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.
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