Ideally, getting engaged should feel like the epic start of a new life chapter with your partner. Unfortunately, relationships don't always work out, and the pain of dealing with a broken engagement can be overwhelming. Although it might be tough to imagine, there will likely come a time when you're ready to step back into the dating pool. If you're dating after a broken engagement, knowing when and how to broach the topic with a new flame can be an important part of opening up. According to Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, it's important to realize that a relationship that didn't work out isn't something you should beat yourself up about.
"Yes, a broken engagement can be embarrassing, but it's something that happens to a lot of people," Dr. Klapow tells Elite Daily. "Knowing that you had a life path that didn't work out and that you have to realign (for whatever reason) can be difficult to communicate to others." It's also be helpful to realize that listening to your gut is a vital part of staying true to yourself. It's admirable that you decided not to marry someone who wasn't right for you. Breaking off an engagement takes a lot of courage, and although opening up about major life events that didn't go the way you expected may be uncomfortable, the right person for you will support you no matter what. Here are some tips that can help you navigate this conversation.
Don't Pressure Yourself To Open Up Right Away
The first step to addressing your broken engagement with someone new is realizing you don't have to talk about anything before you're ready. "Rather than allowing the embarrassment to turn into a source of stress as you begin to date again, remind yourself that it is your information to share when you feel like it," says Dr. Klapow. "It’s absolutely paramount to remember that your engagement is your life, your business, and not necessarily something that you should be obligated to share."
Accept That It May Never Be An Easy Subject To Talk About
Anytime a meaningful and committed relationship ends, the residual feelings of loss and disappointment can linger for a long time. Even long after you've moved on, talking about an emotionally traumatic experience can be tough, and that's OK. "Your broken engagement may never be a comfortable subject, but if you feel like you can’t trust your date to honor, respect, and empathize with your experience, then it is either not the right time or they are not the right person."
Needless to say, if your date is pushing you for details you aren't ready to discuss, you don't have to succumb to the pressure. Anyone who truly respects you will have no problem tabling the conversation until you feel safe enough to let your guard down.
Wait For A Moment That Feels Right
When it comes to having difficult conversations, timing can set the stage for an open and honest dialogue. Rushing to spill the tea on the first date might not be as conducive to an empathetic convo as taking advantage of a vulnerable moment during date three or four, once you feel a bit more comfortable. "It will never be easy, but it should feel relatively safe to share the information when the time is right," explains Dr. Klapow.
Make Sure Your Date Is Someone You Trust
Once you've spent enough time with your date to establish they're someone you want to go deeper with, you should feel free to share as much or as little about your past relationship as you want. "If your new flame feels safe, supportive, and empathetic, then tell them the truth," says Dr. Klapow. "You don’t have to give them all the details. You frame it as something that happened, and you move on. If you feel you aren’t safe with them, only share as much as you feel safe with."
Remember, your story is yours alone. And while it's normal for a well-intentioned date to be eager to get to know you, your boundaries should always be acknowledged and respected. In the event that your date responds to your revelation with anything but empathy and support, rest assured they are not the right match for you. The right person will accept and appreciate every aspect of your journey.
Learning to persevere through life's messier moments will only improve your ability to cope with challenges in the future. And although it's totally normal to struggle with opening up about a life that didn't work out, you have full control over how, when, and with whom you talk about it.