9 Life-Altering Lessons Calling Off A Wedding Taught Me About Love


sad bride calling off a wedding Mikhailova / shutterstock

At one point in my life, I was knee-deep in planning my wedding to a man I knew well and considered to be my best friend. We had dated for three years and it seemed like getting married was the next logical step.

The whole thing came crashing down during the week of Valentine’s Day (Oh, the irony!). We kicked off the week by having some blow-out fights that centered around … I’m not sure what.


I remember that when it all blew up and we finally ended up calling off the wedding, I was completely devastated. Like, sobbing and sliding down the shower wall, night after night for months, devastated.

We tried to get back together more times than I can count but the attempts always ended in tears for one or both of us. 

Here are nine life-altering lessons calling off a wedding taught me about love: 

RELATED: Why I Called Off My Wedding — Even Though Everything Was Paid For

For years afterward, I felt like damaged goods. I thought that I had screwed up my one chance at true love. Luckily I was wrong and learned some crucial lessons I want to share with you today.


1. You can't fix incompatibility, no matter how hard you want to.

The truth is that my ex-fiance was (and still is) a kind, intelligent guy — he was just not for me. Somewhere deep down, I knew it, but I think we both strived to make it work despite the fact that we wanted different things. He wanted to settle down, but I wanted to travel the world. 

Persistence and compromise can be great, but only when you’re fighting for a relationship that is right for you.

Make sure that you agree on the big things, like how you want your life to look. Compromise on the small things but not the big ones.

2. The make-up, break-up cycle is soul-destroyingly painful.

After the initial break in our relationship, for three years we tried to get back together and repair things more times than I can count. One of us would sense that the other person was almost ready to move on and then call to try desperately to get the other person back.


This went on until he got another woman pregnant and we both finally stopped the vicious cycle we had found ourselves in.

I shudder at the sheer amount of time we both wasted trying to patch up a relationship that just wasn’t meant to be.

3. You should always honor your gut feelings.

On paper, a relationship might look and feel great, but if you feel like it’s wrong, it’s wrong.  

I let the hope that it was right (or that it would magically transform into something right) overshadow the fact that I knew deep down that getting married was a mistake. I wasn’t ready and I was scared to lose him. I wasn’t sure what my life would look like without him and I didn’t want to admit that I had failed or faced being single.


4. If you're making excuses, it's not the right relationship.

Two years before he proposed, I kept telling him (and myself) that I wasn’t ready for a commitment until I finished more school. I went so far as to sign up for a specialized trade school after finishing undergrad to avoid getting engaged. At the time, I thought it was about education, but now I see it for what it was: elaborate stalling.

If you find yourself making excuses for why you can’t take a relationship further, examine the real reasons behind them.

RELATED: I Couldn't Stop Thinking About Another Man On My Wedding Day

5. Don’t get caught up in society’s white picket fence unless that’s what you want.

I naively thought that getting married and settling down was just what people did after graduating college. I wasn’t ready, but I truly felt like “this is what people do” as I watched my friends all get married and start having babies one by one.


Since I was in love, I never questioned the monkey-see, monkey-do idea that I would get married, too.

6. The hurt you feel by leaving someone wrong for you doesn’t hold a candle to the hurt you’ll feel if you stay.

I knew the relationship wasn’t the right one for me, but I stayed on for way longer than I should have because I knew that ending it would cause a great deal of pain for both of us. I bought into my own horrible idea that I couldn't find a better fit. I egotistically fantasized that he would be crushed and I would be the cause of that pain.

The truth is that I wasn’t doing either of us any favors. We were both adults and the adult thing to do is to call time when you realize it isn’t going to work out.

RELATED: 'I Canceled My Wedding After Seeing A Video From My Fiancé’s Bachelor Party' — Bride Betrayed Days Before Wedding


7. Comfortable doesn’t mean right.

One main reason why I kept circling around to revisit that relationship was that it felt safe. I hadn’t ever felt that way with anyone else and it was almost like a drug.

Since I hadn’t gotten over him or stopped fantasizing about it somehow working out between us, the comfort of being around him overrode my desire to detach and look for the right person.

8. Sexual chemistry really does matter.

If you’re going to marry someone, you’d better make sure that you both have incredible chemistry in the bedroom. 


Sure, bedroom problems can be worked through, but if you’re both healthy and feel like you’d rather read the dictionary than get busy, the relationship might be wrong for you.

9. Unless you’re dead, your chance at finding love is not over.

All of this drama taught me that I had some silly, melodramatic ideas about how love and relationships worked. I think back to my heartbroken, shower-floor-crying self and wish I could tell her that it would all work out for the best in the long run.

I didn’t have enough faith in love or myself to realize that what I really needed to do was get up, move on, and try again — tear-stained, but wiser.

RELATED: Real Runaway Bride: Why I Canceled My Wedding At The Last Second


Elizabeth Stone is an author and relationship coach. Get a free copy of her e-book, Why Men Lose Interest.