Earlier this year, I was an engaged woman. I had the gorgeous ring on my finger, my bridesmaids and dress picked out. I was pouring through wedding magazines, constantly talking to people about the wedding. It was a really exciting time in my life, and I can look back at some of those memories quite fondly. At this point you would normally expect me to gush about my picture perfect wedding, how it was the night of my dreams and things couldn’t have been better. I’m not telling you that story, though.
I didn’t get married. In fact, we broke the engagement off. Yet through that experience, I learned a few extremely important things about what happens when you go from dating to being engaged.
The relationship dynamic shifts…a lot.
You think that being engaged feels the exact same as dating, just better. Problem is, it becomes infinitely more stressful. As much joy and excitement as planning a wedding and thinking of a forever future with your fiancé is, it also adds a ton of stress and worry to the equation. It’s also in this time that you learn things about each other that you didn’t know before. You haven’t lived with this person every second of every day, so chances are there is a whole new side of a person you haven’t discovered yet. In my case, we both learned things about the other that, although in itself weren’t the worst things in the world, we knew we couldn’t handle living with. Neither of us thought it was fair to ask the other to change, so we parted ways.
The rose colored glasses come off.
For some people, after being together so long, it appears that the rose colored glasses, or the perspective when you see your significant other as perfect and without few flaws, come off even before engagement. I challenge that notion by saying that the glasses don’t really come off until you realize…you are about to commit your life and forever to this person. Whether you realize it or not, you start picking up on even the subtle things they do, and you process it as what you can live with (every single day) and what you can’t. For most, the pros outweigh the cons. Sure they can be annoying, but you can deal with it. For some, the reality sets in that this person you once saw your whole life with…is kind of a stranger. That’s a scary realization, honestly.
People care more about your potential wedding than you.
Let me make this clear-I know this isn’t always the case. I’m basing this off my own personal experience though. When I was engaged, I had people constantly surrounding me asking about venues, wedding colors, music, food, my dress…the attention was great, and there was nothing I liked more than gushing about my fairytale ideas for the wedding. I was engaged for a few months, and every second was filled with countless people asking questions and asking to see the ring. When the engagement ended, I not only felt the loss of my fiancé…I felt the intense loss of people talking to me. I went from large groups of people asking all these questions about me, people who seemed genuinely interest in me…vanish. Now that the wedding was off, they were gone. I realized painfully that the interest was in the wedding and not me. Maybe the people didn’t know what to say, or how to react when I broke the news. Who knows. The great thing about this was I did discover how amazing my best friends really were, as they stuck by me during what I felt was one of the hardest and darkest times I’d faced. I learned who the people were that cared about me.
Ultimately, I survived. I healed from the immense hurt I felt after the relationship I had assumed would last forever withered away. It taught me to look at relationships in an entirely different light. I no longer look at them as indestructible, but fragile. I also now know I was not ready to commit the rest of my life to a person. I still have things I want to do, although one day I hope to settle down and get married. I know that what I learned from this experience is something I’ll carry with me for years to come…I wouldn’t trade it for anything.