ShareThis Page
My ex, who never believed in marriage, is marrying |
More Lifestyles

My ex, who never believed in marriage, is marrying

Carolyn Hax
| Monday, January 7, 2019 1:30 a.m

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

I’m finding myself in one of those surreal stories where I invested years (six of them) in a relationship with someone who insisted he did not believe in marriage and finally ended things with me so he didn’t deprive me of what I wanted, only to wind up engaged to someone else about 10 seconds later. I found out through the grapevine — small town — and he contacted me shortly after that, knowing I would have heard, to ask if I wanted to meet up and talk over the circumstances behind his engagement.

Do I? Yes, I am burning with curiosity about how someone who found something negative to say about every marriage on earth is now willingly entering one of his own. But I am also afraid of how it will feel to hear itemized every reason I don’t measure up to Future Mrs. Ex.

Do I take him up on this offer, or let it lie?

— Sad

Let it lie. What he did is terribly painful. It also was very likely unintentional. Unwitting, too.

People who don’t want to do something find ways not to. When they think they should want to do it, or even wish they wanted to, they often start to rationalize. So, a person in a relationship with someone he doesn’t want to marry often will rationalize a bunch of reasons that Marriage: The Institution! is wrong for him.

It sounds kinder, too, to say to someone you love. “Marriage isn’t for me” — soft — vs. “You aren’t for me,” ouch. (Yes, we can love people we don’t want to marry.)

Then, whaddaya know, he meets someone he does want to marry. And only then sees all the prior reasons as merely conjured up to explain what he couldn’t otherwise explain, because he never really understood it himself.

This is actually pretty common. Plus, it’s way better than pushing doubts aside and marrying anyway — since that eventually unravels anyway, only later and more painfully.

I know this is not going to be persuasive in the least right now, but maybe it’ll feel right to you down the road: It’s not even about you, really, or whether you “measure up.” It’s not about worthiness at all. It’s about fit. And you two, for whatever reason, didn’t fit.

You don’t need lunch to say this goodbye.

Hi, Carolyn:

I was cooking and my phone was upstairs charging, and I missed several calls from my boyfriend. His car was towed. I didn’t notice the calls, and he got a friend to help.

He now says I’m not there for him, cannot be depended on, and that it’s a relationship red flag. I’m always present and usually answer his calls immediately — I’m not sure how to respond, and surprised he’s turning this one event into a symptom and symbol of our whole relationship. What to do?

— There for Him

“If innocently missing a call means I’m not dependable, then you’re right. My ability to ‘be there’ for anyone will always be imperfect and subject to random obstacles. I’ll miss you but you want something I can’t give, so breaking up is for the best.”

He’s being punitive and irrational. So, green flag: Hit the gas and go.

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook or chat with her online at noon each Friday at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.