So, Why Did You Break off Your Engaygement?

When Autostraddle decided to spend Valentine’s Week talking about all things queer divorce, one of the first questions that had to be answered was, what makes a “divorce” separate from a “break up”? On one level it’s straight forward, in that divorces typically involve a legal separation of partnership, but also there are plenty of queer long term relationships that are marriages and never involved the state! We decided that we’d know a divorce from a run-of-the-mill break up when we saw it, but also that we wanted to make one exception: we absolutely wanted to talk about broken engagements.

Engagements are such a public declaration of love. A promise of eternity and commitment, not only to your partner, but to the other people in your shared lives. And yet those promises sometimes fall apart! And friends I am here to tell you, that is A-OK. It’s ok to find out now what could be an even more costly mistake to find out later, it’s ok to trust your gut, it’s ok to look for freedom in places that are perhaps unexpected and free yourself from something that does not feel good or right to you anymore. It’s especially ok if that thing never felt good or right to begin with at all!

And so, without any further adieu, here are some very real life broken engagements.

39 Queer People on Why They Broke off Their Engagements

1. My ex was using my nudes to catfish girls on bumble!
2. They told me they slept with a man to see if they had real feelings for me.
3. My ex fiancé slept with her best friend (who was going to be the best man at our wedding).
4. They got cold feet/anxiety and thought an open relationship would fix it. Spoiler: it didn’t 😂
5. She wasn’t the one for me!
6. When they left to visit family, I felt relief for the first time in five years.
7. I realized I didn’t want kids.
8. She used the fact I’m trans as an excuse to not come out to her family.
9. We were both poly but once I started having another partner it became an issue 🙃
10. We had an open relationship & I met my soulmate in someone else.
11. It was a public proposal to force me to say yes.
12. I wasn’t supported thru my grieving period when I lost my grandma.
13. We’d become roommates. Nothing romantic ever. Cancelled wedding two weeks before the date.
14. It was a parent/child dynamic.
15. I really didn’t like who I’d become.
16. I no longer shined.
17. My ex did me a favor and broke ours. She couldn’t prioritize me and I needed more than she could give me. I’m thankful that now I don’t need to settle.
18. Fell in love with my best friend and now we’ve been married for five years!!
19. I discovered the week before the wedding she just cheated on me with another woman…❤️‍🩹
20. Found out they were a pathological liar.
21. She slept with someone else, and lied about it.
22. She lied to me for over a decade!!!
23. Cheating and lying!!!
24. Discovered she was cheating on me after lying about it for weeks. I’m now ecstatically married.
25. Their mom’s side of the family was passively racist. They would never call them out for it.
26. It had been over for a long time, too settled to admit it. Then I traveled alone and realized I wanted more.
27. They decided to try and fuck their boss at the local library. I left and their boss rejected them.
28. She proposed six months in. I got cold feet two months later and asked if we could slow down. She gave me an ultimatum: continue with our original timeline, or break off the engagement. I chose my gut.
29. I went to work. He moved out with no warning.
30. We broke of our engagement because I realized I was gay. Then we got re-engaged when my partner came out as trans!
31. She needed to try polyamory, and I didn’t want that kind of relationship.
32. He faked a terminal illness.
33. She developed feelings for her friend.
34. She lied about being out to her parents, planned to move to another country with me, only to let me go alone.
35. He had a wife and son that I found out about four months into our engagement.
36. They couldn’t accept my full queer identity when I came out as myself and was upset when I started binding.
37. I became more afraid of not knowing myself than of calling off the wedding.
38. (I haven’t broken a queer engagement but I have broken 2 straight ones)
39. I ended mine because I met my wife.

Divorce Week is a celebration of taking a life-changing step, of coming out the other side of devastating trauma and being all the better for it. It’s co-edited and curated by Nico Hall and Carmen Phillips. Remember, you may be divorced, but you’re not alone.

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen Phillips is Autostraddle's former editor in chief. She began at Autostraddle in 2017 as a freelance team writer and worked her way up through the company, eventually becoming the EIC from 2021-2024. A Black Puerto Rican feminist writer with a PhD in American Studies from New York University, Carmen specializes in writing about Blackness, race, queerness, politics, culture, and the many ways we find community and connection with each other.  During her time at Autostraddle, Carmen focused on pop culture, TV and film reviews, criticism, interviews, and news analysis. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. And there were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. To reach out, you can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram, or her website.

Carmen has written 716 articles for us.


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