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Unsure if I Should Break Off My Engagement


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So, I’m a 23 year old female. I was proposed to by my 30 year old bf of 3 years a couple of months ago. Prior to this, I was a little a nervous that he might be getting ready to propose. I wasn’t sure if I was ready or if we were really right for one another. He is my first serious bfWhen he asked me I just had this rush of feeling “right.” So, I said yes... I do love him and we have a good time together.

 

We are really different in a lot of ways. If you’re familiar with MBTI an ISFP and he is an ENTJ. We can have a lot of fun together, but many times I come home and just feel worn out by his energy. Really determined and ambitious but can be overbearing and controlling. I notice myself kind of putting off the wedding in my mind. People are constantly asking me about if I’ve set a date, and I avoid the questions. I’m not excited to get married at all. I feel awful when I think I might be wasting his time, what if end up backing out? He is the age when most of his peers are getting married.

 

We live together, and I am supporting him financially while he pursues something entrepreneurial. I just don’t want to look back and think I missed out. I’m worried I’ll resent him for it... I just feel sick to my stomach about all this.

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This doesn't sound right at all. I'm sorry to hear this. Can you pinpoint what exactly appears overbearing or tough to handle about him? You seem pushed in a corner and silenced quite a bit in the relationship but I may be misunderstanding. What does he think of your ambitions, hobbies, lifestyle and the way you organize or do things around the house?

 

Your ideas about risk-taking might be very different also. What do you think of his entrepreneurial ideas? I mean - critically, real feedback - not the stuff you say through rose-coloured lenses because you don't want to hurt your partner's feelings.

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Yikes don't get married to someone who refuses to work. He'll have legal access to all your assets, bank accounts etc. He doesn't love you. He is looking for a meal ticket. You need to throw him out.

 

"Missing out" Is staying with a moocher like this rather than dating a man who is your equal, with regard to finances, education, ambition, work ethic, etc. The sooner he moves out the sooner you'll stop "missing out".

 

Is this a forced or arranged marriage? Let him support himself or let him go back to his mother or let him find another sugar mama.

We live together, and I am supporting him financially while he pursues something entrepreneurial. I’m worried I’ll resent him for it... I just feel sick to my stomach about all this.

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It sounds like you two are in incompatible life stages. If after 3 years you "feel sick" to your stomach about marrying him, imo you two are not right for each other. You were only 20 when you got with him. Most people in western cultures are not ready to settle down before the age of 25, nor are they mature enough to do so. It might have seemed ok to you to be with someone who can be "overbearing and controlling" at 20, when you didn't know any better, but as you are maturing you probably realize that these traits are emotionally draining. Most people keep evolving and changing mentally, at least until the age of 25. Imo, feeling "sick to your stomach" is a huge red flag that you have outgrown him and that you two are no longer right for each other.

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Having been the runaway bride including at your age here's my personal test that worked for me (because "you just know" was all well and good but I needed more).

 

I had to be reasonably sure AND excited to be marrying the person. By reasonably I mean many people get jitters, have doubts - but for me if those jitters were fleeting and if the doubts were fleeting and/or could be resolved simply -without -this is important -rocking the core of the relationship, making me question the entire relationship - then all was well, I remained with the right person and wanted to be with this right person. And on my wedding day -this runaway bride of 42 years old -who'd been engaged a couple of times, who'd felt panicky and sick to my stomach with other men - I felt a feeling I'd never felt before -magical and natural simultaneously. I felt light and lighthearted despite being completely sober and knowing what a serious commitment this was. I joked with my sister in another room right before the ceremony. I knew it was right. We've had our ups and downs since then, over ten years ago - I've been really mad at him, really mad at myself, hurt, anxious, disappointed, bone tired. But what has remained constant - I am so happy we got married. I am so happy he's my person. I respect and admire him even when I'm so irritated/annoyed (you know, covid/24-7 doesn't help). I love him, and even when I'm not in the mood because I'm a parent, I work, I'm tired and unshaven and not feeling so into it/sexy, I know deep down that za za zoom is in hiding, temporarily and will return. That's a very stable/secure feeling. I know for sure there are other men out there who technically might be better for me -I mean, I only dated half the planet in my 24 years of dating - but I've always felt who cares - let's say there is - that's irrelevant, I found my one.

 

 

I did NOT feel that way the majority of the time about anyone else I was with. I would feel that way some of the time, I'd have these over the moon aha moments -but nothing lasting, nothing that gave me the excitement and stability to say yes. And guess what -to me, anyway, you have to sort of say yes over and over again -not out loud, to yourself. During those hard times, sometimes you have to remind yourself to recommit, to say yes, even if you've done nothing inconsistent with commitment (neither of us ever has). You have to have that stability to take a deep breath and count your blessings, remind yourself of why he is your one. If you cannot find a way to garner those feelings, or if those feelings don't surface when you're not feeling "it" or not feeling committed - that's a problem.

 

We all have our own ways of arriving at "the one" - some people settle and lie to themselves and actually don't get divorced - they accept the downsides. Others leave as soon as the over the moon feeling fades some. Others insist "you just know" and any doubts at all mean don't.

 

You sit down with yourself. You figure out in the most brutally honest way what your standards are for being happy to get married - write it down if you have to. You don't need to justify them to anyone. But stick to it. And make sure you meet someone with similar standards (for example if both people want a marriage of convenience that's fine but not if one person does).

 

This guy does not sound like your one. Just my personal opinion.

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Most people in western cultures are not ready to settle down before the age of 25.
When did it change, I thought it was 40.

 

OP you are too young for marriage, go have some fun. In 10 years you can re-consider it.

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I just don’t want to look back and think I missed out. I’m worried I’ll resent him for it... I just feel sick to my stomach about all this.

 

Have a long engagement then - that's your right. Take the time to do a lot of self-reflection because it seems that you are starting to see that you both might be incompatible. Try not to worry what others think. If people ask you about the wedding date, just say its a long engagement and with covid, you don't want to rush anything - people accept reasonable explanations.

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Have a long engagement then - that's your right. Take the time to do a lot of self-reflection because it seems that you are starting to see that you both might be incompatible. Try not to worry what others think. If people ask you about the wedding date, just say its a long engagement and with covid, you don't want to rush anything - people accept reasonable explanations.

 

I personally would not do this. It's not fair to him and it's misrepresenting. To me an engagement is not official without a wedding date or at least a wedding month. Accepting a proposal is saying you intend to marry this person. She is too doubtful and queasy to state that intention and really mean it.

 

She can tell him -yes I'll accept your ring but I'm not sure if I want to marry you and want to have a long engagement. If he's a healthy person he'll say no and either walk away or save the ring and his proposal for when it really means something.

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When did it change, I thought it was 40.

 

I was referring to the earliest for women given that the OP is a woman and not a man. 40 may be ok for men but, even nowadays, a woman who is 40 tends to run into trouble when seeking someone her age to start a family. In a fair world, it would be 40 for women as well but in this world 40 year old women who want children get all kinds of crap about being too old. Looking to settle at 24 is too early but just having fun until 34 for a woman is kind of cutting it close. Imo, she should start looking again in five years time, not 10, given that it may take a couple more years to make sure that she has the right person. Regardless, investing more time in her current relationship doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Imo, three years is enough time to determine long-term compatibility and what the OP is describing doesn't sound like leading to a promising future.

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I was referring to the earliest for women given that the OP is a woman and not a man. 40 may be ok for men but, even nowadays, a woman who is 40 tends to run into trouble when seeking someone her age to start a family. In a fair world, it would be 40 for women as well but in this world 40 year old women who want children get all kinds of crap about being too old. Looking to settle at 24 is too early but just having fun until 34 for a woman is kind of cutting it close. Imo, she should start looking in five years time, not 10, given that it may take a couple more years to make sure that she has the right person.

 

I just disagree with all of this. Sure there are extremes of course -one of my daughter's friends married at 17 and now has two kids and is happily married for 7 years. Another married at 21 and is happily married all these years, over 30 years. Another friend married in her late 20s and late 30s. Twice divorced. I got married at 42. We started trying to conceive shortly before I turned 41. When we married it was first marriage for both, age 42. It wasn't too early, it wasn't too late. It was just when I became the right person to find the right person. Which was right around my 39th bday.

 

It's not crap to tell a woman at 40 that insisting that a man who wants biological children from his wife is giving her crap about being too old. She is getting to be over the hill for sure. Myself and a couple of my friends had our first kids and got married in our late 30s and early-mid 40s. I was just darn lucky. To find a man who was ok with my age, to have the miracle of conceiving naturally. My one and only time. Biology is not crap. The only difference now as compared to when I was in my 20s and 30s is that now egg freezing is an option. Back then it was only embryo freezing and I didn't want to use donor sperm to do that.

 

So women who want biological children optimally should start trying in their mid to late 30s at the latest unless they freeze their eggs -and that is risky too. I didn't want to be a single mother by choice. I didn't prefer to adopt but I would have.

 

I think the OP might well be ready for marriage just not with this guy.

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I completely agree with Batya, I and several of my friends were married between 21 and 25 and we have now all been married now for more than 30 years (granted the men we married were all close to us in age -- no more than 2 years -- no significant age differences). I do not believe that everyone has to wait until some magical "maturity" age to be ready to make a lifelong partnership. Different people are ready at different times and it also depends on who one finds to partner with. OP should definitely NOT get married to her partner, he does not seem right for her and she is not mentally and emotionally ready to marry him. That does not mean she is not mentally and emotionally ready to marry someone who is right for her.

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I personally would not do this. It's not fair to him and it's misrepresenting. To me an engagement is not official without a wedding date or at least a wedding month. Accepting a proposal is saying you intend to marry this person. She is too doubtful and queasy to state that intention and really mean it.

 

She can tell him -yes I'll accept your ring but I'm not sure if I want to marry you and want to have a long engagement. If he's a healthy person he'll say no and either walk away or save the ring and his proposal for when it really means something.

 

I agree but I said this to encourage the OP that she has a right to have a long engagement if she needs time to sort out her feelings/emotions (I think she does not want to automatically break off the engagement.) OP is young and her feelings seem to be all over the place and this is normal for young 20 something. You make a decision but you backpedal later because you have gnawing doubts. Part of emotional and brain development is sorting out your emotions and finding out who you and what you want so you don't do it again. Yes its unfair to the fiancé, yes, but I am hoping they have that open discussion to get to the real reason why she is feeling queasy.

 

OP, can you give us more context if you can about your fiancé's overbearing and controlling behavior? Like what do you think will happen if you broke off the engagement? Are you happy with him? Happy about financially supporting him? Have you guys talked about a wedding date?

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Loving Batya's posts here.

 

Trying to figure out the best age for someone to be ready for marriage—be it 21 or 25 or 33—is about a futile as using Meyer's Briggs to test or confirm compatibility. All in all, these are things we do when we're not sure of ourselves, still learning to listen to ourselves and trust what we're hearing.

 

I've never much wanted to be married, for instance, and have never made a secret of that. Of course, when I was younger, there were women who thought I'd "mature" into being "ready." Now I'm 40, and my view of marriage is basically identical to what it was at 23, just to present the negative of the same image.

 

With all that in mind, I encourage OP to listen to herself right now, to see these thoughts as her spirit asking for attention. Don't snuff them out in favor of some idea, some story, or to appease your partner. That doesn't do anyone any favors. It's a very big decision—and, like any, it's bound to cause some jitters—but what you're describing here goes far beyond some hiccups. Suppress these feelings now and you can ensure they will bubble up later, which is not the stuff of nuptial harmony.

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I agree but I said this to encourage the OP that she has a right to have a long engagement if she needs time to sort out her feelings/emotions (I think she does not want to automatically break off the engagement.) OP is young and her feelings seem to be all over the place and this is normal for young 20 something. You make a decision but you backpedal later because you have gnawing doubts. Part of emotional and brain development is sorting out your emotions and finding out who you and what you want so you don't do that later. Now may be unfair to the fiancé, yes, but I am hoping they have that open discussion - either why she wants to break it off or why she wants a long engagement (it's better than marriage we can agree on that!)

 

OP, can you give us more context if you can about your fiancé's overbearing and controlling behavior? Like what do you think will happen if you broke off the engagement? Are you happy with him? Happy about financially supporting him? Have you guys talked about a wedding date?

 

I don't think people who do not know they want to marry the person whether in 6 weeks (me) or four years (my mom -they were teenagers) should ever accept a proposal. They are not engaged yet I thought or recently. Part of emotional and brain development is learning about your emotions. It's not about learning if a person is the right one for you after you have promised them to marry because they are the right one for you. Why stick her fiancee with her need to figure out her emotions about him and all the while parading around being "engaged" - quotes because that engagement would be fake unless he was in on it -if she says to him as I wrote "I will accept your proposal if it's ok with you if we wait a long time so I can figure out how I really feel about you and how I feel about marriage". That is not the same as 'I cannot accept your proposal because I'm young and haven't yet figured out my emotions and I am not at the stage of development where I know my own heart so please either wait for me or if you want to find someone who is ready I set you free because I love and care about you".

 

A long engagement is great when two people are in love, want to marry each other but for practical reasons it's better to wait -my dad was still in grad school and was a teenager. For example. We waited to get engaged until we were both ready to commit (no not because I was pregnant -once we started trying I knew we'd get married sooner if we were blessed with a pregnancy) - I have a friend who waited over a year to have her reception and religious wedding but did the city hall/green card part first. They wanted a religious ceremony too and a party so they waited to plan that.

 

I don't think anyone has the right to accept a ring and a proposal as if they intend to marry the person when they are not sure they want to marry the person. Unless the other person is ok with it. And if the other person is ok with that I question why. This is why in most cases if an engagement is broken the ring has to be given back -it's a ring "in contemplation of marriage" -not a pretty diamond or other blingy stone to wear because you decide to make a promise to marry in the future with your fingers crossed behind your back cause you're not really promising a thing other than "I promise if I sort out all my doubts and emotions and figure out that I do want to marry you I'll marry you."

 

Oh if I sound cranky about this I'll tell you why. When I was "still single" for so many years I knew of women who got engaged without being sure - they paraded around with the ring, they were happy to do pary planning, dress shopping and "we" everyone to death with their "status" as an engaged person. but, it turned out they really weren't happy with the person, they wanted the accolades, attention, reception - but they had no genuine intention that they had found their person. So while I stuck to my guns and refused to settle and got all the snarky comments about being still single those women were brides to be -or brides -who were lying to themselves and raking in all that societal attention bestowed on women who are all of a sudden grown up, responsible and mature rather than presumably a "wild and crazy" single person.

 

Here's what happened to one of those women. She was older than me when she got engaged at 23 -she told me how it was love at first sight, over the moon about him, so thrilled to be engaged , thrilled to be getting married.

 

After kids, a divorce, her financial ruin - marriage of 20 years -- she told me she'd lied to herself at age 23. She wanted to be a wife and mommy so badly she convinced herself she was in love with him -he was older and tall and handsome - she looked up to him literally. But when she was engaged although she meant well I felt awful - about myself -why couldn't I be so "sure" -and in love with no doubts?

 

I accepted a proposal at 23 with doubts. I thought I was in love but I was simply so desperate to be a married mom. Fortunately I ended it five days later a couple of hours after a really awkward thanksgiving meal where our engagement was announced. Thank goodness. I should never have accepted the proposal. I was wrong.

 

Of course some women are actually in love, ready, love being married and are happily married - mostly they don't feel the need to make comments to their single friends about how someday they'll be this sure, this grown up, this mature. I am referring to the women who like this woman -if she accepts the proposal in this situation -is lying to herself, to her fiancee and setting herself up for having to explain to future boyfriends why she accepted a proposal, why it didn't work out.

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I can honestly say I think he will succeed. He’s pursuing a really practical line of work that his family has connections in. He has made some income from it so far.

There have also been times when I was not working and he supported me financially until I found myself a new job. I just feel guilty that I’ve agreed to helping with my salary job and I could potentially leave him high and dry. I also own the house that we currently live in... I don’t know where he would go. He also owns a house but someone else is renting it right now.

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I can honestly say I think he will succeed. He’s pursuing a really practical line of work that his family has connections in. He has made some income from it so far.

There have also been times when I was not working and he supported me financially until I found myself a new job. I just feel guilty that I’ve agreed to helping with my salary job and I could potentially leave him high and dry. I also own the house that we currently live in... I don’t know where he would go. He also owns a house but someone else is renting it right now.

 

Thanks for responding. I'm still not sure where these feelings are coming from:

 

but many times I come home and just feel worn out by his energy. Really determined and ambitious but can be overbearing and controlling. I notice myself kind of putting off the wedding in my mind.

 

I'm asking to have a better idea about the dynamics in your relationship. What is it that you find overbearing or controlling about him? There are some resentments there. I'm wondering what they are or what led to them.

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I can honestly say I think he will succeed. He’s pursuing a really practical line of work that his family has connections in. He has made some income from it so far.

There have also been times when I was not working and he supported me financially until I found myself a new job. I just feel guilty that I’ve agreed to helping with my salary job and I could potentially leave him high and dry. I also own the house that we currently live in... I don’t know where he would go. He also owns a house but someone else is renting it right now.

 

If you feel guilty throw money at the problem. The answer isn't to marry him out of guilt. Would you like it if someone did that to you?

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Well, he's an adult. I would imagine if you two broke up he would be capable of finding himself some housing. Don't let believing he will be homeless without you make you stay in this relationship.

 

Besides, how much sense does it make to say "Well, we got married because if we didn't he would have had to get his own place"?

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Thanks for responding. I'm still not sure where these feelings are coming from:

 

 

 

I'm asking to have a better idea about the dynamics in your relationship. What is it that you find overbearing or controlling about him? There are some resentments there. I'm wondering what they are or what led to them.

 

So, I wouldn’t even go as far to say that he’s in the wrong when I find him to be overbearing. He is just the sort of person that takes it upon himself to be the father figure for everyone he knows. He gives a lot of unsolicited advice to people, it can rub others the wrong way. He can be really impatient, like if there is a task that he wants done he wants it done RIGHT NOW. Even if it isn’t remotely time sensitive.

 

I think it does stem quite a bit from how much he really cares about the people in his lives. He can just be abrasive in his approach and it wears me down

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So, I wouldn’t even go as far to say that he’s in the wrong when I find him to be overbearing. He is just the sort of person that takes it upon himself to be the father figure for everyone he knows. He gives a lot of unsolicited advice to people, it can rub others the wrong way. He can be really impatient, like if there is a task that he wants done he wants it done RIGHT NOW. Even if it isn’t remotely time sensitive.

 

I think it does stem quite a bit from how much he really cares about the people in his lives. He can just be abrasive in his approach and it wears me down

 

That sounds fine. But are those personality traits, those actions he takes, what you want in a marriage - that's the real question. Would you want a child with him? How would you like it if his parenting style is as you described. Sure he might really care and have good intentions but a really important part is showing you care in a way that makes people feel comfortable around you. It sounds like he doesn't do that for you. You feel uncomfortable around you. Would you feel ok with him being abrasive and controlling with your child and excusing it with "it's because I love you?"

Or let's say there are dishes in the sink and you're playing with your child or you're on the phone with a friend or enjoying some relaxation. Are you good with dropping everything to wash the dishes right then so you don't incur his wrath? Or annoyance?

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So, I wouldn’t even go as far to say that he’s in the wrong when I find him to be overbearing. He is just the sort of person that takes it upon himself to be the father figure for everyone he knows. He gives a lot of unsolicited advice to people, it can rub others the wrong way. He can be really impatient, like if there is a task that he wants done he wants it done RIGHT NOW. Even if it isn’t remotely time sensitive.

 

I think it does stem quite a bit from how much he really cares about the people in his lives. He can just be abrasive in his approach and it wears me down

 

Would you say he doesn't prioritize very well or gets sort of lost in the details (no big picture)? Was it like this all the years you've known each other or just recently with the job loss or unemployment?

 

Losing the plot can become draining if you're constantly feeling like you're the one holding the relationship together or the only one remaining positive especially with an impatient person. What are you doing also to refresh yourself? Do you have a good group of friends or other hobbies you can keep on top on and still feel recharged at the end of a stressful week?

 

I think it's 50/50 and how you see yourself in the relationship affects how your partner treats you too. Have you tried speaking with him about his panic or worrying over non-time sensitive issues? Does he have a history of anxiety?

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