Thursday, September 02, 2010

Broken Engagements

One of my best friends, Estee Goldschmidt, researched and wrote an article in The Jewish Press on "Broken Engagements, Shattered Hearts." And my lady of the radiance receives her public tribute as this blog is quoted.


Anonymous on Purpose said...

an issue that i can't get over is why do they (in my case, the female) break it over the phone or text message? don't they teach manners that something like that should never be less than face to face?

Chana said...

Anonymous on Purpose,

Perhaps the reason why is because the people were in two different states/ countries and wanted to try to break it off before something publicly embarrasing or humiliating (such as sending out the invitations and then saying there is no wedding) happened. In that case, perhaps a phone call really is kinder than a face-to-face meeting. Alternatively, maybe they've come to a point where they must clarify where they stand right then and cannot keep the person on the line/ string them along that the marriage will happen until the person is available to see them. (Because it it fair to keep the person under a deception for the amount of time it takes to have the meeting in person?)

RT said...

Chana, I disagree with you.

Anon on Purpose, when"they break it over the phone or text message" is a pretty good indicator of the fact that these individuals are not just lacking manners . The cruel and hurtful behavior of not dealing with another human being face-to-face (whom they liked/loved enough,had a relationship with and etc))opens up another can of worms entirely: that these people are gutless, self-centered , selfish and spiritually impoverished. Although painful, whatever happens, happens for the best.

Anonymous on Purpose said...

Chana, that excuse doesn't work when she can get into her car and drive for 10 minutes and see the poor guy. paraphrasing Aberforth, brains like that, you caould be a Templar.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

ooh, I like the article. The phenomenon of the broken engagement is usually a subject shrouded in mystery for me; you want to make sure it doesn't happen to you, yet you can't really ask about it. Kudos to Ms. Goldschmidt..

Shades of Grey said...

Anonymous and RT - with all due respect, Chana is right. A friend of mine had to do exactly that - break up over the phone, precisely because he was in another state and his fiancee was about to mail out the invitations. The breaking point occurred before he left town, but the formal decision had not been reached yet. To avoid complications of waiting until the end of his trip, he had to act to prevent further embarrassment to both of them.

Also, RT - the person breaking the engagement is not always the "bad guy/girl." What if the other person is abusive - hence the need to break the engagement, but the "breaker" is too scared to be in their presence when they tell them their decision? I also know of a case or two like that, and thankfully a potentially problematic violent outburst was avoided since the "breaker" was not in the same room at the time.

Every case is different, and both sides need to be given the benefit of the doubt. I suspect both of you have close connections to someone who was on the receiving end of a broken engagement. Not everyone who's engagement is broken on them is a hero or martyr. Sensitivity should be expressed to both parties of such a situation.

RT said...

Shades of Grey, you sound preachy.
Did your male friend(in your first example) ever think about the emotional havoc his over-the-phone break-up would cause his fiancee, a woman he loved, proposed marriage to?

All that he needed to do is to ask her to postpone mailing of the invites, come back to her town and address her face-to-face. With all due respect, your friend's behavior was self-centered, there are no ifs or buts about it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that it is ever appropriate to end an engagement over the phone. Or a relationship that's lasted over a certain amount of time. I've had guys who have broken up with me over email after dating for a year. Even if it incurs a nominal fee, or if it means going out of your way to be there to end it, it is entirely inappropriate to pretend that it's "OK" to do so in such an impersonal matter.

Man up, do it in person, and don't be a wimp. Every person, regardless of what they did, or how wrong they are for you, deserves that modicum of respect. Doing so in a way that suggests that a relationship was not worth breaking up in a mentsch-like way is cowardly, wimpish, and a cop out.

Anonymous on Purpose said...

Shades of Gray, I think you make a valid point and I respect that: there are times where there is a reason to inform the other party of one's decision to break off an engagement over the phone. Certainly when there is a strong suspicion that the revelation will lead to violence, it should be done where everyone's safety is guaranteed.

However, I think that the many cases are not like that, and people break up over the phone when there is no need, and it is very rude and thoughtless.

David_on_the_Lake said...

Never thought I'd see a critique of a Binah article here..

Shana Tova

davidonthelake said...

The comment above was meant for the post above..

Shades of Grey said...

RT, Anonymous et al - I think YOU are not being dan lekaf zechus my friend. I'm not in any way condoning over the phone ending engagements as a lechatchilah, as you seem to imply, RT. My friend's case was very much a "need" situation, and in any event his then-ex fiancee went ahead and sent out the invitations at any rate, which complicated things for everyone.

My point remains: an over the phone break up is the right thing to do in a case where nothing else can be done. Is it the best way? Certainly not. If the engagement is being broken months in advance of the planned wedding date, then yes, an over the phone breaking is gutless, regardless of the amount of time the breaker might be out of town and away.

But if the breaking is more of a last-minute occurrence, as they very often are, the relationship has deteriorated, and the person who has made the decision to end things is stuck over a multi-week, long-distance break - then it needs to be done. It isn't fair, it isn't nice, but it is necessary.

My friend went through emotional hell afterward (I heard every bit of it from him when I spent time with him during that break). He knew doing it over the phone was wrong, but he had no other choice.

RT - do you have personal experience with close friends or relatives going through a broken engagement? I've had several, unfortunately. That doesn't make me an expert by any means - I'm only speaking from experience. I don't think you can call anyone preachy, RT or make accusations against my friend without knowing the fullest extent of his story, perhaps his ex did have major issues that were very irreconciliable, and thus the entire engagement was under false pretenses.

Whatever the fact was, you seem to automatically take the side of the "victim" whose engagement is broken, which is not always the reality, as I mentioned.

Both parties deserve sensitivity, no matter who provides the cause for the break up, or who does the breaking.