There is a period in life when kiss cams and superfluous flash mobs are absolutely normal, your Pinterest boards are practical, and your home is a warehouse for mason jars and potpourri — it’s called the Twilight Zone of marriage.
When you take a break from cake tastings, weddings are not to be taking lightly. Somewhere in the vast world of relationships, there is a segmented group of couples still deciding if they made the right decision.
There’s a difference between cold feet and fever chills. When an engagement has toxic patterns like cheating, manipulation, and distrust, it’s easy to feel like you’ve come this far and should accept it. Whether you’re experiencing an amicable parting of ways or not, a ring should never feel like eternal shackles and love should be filled with enjoyment, rather than an “I guess I can deal with this” attitude.
1. Recognize the issue and determine a solution.
Put your Julia Roberts circa Runaway Bride premonitions aside and begin to dissect your relationship. The stress of wedding planning can leave you tense and sentimental, so try to think rationally. Don’t ditch a wedding worth having based on anxious butterflies and petty arguments that rarely last.
That being said, some relationships are just too crude for commitment. It’s surprisingly easy to get entranced by the magic of a marriage and ignore major issues like consistent dishonesty and toxic behaviors. Sorry to raise red flags in your Disney World castle, but if you are involved in an unhealthy relationship, the chances of this situation improving are slim.
2. Talk about it.
Ending a huge development in your life with another person is, to put it simply, heavy. While breakups can be explosive in some circumstances, others are less implied. If you’re in need of an exit plan for a life you aren’t ready for, you have to be communicative, sensitive to your partner, and fair. It’s going to be painful and feel impossible, but honesty is necessary on both ends.
3. Build a support system and use it to your advantage.
Even the most amicable breakups in the world can leave both parties feeling defeated. The moment you thought you had your entire life planned was just pulled from the rug under you. Aside from being an emotional support system, your family and friends can help you begin the literal “un-planning” process. From venue bookings to invitation orders, the pure logistics of canceling a wedding shouldn’t be handled alone.
4. Prepare for the reaction of others.
Heartbreak and major life changes — these are the foundations of what makes for awkward conversation. Gossipers thrive in these settings, but some people would prefer to not strike up inappropriate chitchat. You’ll encounter people with too many questions, who expect you to well up with tears like a sad puppy. “How are you feeling… but really?” The less invasive human being will strive to erase your relationship from their mind completely, avoid looking down at your ringless finger at all costs, and be awkward in every sense of the word. This odd paralysis surrounding your single status will soon float by and everyone will move on to the next big thing.
5. Running into old friends… yeah, you’ll hate that.
People from your past may have not received Mark Zuckerberg’s memo that you called it off. You could find yourself caught off guard months later when your high school lab partner runs into you at the grocery store and probes you with, “How is the wedding planning coming along?” Get used to kindly smiling, crafting a simple “It’s not” response, and moving forward. You don’t need to explain your reasoning or situation to anyone. Each difficult encounter will help you get passed the elephant in the room.
6. Write your own story and accept that it doesn’t have to be a fairytale.
There are so many lessons from a relationship that only you can determine. If you’re exiting a rough engagement, the takeaways are endless. Teach yourself to not settle for less, to understand what should be expected in a trusting relationship, and to know what you each deserve in love. There’s an emotional quota to fill, but it shouldn’t feel like work. If you can’t be comfortable in a relationship with the person you love, imagine the pain of walking on pins and needles for a lifetime.
In the purest breakups, you may have been starry-eyed for each other at one point and just lost the sparkle in your stares. These situations can almost be the most difficult to lose and the ones worth fighting for until they can no longer be saved. If you find you’ve fallen out of love, you can walk away with the knowledge that you’ve come a long way as a person — a feat that your partner attributed to — and that you each played a tremendous role in each other’s development.
The real essence of un-planning: it’s not a setback, just a shift of pace in finding a life that’s authentic to you and letting your love do the same.