How To Properly End An Engagement

As many of you know, I was a fiancée who got dumped. On the 1-10 Suck Scale, it registered at around 27, due in no small part to the fact that I was caught by surprise, it was handled rather insensitively, and I wasn’t given the whole story — or a full explanation — right away. With that being said, people often dump their fiancés/fiancées for perfectly good reasons and just because they’re the ones doing the dumping, that doesn’t make them evil, horrible people who should be drawn and quartered. Let’s face it: how to properly end an engagement is not something we teach in school, unless you are getting private tutoring from Jennifer Love Hewitt (she’s been engaged, like, three times). Luckily I’ve learned a few things about it, after being on the short end of the stick. This should come in handy when I dump Sam Worthington for my true love, Ryan Gosling.1. Screw The Element Of Surprise: Dumping your fiancé should not be approached with the same stealth maneuvering as planning a birthday party. I’m not saying you should pick fights in the weeks before dumping someone — so that you can then say, “But we’ve been fighting so much lately!” — but you also shouldn’t work overtime pretending like it’s business as usual. Don’t offer any I love yous three hours before pulling the rug out from underneath the person — it’s just rude and confusing.

2. Don’t Have A Bag Packed: Packing your things before you’ve delivered the blow is callous. If your partner wants to scream at you and kick you out without even a change of underwear — that is their right. Don’t ruin that small pleasure for them.

3. Therapy Schmerapy: Are you really calling things off because you want to work on your issues and become a better person and thus a more worthy partner to someone? Great, awesome, send me a fax of your psychotherapy bill to prove it. Otherwise, don’t use mental health issues as an excuse to not admit to the truth — that you’re just not in love anymore. A heartbroken person will do anything they can to believe things might work out and your weakened mental state is oh-so sympathy-inducing. And you, dumper, do not deserve sympathy right now.

4. But Don’t Become Their Enemy Either: Too many dumpers try to make the breakup easier on the dumpee by being total a-holes, thinking that way the dumpee will fall out of love quicker. Unfortunately, love isn’t that logical. In the short term, anger only muffles sadness. It doesn’t quiet it entirely. Don’t go out of your way to be someone your ex shouldn’t love — all it does is make them wonder if they were crazy to love you to begin with.

5. Treasure The Tokens Of Your Relationship: One of the most hurtful things my ex did — and I don’t think he intended it, to be fair — was that he left various gifts that I had given him when he moved out. The plaid bathrobe (mine now!), a skateboard, that apron I got him to go along with cooking classes a couple years ago — I’m sure he was just in a hurry to move out before I got home from work, but leaving those gifts made me feel like they — and thus I — meant nothing to him. In short, be conscientious of how little mistakes can comes off as cold and heartless.

6. Get Real — The Person Is Going To Live Without You: Don’t think so highly of yourself and assume the dumpee’s recovery is going to be long, overwhelmingly difficult, and perhaps even impossible to bear. Getting dumped by someone you love sucks horribly, but people are resilient! Don’t use your “fear” that your ex won’t be able to “handle” all the info as an excuse to lie to them.

7. Speaking Of Which, Don’t Lie At All: At this point, things are over. Stop trying to save your own hide. The person you are breaking up with deserves to have all the information; they deserve the respect of having the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you truly want the person to heal and be happy, don’t deprive them of all the information they want in order to process and get through the grief process. I have no doubt that my “recovery” from my breakup was slowed down by various lies my ex told — and knowing he lied caused me to leap to other conclusions which were very difficult to deal with. Now that he has provided me with all the information I wanted months ago, my questions are answered, and I feel profoundly healed — and I have been able to forgive.

8. Space Issues: Get the hell out of the driver’s seat when it comes to how much you see each other, talk on the phone, email, etc., as you deal with the repercussions of the breakup. This can be easier said than done, because if you have any heart at all, you likely want to check in on the person you just dumped. Unless you just discovered your partner was a murderer, you probably still, you know, care about how they’re doing. Checking in from time to time via email is a kind, but still not presumptuous, way of letting the person know that you care. But if they indicate they don’t want to hear from you at all, respect that. Likewise, if they change their mind and flip-flop constantly about how much or how little they want to talk to or see you, try to be understanding, while at the same time not always being completely responsive — if things are truly over, you want to be kind, but not give your ex false hope.

9. About The Ring: Some will disagree with me on this, but here’s where I stand. If you’re a woman and doing the dumping, give the ring back. If you’re the man doing the dumping, don’t you dare ask for that ring back unless it’s a family heirloom or she’s done something to “deserve” or “cause” the breakup (i.e., cheat). If you’re the woman doing the dumping and the man being dumped insists that you keep the ring, fine — you can’t force him to take it. (But maybe you should do something good for the world with the money you make upon selling it.) If you’re the woman being dumped and you want to offer to give the ring back — as I did — go for it. It’s up to him if he wants to accept. In the end, it’s a piece of jewelry. What it represents holds so much more meaning than any amount of money.