Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: You know how you shouldn’t jump into a serious relationship quickly? Is it possible to jump out of one too quickly?
Two months before our wedding, my ex told me he “couldn’t do this” and wasn’t sure if he ever wanted to. Everyone else called it cold feet, but I had two or three discussions with him over a couple of weeks, then promptly left after the third or fourth one because I saw no point.
He was upset that I canceled all things wedding-related, but I didn’t (and still don’t) see any other options. I immediately blocked him on all avenues of communication and those blocks remain in place to this day.
We’d been together for three years, and he did act the part of a loving boyfriend and fiance. That’s why I had many friends and family tell me I gave up too soon. “You can’t just give up when things get tough!” “He could be trying to contact you right now and you’d never know!”
After his confession, I saw nothing but mixed messages and physical disgust at the prospect of marrying me. You can’t fix that, right? Weren’t my efforts enough?
Jumping Into a Breakup
Of course it’s possible to jump out too quickly.
That’s not to say you did; if you reached a point where you couldn’t see anything that would ever make you want to commit to this person again, then you did the right thing by saying so openly and sticking to it.
If you had asked for my advice during this process, though, I would have advised against blocking all communication from him. When people end a significant relationship, they don’t adjust to the new state of things immediately. It takes time – and you’re proof of that yourself. You didn’t leave after the first conversation, but instead after the third or fourth over a couple of weeks, after you’d had sufficient time and discussion to grasp what was happening.
You denied him that same time to adjust, though. This communication after the fact is often excruciating, but I think – absent abuse – it’s important to healing. Just look at what happens to people in its absence – when someone dies suddenly, for example. They struggle to make sense of the loss and manage the unanswered questions.
This period doesn’t have to be indefinite. It’s simply a kindness to remain available to answer lingering questions or hear someone out, especially since the need to be heard tends to bubble up on its own timetable even weeks after the fact.
So maybe his doubts ended things, but on your way out you slammed the door on his hand.
Re: Too Soon: This jumped out at me: “he did act the part.” It sounds like the letter-writer is trying to minimize the significance of the breakup by treating the whole relationship as a lie. I think it would be healthier for her to acknowledge that it’s possible for his feelings for her to be genuine at the same time his not wanting to be married was genuine.
Valid and insightful, thank you.
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