How to Break an Engagement

It is never easy to break a committed relationship, especially if you were planning to spend your lives together. However, ending an engagement when you know a relationship isn't right can save you the greater pain of a divorce.

Follow the law regarding the ring. Etiquette requires that it always be returned no matter who calls off the marriage. In fact, certain states require the recipient to return the ring. Other states consider the man's situation in the split and some states decide ownership based on who ended the engagement. If the recipient ended it, she must return the ring. Otherwise, she can keep it. But in all cases, it's best to give it back for closure.

Keep the conversation polite. Be honest, but not harsh. The person may learn lessons he or she can apply to future relationships.

Choose the right place to end the relationship. Never do it over the phone or in a place that is too public. Pick a place where you can both leave once the discussion is over. If you live together, make arrangements to stay with someone until you both figure out who will move out.

Time it right. Do not choose holidays or other special times to end the engagement. Do it in the middle of the week if possible. Work can take the other person's mind off of the relationship, at least temporarily.

Plan what you're going to say so you effectively communicate your decision. Try not to let tears get in the way and do not show that you are relieved. Remain as neutral as possible.

Wait to discuss any details about cancelling the wedding until later. If you're early in your engagement and no formal wedding invitations have been sent, make a list of people you've told about your announcement.

Call or email the people you told about the engagement. Do not send a broadcast email. Let the other person take care of notifying his or her friends and family of the break up.

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  • Make sure you're both sober for the discussion.

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