real life

'Hours before our engagement photoshoot, my fiance told me he didn't want to marry me.'

As told to Polly Taylor.

I’d just turned 30 and I’d been single for eight years.

I had good friends, a busy social life, and a well-paid job. But my love life consisted of swiping my way through dating apps and meeting up with men – with disastrous consequences.

I really wanted to meet someone but the process of trying was soul-destroying.

“I think I need a break from this,” I sighed to a mate, as I scrolled through the uninspiring online profiles.

Then, I spotted Paul*. He was smiling confidently in his profile picture and another image showed him looking smart and relaxed in an expensive suit. Better yet, he’d actually taken the time to fill out the profile – something a surprising number of men simply didn’t bother with. He seemed funny and smart, so I fired off a message.

We got chatting and the connection between us was instant. Rather than small talk, our exchanges were long paragraphs of chat where we spoke honestly about our thoughts and feelings. One minute Paul would be telling me an anecdote about a drunken night with the boys, next he’d be talking about quantum physics! He was constantly surprising me and it certainly kept me on my toes.

One night, after three weeks of chatting, Paul phoned me to say he was with some friends in a bar close to where I lived. I just happened to be out as well, so we agreed to meet for a drink.

The attraction was there alright! The lengthy chats we’d had over messages easily translated into real life. From that night onwards, we were inseparable.

After just six weeks, Paul told me he loved me. I was wary about declaring my feelings so early on, but a couple of weeks later, I told him I felt the same way. Paul had a son, and I took the time to bond with him to make sure Paul knew how serious I was.

We moved in together but the timing was terrible. Soon after, I lost my job. Being from the UK, this also meant my visa was in jeopardy. It put enormous financial and emotional pressure on us. We started to argue, the cracks beginning to show.

Side note… Mamamia staff confess the worst excuses we’ve used for a breakup. Post continues after video.

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Somehow we weathered the storm for a year, but it was definitely rocky. While he never laid a finger on me, Paul sometimes got really aggressive, punching walls and doors in our house.

I put it down to the sheer stress of our situation – there was even one moment where I was six days away from being deported, before a new job and renewed visa saved the day.

One afternoon, we were in bed talking about how strong we felt as a couple after everything we’d been through. “I love you so much,” Paul said, getting down on one knee beside the bed. “Will you marry me?”

“Of course I will,” I cried, flinging my arms around him.

A few weeks later, we caught up with Paul’s parents. “You don’t think you’re rushing into things?” his mum frowned when we told her.

It put such a dampener on the occasion.

Still, we forged ahead, planning the wedding. We set the date, booked the venue and the celebrant. I chose a beautiful white gown and put a deposit down. We found an incredible photographer who offered an engagement shoot as a part of his package.

I couldn’t wait to have some glam photos taken of the two of us.

But on the day of the shoot while I put on my favourite dress and applied my lipstick, Paul went completely cold.

“I don’t want to go,” he told me.

“Don’t be silly,” I said. “It’s all booked… I can’t cancel with just a couple of hours’ notice.”

He sat on the couch in stony silence.

“Please don’t do this, Paul…” I begged.

Then he stood up and turned to face me. “I don’t want to marry you,” he said.

Shocked, I burst into tears. Paul refused to have a conversation about things. We were at his aunt’s house, house-sitting, so I caught the bus back to our place to give us both time and space to think.

By the time I got there, Paul had deleted me off Facebook and changed his relationship status to “single”.

I sobbed for days. I tried calling and messaging but he refused to have any contact with me. How could we have gone from planning our wedding to this?

Side note… In the latest episode of Mamamia Out Loud, we discuss: What do you do when you find yourself suddenly single at 32. Post continues after audio.

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A few days later, it was Christmas. With no family in the country and Paul spending the day with our mutual friends, I spent the day by myself. I was so lonely and low, in a really dark place…

Then, on New Year’s Day, a mutual friend called to say she’d been at a New Year’s Eve party, and Paul had arrived with another girl.

I felt absolutely sick to my stomach.

His new relationship didn’t last long, though. And a couple of months later when Paul came to collect his stuff, he suggested we go to a pub and talk.

We spoke for hours about everything that had gone wrong between us. When Paul left to go home, he didn’t take his stuff with him.

After meeting back up a few more times we fell back into our relationship. But after what he’d put me through, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of unease.

And I was right to feel that.

Paul wouldn’t stop messing me about. One night, he completely ignored me at a party and the following day he told me he just wanted to be friends. I’d had enough.

Weeks later, I left his belongings on the front lawn for him to come and collect, before heading out for the day. When I got home that evening, his things were gone and he’d left an abusive note in their place.

Despite how bad things got, I still felt like I lost everything when he left; my best friend, my step-son who I adored, all the people I thought were my friends, and people I had classed as family.

I had to start from scratch again, which as a woman in her 30s from a different country, is actually quite difficult. I had to deal with the fact that all the plans we made together, marriage and children were no longer on the horizon.

I have constant anxiety that I have now ‘missed the boat’. I hear my clock ticking louder than ever before.

Meanwhile, Paul quickly moved on with someone else.

It’s not all negative, though. I’ve learned a lot during the last couple of years. I’ve learned that I need to put myself first, that my needs should not have to be compromised for any man, and that you can’t change someone who doesn’t want to be changed.

I just hope that things get better soon. Because if Paul should get his chance of happiness, then I damn well deserve mine.

The author of this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo.

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