What do you say when your friend calls off her wedding? #Relationships#advice#breakups#friendships January 9 2014 | Offbeat Editors offbeatbride Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter. By: Sebastian Riehm – CC BY 2.0 A dear friend of mine was all set to get married after getting engaged earlier this year, but recently ended the relationship and called off the wedding after finding out her fiancé was a TOTAL piece of shit. She, as expected, is totally crushed and packed up all of her things (from the house they JUST bought together) and headed back home to her parents' 1000 miles away. I reached out to let her know I was there for her, and to let me know if I could do anything for her (we live in different states and don't see each other often). But I just don't know what to say to comfort her. My heart breaks for her, but everyone has already MAXED out the clichés on her via social media. I'd like to mail her something but I'm really not sure what to do. Has anyone else experienced this? I'd love your insight on how I can help her out during this extremely trying time. -Jessalyn Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo PREVIOUS Why I’m never taking my dogs to the vet again NEXT From sci-fi and Russian horror, to Sherlock Holmes fan fic and tear-jerkers: a lady writer reading list Show/Hide comments [ 54 ] The only thing I can think of is to take her out for a victory celebration for escaping that piece of shit before she married. She probably feels super guilty because of how much an investment was wasted (house, other people's plans to make the wedding, I dunno…depends on how far in advance she broke it off)–she probably needs a whole new perspective. Remind her about how much better off she is now, and how smart she is for ditching the bastard–maybe an impromptu visit for a girls night/weekend is in order? I dunno–but I hope you guys figure it out. I'm sure she'll just be glad you wanna do more than toss words at her, y'know? Cheers to her, and to you! 53 agree Reply I haven't been in this situation, but if I was her, I would probably be doubting my ability to make good choices. Even though she knows she made the right call leaving him (I assume), she's still probably wondering if it was the right choice because second-guessing ourselves is normal. She's probably wondering what's wrong with her that she picked such a bad guy in the first place. She's probably embarrassed by the whole situation. If you want to send her something, you might want to think about sending her a reminder that she's A) doing the right thing and B) capable of making good choices. Do you have letters/emails from her that you can put together like a diary to show her good choices? Pictures? Good mutual friends you can reach out to for help without embarrassing her further? A little scrapbook of reminders that she's a smart, capable person who is very loved by her friends might be a really nice gift. 46 agree Reply I agree, and want to add that she will probably also be experiencing a lot of doubt that she will ever find anyone to marry. I had a friend in a similar situation (who ended up going through an awful divorce) and that was what plagued her the most, the thought that she might be "damaged goods." Your friend might be having similar feelings, so you may want to give it a spin of "You had the self-respect to call it off, you proved how strong you are, the right guy will love and respect those qualities in you." 19 agree Reply Oh my god, this. I had to call off my wedding when the abuse between my ex and I had gotten to a fever pitch, and it broke my brain. I still kind of feel like I'll never get engaged and have it mean anything. What helped me somewhat was having time away with a friend I could trust- I had a bachelorette party on the day that would've been the wedding to celebrate being a bachelorette. That allowed me to claim the day and make some good memories. 23 agree Reply I was the damaged goods, calling off a wedding (granted a year+ in advance and few people had been told yet) because of a physically abusive boyfriend. The biggest comfort I have about that is that I made the best choice I could with the information I had at the time. I (and she, and you) did NOT agree to marry an asshole, we agreed to marry the person we thought we knew. New information means making new choices, and sometimes those new choices may be to retract or counteract choices we make before. AND THAT'S OK! It doesn't mean the first one was a wrong choice then, it just means that sticking to it is the wrong choice now. It's 5 years later, and I just got engaged this weekend to the guy I've been seeing for 4 years. It does happen. I'm glad that it took a while, because I wasn't sure I was ready to seriously date again by the time we fell into each other's laps. We've been through hell together and come out the other side, and it gives me a LOT more confidence that I've made the right choice. 15 agree Reply Most importantly, let her know how PROUD you are of her for making the right decision. Affirm her intuition and courage. Praise her strength. Then let her know that you are happy to provide a listening ear as she vents/cries AND also happy to not talk about the situation at all if she needs a break. Promise that you will not pressure or judge her either way. Send her something non-wedding-or-breakup-related that she would like, like a cupcake recipe or video of puppies playing. 71 agree Reply This. so this. While I haven't been in this shitty situation. I have been in another shitty one. Most of my friends and family would give me the pitty eyes ("I'm so sorry") or meaningless cliches ("you'll get through this"). They ussually just made me feel worse or like I had to put on a front for people. My favorite things came from my 2 college friends living in different states. One friend would send me daily random ass text messages. Its pretty hard to wallow in self pity when you get a text message picture of a tiny pig wearing boots. She did this every day I was in the hospital. My other friend sent me an amazing care package: vegan cupcakes (because hospital food sucks), a mix cd (A MIX CD!) called Dance Your Ass Off, Mad Libs, and an adult coloring book with colored pencils. All things that put a smile on my face and all things that let me know friends fare away were on my side. And no pity eyes. 20 agree Reply It might just be me, but when something painful happens I feel like it can create an emotional distance. Not just from the folks or situations that hurt you, but from the people supporting you, too. Maybe it becomes so great that everyday life starts to feel distant. If she's not reaching back out to you or giving you guidance on how to help her, she might be trying to disconnect for a bit. Some people like being cheered on or hearing advice about the painful event. But, it sounds like she's getting a lot of that (at least, publicly). So maybe you could just focus on your friendship? I personally like to bring up, and hear about, the happy memories friends and I shared. It helps to be reminded that someone loves you and loves being with you. Pictures, songs, food that were involved in those past events could be offered in addition to kind words. They might help trigger nostalgia and happier feelings. 13 agree Reply This isn't exactly the same, but a few years ago I got dumped by someone whom I should never have gone out with in the first place (manchild who didn't appreciate me), and I was in a very bad place. I hated myself for dating him (I even kept the relationship a secret from my best friend because she hated him), and I hated myself even more for not breaking up with him when I realized he was cheating on me. My best friend (who lived on the opposite side of the country) and my boss (I think they secretly contacted one another on facebook) worked together and gave me a really sweet little gift box. Comfort foods I liked, like wine and cheese and dark chocolate, and best of all, a little book with a list of reasons why each of them love me. It was incredibly reassuring to be reminded of how much I meant to them. It was loving and non-judgmental and it really gave me the kick I needed to move forward. 39 agree Reply As someone who recently ended a (non-romantic) long-term relationship, the people who stand out the most to me who emailed me regularly asking me for updates on my life – not those who asked if I was okay or offered me advice. I wasn't, and am still not okay. She (probably) isn't okay, regardless of who ended what. Ending relationships that you think will last the rest of your life is eat-a-carton-of-ice-cream, lay-in-bed-for-a-week devastating. Call, ask about her day, and laugh about stupid stuff. Do stuff that will reassure her that you still love her. I advise against bashing the ex unless she initiates that line of thinking. Sometimes people don't want to villain-ize the other side, they just want to stop feeling like a failure or feel something other than sadness at the situation. 29 agree Reply Same for me. I was so tired of repeating The Story or lying about how I was feeling because I was so done with talking about all the negative emotions. It seemed to come out of left field to everyone (and it was even a fast turnaround to me), so understandably, they all wanted me to rehash every detail. And processing my emotions–honestly, there wasn't much to talk through that I hadn't spent hours silently analyzing in bed while I was desperately trying to sleep. I just needed to step outside the black hole of bad feelings for a while. On top of that, anytime I tried to talk to someone about the Really Big Changes in my life–which I was excited about, and eager to talk about–it seemed to make people uncomfortable, like they thought I should grieve to them instead of trying to be happy. Obviously, everyone is different and maybe she just wants to wallow in her misery for a while. But for me, it helped to have stuff to occupy my thoughts–and to hang out with friends. Just 'cause you're long distance, that doesn't mean you can't hang. If she's a reader, start a you guys only book club. If she likes movies, live Tweet movies together on Thursday nights or something. Skype together while you cook the same meal. 18 agree Reply I tried to "this!" this, but "this!" seems to not be working for me right now, so I wanted to say that I very much agree with everything you said. And I'd like to add for the OP…right now I'm guessing that your friend feels very much the opposite of "normal". She's endured emotional and physical upheaval. All of the things that Kat and Dootsie have said ring very true as far as how she might be feeling/what she might want. When I went through Sad Drama of my own, I felt very alienated by people's responses to me. Sometimes, when a marriage or a close relationship ends, people tend to either smother you with pity that just makes it worse…or avoid you altogether because either they don't know how to deal with you, or they seem to not want to deal with their own feelings about the ending of your relationship. (You'd be surprised how emotionally invested friends can get in the idea of your relationship, especially if it was outwardly "happy".) It is very nice and very important to just have at least one friend who just wants to be with you and do fun stuff and not pressure you to talk about your feelings. It gives a great sense of "normalcy" in the middle of unsettling times. I also agree to avoid trashing the ex. If she initiates it, listen and let her get it out…but don't initiate it yourself or escalate it. Friends may think that they're being helpful with "I never liked that douchebag anyway!" but really, it just makes you question your own decision making abilities more (if he was so shitty that my friends hated him, how could I have not seen it earlier?) or feel like you're surrounded by people who don't trust you enough to have told you how they really felt about someone who they seem to have felt was not good for you. 4 agree Reply I think the thoughts and ideas in the previous comments are great. Affirming her decision, victory celebration, understanding the possible need to disconnect for a while.. all of it. I'd like to add to the gift box idea – a care package with the kind of stuff Haley mentioned, and maybe also a really good book or movie or video game (ideally something engaging and lengthy enough to get some good distraction out of, but not tragic or lovey), a fun bath item if she likes baths (bathbombs and amusing bath salts come to mind) or whatever is relevant to her tastes. Another thing that I think can be very important at a time like this, is really following your friend's lead on how to talk about her ex-fiance. When a certain relationship ended for me years ago, my friends and loved ones expected me to be angry and said aggressive things about my ex (like calling him a piece of shit), but the thing was… I was just very very sad. For a very long time. When people bashed him, it just hurt. I completely understood that it was from a place of love for me and hurt on my behalf, but it made me so sad. So I guess my advice would be… if you say something nasty about him, and she is right on board with that, awesome. I totally get that that can be important, cathartic, necessary. But if she says "he's not a piece of shit" …I would say "well maybe not, but he sure did a shitty thing" as opposed to "fuck that yes he is." 30 agree Reply Great advice in the last paraghraph! If other people, however well they mean it, start calling the fiance an assh*le your friend might feel like everyone disliked him all along and didn't mention it to her, adding to the feeling of failure your friend may already be experiencing. After all, your friend DID love her partner for a while, maybe she still does. My advice: don't forget to do follow-ups. Call/e-mail her again in a month, two monts etc. Most people going trough an emotional process expecience that, after the initial show of support, other peoples' lifes go on and they, unintentionally, forget. 28 agree Reply Big agrees on the following up part. When my wedding was cancelled, everyone called and showed lots of support. Now it's six months later, and I know I can't be the center of attention forever (and I surely wouldn't want to be), but it seems like it hasn't occurred to anyone that I might still need some support. 13 agree Reply I agree with the last paragraph. I ended my engagement because my ex-fiance did some EXTREMELY SHITTY things. Everyone close to me was very enthusiastic about bashing the crap out of him (and still are 2 years post-breakup actually) but they didn't understand a lot of the details of the situation. I did the right thing breaking up with him etc but I did not and still don't want to talk shit about him. I was much more sad than angry. I wanted/needed to grieve, not vent and rage, and it was very difficult for me to do when those around me didn't understand or respect that. For me, one really helpful thing was having my close friends and family break the news to more extended family and friends. Looks like the original poster's friend has done this via social media (just the thought of that would have made me die of embarassment at the time) but I was so worn out and emotionally drained by having to tell people over and over every time they asked how the wedding planning was going. My mom at first tried to be respectful and was like "I won't say anything to anybody" until I told her to please go forth and spread the word so I wouldn't have to. As for what to do for your friend, a visit would be awesome, as well as phonecalls to talk about life and just catch up. If you want to send a little something, treats she likes and a card is a good idea. If you'd like to send a more substantial gift it might be worth asking her what she needs. In my case I moved out of our shared place in haste and ended up without a lot of items I wanted/needed because I either didn't want to fight over them with him, didn't have space or didn't have time. He probably still has my favorite down pillow 🙁 12 agree Reply I'm going to second the advice to just reach out to her as a friend. Don't worry about bringing it up – if she wants to, she will. Mail her a care package with goodies you know she likes, a funny card, and the like. When I was in between college and grad school, my best friend from childhood who I hadn't heard from in years, got divorced. I messaged her asking how she was and if she wanted to have dinner when I was next in town. We went to lunch, went shopping for a care package, and stayed in closer touch after that. I supported her ideas of running off and leaving everything behind her, I listened and encouraged her when she did move away. Mostly, I just acted as a friend. She was working very hard not to bash her ex or his new girlfriend, we didn't talk much about any of that, instead we focused on the rest of our lives. 7 agree Reply One of the things that have helped me immensely over the years has been drunken Skype chats. We'd get a group of people together on Skype (although now we use Google+, because they have video props you can add to yourself) each open our beverage of choice, and chat, gossip, sing, share videos and anything else until the wee hours of the morning. If she's not up to a group, perhaps you can have a video chat and long distance movie night? Watch a movie you both love that does not include anything romantic (I suggest Hot Fuzz or something like), and then giggle away. 9 agree Reply Personally, I'd ask her what you can do to support her. I've had friends who when grieving a major loss just need someone to talk to about it and friends who want to be distracted or just have someone show interest in other parts of their lives. On a more light hearted note, I sent a friend a cake from an erotic bakery saying "Congratulations on getting rid of that dick" I think you can guess what it was shaped like. 9 agree Reply Good for you for seeing the emptiness of the clichés! Whether it is a break-up, a death, a cancer diagnosis, or other great life tragedy sometimes when friends don't know what to say (or are scared of saying the wrong thing) they make the mistake of not calling. Sometimes just coming out and being honest, "This situation totally sucks, you're my friend and I want you to know I'm here because I love you and support…I'm just not sure what to say right now. Can you tell me what I can do to best support you?" That really lets her express what she needs. Someone to talk trash about the fiancé? Someone to mock the late wedding related t.v. show? Or, someone to just laugh and talk about the latest homestar runner videos? 9 agree Reply While I am by no means in the same situation, I did just get out of a 4+ year relationship, and having friends who offered their love and support while I was an emotional train wreck was so, so meaningful. From my experience, the gesture of sincerely reaching out at all is the thing that really makes an impact – while the specifics of exactly what they said or did may become fuzzy as time goes on, I'll never forget that they were consistently there for me. I'll also second the sentiment from above to keep it positive, unless she specifically initiates/needs something different. I've been so, so grateful that my friends choose to focus on positives (they're proud of me, they support me, they love me and are happy I'm no longer in a relationship that wasn't making me happy) and that they avoided bashing, criticizing, or "I never liked him anyway"s. As for mailing something, I'd suggest capitalizing on the unique elements of your relationship with her. If there are movies/foods/magazines/games/music/jokes you know you two enjoy together, I think she'd be really touched if you sent some of those things her way. 2 agree Reply When I don't know what to say to my friend, like when her boyfriend was in Iraq and when she delivered her baby prematurely, I put together care packages. Maybe some upbeat chick flicks that she likes, nail polish (if that's her thing), her favorite candy, maybe a mix cd of break up songs that end with positive "moving on" songs, a groupon for a massage or spa, a gift certificate for her favorite shoe store (or whatever she's into, art supplies?). Without having to find the words you send the message that you care about her and that she should take some time for herself. 5 agree Reply I think the most important thing for your friend right now is being reminded that she is not alone, that someone loves and appreciates her. The last thing she needs is more sympathy, as counter-intuitive as that seems. If I were you, I would write her a letter/story about how the two of you met, the shenanigans you've shared over the years you've known each other, and what your favorite things about her are. Include pictures (sans ex, obviously) if you have them (funny captions are encouraged), and maybe send her something silly, like a huge box of Skittles. Because sometimes the ridiculousness of a gesture can make one forget about the banality and pain of the bad parts of life. If I were in her position, I would just want to know I wasn't being judged based on the failure of a relationship, and that I was still loved and cherished by others. That's way more important and helpful than trying to bash her ex or tell her things like "she's better off without him." That's the kind of stuff she has to make up her own mind about. 8 agree Reply I called off my wedding two years ago, though the situation was a bit different: he was a perfectly nice guy, I just realized he wasn't right for me to apend the rest of my life with. I crushed him, and therefore felt like I was the most horrible, heartless bitch on earth. So the single best thing that many of my friends each said to me was: "I support your decision…as long as YOU are happy, that's all I care about. You're not a terrible person, you have to do what's right for you." It might be different for your friend, but for me, it helped so much to know that my friends just supported me and had my back, and especially that they reassured me (constantly) that I had no reason to feel guilty or ashamed. 5 agree Reply I had a similar situation to Stephalopod. Most of what was helpful to me has already been stated, but I'm going to duplicate. I agree that friends having my back was fabulous. Two of my best friends and I got together, got really drunk, and did a dance party / costume contest. It was RIDICULOUS and helped me feel more like myself. I also needed a lot of time to just be mopey and feel really sad. The most helpful friends were those who could follow my cues of what I needed, whether it was to watch sad movies or listen to me rehash all the details of what-went-wrong for the 500th time. Or, when I started feeling better, get dressed up and go out to brunch. I went to therapy (would totally recommend this, if your friend is open to it). I was torn up wondering if I had made the right decision, and if there was something I could have done, but didn't, that might have made things turn out differently. The most helpful thing the therapist told me was, "You made the best decision you could based on the information you had at the time." What WASN'T helpful: people who just wanted to talk shit about my ex. Regardless of the truth of what they might have been saying, it was a really complex situation and just made me feel worse. Also not helpful: trying to get me back out in the dating scene, like if I could just meet someone new that would make me feel not-so-broken. I read a book called, "There Goes the Bride" that I thought was amazing. The worst part for me about ending our engagement was that I felt really ashamed. I didn't know anyone else who had done that, and felt like there was some stigma against ending an engagement. The book really helped me feel validated in my decision. In short, I would say that you should tell your friend you love her and support her and her decision. Tell her you want to be there for her in whatever ways she would find most helpful. Other people have made excellent points below about the fact that she may not be in a place where she can tell you what would be most helpful. Be sensitive and try to follow her leads. (And if she can tell you what she needs, so much better!) But definitely reach out to her and tell her you are on her side! 1 agrees Reply I just want to say that the clichés are cliché for a reason. Good advise, heartfelt words, and eloquent wisdom become cliché because they are good, heartfelt and eloquent. I don't think a cliché is a bad thing in and of it's self. Yes – it can be boring – but sometimes that's ok too. Best of luck with your friend. You sound like you really care about her, and in the end THAT is what will matter to her. 5 agree Reply When I was in a similar situation, my friends stepped up by taking me out and checking in on me. Since you're far away, maybe checking in regularly would help. It was nice because once I had reached out to all my friends, I felt like I had reached my quota. I was afraid of becoming the Debbie downer pal. I had one friend who would call about once a week just to chat, even if we couldn't see each other. It was an acknowledgment that it takes time to process a major life event like that. It can be isolating, especially of most of your other friends are paired up. A little connection goes a long way. Reply You can hardly ever go wrong with a care package if you are not physically nearby. After a terrible breakup like that, I myself probably wouldn't want to talk about or hear about it anymore, but being reassured that there are people who care about you and know what you like is always awesome. I really have no idea what she is into, but I have a couple of friends I exchange packages with a few times a year and I always feel so loved… some of the things we have included are handmade cards, craft supplies, books, scarves, funky jewelry, card games, mix cds, old photos of us, handmade soaps or candles, silly kitchen stuff, honestly just about anything goes (but always with a handwritten letter!) 4 agree Reply I love all the ideas for care packages! And here's what I wanted when I broke up with my long-term boyfriend: distraction and some funny things to laugh about that didn't also threaten to make me cry. My best friend intuited that somehow (I certainly wasn't able to express it), and she called me up regularly with funny stories about things she had seen (a guy on the subway doing something ridiculous, someone on the street with a cat on his head, etc.) that we could laugh about and that reminded me that there was a lot of life going on out there even if I was so very, very sad. But none of her topics strayed anywhere near things that would make me cry. Our conversations let me get out of my own head for a bit, something I desperately needed. I think that saying "tell me how to support you" is very well-meaning, but I know that when I've been grieving, I have no idea what to tell anyone who says it to me. So instead, I'd say "I want to support you through this, but I don't really know how. I'm going to try some things, and if they are the wrong thing, please, please tell me." Then try a whole bunch of things (care packages, ex bashing, emails with links to cute baby animals, asking her for help with a problem you're working on, organizing a visit if you can pull it off and then planning a bunch of awesome things to do while you're together, regular phone calls and text messages, etc, etc.) until you find the ones that seem to help. 9 agree Reply I don't know if you listen to a lot of music, or if your friend does, but a mix tape or CD with empowering songs might be a good soundtrack for her while she heals. I've done this for friends in the past (and called it Strongest Girl in the World Mix) and it really made a difference for them. 1 agrees Reply We just got a friend a tshirt that read "I'm not with stupid anymore!" 2 agree Reply I friend recently mailed me a package when I was going through a bout of depression (I didn't tell anyone, but she just KNEW). It contained: An empowerment amulet she had made with a letter explaining the ingredients and their significance, a pair of fuzzy slippers she had made out of a vintage fur coat, vitamin C and a RuPaul CD. In her letter she explained that she just had a feeling that I needed a lift and that these were things that made her happy. I'm not into amulets and charms and whatnot; but I wear the one she gave me every day because when I look at it I feel not magic; but the love and care she took to make and send it to me. This is a long and drawn out way of saying send her love. It doesn't have to be fancy, or expensive or even tangible; but people notice when you send them love. 5 agree Reply I think the important thing here is not finding the right thing to say, (there is never any right thing anyway) but just making contact, any contact. I see where people are going with the asking her what she needs but be careful here, it may work better as not asking verbally (and putting the responsibility for your feelings on the friend) but just taking your lead from how she talks and communicates about the situation herself ( I appreciate the distance is not helpful here). If she's really suffering she may not know what she wants or needs (and even if she can pin it down one minute it may change the next) or how to ask for it and trying to encapsulate that for the benefit of another person can be exhausting. Choice is not always the kindest gift…. I would say the main thing here is just to keep making gestures, as the previous post prove even if they are not quite perfect or her style it's the gesture itself (rather than it's contents) that will carry through and comfort. What I think I am trying to say is don't worry yourself about getting it right and definitely don't worry her about getting it right, just do something sweet and it will be right enough. 3 agree Reply An acquaintance of mine went through a terrible experience – not the same situation – and one of her best friends organised a series of art gallery visits with a circle of their friends. They did one gallery every couple of weeks for a few months (we live in London so this was easily done!) I was invited to join them and it was such a lovely thing. And I made a very good new friend in the process too. It especially helped my friend to focus on a regular activity and explore new places that didn't remind her of the experience she was recovering from. I wonder if this idea could be replicated with other interests or activities to suit different tastes and living circumstances? A tour of interesting pubs or cafes you've been meaning to check out? Or a long-distance reading group for books you've been meaning to read? A sew/craft-a-long? 3 agree Reply This happened to me 4 years ago. I think the biggest help for me was having friends and family around who were willing to talk and listen but didn't pressure me into doing either. They let me decide when/if I wanted to talk about it and in the mean-time helped distract me with family dinners, shopping adventures, movie nights etc. One thing that you shouldn't do: bash the ex. He/She may be a grade-A douche, but TRUST ME it doesn't help. At one point in recent history your friend was willing to marry this individual – that means that they probably loved or liked this douche a lot and they probably still have some sort of feelings for them. Let them do the complaining and just listen. Validate your friend's choices and feelings as legitimate and help them find strength in their new situation. Compliment them but don't do it at the expense of the ex. Leave the ex out of the conversation. They're out of the picture and it's probably best that they stay that way. Once some time has passed there may be some good opportunities to talk about the ex, but when emotions are running high it's a dangerous road. Sounds like you care a lot! Kudos to you! You rock! 6 agree Reply My sister had a very similiar situation last year. Shortly before I became engaged her boyfriend of 3 months proposed (with no ring or any plans I might add) and they began their plans for a wedding. I was skeptical due to the non commital nature of her fiance in the past and was terrified she would be heart broken. Their wedding date changed a few times, I saw very little of my sister even though I was a bridesmaid. At one point she took out three credit cards for the rings that they purchased and a pay day loan to pay for a new car payment. Eventually I noticed she was physically starting to change. She looked tired and worn out most of the time. I became a witness to some emotional and verbal abuse on his part and started to plan some type of intervention; but knowing my sister's nature I knew this would only further her disconnect from the people that might tell her the truth. Her wedding date suddenly changed, and then a month or so later it was called off. She was still dating him, living with him, supporting him financially. And then they broke up. I was elated! We went out to the bar for the first time in months and talked and laughed, she was a new person. Several weeks later I found out she was dating him again and again she began the reclusion process. She quit her job and went on the road with him while he was trucking. And then I got a call. He had spent that time using her and then when they returned from his job he told her it wasn't working out and dumped her. I slowly saw her back into my life and she opened up about the abuse she endured. I comforted her, I told her I loved her and that she was beautiful every day and we had "sister" time. It's been a year. She was my bridesmaid at my wedding and never once expressed jealousy or hate. She is living on her own and paying off the debt she incurred because of the horrible person she was with. I think the best advice "WE" could give you is to show love. She needs to know the support is there but when they need it; not when you want to give it. 1 agrees Reply I was engaged, moved across the country to start a new life with my fiance away from friends, family, home. We were planning the big day and looking for a house (almost decided on one) when the crap hit the fan and it all ended. I knew I was making the right decision, I knew I should be grateful that I didn't marry him, and other people telling me that wasn't helpful. The dress shop owner was the worst. She kept telling me all this positive stuff about how the right man is out there for me, what a strong woman I was for leaving him, how proud I should be, how my future was going to be so great…. I wasn't sure if I wanted to cry or punch her in the face. What your friend needs most right now is DISTRACTION. One of my best friends (MOH #1) took me on an awesome road-trip-adventure day, just the two of us, with lots of junk food and a creative photo-scavenger hunt that lasted all day. She knew I couldn't pretend to be happy and I couldn't smile in pictures, so the whole day was all about looking at OTHER things and seeing the beauty in the world. Then after moving 1500 miles home, my other best friend (MOH #2) had a Gina-is-awesome night out which involved a bowl full of tropical alcohol and… well, I don't really remember what else was involved. 😉 My point here is that sympathy isn't always the way to go. She's already thinking about it 24/7. Try getting her to think about something else. I don't know WHAT I would have done without my besties. That time was so hard for me, and they were incredible. 2 agree Reply I love you Gina! Literally, I would do whatever it takes to make you feel better all the time. <3 MOH #1 (By the way, I stumbled on this post and remembered you saying you had written something on it. I'm not super stalking you) Reply I called off my wedding in 2007 and it was the best decision I could've made. I saved myself from being a 22 year old divorcée. Two of my bridesmaids (and supposed bffs) wrote be scathing emails bitching me out for not telling them immediately. And they had the audacity to demand their money back for their bridesmaid dresses while I was LIVING IN MY CAR. Great friends… Who OBVIOUSLY aren't a part of my life anymore. Be supportive, above all else. Anyone who called off their wedding is experiencing shame, embarrassment, fear and freedom. They need their friends now, more than ever! 1 agrees Reply I was in your friend's position a few years back. At the time, I was devastated (and was also dealing with the then-recent death of my father…it was a horrible double-whammy.) It absolutely did not help to constantly hear from people about how they never liked him, or any other cliché breakup trope that people resorted to. I hadn't yet reached the point where I thought he was an ass, and I hadn't quite recognized that I had dodged a bullet. I was just an emotional mess. If the breakup was recent, I would offer to lend a hand canceling vendors and the like. This can include helping to make all the necessary but excruciating phone calls and emails to people who have already RSVP'ed. A lot of this is stuff you can do remotely, since you mentioned that you're not in the same area as she is, and she would probably appreciate not having to re-live the breakup dozens of times over every time she talks to someone new. You can also offer to help shut down her wedding website and registries – those sites are damn near impossible to quit, so having someone else do that for her would probably be appreciated. Canceling everything was probably the hardest part of the whole ordeal for me – my ex completely disappeared off the map about a month before our wedding, and my family hadn't been terribly supportive of the relationship to begin with. I had to deal with the emotional pain of canceling every aspect of my wedding alone. Also, make sure she's taken care of on what would have been her wedding day. I spent that weekend at the beach with my would-be MOH, alternating between distracting myself on the beach and drinking heavily. It helped tremendously to have plans to look forward to for that day. Even if you're not able to be with your friend physically, perhaps you could send her a gift certificate for a spa day or another activity she might enjoy, so she can escape from reality for a bit on D Day. I guarantee that day will weigh heavily on her mind regardless, but it's nice to have something to look forward to so she's not just sitting at home miserable all day! She will heal in time and will see that she dodged a bullet, and will be all the happier for that. Good for you for being such a great friend to her! 5 agree Reply BEST advice on here. I would have LOVED if someone could contact my vendors to let them know it was off and handle all my internet crap too. That was probably the most torturous part of the whole thing. Just reliving it over and over as you explain, "Nope, I don't need to move the date. That's correct, it's not happening." UGH! And yes, having a big fun distraction on D Day is definitely a must. 2 agree Reply I am in the same situation as your friend. I recently broke off my engagement because I found out that my fiance' cheated! It is so comforting to hear that I am not the only one going through this. I too have heard all of the cliche's but what has helped me most of all is stories like this to let me know that I'm not the only one and that I shouldn't feel ashamed or guilty. I am proud of myself for having the courage to end things when I actually considered ignoring the problem because I didn't want to have to tell people that I was no longer engaged. If I were you, I would write your friend a nice card/letter saying how much you love her and how proud you are of her for being so brave and send her a gift certificate for a mani/pedi or a massage (something to pamper her). 1 agrees Reply I can't speak to the part about breaking off an engagement, but I recently went through a very difficult break-up with a man I had been with for 3 years and was totally convinced I was going to marry. The best thing that has helped me has been to have friends available to just use as a sounding board. I'm sure everyone processes differently, but for me talking it out with friends who are willing to just listen and not judge has helped me immensely. If she says anything especially crazy, like wanting to get back with him or wanting to start dating too soon, don't roughly shoot down her ideas, but instead pose questions to her to help her really think through what she's saying, and if she really needs a reality check make sure to give it to her gently. Remind her that what she's feeling is totally valid and normal. Avoid cliches about there being more fish in the sea. The only helpful cliche is that it takes time to heal. Whatever you do, do NOT speak ill of her ex except in agreement to something she has just said. Even if she's said something the day or even hour before. She's bound to be very confused about her feelings right now. I was floored after my break-up by the people who came out of the woodwork offering kind words in private Facebook messages which included offers to be a listening ear. I didn't take all of them up on the offers, but each one helped if only just a little. As for something to send, a friend sent me a nice box of handmade dark chocolates. Though I barely ate in the two weeks following my breakup I finished that box of chocolates in about two days. I happen to be a total chocoholic, of course. If you know of anything like that which she likes it might be something nice to have. I would caution against anything not consumable, though. If she just moved back to her parents' house (which I also did after my breakup) she may not have enough space for all the stuff she's brought with her, so you don't want to add to the clutter. Best of luck to you and your friend. 1 agrees Reply You know best how your friend deals with things, but I can add a little from my own experience here, which echoes that of previous commenters. Almost five years ago, I called off my wedding, left my fiancé, and moved back in with my parents. In my case it wasn't one big terrible thing that my fiancé had done that ended it, but one little one that made me realise how unhappy I was and how he wasn't treating me in the way I deserved. I remember being really annoyed at the time that people kept bashing him and telling me what a dick he was (and it turned out pretty much everyone hated him, apparently), because we'd had a lot of good times and I felt like people were basically telling what an idiot I was to spend five years with him- in a time of such upheaval, a big dose of self-doubt was really the last thing I needed. I came to the realisation on my own soon after that he really was an absolute knob but I felt like that was my decision to come to and no-one else's to try and foist upon me. Not long afterwards, I went out with my best friend who was going through some heartache of her own and we got ridiculously drunk (in a safe place). For me it was just so good to let go and let it out, but also have a really good laugh about unrelated things. The next day I woke up surrounded by the stench of sambuca-scented vomit with a flashback of my mum wiping my face and thought that on top of everything else I was in for a bollocking from my mother about coming home in such a state. Instead, she cleaned up after me, looked after me and told me she was giving me this one time because I was upset (but she never wanted me coming home like that again while I was under her roof.) I was just so touched by her unexpected kindness and acceptance, and it was that tacit understanding that she knew and was there for me that meant the most- a definite contrast with some people who meant well but who I didn't hear from after the sympathetic clichés or the ex-bashing. Her gentle warning not to do it again grounded me- it balanced out the self-indulgence of the night before with a reminder that life was going on and prompted me to remind myself that I was not defined by this one thing that had happened. Your friend may be at any stage of processing what has happened and figuring out comes next, so reaching out and simply letting her know that you are there for her will give her the opportunity to provide you with some cues about what she needs. I like the ideas given above as well about silly pictures and suchlike- something lighthearted and normal and grounding. About a month after the split, I attended my cousin's wedding. It was a bit of a difficult one at times because I'd originally RSVPd as a couple, and it was a rather obvious reminder of what had happened with my ex-partner. At the reception I found myself alone at a table with one of my uncles. We were chatting and watching the dancing and all of a sudden he said to me, "I wanted to say- it was a brave thing that you did. Sometimes it's a lot harder to walk away than it is to stay." That meant so much to me, and still does, to be honest. I'd been on such an emotional rollercoaster and had been dealing with the fallout of the split and a lot of it felt like a mess I'd created, and so many times I wondered if I'd done the right thing. That one sentence made me realise that others looking in weren't just seeing a woman floundering in the consequences of a rash decision, they were seeing a woman doing her best to deal with a difficult situation. I held myself a little straighter after then. I'm waffling a little here but I think it's quite telling that it's five years later, an awful lot has happened including building a family with my now-husband, but I still remember so keenly the kindnesses my family and friends showed me back then and the people who made me feel worse. I think the fact that you are trying so hard to be considerate rather than offering empty platitudes shows that you are one of those who deserves to be remembered fondly in five years' time when your friend looks back at how far she's come 🙂 5 agree Reply im not exactly sure how to apply what id do to this situation, but when i put together packages, i love to do themes.. so like, people said in comments to congratulate her on making a decision for the better for herself, so you could do a congratulations package. a big congrats card, champagne to toast with, noisemakers, those pop-able confetti things, a gift certificate for a celebratory dinner, ect, ect. obviously i dont think that specific thing would work for every person, you know your friend, but thats what i always like to do when i send care packages. Reply When I had a friend who experienced this, I tried to be her "whatever she needed" friend, just standing by her side while she did what she needed to do. Ended up peeling her off a few bar tables, taking her to get her belly button pierced, and making sure she always got home safe (and alone!) And I also was there when she just wanted to have a glass of wine and watch horror movies (after all, romantic films of any kind are off limits after heartbreaks!) I think when your friends are in need, they just want you to be there. Just let her know you are there. Help her take her mind off of it. Whenever I have had a broken heart, the best things anyone ever did were take me out, get me moving, help me shake it off…and occasionally let me cry about it without saying "you're better off" until I was ready to say it myself. 1 agrees Reply Add this book to the care package. When my first engagement collapsed, it helped me laugh and move on. http://www.amazon.com/Used-Miss-Him-But-Improving/dp/B000EHTADW Reply After your friend gets to the "I'm no longer totally freaking out about having to cancel this and I no longer feel like garbage about it," stage, you might want to assist her in the rest of the planning that goes along with what happened. She needs to disentangle herself legally from "house they bought together," and other potential legal/financial issues and might want company/hand holding/advice. 1 agrees Reply I'm going to speak from the perspective of a women who ended her relationship/engagement and cancelled the wedding with a terrible person right after buying a house together. I, personally, didn't want anyone to say anything for the most part. I may be in the minority in that regard, I'm not sure, but when I was in her shoes (eerily similar shoes, too) it was hard enough for me to deal with all of that and the last thing I wanted was to have people bring it up. If it did come up, the best thing someone could say to me was "If you need anything, even if you just want a distraction, you know where to find me.". It let me know they were there for me, but I didn't feel pressured to talk about it if I didn't want to. Plus, distraction is the absolute best thing that you can offer someone going through something like that. I hated when people said trite, cliche stuff to me mostly because those are the things people say when they feel obligated to say something. Whether it's heartfelt or not, it isn't helpful (again, maybe that's just me, but I hate when people say stuff like that to me). Pleasantly distract her! 🙂 2 agree Reply I haven't read all of the comments, so I'm sure I'm repeating something, but I wanted to add my 2 cents anyway. A friend of mine called off her wedding 3 weeks before the date last year. It was the right move, the guy was a jerk and his family was nuts. I had already (just the day before actually) bought my plane ticket down, so me, her other bridesmaid, and her family decided to go down and visit anyway. We had a blast, and did really fun things on what was supposed to be her wedding day. She was torn between being thankful for getting out of an not so great looking relationship early, and being sad about missing what was the love of her life. I'm pretty sure she still misses him a year later. Just be there for your friend to talk about whatever it is she needs to talk about. Don't be judgmental, don't offer advice if she doesn't ask. Just be her friend, and let her know that she ultimately made the right decision for herself. 1 agrees Reply As someone who did call off their wedding, my friends were not much help. For some reason most seemed to think my decision was about them ("how could you do this to me" ) or that I called off my wedding to go sleeping around/ partying. Their reactions left me more depressed about my decision and feeling very lonely. It's not surprising I don't speak to most of them anymore. For me, I would have loved caring distraction. Tell your friend that you know it was a very hard decision and you're there for them. Then try to get her out to do something fun or relaxing. Do not judge her on anything. The hardest thing was feeling like I had to defend my decision. Don't bring it up. Don't encourage her to talk about if she doesn't. 3 agree Reply A matter of weeks before the wedding, I discovered a deal breaker about my ex-fiancee. He lied about his age. He was SIGNIFICANTLY older than he said he was. I suspect there were a few other things, but this one was it. I know now that the lying was the problem. I may or may not have accepted the age difference from the beginning, I'll never know, he robbed me of that choice. For a few days I was devastated. I laid in bed and cried. I lost my job that week too and the week just SUCKED. I wanted him to make it better. I also wanted him to be hit by a Mack truck. I was a wreck. Then my buddies stepped in. They dragged me out camping. We fished. We drank. We told stories, cooked over an open fire and no one mentioned him or the wedding. Ever. It was wonderful. When the trip was over, another of my friends drove me to his house to dump off his crap from my house and pick up mine from his place. Then she took me to dinner and margaritas. Then we went to my favorite adult toy shop. I giggled all evening. I guess the best thing you can do for someone that has cancelled a wedding and ended the relationship is treat them just like you normally would. Take them out. Show up with her favorite movies, a pizza and margarita makings. Buy marshmallow guns and let the attack begin. The only thing they don't need is to be consoled as if someone died. Eventually they will come to terms with the fact that they are better off, saved a ton of money on a divorce lawyer and that better things are in store for them. Reply I'll speak up as I'm one month into my divorce and only my 2nd night in my own apartment. In response to the pity and condolences, the hardest thing to hear is people telling me to "be strong", or "the Miranda I know would…" It's insulting. I'll get through it. Just support me. So, YES! YES! YES! to all the positive fun suggestions of things to do and funny texts. Especially any kind of help moving, unpacking, and decorating my new space. Bright cheery flowers would be awesome. Anything to take my mind away from my current wreck of a life. I'll figure it out and I'll come to you when I need it. And don't worry about talking about marriage, or dating, or love. LOL. I still love my friends and want them to be happy! PS. Don't drop by unannounced. I do not want to be discovered in a puddle of my own tears by anyone. Let me appear strong in public and dissolve in private. Reply There is one another thing to address, and I'm not exactly sure how, but I would also support her moving in with her parents. It's not just the breakup that is a huge change, but having to GIVE UP YOUR FREEDOM. Seriously. I moved cross-country and back in with my parents at age 30, post 9/11, and though it was the only thing I could do, financially, in order to move cross-country and still survive, it also was a huge, huge hit psychologically, emotionally, and socially. My parents, god love them, no matter how old I was, were always, "What time will you be home?" etc. Dating really was out of the question because it's not as if I could bring a guy home (conservative Catholics did NOT support sleepovers) or spend the night at the guys house (guaranteed 4AM panic call from my mom "WHERE ARE YOU?"). So not only is there the breakup to contend with, there is the major psychological change of moving in with the parents. If there is any way to help support a girls night out, special girls weekend (maybe you and some other friends can find a spa deal on groupon?) for her, etc, it will help. But I found the adjustment to living with my parents to be hard. While I loved those 5 years because I was able to get a great relationship with my parents as an adult, pay off student loans, and save $$ to buy my first house, the restrictions I felt on bringing significant others home, and in my own social life in general, are one of the reasons I feel that I am single now in my 40s. Maybe I shouldn't have lived with them so long, but then I would still be in debt, etc. Hindsight is 20/20. I just see this as 2 major life events, not one, and both need to be acknowledged and supported. Because moving back in with your parents after being independent for however long is a huge change, on top of having a major breakup. 3 agree Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. 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