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My Fiance Broke Up Our Engagement

You Asked: My Fiance Took Back the Ring

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. We got engaged six months ago and bought a house about seven months ago. There is an 11-year age difference between us (he is older). One major issue throughout our relationship has been that I'm not as outgoing and happy-go-lucky as he is. He has said that I don't seem to share the same zest for life and it frustrates him; I know I need to work on being more positive. I also do careless things, such as leaving wet laundry in the washer for days at a time, taking long showers that use all the hot water, and opening the truck door with the keys in my hand, nearly scratching the paint.

Recently, he told me flat out that he is unhappy and wants things to change drastically, and I agreed, even told him that I knew I needed to change some things about myself in order for this to work. Things got worse a few days ago when his son was here for the weekend. I went outside to have a cigarette, and his son almost caught me. His son doesn't know I smoke, and my fiance wants to keep it that way. My fiance was furious, and he took my engagement ring back and said it was over. He said that he just couldn't be with someone so inconsiderate. He feels he has outgrown me in a lot of ways.

Since then, he hasn't really talked to me. He is still living in the house, but it's just until he figures out what to do financially. He sees no future for us, and he has even said he doesn't love me anymore. However, he's also said things that give me hope, like "change these things for yourself, and maybe everything else will fall into place." He is still sleeping in the same bed as me, but there is zero intimacy. I don't know if he is sticking around to see if I change, or if he's really planning on leaving. Do you think there is a chance here? I have quit smoking (day four now), and I've been trying to be much more considerate.

— Trying to Change Chelsea

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Trying to Change Chelsea,

After five years together, an engagement, and a new home, I'm sure it's confusing to have your fiance separate from you. I wish I could tell you for certain if he is willing to wait for you to change, but I can't. He is being honest about one thing, and that's that you need to your change for yourself, not him. While I do believe that people can change, I also believe that change can only come from within; it's not something someone else can impose on you. It's easy to start taking shorter showers, but it takes serious determination to start looking at life with a more positive outlook.

That said, your not being more on top of things isn't really the problem here; it's a symptom of a bigger problem. Being at different places in life is one of the biggest challenges couples can face, especially if there is a significant age difference. In this case, it comes down to time more so than change, but if he's taken back your ring and has told you that he doesn't love you anymore, he may not be willing to wait.

As hard as it is, I think you should take your focus away from what he's feeling and direct it at what you want to do for yourself. If you really do want to become a more optimistic person for you, then work on it everyday. If things work out with your fiance, well, that's an added bonus, but if they don't, it'll still be okay — you'll continue to grow and change at your own pace, which is most important. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
MissChita MissChita 9 years
And another thing... HE took the ring back. You didnt give it back. So that should be a big enough sign for you to see that he no longer wants you. And it sounds like that you are so busy trying to change for him. Some people may feel that he is indeed being a a-hole(and to a degree he is) but at least he didnt keep going there with you. So accept it and move on. You should always want to be a better person to please God and yourself, but not for anyone else. You should have someone in your life who loves you and likes you for you.
MissChita MissChita 9 years
Hello, He is being quite honest with you. That's good. But it sounds like he loves you but he simply doesnt like the person who he is with. You may be a careless person or whatever, and that's what he doesnt like. You guys were to get married, and you are a smoker, but he doesnt want his son to know. How long does he think that is going to last? Unless you stop smoking. And that is something you are going to have to want to do for yourself. Not for him. So yes, he may very well still love you, but he has fallen out of love with you. He doesnt like the person who he is with. And as much as they may hurt, you may just need to move on, and get some happiness in your own life, and let him find someone who is compatible with him.
sandif sandif 9 years
It just sounds like you are no longer compatible. And as sad as that is, it is better to figure out before the marriage. People do change the way they feel. You can not completely change the way you are. You're making yourself out to be some terrible person. I don't like to be around people who smoke, but you were courteous about it and went outside. If he got that upset about his kid finding you smoking, there's either something else bothering him about you, (which obviously there is) or he's a little over the top about this smoking thing. Doesn't he do things that bother you? Sadly, I think it's time to move on.
bellaaussie bellaaussie 9 years
I know this post is really old, but I stumbled upon it and felt the need to respond. I think his choice to remain in the home (and bed!) while making comments suggestive a future is manipulative, dishonest, and damaging. I advise that for her sake, the poster separate households immediately. I am in the camp that he is making too big a deal of her habits. While annoying, these things are not what kills a relationship. Rather, it is the way that people view love and how they communicate. I suggest that the poster read two books. The first is "All About Love" by bell hooks. I believe this book is a must-read for everyone. It is a wonderful exploration of love, and it changed my view of love and thus my life. The second is "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail" by John Gottman. He is a world-renowned researcher of marriage stability and divorce, and the statistics that back up his findings are astonishing. This book will help the poster recognize multiple communication patterns that help relationships as well as communication patterns that break down relationships. And it's not along the lines of "the two parties must sit down and speak softly and respectfully about their feelings to come to a compromise." It identifies multiple communication styles that lead to successful marriages.
LexinesRibbon LexinesRibbon 9 years
The eleven year age difference can have a lot to do with it too.
sunshowers83 sunshowers83 9 years
I agree with popgoestheworld. You're not right for each other. You sound a tad immature - living with your significant other means that there will be spats over things that seem silly and petty, like annoying habits, or whose turn it is to bleach the toilet bowl, etc. Part of successfully cohabiting IS changing in order to adapt to each other's living habits - ESPECIALLY IF THERE IS A CHILD INVOLVED. If you're not ready to accept these changes, then you're not ready to live with someone. For example, my boyfriend is very neat and tidy. He hates it when I leave piles of clothes all over the floor. Some of you would say, "Why should you have to change?" Well, why should he have to live in my mess? I know he loves ME, but that doesn't mean he has to love my mess! Being messy is a bad habit, and it's one that I know I *should* be breaking anyway. It makes sense that I should break my BAD habit, rather than forcing him to put up with it. Being like, "Screw you, I can't be bothered to pick up after myself and be respectful of our home and property," would be tremendously selfish. As for the laundry thing, you probably toss in a load and forget about it, and since he doesn't know it's in there, by the time he finds it it's all smelly and moldy, right? What's he supposed to do, obsessively check it every day? Follow you around, picking up after you like you're a child? No, so grow up and start acting like an adult member of the household! It sounds to me like he didn't realize how immature you were until you moved in with him, and it's gotten so bad that he's rethinking his entire future with you. Like popgoestheworld said, this isn't a rare cause of broken marriages - some people just weren't meant to live together. You've had ample time to adapt to cohabiting, but you remained stubbornly set in your sloppy and slovenly ways. So unless you're willing to prove that you ARE someone he wants to share a home with, you've lost him. Too bad.
Jennifer777 Jennifer777 9 years
This guy sounds a lot like my first husband, and please note that I say first husband. Please do not kid yourself on the effects of emotional abuse. My ex was constantly saying we would have a perfect relationship if only I would change this or that about myself. To this day I am amazed at just how much I tried to change myself just for him, all under the guise that these changes would make me a better person or that they weren't for him but for myself. He was the one that dumped me and truth be told I fell apart, thank goodness my family was there to remind me who I really was, I could only change so much and it just wasn't enough for him. My hubby now loves me and while I do things that drive him nuts he has never asked me to change. I leave laundry in the washer for days on end, forget to start the dishwasher 90% of the time, and constantly forget to do stuff that I had said I would do...I have severe ADD and am unmedicated. He knows that it is all part of the overall package. You deserve someone who loves you for matter what your issues are. I encourage you to quit smoking but only because that is something for your own health...when you leave laundry in the washer you hurt no one. Good luck!
kiwishe kiwishe 9 years
He basically wants you to change and be someone you're not. You'll never be that person he wants you to be. He's used to you as you are. You'll never change in his eyes. You need to embrace the break up and find someone who will love and respect you the way you are.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
I take long showers and leave wet laundry in the machine, and I'm sometimes too careless with technical gadgets, and I'm messy and I should be more social. But it doesn't make me any less of a great girlfriend! I try off-course, to get better, because I want to improve in any part of my life, but it wouldn't help me much to be with a guy who doesn't love me for who I am. Seems to me that you don't know what is good about yourself anymore, and maybe it's been like this for a long time too. Retrace your steps and try to find space to change. He has left you a long time ago, even if he is physically still there. So, what do you want to do with the rest of your life? Who would you like to talk to, where do you want to go? What do others like about you? I think it will be easier to grow into something better if you're not in this emotional stranglehold. The things we say to each-other at the end of a relationship are usually very harsh, and not always true, so don't think that his version of you and your break up is what you are about. You have a million opportunities to get a better life, after this. Good luck!
ksw4543 ksw4543 9 years
This guy is emotionally abusing you. I'd leave him ASAP. You're much better without him.
looseseal looseseal 9 years
Yes, couples bicker over stupid little things. Yes, it's not wrong to acknowledge that some stuff people do are annoying and should stop. But those of you who thinks this justifies the finance's behavior... you get to give as good as you get with your SO, don't you? He tells you when you do stuff that annoys him. You tell him when he does stuff that annoys you. Two way street. Equal footing. That's what makes it okay. You might tell your SO his behavior is annoying you, but you don't CONSTANTLY make him feel like he's a bad and unworthy person over every little thing, do you? And vice versa. With the OP and her finance, the finance is the authority and the OP is the lowly minion. That is not okay. Demanding that someone change personality traits like introversion, and getting REALLY pissed over every little thing to the point that the OP seems to be AFRAID of him? That's not normal. And brown_eyed_grrl brings up a good point. A lot of the stuff the finance gets super pissed about are things that she ALMOST does. This guy is some piece of work. And yes, if a woman is doing what this guy does, I'll tell her to get a grip, too. Chelsea, protect your right to what's yours. Don't confront him alone on this stuff, though. Get a lawyer so you're better informed on what your legal options are. You are part owner of the house, but it may be a good idea to leave due to the possibility of the fiance upping the ante from emotional to physical abuse. Find out from a lawyer what you can do to make sure you get your fair share of the house. Whether the ring is yours depend on the laws in your state. Be safe and good luck.
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
Oh BABY! you can find plenty of nice guys who don't mind that you smoke, or leave the laundry in the washer . . . as i was reading your story, i was thinking, "he doesn't love her at all". isn't their some technicality if HE breaks it off, YOU keep the ring ( i was just thinking . . .i mean, you're gonna need the money soon. let's keep it real). his d*mn kid?!? LMAO he's probably jerking his lil' chicken, but he's not suppose to know you smoke?!?!? he's just trying to find a reason to upgrade/trade you in sweetie. you need to face that you just waste 5 years of your life. now, ordinarilly, i say get the bat when this amount of time is wasted. but it's only Thursday . . . you sound like you're depressed (maybe from being controlled by your ex). get you financial situation together. move on. see a therapist about how you feel (i'm sure this is hard for you). but DO NOT try to work it out with him. he's like baby oil in your hair . . .no one needs oily hair sweetie. wash it out!
silly_pickle silly_pickle 9 years
OK, I'm sorry but YOU leave the laundry in the washer for 4 days? ARE HIS ARMS BROKEN? Nothing is stopping him from throwing the laundry in the dryer. Hot showers that go too long, we're all guilty of that. Yeah, you could shorten them, he could get a shower first, or he could wait 10 mins for there to be more hot water, that is not a big deal - very easy to solve. Sounds like he is trying to control you like he probably does with his child. You are not a bad person, we all have our flaws, you shouldn't be apologizing for silly things like opening the car door with your keys in your hand, such trivial things are not worth arguing over. I wouldn't leave the house though, sounds like you bought it together, separate rooms would be best, it's still your house too. It seems like you are making all the changes to suit him, I'm sure there are things about him you would like to change. Relationships are about give and take, sounds like everything has to be done to please him and your feelings don't matter. If things work out and you are happy - great, I hope this happens. If they don't, remember that there are tons of guys out there who don't sweat the small stuff and would make better husbands than him.
emalove emalove 9 years
I think it's over...he seems pretty sure that the two of you aren't right for each other anymore and he has been honest about this with you.
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 9 years
I would. If a woman was complaining about laundry and ALMOST doing such horrible things, I'd tell her to get a grip.
ninjastarlett ninjastarlett 9 years
Popgoestheworld brings up a good point... would we be giving the same advice if the situation was the same with the roles reversed?
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 9 years
BTW, I'd leave if I were you. Living in the same house, sleeping in the same bed...that's only a recipe for more heartache and confusion. See if you can stay with a friend or with family and sort things out for yourself. I know it's hard, but you need time, away from him, to think.
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 9 years
I felt bad for the original poster when I read this. Her ex-fiance has NO flaws? Must be great to be perfect. And as for people who said they'd "be out" if they had to deal with this woman's flaws...WTF? My fiance can leave clothes in the washer, he can rear-end my truck, he HAS used up the hot water before, but you know what? All of that is trivial. I love him, and I take him, faults and all. This woman isn't TRYING to be irresponsible (and by the way, if LAUNDRY is your biggest issue, you aren't THAT irresponsible). She isn't purposefully using all of the hot water. And he gets mad at her for things that ALMOST happen? WTF? Who can live with that crap? And as for smoking--yeah, it's a bad habit, and she was trying to conceal it. And again, he ALMOST caught her. But didn't. It's not like she handed him a gun to play with. I'm not a smoker, but I know it's really, really hard to quit, and it sounds like she's trying. I think she should move on and find someone who loves her and is willing to forgive her flaws. And by the way, he doesn't sound so happy-go-lucky to me.
vanyvrgs vanyvrgs 9 years
many typos, sorry... btw, I agree with Jack D, why is it her responsibility (the laundry -- move it if you see it)? If for some reason she takes long showers and depletes the hot watter, why doesn't he just wake up earlier to shower before her? Looks like someone who wants things done his way or the highway. There is no compromise here just an ultimatum to change or else and the only person she needs to change for is herself (and if you feel depressed and now feel unhappy do so but make sure the therapist is aware of the ways of your ex-fiance). This guy is trouble. And I am sorry but screaming at someone because she almost scratched a car when she did not scratch the car and making that person feel she is inconsiderate of his feelings because she was carrying the keys in the same hand is controlling.
vanyvrgs vanyvrgs 9 years
I believe you are depressed with that said your fiance is not helping. The things he argues about are little things and for those who do not notice how this can lead to abuse and it is controlling I do not know what to say. Almost scratching the car? Taking long showers? Is this a new problem of has it always been like this? I would try to work on yourself and be happy he is gone cause he is not that understanding. Sometimes people want to change others - looks to me he is no longer in love and is trying to find a way out and because you are somewhat depressed and blame yourself for these things he has hatched the perfect plan. Good luck with your self-improvement and let him go.
moddivorce moddivorce 9 years
Sometimes decisions that are made for us are the best decisions. You're man sounds like an inflexible, judgmental a**hole. Leaving laundry in the washer isn't a crime!!! Jeeezzz - it's a sign of a busy gal with other things on her mind - big deal! I say no love lost. You deserve better. Someone who loves your quirkiness and laughs with you about it!
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I have to admit, some of the things you mentioned do seem annoying and its not hard to change those things. There must be something else going on, because how can he just stop loving you from one day to another after being together for 5 years and buying a house together? Focus on your positive attributes, it just seems like you are putting yourself down. He is missing out on those, and it is HIS loss.
Jack-D Jack-D 9 years
I agree with everyone who thinks this guy is a control freak and verbally abusive. If you leave the laundry in the washer, why doesn't he put it in the dryer?? Why can't he help you?? I know that I get tired of being the one to clean the house, so my bf and I came up with a weekly schedule, and if something doesn't get done by the following Sunday, then we can complain about it. He seems like a jerk. Kick him out and say good riddance!!!
PattyLauren PattyLauren 9 years
Wow... it seems to me like you are raking yourself over the coals to please this guy. If you really love someone, you love everything about them. Surely you smoked, left laundry in the washer, and opened the car door with keys in your hand five years ago. Why is he just now picking on it? It seems like you all have very different ideas about some things. I say spare yourself a LIFETIME of being griped out for little things you do he doesn't like and get out and stop whining over this guy. And, keep up on the no smoking... Good for you! Even if you change all of the things he wants you to change, there will be a whole new laundry list of complaints.
DCRoamer DCRoamer 9 years
I too agree with Meike. I would not call this guy emotionally abusive at all. It would drive a lot of people crazy to have their clothes molding in the machine for a few days. Maybe her bf is more "controlling" than she is because he prefers that his clothes aren't left to rot. There are a lot of people who may not be bothered by this behavior, but these people are also probably similarly laid back as the poster. No offense to the original poster, but this behavior would drive me nuts too, and I would probably want out as well. It sounds like this guy wants to be with someone who is more respectful of him and his possessions than she is. There is nothing wrong with that. However, I disagree with the posters who said that smoking sets a bad example for the kids. Not necessarily! I know plenty of people whose parents smoked in front of them (including me) who absolutely grew to HATE the habit because of the smell, the ashes, etc. Give the girl a break about that - no one wants to be addicted to cigarettes, but if the kid accidentally sees her smoking, it doesn't mean that he is going to think its cool and want to light up.
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