

Talk to your partner in person. Ending an engagement is a big decision and should be handled with care and compassion toward your partner. It’s going to be hard because you’ll likely hurt the other person. No matter how scared you are, speaking face-to-face is always better. 

3. Tell your friends and family

You probably want to tell some of your close friends and family in person, especially your parents. However, it’s a good idea to send a written notification that the wedding is off if you’ve already sent out invitations. You don’t need to give a reason unless you want to. 

Also, be sure to return any wedding gifts you may have received. It doesn’t make sense to keep them if you’re not getting married.

4. Return the engagement ring

return the engagement ring

If you're not planning on getting married, it's honorable to return the ring to your ex-fiance. He may be able to return it and get his money back. It's hard to let go of something you've come to wear every day, but you don't have any reason to keep it anymore. It no longer has any meaning for you. 

5. Return the wedding dress

Return your wedding dress. Some vendors are willing to work with you to get your money back, but be prepared to lose some money. Especially if you’ve already had the dress altered in any way, you will lose out on money when you end an engagement, but don’t worry about that right now. Getting married shouldn't be taken lightly.

Can a Relationship Survive a Broken Engagement?

It’s unlikely that a relationship can survive a broken engagement unless you are both committed to solving the root issue. Make sure that getting back together is something that you truly want to do. If you both agree to stay together, start slowly. 

I Broke Off My Engagement and Regret It

Give yourself some time and space after breaking off an engagement. You're going through a lot right after a breakup, but don't forget the reasons that you broke off your engagement in the first place. It's easy to forget why we ended something when we are sad, but try to remember all the reasons it wasn't working. You probably didn't take ending your engagement lightly. Be gentle with yourself. 

FAQs

Is it OK to break off an engagement?

Yes, it’s okay to call off an engagement. It’s not an easy choice, but if getting married doesn’t feel right for you, it’s the right choice. You may feel awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s better than going through with a wedding you don’t want. You deserve to be happily married, not miserably married.

How do you announce an engagement called off?

Tell your friends and family in person if possible. If you can’t do it in person, it’s acceptable to call them or set up a video call or send them a letter in the mail. For people who may have received invitations in the mail, you can write them a note explaining that the engagement is off.

How do you tell if you should call off an engagement?

There are many reasons you may want to call off an engagement. You may have poor communication, are not on the same page about family, or have different values in life. Sometimes it’s your intuition telling you that this isn’t the right choice for you. It’s better to call off an engagement than to go through with a wedding that wouldn’t make you happy.

Can you call off an engagement but stay together?

You can always try to stay together after a broken engagement. However, you will need to be honest with yourself to know if you truly see yourself with this person in the future. Also, your partner may not feel comfortable staying together, and it may end in a breakup even if you want to stay together.

How do I tell my fiance I want to break up?

Be compassionate to your fiance if you want to break up. Your partner proposed to you and thought that you were going to get married. It may come as a surprise to him. Let him know that you're sorry, but you can't get married. There's no "right" way to say it. He'll be sad, but don't beat around the bush, either. Be honest and kind.

Conclusion 

Deciding to end an engagement is tough, no matter how you spin it. It’s hard for the couple and family members, but it’s always better to end an engagement if you aren’t happy. Refer back to these 17 signs that it’s time to call off engagement if you have cold feet. Also, if you resonate with this article, please share!

Do you feel like all you think about is him, but he only thinks about himself?
This doesn't mean he doesn't like you. You have to understand how he is wired. Once you do, you'll find there is a subtle thing you can say that to him that will drastically change how he shows his emotions towards you.

Take this quick quiz that looks at whether he actually likes you or not!

Sources:

  1. Jacobsen, J. (2021): How to Give & Take Constructive Criticism in Relationships
  2. Johnson, J. PsyD., Pietrangelo, A. and Raypole, C. (2022): How to Recognize the Signs of Emotional Abuse
  3. Cohen, M, PhD, LMFT (2018): Social Media and Relationships
Brooke Aldrich
I’m Brooke Aldrich, a writer and relationship enthusiast. I love writing, reading, and researching simple ways to help people become better communicators. I’m currently studying creative writing at Arapahoe Community College in Denver, Colorado. I’ve been happily married to my husband for one year, and we just adopted an adorable cat named Luna.

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