Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Will I Ever Get Over Being a Jilted Bride?”

My boyfriend and I are talking about getting married some time next year. While normal people would probably be thrilled, I’m a jilted bride — a label I can’t seem to shrug off (and yes, I’m still in therapy for it) — so I’m excited yet terrified. My ex and I had been together for four years when he proposed. We were — or so I thought — the happy couple in the midst of wedding planning when he broke the news that he’d never really been happy and he wasn’t sure he could go through with marriage. He insisted I postpone nothing because he wanted to work at “going back to the way things were before.” We stuck it out for a month — at his insistence — while we tried counseling and a lot of talking.

During one of the counseling sessions, my ex informed me that a lot of the decisions we’d made about the wedding were things he didn’t know how to tell me he didn’t want so he just agreed. I was speechless. He also said he wasn’t sure if our relationship was ever real. When he left me, I asked him if he’d ever loved me. He never answered, and that’s when I realized that he never did. He told me he was literally acting the part of a boyfriend/happy groom-to-be because he didn’t want to lose me.

Now my current boyfriend, whom I’ve known for six years and been with for one year, very much wants us to get married, as do I. But the thought of wedding-planning raises my blood pressure. We haven’t had discussions about details, but I’d like to agree to whatever he wants because I’m terrified if I tell him what I want (a small party, no big thing), that he’ll tell me he doesn’t want it and dump me. Or worse, he’ll agree to it and not show up.

As far as I know, my boyfriend has been nothing but sincere, but I remember my ex acted the same way and even made a lot of the same declarations. I love this man so much, and I don’t want to lose him. I want to go back to a time where I never wondered if today was the day my boyfriend decided he didn’t want me. I’d love to tell him this, but I worry there’s nothing he can say or do aside from promises I’ve already heard before. Plus, I don’t want to scare him off. Therapy has helped, but this is a fear I don’t think will ever go away. My friends tell me I have nothing to worry about, and I should just be happy. (Then again, these are the same friends that said my ex would “pull through” and marry me).

I’m in my late 30s and ready for marriage. I don’t want what happened in my past to hinder my shot at lasting happiness. I want to be with this man no matter what. But I worry that any possibility of a normal marriage is nonexistent and that it’s my fault. — Once Jilted, Twice Shy

Oh, sweetie, your possibility for a “normal marriage” is as good as any of us, and what happened to you with your ex is most certainly NOT your fault. If it’s anyone’s fault, it was your ex’s fault. He’s the one who lived in denial, couldn’t express his true feelings, and hid the truth from you until you were already invested in planning a wedding. And now you’re in the same position he was in — you have feelings you haven’t expressed to your boyfriend. You’re scared and anxious, and yet, just like your ex did, you’re playing the part of someone excited by the idea of marrying her love. You aren’t being honest about the anxiety gnawing away at you and keeping you from being as truly happy as you could be. Don’t be your ex. Break the cycle. YOU have the power to step outside the “jilted bride” box, but it’s going to take courage on your part. You’re going to have to risk rejection and hurt feelings by opening up to your boyfriend.

Will he leave you if you want the kind of wedding he doesn’t want? Highly doubtful. That’s not really why your ex left you either. He left because whatever you two had together wasn’t right in the long-term and he didn’t have the courage to be honest about that either with himself or with you before proposing. Are you going to be honest about your feelings before your current boyfriend proposes? I hope so. I hope you can find more courage than your ex ever had so you can make what should be one the happiest times of your life free from the anxiety that has been plaguing you.

Being a “jilted bride” doesn’t have to be your identity. You can be whatever you want to be. You can be a happy wife, a successful career woman, a loving daughter, a devoted friend, a fulfilled mother. The choices are endless … and YOU get to pick ’em. How do you want to define yourself? If you could change the narrative of your life, what would it be? Now make it that. Quit being the woman who was left by her fiancé and be the woman who took charge of her own destiny. Quit living passively in a role you didn’t create for yourself — the jilted bride — and start living a life you’re actively steering.

I know you’re afraid of crashing. I know you’re afraid of being hurt again. But the pain of staying where you are is greater than the risk of hurting yourself moving forward.

Talk to your boyfriend. Decide to trust him fully. Accept that you’ll never know what the future holds, but the not knowing is better on a path that’s taking you somewhere than a path that’s keeping you stuck in a box you hate.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here an Twitter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

46 comments… add one
  • avatar

    artsygirl October 4, 2012, 9:06 am

    LW – If I were in your shoes, I think I would go to city hall ASAP and get legally married. With the strain of that off your back, you can plan your official marriage with all your friends and family.

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    • avatar

      Aya October 4, 2012, 9:30 am

      I had a similar thought of, why not elope?

      If going to the court house/eloping isn’t appealing to you, you can use it as a way to start a conversation with your fiancé. “I’ve had thoughts about going to the courthouse or eloping because the wedding planning is really stressing me out…”

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      • katie

        katie October 4, 2012, 9:42 am

        i dunno, i dont think that being stressed over wedding planning is really the issue. that is a symptom of the issue, but there are deeper issues at play. i dont think a trip to the courthouse is going to solve their problems.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl October 4, 2012, 10:03 am

        Totally agree. There are bigger issues here that are just coming to light through the wedding planning.

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      • avatar

        artsygirl October 4, 2012, 10:26 am

        It sounds like the LW really wants to have a traditional wedding and reception. She is just so scared about being abandoned again that it is interfering with her ability to plan. By removing the thing that is stressing her out – i.e. waiting for commitment until the actual wedding, they could just get married by a judge and then make it official in 6 months or a year. It is not like anyone would be upset, especially considering her past.

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    • landygirl

      landygirl October 4, 2012, 12:17 pm

      Another idea is go to Vegas and be married by an Elvis impersonator. I wanted to but my husband nixed the idea.

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      • JK

        JK October 4, 2012, 12:19 pm

        That would be so awesome.If I lived in the US I totally would have done it.

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      • avatar

        Married by Elvis October 4, 2012, 4:44 pm

        That’s what we did. Fat Elvis no less! There’s man-boob in my wedding pictures!

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  • JK

    JK October 4, 2012, 9:16 am

    WWS.
    And artsygirl´s idea above is a pretty good one as well (I fully endorse low key weddings and elopements).

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle October 4, 2012, 9:17 am

    My older brother left a jilted bride in his wake, about 10 years ago when he was about the age I am now. Our family was pretty biased towards his side (of course!) & it didn’t help that his fiance at the time was, well, pretty unlikable.

    With perspective, I can see that he had most likely been just like your ex– too afraid to tell the woman he was about to marry “wait, this isn’t what I want.” She wanted a huge wedding, to move into her hometown & start having children right away, etc. etc. & we could all tell that he was just going along with it. That’s on him. And that’s on your ex, too. When two people can’t even discuss wedding plans without one feeling steamrolled, it means they aren’t a good match.

    Wendy’s right– don’t fall silent while a wedding is being planned, like your ex did. You’ve known this guy for 6 years now & you should be comfortable talking about what you both want for marriage & a wedding. Disagreeing on location or flower-color doesn’t mean one of you will run away. Try to remember that your ex called the wedding off because there was something wrong with your relationship to begin with. Just because you’re in wedding-planning stages again doesn’t mean history has to repeat itself.

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    • avatar

      ktfran October 4, 2012, 9:39 am

      I left a jilted groom in my wake. My family was on his side, which made it harder to call off. He was a great guy and my family told me I would get over whatever apprehension I felt. I didn’t. And it was a good decision.

      The only thing I can offer this LW is know that he probably cared about you and I do believe he didn’t know how to tell you that something wasn’t right. He used the wedding and you planning it as a crappy excuse. He should have been honest about his feelings. But also know that he gave you a gift. He allowed you to find someone who truly does love you. Don’t let your past with this fucker get in the way of that. And if you’re more comfortable with a small wedding, then voice that. Talk to him about your past and why you’re scared. If he is who you are supposed to be with, he’ll help ease your worry.

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      • avatar

        Rangerchic October 4, 2012, 9:52 am

        Yea – at least he didn’t let you marry him in the end. My BIL’s girlfriend broke up with him and then decided a few weeks later she made a mistake. They got married and I knew it wasn’t a good thing – she should have stuck to her gut feelings. They got divorced after 5 years of marriage. So instead of going through a break-up he had to endure a divorce.

        I know it sucks the way he did it and he should have been more up front but some people have a hard time telling their true feelings. Don’t hold it against your current fiance. He sounds like more of a match for you anyway. Good luck LW – I hope you end up with a fabulous wedding/marriage just how you would like 🙂

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary October 4, 2012, 9:26 am

    I just really feel for this LW 🙁 I know what it’s like to have something bad happen in a past relationship that is suddenly triggered, and then you throw all that emotional baggage onto your current partner. It’s really hard to stop and I commend the LW for seeking out therapy to address this.

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    • FireStar

      FireStar October 4, 2012, 11:02 am

      When I read this my first thought was – she needs a new therapist. She has been happily dating another man for a year, having known him previously for 6 years, and they are at the point they are discussing marriage… but she still thinks that telling him what kind of wedding she wants will make him run for the hills because of some story her ex told her? I would have thought a therapist would have helped her more than this by now. Isn’t it difficult having a relationship while living under a cloud of your ex’s behaviour, LW? Don’t you need to be at a place where you are completely free of your ex so that you can freely commit to the new boyfriend without second guessing?

      My personal belief is that the reason people give for breaking up really isn’t that important. People lie. They lie to ‘protect’ your feelings; to save face; to make themselves not look like the bad guy; for any number of motivations. What is important to understand is that, barring some chronic, detrimental behaviour of your own, they are breaking up with you for a reason that has to do with THEM. So really – you need to have enough confidence? sense? even arrogance? to dismiss their reason even as you accept the fact of the break-up. It’s like the adults talking on Charlie Brown – lots of noise and your only take away needs to be “you don’t want to be with me” – I feel your next thought should be “sad for you – peace out” but maybe that comes with a little time. LW, you need to find a therapist who can help you get there – so that you are completely comfortable in your new relationship – not waiting for some imaginary shoe to fall. You should absolutely feel completely comfortable suggesting something you KNOW your partner would just hate – much less might validly consider. Seriously – where would my joy come from in life if I couldn’t threaten my husband with musical theatre regularly? The man who marries you is a man that is going to love you through the possibility of hardships, illnesses, deaths, financial ruin – certainly he will love you through a party with cake. And if he can’t? Then it wasn’t the thought of the cake that did him in.

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      • katie

        katie October 4, 2012, 11:11 am

        i think that what might be happening is that this is the situation that is finally going to make her really, truly face her fears and face what happened to her in her past relationship. i mean, you can work on an issue theoretically all you want (in my next relationship i wil do X, ect) but when you are actually faced with the situation, maybe it is very different.

        maybe some couples sessions would help? i wonder how involved he has been through the process.

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  • Lianne

    Lianne October 4, 2012, 9:34 am

    My heart was breaking while reading this letter! Wendy’s advice is spot-on though. Communication is sooooo important and by withholding how you’re feeling, you’re doing yourself and your boyfriend a huge disservice. Be brave!

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  • katie

    katie October 4, 2012, 9:34 am

    WWS totally, all the way, 100%. beautiful, wendy.

    this is exactly what i was saying to buttoned yesterday- you cant pick apart and think about what *you* did that ended a relationship. thats not what happens, and its never healthy to think about that. they end because they werent right for the people in them. there is nothing you, LW, did wrong, just as there isnt anything a whole lot of people who have relationships end did wrong. sometimes, the relationship is wrong, and that is just the way of the world. so just accept that it was the wrong relationship, and then accept that it was your ex who went about things in the wrong way. he was the one, as wendy said, who didnt have the courage and the means to express his feelings, and i can bet you he lived with feelings of despair for a long time before he finally told you. he went about it all wrong, and that has nothing to do with you.

    take wendy’s advice. find the courage to be better then your ex. find the courage to let yourself be defined by YOU and what you do and what you have to contribute, and not by what someone did TO you. find the courage to accept that someone did a shitty thing to you, but that doesnt mean you are somehow damaged or doomed for life. accept it, move on from it, and focus on a new life with a completely different person, who you can build a life with baised on trust and understanding. and that has to start with you, LW. you have to tell him what is going on, or, as wendy said, you are your ex… dont let that happen.

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    • katie

      katie October 4, 2012, 10:00 am

      oh, and, regarding the actual wedding planning, i would suggest offbeatbride.com. they have some wonderful articles about figuring out what you exactly want for your wedding, how to talk with your partner about what they want, how to compromise on things, how to stand your ground on things with regards to family, religion, ect… i would recommend looking into those types of articles. i dont think you need wedding planning advice, you need wedding anxiety advice. seek that out.

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      • avatar

        shanshantastic October 4, 2012, 10:47 am

        WKS. Also, I love that site! I reviewed the book while I was planning my wedding, and it was a great resource. 🙂

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      • katie

        katie October 4, 2012, 11:13 am

        i am nowhere close to being married, or even engaged, and i love reading those kinds of articles because it makes getting married more about a marriage. its not all napkin colors and centerpeices. that stuff makes me feel like i am better prepared for marriage when/if it happens.

        although, i wont lie, all their other stuff is awesome too! i love that site. and offbeathome. and offbeatmama. and i have no home and i am not a mama either. lol

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh October 4, 2012, 9:37 am

    Wendy has written a few pieces about taking the step from dating to engagement and marriage and what it means. I don’t have time to look for them now but I think you should read them along with her advice. Even when you think you’re ready it can be a scary step. Add on your past experiences and I’m sure there is even more anxiety surrounding this.

    I think the first thing to remind yourself is that your current boyfriend is not your ex. They are two different people. Just because the ex did something does not mean your boyfriend will. It’s hard to remember that when you’re in the middle of panicking, but it’s true.

    I’m sure if this was about anything else (or I hope) you would just talk to him. Treat this like any other issue the two of you would encounter. Let him know how you’re feeling. I would also say let him know that this isn’t about him or your relationship, it’s about being scared because of what has happened in your past. And while the idea of a quickie wedding might be good for some, I think it might actually be better to take it slow. Take in the process as a couple and really discuss what you’re going through. It could be that he’s just as happy to have a small intimate wedding as you are, and even if it’s not exactly what he wants, there is probably a middle ground that will make both of you happy.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay October 4, 2012, 9:50 am

    I feel awful for you, LW. Try to remember that it wasn’t your decisions or that you were making decisions that caused your ex to leave. He was just a jerk and apparently just using the decisions about the wedding to cause a fuss. Even if he’d planned the whole wedding, you know all the same things would have happened. The truth is, most guys don’t care that much about wedding planning, and the ones who do know to speak up about what they want.

    Maybe you and your fiance should each make a list of ideas for the wedding in certain categories, like size, type of venue, music, food, etc., and then share them. And determine how big a priority each one is. For example, it may be really important to you that it’s a small wedding, while he really wants to have a live band. That way you’ll both know what is really important to the other one and can keep planning from there.

    I know there are a lot of deeper issues beyond worrying about the details, but if you’re with a good guy, you’re just going to need to trust that he wants this as much as you do.

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  • SixtyFour

    SixtyFour October 4, 2012, 9:54 am

    LW, I feel for you. I too have a lot of problems with anxiety. Anxiety is a bitch. The more we think about how we don’t want to be anxious, the more we think about being anxious, and the more anxiety we get. It’s such a hard cylce to break when you’re in the midst of it, but like Wendy said, you have the power to do so by talking to your boyrfriend. Also, that’s so great that you are aware of how this affects you and are taking the steps like going to therapy to work through them.
    You say that you’ve known your current boyfriend for six years and been together for one. So I’m operating under the assumption that he is at least aware that you were once engaged and that your fiance broke it off. If he is aware of that, I don’t think he will be surprised to hear that you are having major stress when it comes to talking about marriage.

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  • avatar

    TECH October 4, 2012, 9:59 am

    Wendy’s advice is spot on. What the LW is experiencing is broken trust. She probably feels she can’t trust her own judgment, and she definitely feels she can’t count on her boyfriend to come through for her. The truth is that anyone can change their mind at any time. This is a risk inherent in all relationships. All your boyfriend can do is prove through word and deed every day that he is the right man for you.
    After you’ve been on the receiving end of a broken engagement, or been cheated on, or been abused, or any number of horrible things that can happen in a relationship — you’re going to be gun shy.
    The best you can do is be honest with your boyfriend about your fears and vulnerabilities. Your broken engagement was not your fault! It was just the wrong relationship for you. The odds are more in your favor now. It sounds like you’ve found a man who is ready to commit and understands what you’ve been through.
    As a side note, I get so sad when I hear about who is to “blame” or who is at “fault” when a relationship ends. Can’t we all just agree that it was the wrong relationship? I believe that makes healing so much easier.

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  • avatar

    6Napkinburger October 4, 2012, 10:00 am

    I love Wendy’s response. I especially love that she didn’t just suggest “slowing down” and putting it off, which I feel is the lazy way to handle this. Yay wendy!

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl October 4, 2012, 10:02 am

    Perhaps part of the reason you’re so anxious about wedding planning is because you’ve only been dating this guy for a year!

    And if you can’t honestly talk to your fiance (boyfriend? are you even engaged?) about your wedding hopes/expectations I think you need to take a step back. I can’t even imagine basically living in fear of my fiance leaving me because I want blue napkins or an ice sculpture at our wedding. Seriously, you need to do some work (internally and with your partner) and build some trust before you marry.

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  • avatar

    Anna October 4, 2012, 10:08 am

    Great response. I love you, Wendy! I feel like this LW could be me in the future if I let myself become that. It is much more rewarding to be the woman who successfully took control of her own life and made it great than the woman who got dumped and spent the rest of her life dwelling on it. Your boyfriend is not your ex. Unless he has given you reason not to trust him, that’s exactly what you should be doing if you really want to marry this man. No “normal marriage” can survive without trust.

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  • avatar

    Daisy October 4, 2012, 10:21 am

    Want to give you a big hug, LW! It’s great that you’ve been in therapy and are dealing with your anxiety in a healthy and mature way. From your letter it’s clear you really love your fiance and have a very good relationship. I think Wendy is absolutely right that you just need to talk to him about your worries and concerns. It may be difficult, but talking about all these issues now is only going to improve the foundation of your relationship and marriage. Good luck!!

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    • avatar

      Daisy October 4, 2012, 10:23 am

      Ooops boyfriend, not fiance. But maybe my slip is good news – you had me thinking you’re already engaged! 😉

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  • avatar

    tbrucemom October 4, 2012, 10:38 am

    I can relate to the LW’s feelings. I was married for a long time and one day my husband told me he didn’t love me anymore. Fast forward, have been divorced for years and dating a wonderful man who I love and will definitely marry when the time is right. However, part of me keeps thinking what if he stops loving me too? It’s so hard to put those thoughts out of your head but you have to realize that they’re two different people and most importantly communicate with him how you’re feeling. You have to be able to open up your heart and risk being hurt to truly love someone and that makes it worthwhile.

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  • avatar

    lemongrass October 4, 2012, 11:10 am

    You absolutely need to tell your boyfriend how you feel. Being married requires you to be open with your feelings and work through them- because you don’t always share the same ones! I think that after you tell him how you are really feeling that you two should go into couples counselling or pre-marital counselling. Most pre-marital counselling is put on by churches but you could always go and ignore the religious stuff. I don’t think that you should work through your issues by yourself though. The fact that your boyfriend doesn’t know at all how you feel shows that you really don’t have good communication in your relationship and you should get that shit figured out BEFORE you get married. Before you get engaged, too. Don’t cop out on communication- that is what holds a marriage together.

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  • avatar

    j.walker October 4, 2012, 11:23 am

    I think this could have been a shortcut, to be honest. Wendy’s second to last paragraph said it all: “the pain of staying where you are is greater than the risk of hurting yourself moving forward.”

    Sure, you might get jilted again, (though that’s pretty unlikely) and you may get hurt, maybe, but you’ll DEFINITELY get hurt if you start letting the issues surrounding your past relationships seep into your current one.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo October 4, 2012, 11:33 am

    You know, LW, my wife and I were never going to get married. We’d both been seriously hurt, not like your situation, but still hurt. We were both afraid, but she was more afraid that I wouldn’t want to be with her forever, and that i would do things her ex had done. We also had serious reservations about the whole institution of marriage, just politically and from a feminist point of view. The communication hurdle we had to jump was “I never wanted to be MARRIED, but I totally want to be married to YOU.”

    A relationship doesn’t build up to a wedding day and then suddenly everything is solved. Wendy is right that you need to open up, and communicate honestly despite the risks. But once you do that, you have to realize that it is just the first in an infinite series of discussions. Because for a marriage to work in the long run, you have to keep working at it all the time. You have to manage your partners’ feelings. You have to apologize and make up for the times when you are an asshole (which we ALL are some of the time). We’ve been together for 23 years, but we still need reassurance and validation about some of our deep-seated insecurities and fears. (You know: no one could ever love ME.) Over time, you will have to know and accept every good and bad thing about your partner, and this will be more than you will ever believe it could have been by the time you’ve been at it for a couple decades. The things we’ve forgiven each other for! You don’t deserve happiness because your love is true; you deserve happiness by seeking it, working on it, and acting in good faith with your partner for life. You can hide your true feelings for a while, but not forever. If you really see yourself with your guy for life, then have that first real conversation about life together. Get started on deserving the life you two will build together.

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  • avatar

    painted_lady October 4, 2012, 11:36 am

    A question for you, LW. You say your ex didn’t bring up issues in the big picture – how was he at handling conflict? Did he shut down? Did he let his own problems with your relationship fester? Was he forthcoming when something was wrong or did you have to drag it out of him? Something tells me there was a communication issue long before he bailed on you.

    Conversely, how does your fiance now handle conflict? You’ve got to know at this point how you disagree in ways other than this wedding. If not, you need to postpone anyway. And the thing is, worst-case scenario, would you rather be alone or with someone who would leave you over the fact that you have opinions?

    Think about how awful you felt when you discovered your ex had lied about so much of your relationship. How awful was that feeling that the information was there all along but you were deceived? Don’t do that to someone else.

    Being dumped by an asshole shouldn’t sentence you to a life of never admitting your own feelings again. You weren’t at fault that he lied. It’s not your fault you were dumped – quit punishing yourself.

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    • JK

      JK October 4, 2012, 11:41 am

      Loved this, PL.

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      • avatar

        painted_lady October 4, 2012, 11:44 am

        Thanks JK!

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    • avatar

      painted_lady October 4, 2012, 11:43 am

      Also, you may lose your fiance if you say, “I don’t want this wedding. I want a different wedding.” That’s a chance you take. That’s the chance all of us take when we choose to love someone. No matter what you do, you can’t control whether or not your heart gets broken again, and that’s what you’re trying to do. However, in lying to your fiance – yes, that’s what you’re doing – and ensuring that your needs aren’t met, and allowing him to completely control this major thing, you are guaranteeing that this relationship will end in a lot of pain, one way or another.

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  • avatar

    Wendy (not Wendy) October 4, 2012, 12:54 pm

    I’m really kind of puzzled by this. Is being a “jilted bride” somehow worse than being left by your spouse? Because it seems to me like it’s much better to get dumped before the wedding than after… but something about the idea of being a “jilted bride” seems to have caught the fancy of the LW and respondents, more than if this letter had been from someone who had a failed first marriage. Sometimes “MOA” can be applied to old relationships, not just current relationships. I get that this is a really hard breakup, but I think most or all of us have had those. You might not know any other “jilted brides”, but think about all the friends you must have who have been through difficult breakups, and draw strength from knowing that they eventually moved on and you will, too.

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  • avatar

    MsMisery October 4, 2012, 1:23 pm

    Oh my gods. Your ex is a nutless dog, and if something bad happened to him, no one would fault you for feeling some amount of glee. That said, by just going along with whatever your current dude proposes re: wedding plans, you are doing exactly what your ex did to you. Speak your mind!! I am hoping he knows the exact details of your prior situation and not just “oh, my previous fiancee left me, and now I am seeing a shrink.” HE NEEDS TO KNOW EVERYTHING. He needs to know why you have a panic attack when he mentions making arrangements or asking you wedding stuff. If you need to sloooow down the planning to focus on your therapy (OR! bring him with!!) do it. If you need to elope or go to the court house, do it. Or if you just need to sit down and say “this stuff makes me literally crazy, we need to talk about it to make me feel better” do it.

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  • avatar

    Jubietta October 4, 2012, 1:23 pm

    It feels to me like the LW is dealing with the question, “Am I lovable?”

    The crappy part about that question is that even if every other person in your life takes time out of their day to say “I love you” and you know they mean it, that one person who said, “I don’t love you” sticks. It’s like, how can it be true, how can I be lovable, if one person can make it false. And, of course, who that one person is makes a huge difference. If that person is your parent or your sibling or your expected life-long mate that’s really crappy.

    I battle with this issue and I didn’t know it until someone with great vision said to me. “How can you possibly think yourself unlovable when you have someone in your life who says ‘I love you’ right back, every single time?”

    I think there’s an issue here about “what’s possible.” Before being jilted, it’s likely the LW’s view of life didn’t include the possibility that someone so close, so intimate, could say “I don’t love you” and leave. But once it happens, it’s always a part of what *could* happen and the pain associated with it isn’t theoretical anymore, it’s real. There’s a bliss in the ignorance of never having been left like that — you might consider that it could happen, but until it has happened it’s not really a *real* possibility. With me, it was my mom. My road away from that is to look back when I have to and focus on the positive relationships, all the people who never left even when times got tough, and start looking at how imbalanced the scales actually are…full of people who do love me.

    Good luck, LW, and I hope that communication and acceptance and happiness pave your road forward.

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    kf October 4, 2012, 1:26 pm

    I want to be with this man no matter what.

    An awful lot of shitty, shitty stories have included this sentence. Beware.

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    MissEngland123 October 4, 2012, 2:18 pm

    I was in a very similar situation to the LW only 4 months ago. I had been with my ex-fiance for 5 years, living together for one, and I had just moved to a new city for his career. He literally woke up one morning with a “feeling of dread” (his words) and two weeks later we called off the wedding and I moved out. He’s now in therapy and dealing with a score of issues. His parents had a colossal trainwreck of a marriage and divorce, and he’s dealing with years of suppressed feelings from that. I still can’t quite believe that happened.

    To say I was devastated would be an understatement. He was the one who had pushed marriage, moving in together, and I always thought we had a wonderful relationship. After we broke up, I really thought I was going to lose it. Your mind takes you some really dark places. Lucky for me, I had great support and have been moving on faster than I ever imagined. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I will face the same issues down the road that you are facing.

    As someone who has experienced part of what you have, I really appreciate Wendy’s answer. No relationship is without risk, no one is “safe”. But you can’t let someone else’s shitty decisions define your life. You are the only one in charge of your future happiness. And remember, not every man is as big of a wimp as your ex or mine!

    Best of luck to you!!!

    I’m posting this because I face the same struggles as you do.

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    MissEngland123 October 4, 2012, 2:47 pm

    Ignore that last sentence, I forgot to delete that when I started writing! Obviously that’s why I’m posting, lol.

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    laxhaxtax October 4, 2012, 8:21 pm

    My husband and I eloped and have been married long enough to have several grandchildren. I was in a few weddings and EVERY SINGLE BRIDE has no memory of the day. Too much stress. I don’t regret for a minute just taking two friends and getting married. I think most women fall for the bride magazines that push how beautiful it all will be. Not!!!! Go get married. But first, like Wendy, I think you need to come clean with your guy and tell him your fears. He would probably loooove eloping. I have never met a man who really wanted a big wedding. To them it is like having to sit thru watching ice skating when a football game is on.

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    GTR October 4, 2012, 10:01 pm

    I don’t have any advice – I think the very first comment from artsygirl is an excellent one – but I thought I might be able to suggest a reason why you’re feeling this way.

    I think one thing your ex may have done to you is to open your eyes to the falseness of a “wedding”. When you really think about it, the big white dress, the big white cars, an honour guard of friends in matching dresses… it’s all a bit silly and artificial. It’s been normalised all through society, but objectively it’s slightly ridiculous. Your delightful ex has forced you to see that: it’s hard to play at being princess for a day when you aren’t 100% certain that Prince Charming isn’t going to yank the rug out from under you.

    If you’re aware of this, it may help you to overcome your feelings of dread. I’d also like to think that it might encourage you to make your wedding more personal and less fairytale. Look at what makes the relationship between you and your fiance special and design something around that, rather than simply treating him as another prop in the modern bride’s cliched fantasy of white dresses and overblown flowers.

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    SallyS November 8, 2012, 10:52 pm

    Oh lordy, I have had three engagements fall apart and I have never once thought of myself as a “jilted bride!”

    But I do get the sense of having “been down this road before,” so to speak. You just have to have the honest conversations once or twice, and then decide to trust.

    And as many people have suggested, if wedding planning is too much, or if it feels like you’re tempting fate, then don’t plan a wedding! Just get married. Simple as that!

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