Oh, what a mess.
October 7, 2012 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Supposed to be getting married to my long-term girlfriend, developing feelings for someone else, unsure of how to proceed.

I've been with my girlfriend for more than five years, we've lived together for about four, and we're set to get married in a few months (we're in our late 20s). The planning process has been stressful for me, in part because I am not particularly interested in having a wedding, and am not entirely sure that I am so into the idea of marriage as an institution. That said, I do love my girlfriend very much, and imagining a future together doesn't fill me with dread or anything like that. In fact, it feels very comfortable.

Having been together for so long, though, we've been in kind of a low-passion place for the last couple years, and the stress of wedding-planning has led to a lot of arguments (many about our future, i.e. whether or not we have one) and near-break-ups. A lot of these result from her sensitivity to my detachment about/disinterest in the whole event, which honestly comes more from a place of being overwhelmed by the idea of dealing with any of the logistics than anything else. There are times that going through with the wedding seems unthinkable, especially during the aforementioned fights, but then there are times when I feel like it'll all work out and it's the right choice to be making. We've recently started couples counseling to try to figure things out.

Also probably contributing to my confusion and ambivalence on whether or not to get married is the fact that I've developed feelings for one of my co-workers. I've only known her for about six months, and I developed a major crush on her fairly soon after meeting her. Being around her makes me feel happy, and I feel comfortable talking with her and being honest in a way that I don't really with my girlfriend, especially in this particularly fraught and stressful pre-wedding atmosphere where a lot of walking on eggshells seems to be the safest approach. There are times when I think that my co-worker might return these feelings, but then there are times when it seems patently obvious that this is not the case. She also has a long-term boyfriend, with whom she's been having problems lately. I'm really into her, which makes me feel like a scumbag, especially since I know it's detracting from my relationship with my girlfriend.

I recognize that this situation is largely one of my own making; I agreed to get married even though my heart wasn't fully in it because I felt like it was time to take the plunge, and because my girlfriend was pressuring me pretty much every day (and had been intermittently for probably about a year prior.) I also feel like a prize jerk for harboring this fairly intense crush on someone and probably acting with them in a way that my girlfriend wouldn't be very happy with if she knew (though mostly nothing that two fairly close platonic friends of opposite sexes wouldn't reasonably do, along with some light to moderate flirting.) If she did reciprocate, though, I would be sorely tempted to break it off with the woman I'm about to marry in order to see where it went with her, which I feel intensely guilty about at times. In spite of this, I feel like if I had simply never met her, I'd be more happily proceeding down the path to marriage with my girlfriend, and possibly filled with less doubt about the whole thing. But maybe there would have been someone else, or something else that caused me to doubt what I was doing.

I wonder if:
1) I'm just kind of not into the idea of getting married to, or possibly even being with my girlfriend, and am going along with this wedding thing even though I've checked out of the relationship.
2) I'm displacing my feelings of anxiety over the stress of planning the event and the commitment it's meant to symbolize into my feelings for my co-worker, but I actually do want to be with my girlfriend and getting married will ultimately prove to be something I'm happy about.
3) other?

I realize that this question is kind of all over the place, as I'm having a lot of trouble processing the whole situation, but I'd really appreciate any insights and/or advice about where to go from here. Thank you in advance.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Don't marry your girlfriend if you don't want to. Let her find a man who will actually be excited -- thrilled to bits -- about marrying her. She doesn't deserve to be married to someone who's at best half-hearted about the whole thing.
posted by baby beluga at 7:08 AM on October 7, 2012 [71 favorites]

Please call the engagement off.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:10 AM on October 7, 2012 [19 favorites]

Reading this, I don't have any advice except to say that it is kind of hard to imagine you happily married to your fiance 5, 10, 15 years down the line.

Is that the case with you as well?
posted by zachawry at 7:12 AM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

No way to know for sure. Postpone the wedding before planning becomes even more of a pressure cooker and you flip out and do something you regret. You can always elope in a year once you've calmed down and processed this all.
posted by crabintheocean at 7:16 AM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

If simply planning a wedding leads to this much trouble, confusion and doubt then don't get married. Trust me, the wedding is the easiest part of a marriage.
posted by teamnap at 7:18 AM on October 7, 2012 [14 favorites]

We've recently started couples counseling to try to figure things out.

As long as you have entered into counseling in good faith, save your permanent decisions for after you do the honest work involved in figuring things out; you won't need any internet advice that way.
posted by headnsouth at 7:23 AM on October 7, 2012 [9 favorites]

Have you talked to your fiancée about this stuff? If yes, how did she react? If no, why not? Marriage is difficult at times, way more difficult than planning a wedding, and if you can't/won't talk to her about how you're feeling in this time of relatively minor stress, it's not likely you'll be able to do so when something really stressful happens (and it will.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:23 AM on October 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Planning a wedding that your fiance has mainly checked out of has got to be one of the most grim and disillusionizing experiences. Even if this other person was in the picture, I'd be advising you to make your best effort to snap out of it already.

You are living in a fantasy world right now. You're not dealing with reality as it exists, as you have helped make it. The longer you walk around in a fog, the worse it will be for everyone.

I think it's very telling that you've pinned your attractions onto a partnered co-worker, pretty much the pinnacle of unattainable targets. It's fantastical to the extreme. Nursing this fantasy will only bring you heartache, and you have nothing to offer her in your current state.

Abandon your crush, deal with your wedding plans as a fully engaged human. If in doing so you discover that you are definitely NOT ready to get married, then don't. Right now you are afraid of knowing that for sure, so you are checking out and forestalling having to confront that issue.
posted by hermitosis at 7:25 AM on October 7, 2012 [61 favorites]

-I am not particularly interested in having a wedding
-not entirely sure that I am so into the idea of marriage as an institution
-we've been in kind of a low-passion place for the last couple years
-a lot of arguments (many about our future, i.e. whether or not we have one) and near-break-ups
-I've developed feelings for one of my co-workers
-I agreed to get married even though my heart wasn't fully in it because I felt like it was time to take the plunge
-I would be sorely tempted to break it off with the woman I'm about to marry in order to see where it went

Please read what you've written and reconsider. It sounds like you don't want to get married and aren't ready to be married.

I feel like if I had simply never met her, I'd be more happily proceeding down the path to marriage with my girlfriend

Nothing you've said suggests that this is remotely true. There are seven billion people in the world. There are so many people you could have a happy relationship with that it would take you a thousand years just to shake hands with each of them. The only reason you're noticing one of them, now, is that you want to extract yourself from a promise of marriage that was made for the wrong reasons.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:29 AM on October 7, 2012 [16 favorites]

The crush is almost certainly just your emotions looking for an escape valve: you've put yourself in an unpleasant situation (agreeing to marry someone you pretty clearly don't want to be married to) so any alternative is going to seem preferable.

Put the crush out of your mind; it's a side effect, not the cause. But also don't get married: "because she pressured me into it and I felt like it was what I was supposed to do" is not a foundation for lifelong happiness.

It is going to be NO FUN AT ALL breaking up with your fiancée. But it will be much much worse getting a divorce.
posted by ook at 7:30 AM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

1. I've been with my girlfriend for more than five years, we've lived together for about four, and we're set to get married in a few months (we're in our late 20s).

2. Having been together for so long, though, we've been in kind of a low-passion place for the last couple years,

Five years is not a long time in a lifetime. If you are already loosing interest in the first chapter, what makes you think this book is going to get any better? It would however seem to me that you know this - the crush is an outlet or way out - and the only reason you are asking this question is to get the courage to do what you obviously know you must do.

It doesn't get better.
posted by three blind mice at 7:32 AM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

It is really good that you are in couples' counseling. Can you have a session just on your own? You really need to flush out all these emotions with someone in a safe environment.

Even if you break up with your girlfriend, you should not pursue the crush until you are more sure of yourself. You sound very young and a bit un-formed. You probably won't be a great husband until you have had a bit more life experience.

Your girlfriend wants to get married and have a big wedding. You do not. What else do you not agree on? Is this going to cause problems down the road? Will she pout and argue every time she doesn't get her way exactly? Will you shut down and sulk when you don't? And what about the sex? It's not going to get better once you are married. It might be time to take a break and re-visit the relationship in a few months.
posted by myselfasme at 7:40 AM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think the comments along the lines of seeing where counseling takes you are good. Think about what makes the crush so appealing - are there things about her that you actually like better in comparison to your fiancee? Or is it the appeal of something new? If it's the latter, how can you get some of that back with your fiancee? In any relationship, after a while there are bound to be ruts and times that are more comfortable than exciting. That doesn't necessarily mean the relationship is doomed, it just means you have to try some things to get some spark going again.

One other thing to consider is if the logistics of wedding planning overwhelm you, maybe talk to your fiancee about scaling things back a bit. I could imagine it would be very stressful for me if I didn't want an over-the-top event and my SO were asking my thoughts about seating arrangements and all these things that don't matter to me. If it seems like the wedding planning itself is becoming more important than what a wedding should celebrate, then you guys should have a conversation about dialing it back a notch.
posted by Terriniski at 7:41 AM on October 7, 2012

A friend got married just last year. Recently I've heard he has asked for a divorce. I don't know all the details, but he told me he went to the wedding already half convinced it was a bad idea, but carried along by circumstance, as you seem to be. As others have said, lots of alarms are going off for you. Listen to them.
posted by zadcat at 7:47 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Getting married because you have been with your girlfriend for five years and you feel like it was "time to take the plunge" does not a happy marriage make.

I think you need to do some soul-searching: Are you running away now because the stress of planning a wedding is getting to you? Were you really checked out of the relationship before the wedding plans began? Is being "comfortable" all you want in your marriage?

Whatever you decide, you must talk to your fiancée about how you really feel. Being distant is not helping her or the situation you're in, and is probably making it a ton more stressful.

Good luck!
posted by spooky car at 7:51 AM on October 7, 2012

I agreed to get married even though my heart wasn't fully in it because I felt like it was time to take the plunge, and because my girlfriend was pressuring me pretty much every day

This is the problem, not your crush. You shouldn't be marrying someone you're not actually excited to marry.

It sounds like you're making a choice but not really owning it--to explain why you're choosing to get married, you say that you feel like "it's time" to get married, and that your girlfriend has been pressuring you.

If you truly want to get married, you need to set aside the stuff about social pressure and pressure from your girlfriend--you need to commit to owning this decision so that, when things are hard, you don't fall back on thinking, "Well, I was pressured into this, I can't be held responsible..." On the other hand, if you don't want to get married, you have every right to break off the relationship--and should do so, for your own as well as for your fiancee's sake. Either way, you need to own your choice. Individual counseling may help you to sort out what you really want.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:56 AM on October 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

Also, this: I [...] am not entirely sure that I am so into the idea of marriage as an institution is something you need to sort out before you enter into a marriage with anyone. To hold such an ambivalent view and yet be prepared to enter into a marriage is essentially setting yourself up with another "out" if you and your wife hit a rough patch--"Well, I never even really bought into the idea of marriage as an institution..."

You don't have to believe in marriage, ever, but don't get married (to anyone) unless/until you do.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:03 AM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was you recently, except the looming issue wasn't a wedding, it was buying a house together. To make a long story short, before the house purchase went through, I ended the relationship. It was (and still is) ugly. But I know 100% that it's a lot LESS ugly than it would have been otherwise - much less ugly than selling a house, or getting a divorce, or splitting custody of children.

I used to think if I just kept going that things would get better and I would eventually be happy. Now that I've ended things, NOW things are better, and now I'm happy.

Everyone deserves happiness.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 8:25 AM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

Couples counseling is good but maybe you should have some individual therapy sessions, maybe with a different doctor.

If I were about to marry someone, and found out they felt the way you describe, I would call it off.
posted by BibiRose at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

the stress of wedding-planning has led to a lot of arguments (many about our future, i.e. whether or not we have one) and near-break-ups

I feel comfortable talking with her and being honest in a way that I don't really with my girlfriend, especially in this particularly fraught and stressful pre-wedding atmosphere where a lot of walking on eggshells seems to be the safest approach.

Lots of couples get through the stress of wedding planning without lots of arguments over whether they've got a future together, or near-breakups, or having to walk around on eggshells. It's not the stress of wedding planning that is causing these cracks in your relationship: rather, the cracks are merely the sign of fundamental, pre-existing structural weaknesses that are inherent in your relationship. Once the wedding is over, do you expect to live out the rest of your lives free of stressful situations, tempting co-workers, etc.?

Your foundation is unsound. It's not enough to shore it up and hope you get through this current storm. Because this won't be the last one.
posted by drlith at 8:33 AM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Calling off the wedding does not mean having to call off the relationship. You might need to do that, or you might not. What you need now is some more time.

Your question reminds me uncomfortably of this one from about a week ago. I made a harsh response to that one, but later on I felt real pity, because the guy never meant to be malicious. He just wandered into a life he hated, because it seemed like the kind of thing a grownup would do. Do you want to find out you've done that?
posted by Countess Elena at 8:39 AM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

There are times when I think that my co-worker might return these feelings, but then there are times when it seems patently obvious that this is not the case.

I don't think you can know this for sure. I've had some pretty considerable feelings for a while now towards a guy I know who's in a similar relationship to yours. Sometimes I think it's clear how much I like him. And then when I realize how obvious (I think) I'm being, I freak out and pull back and try to hide it and act uninterested. Because it's not appropriate or fair to do that to him while he's still in that relationship. Plus, I wouldn't want to start a new relationship by being a shit and breaking two people up, and he's a good enough guy that I assume he would feel the same way. If it were ever to end for its own reasons, I would tell him how I felt. But only then. So maybe she does return your feelings, but wants to wait until you're actually single.

I agree it doesn't sound like you're too into getting married, 5 years isn't that long, and that your crush may just be a sign of checking out of your relationship. What everyone else said.
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 8:39 AM on October 7, 2012

Some scattered thoughts:

-Your little emotional affair with your coworker is a symptom, not the disease. You need to mentally separate that issue from what's going on with you and your fiancé.

- True, five years is not a long time in the larger scheme of things but it's plenty of time for that initial thrill to to have worn off in your relationship. I think after being together for years, getting married can seem kind of anticlimatic as the cultural expectation for newlyweds remains that of two crazy young people head over heels in love, ready to rip each other's clothes off after the wedding, and excited to start their new life together. When, in reality you've experienced life together for some time, love each other in a deeper but less exciting and more companionate way and are probably going to fall asleep exhausted after the wedding, it can cause you to second guess yourself. If you feel you need to be head over heels in love at this very moment to marry someone - I'm sorry but that's just not going to be the case after five years. The same would be true if you left your current gf to run away with your coworker. At this point you need to ask yourself: do I love this person? Do we make a good team? Are we compatible in the ways that are important? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, you need to man up and own your decision to become a husband. Which means in part, you need to knock shit off with the coworker because it's hurting your future wife. If the answer is no, that's okay too. You know what you have to do.

- Finally, a wedding is not a marriage. Being opposed to weddings is a lot different from being opposed to getting married. Which one do you really have the issue with? If it's the former, I say suck it up and let your fiancée have her thing if it will make her happy. If you help her out, you might even get a say as to how elaborate or not this shindig is gonna be. And seriously, help her out. Wedding planning is super stressful and emotional. And brides are under a lot of pressure from different factions. Don't be the fiancé who makes it worse by being disinterested and unsympathetic.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:45 AM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wedding, marriage, engagement, relationship, commitment, pact, contract, lust are phases and facets of pairing. Some are durable, some biological, and some are societal structures. Civilization is an overlay placed on top of the animals we are. Part of it is the reciprocal ownership implicit in pairing. The animal part motivates and the societal part attempts to control it.

Biology wants you to be serially monogamous. That's what humans are. You're done with your partner. You bred. (It wasn't successful, but the window is now gone.) The evidence is where you usually find it... in the no-lust zone. In the friction of two people not doing what the other wants. In the implicit drive for individuality and self-direction.

Society doesn't care what you do. It has setup some hurdles, though, to allow you to test the waters and see if a relationship has long term potential. The current one apparently does not, though if you had followed the rules, you would have married in a year or less and now you would have one or two kids and be posting pre-divorce questions at about the same 5-8 year interval.

You, recognize it or not, are indifferent to your finance. A balanced analysis will likely show she brings about as much as she takes in happiness, and vice versa. Your word choice and expression contain a lot of subtext. You are asking a question, but to me at least, you clearly know the answer you want. She's not indifferent to you, but appears to be very interested in that wedding thing. Who is probably less important than when. If you were more important, the wedding would take its proper place as an unnecessary token of public commitment.

You, recognize it or not, are looking for an out. It looks like a skirt at work and funny how it conveniently showed up when things are headed towards a climax with your fiancee.

The contents of the skirt are immaterial. Whoever is wearing it is just a target. You would / can / could find one anywhere. This particular one knows this is her last chance to knock your fiancée off the bicycle. Time is of the essence. You've telegraphed contingent commitment, and potential flexibility, and can probably identify how you did both. You have to be honest with yourself to do that. People approach the approachable, normally.

You are clearly chafing at the control aspects, and your flowery words about The Skirt are the same ones you can find on any 10 new-love posts every day here. There should be some TL;DR acronym metafilter could use to save bandwidth costs. She is/will be no different than your current squeeze. She's just occupying the same position as fiancée once occupied early on. At some point, she'll lose her gloss, too, as will you. At the beginning, limerance (translate to oxytocin) intoxicates you to dullness of her shortcomings and testosterone makes you both think you are sexy, regardless of whether it's arbitrarily so. Remember, there is an animal inside. You aren't all brains and reason.

Do you need permission to what you want to do? You know you want out.

What are you afraid of? Hurt now or hurt later, hurt is hurdling your way.

Did you ever consider that this is so common that society provides this little test period so that you can do exactly what you are doing? That would be pre-verifying incompatibility. Compatibility means more than liking the same food. It means possessing the same frameworks, tolerance, morals, operational assumptions, memes, goals, honesty, problem solving skills, overlap and coverage of capabilities. It does not mean "staying in a relationship just because". That's called inertia, not love. Acquiescence is not compatibility.

I'm with everyone else here, almost. Don't marry this one and I add, "prepare for more in the future". Almost no one on mefi can point to having ONE relationship by the time they are 30. Most have innumerable breakups, a few serious couplings, and as many crackups. It's the way we work. Serial monogamy.

I'm a cynic in these matters, not a romantic. I mourn the loss of magic that happens when limerance fades. Contentment can take part of the place of that, but it's a subtle wine that takes a while to savor and detect. It gets overwhelmed washed away in the beer of infatuation. When you are ready to accept this trade, you'll know it. You can't force yourself to be taller and you can't talk your way into emotions. You can try and lie to yourself, but yourself will figure it out soon enough and you're screwed. That is what "therapy" and "counseling" are... attempts to reason through your desires and emotions.

In the contest of animal and society, animal usually wins.

Your upcoming wedding will be a waste of time, money and effort. Can you see why? Why do it, then? If it's a bad decision, don't follow through. You are not ready. The Skirt is immaterial and your fiancee-bot is something with its own program, and that program is clearly not yours.

It's hard doing hard things. What's even harder is doing them later, when there are 100 interlocking tangles you've built. Now's the time to be an adult.
posted by FauxScot at 9:28 AM on October 7, 2012 [17 favorites]

honestly comes more from a place of being overwhelmed by the idea of dealing with any of the logistics than anything else.

Cut the bullshit. The logistics aren't the problem. If you were truly excited about the idea of marrying this woman, then the logistics wouldn't phase you a bit. And being truly excited about marrying someone is the only reason to ever do it. So please don't do it.

My man, you are asking the internet whether your engagement is a good idea. You clearly have a tonne of work to do you on yourself before you commit yourself to someone.

And for pity's sake give up on the crush on the already-involved co-worker. With that thrown in to the mix you are treading seriously close to oblivious asshole territory, here. I mean, you might as well be reading to us out of a textbook: man facing fear of commitment suddenly discovers love in a completely unattainable other woman. Riiight. It's not love, it's a cry for help from you to yourself - doubling as a handy way to sabotage the engagement rather than calling it off and owning up to it, and without taking a serious look at yourself and your feelings. ("I've found a truer love!" is so much easier than "I'm coming to terms with what I really think about the nature of relationships and my own desires.")

You're young yet, so take it from someone who's been on both sides: stringing someone along in a relationship is an awful, horrible thing to do. One of the worst. Worse than ending an engagement, even. It's poison, and you'll both drink it.

Man the fuck up and be honest with yourself about what you want, then be honest with your fiancee, and take your lumps. Whatever happens after that, believe me, it will be better than drinking the poison.
posted by regicide is good for you at 10:12 AM on October 7, 2012 [12 favorites]

Anecdotal: During my engagement, we had father's and grandfathers dying. Jobs were lost. People got diagnosed with cancer. And I never once contemplated with the ambivalence that you've displayed here, "I don't know if I feel like doing this," in regards to marrying my husband. We made it happen because it was important to us. Right now, it is only important to one of you. Save yourself the divorce attorney's fees and call this off now.

If you can't even bother to be in love with your fiance during your engagement, and your non-enthusiasm is pissing on her cheerios to the point that wedding planning results in multiple fights, why are you going through the motions? That she had to bully you into a commitment should have been your first sign.
posted by haplesschild at 10:32 AM on October 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

What about doing some form of pre-marriage counselling together? It makes you think harder about the nuts and bolts of marriage and the commitments and decisions you'd have to make for each other. That includes handling conflict, decisions about kids (do you want them? who is the primary caregiver? what religion will they be raised in? where do you want them to be educated?), finances (what do you want retirement to look like? what happens if one/both of you loses a job? or wants to change a career?), handling illness, end of life care, and caring for aging parents. You two have been together through the "easy" part; you need to think long and hard about whether or not you want to be there for the hard parts. Another question to think about: Do you see marriage as a closing of possibilities, or a way of solidifying an alliance that will help you go where you want to go?

I think it's also worth examining why your fiancee is so set on marrying you when you've been obviously reluctant. A lot of people have jumped onto the idea that you are stringing her along and making her feel insecure. Yes, wanting to marry someone who isn't interested in marrying you will make you feel very insecure and unhappy. On the other hand, it seems like she may be pushing for marriage because she's feeling insecure, and not because she wants to be married. Why is she so focused on making you do something you don't want to do? Marriage won't fix the intimacy issues that the two of you have. "A few years" of low passion and emotional intimacy seems like a long time. Long term relationships settle into a period of easy companionship, sure, but there's usually a cycle of drawing apart and coming back together. What pushed the two of you apart? Can you fix it? It's better to postpone the wedding and figure it out instead of having the wedding and figuring out later that you can't fix it.

Finally: handle the question of what to do about the coworker after you've handled the huge problem of your relationship with your fiancee. Maybe this coworker is your one true love, maybe not. It doesn't matter. You don't have the resources to deal with her right now. You are currently a mess. If you spend any time with this coworker outside of work--including texts, phonecalls, chats, Facebook messaging/"likes", or emails--cut it off. Become unavailable, for the sake of everyone involved. You can't realistically develop a new relationship with this coworker while trying to fix or end your old one. It's too messy--you won't get over a 6 year relationship in a month, or even six months. You will only end up hurting and disappointing everyone involved.
posted by rhythm and booze at 10:41 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nobody here really knows whether you should be getting married or not.

But it is REALLY CLEAR that you should see a therapist because you're really botching up your life by not building integrity and having a strong sense of self. Is the guy who posted this question really the guy you want to be?
posted by discopolo at 11:34 AM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

If you can't handle wedding planning, how will you handle illness? Money problems? Children? Buying a house?

Don't marry her. She deserves better, and you do too. If you care about her, or yourself, then take a deep breath and face the ugly, but temporary, unpleasantness of breaking up.

I would hate to be your fiancee, talking myself into marrying a guy who is dragging his feet. That's gotta hurt. It's not going to feel any better after the wedding either. For either of you.
posted by emjaybee at 1:06 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Please talk to your fiancee. Tell her about your crush and your ambivalence. Be honest, even if it's scary.

I was you once. I ignored my feelings. I was divorced in under two years. Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I'd trusted my relationship enough to say to my then-fiance, "I'm scared. I'm having these feelings. They are overwhelming me."

Instead, I pushed them down and went on with the show. In the end, it created so much pain for both of us.

If you are talking to your co-worker in a more honest, genuine way than you are talking to your fiancee, you are doomed. Because every one of those moments is taking you farther and farther from the connection you need to have with the person you're supposed to be marrying.

Maybe you'll talk to her and decide to call off the wedding. Maybe being honest will clear things up a bit for you and you'll realize you've just been kinda freaking out. No matter what the outcome, talking honestly with your fiance is the ONLY thing you need to be doing right now. I know this because I lived it and I didn't make the right decision.
posted by missjenny at 1:59 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

My exhusband married me because it seemed like the thing to do -- we had been together since our senior year of college, had been living together five years and had been planning a wedding for almost two years. If I could hazard a guess, I would say he probably had reservations about it but hoped that making a commitment would fulfill him and make things better. He'd been accepted to law school and we had the makings of a very bright future together.

In our first year of marriage, I got sick. I spent about six months in the hospital. It wasn't clear if I'd make it. It was the sort of thing that would have strained even a marriage based on passionate love and devotion rather than tepid self interest. My ex withdrew and left; this wasn't what he'd signed up for. He went to law school in the fall and forbade me to join him there. I was served divorce papers in bed; I couldn't get up to walk to the door.

Marriage is a big deal and a big commitment. If you're not ready to commit to someone to that degree, don't do it. You could get a curveball -- and if you're caught unprepared, you won't handle it. You don't sound prepared. My ex forever has that Newt Gingrich mark on his record. He seems like a terrible person because of it. The truth is that he just should never have married me.
posted by sweltering at 3:24 PM on October 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

When you're considering calling off your wedding, calling off the wedding is literally never the wrong decision.
posted by univac at 4:08 PM on October 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

Your question reads as a pretty clear statement of what you want to do. You're not into this. Don't pretend to be. That does not go well.
posted by ead at 5:14 PM on October 7, 2012

At the minimum, you need to get individual counseling. But to tell you the honest to God truth, every single couple that I've known, where one partner or the other came to me and said, "I really don't know about getting married", or "I'm only doing it because she's been asking me about it every day", or something along those lines - those couples were divorced within two years.

Ending the engagement will suck. It will suck a lot, and it's hard to tell people you're calling it off. But divorce is so, so, so much worse. Also, pay attention to what sweltering said - you don't know what the future will bring. In my case, it was a partner diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 2 years after the wedding. He's been in some really bad situations with his illness since then. I've had a couple moments saying to myself, "Gods, I had no idea this is what I was signing up for... I thought we'd have decades before we had to deal with this stuff." My next move, though, is to sigh deeply and remember that none of us knows the future. And then talk to my husband to figure out what WE can do to have the best life TOGETHER.

That's not to brag. That's to say, what will you do if you're faced with something similar? You're already one foot out the door.

And leave the coworker out of it - you're enough of a hot mess that you need some time alone to figure things out.
posted by RogueTech at 9:37 PM on October 7, 2012

As the female part of a currently engaged couple in the midst of wedding planning, I have to tell you honestly I would be devastated if you were my fiancé. Fortunately, your details don't match up with our relationship. (Whew.)

That said, I would rather have the relationship or wedding called off mid-engagement than have to explain a swift divorce or annulment (or a prolonged unhappy marriage that makes one or both of us miserable) later on to all who gathered to watch us commit for what is supposed to be a lifetime. It's also not cheap to get married or divorced. I'm talking both about the economic cost and emotional cost. I'd be hurt if I thought he wasn't that into me now, but I'd be way more hurt if I found out my fiancé or husband cheated on me. That's unforgivable in my book. You're on the precipice of that now and haven't taken the plunge yet (assuming — a big assumption — the object of your affection is even interested in reciprocating, when in fact your dumping your long-time girlfriend may repel her even more than other mitigating facts, such as her own relationship or professional concerns). But if you're already seriously entertaining the thought of cheating, or being tempted by a not-that-into-you co-worker, you're probably not ready to commit to one woman for life. If you're not excited to spend the rest of your life with this one woman, do both yourselves a favor and cancel the wedding. Save everyone the money and the heartache.

A final thought: Because I love my financé, I honestly want nothing more than to see him happy. I'd rather have him be happy without me than miserable because he's settling for me out of a sense of obligation, which is how your post reads. You owe it to yourself and to her to bow out gracefully if you can't commit, that gives you the opportunity to sow your oats and her the opportunity to find someone who will be excited about spending their life with her.
posted by ilikemethisway at 10:55 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Six months ago I was you. I posted a very similar question here, in fact: http://ask.metafilter.com/212341/Another-should-I-get-married-question

If you're anything like me, you might find yourself thinking, why should I listen to internet people? Maybe feeling rebellious. Even after posting the question to them. It turns out they can be smart.

I had a beautiful wedding. The friend I was crushing on attended the wedding and I was so much more invested in how I felt about him than how I felt about my husband. Directly after arriving at our honeymoon destination, I freaked out hard and didn't stop until we cut the trip short and went home.

It still took me two months to do it. I agonized, we saw our counselor a lot more, I did a lot of hanging out with friends to avoid being alone at home with him. I did eventually move out, and we are now on the road to divorce only 4 months after the wedding.

I don't know this from experience yet, but I believe it to be true: YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY TO BE GETTING MARRIED. Not all the time, maybe, if planning and life stuff get in the way, but at a base level there should be happiness. If there isn't, something is wrong.

Here is some more incentive to cancel the wedding: the guy I was crushing on did return my feelings. This is complicating my life and making me feel like an ass with regard to my husband, but it also makes me feel like there's something to look forward to in life. I am enmeshed in doing what I can to prevent this from being a dumb rebound, including a mutual agreement with him to not see each other for two months to wait it out and see how we feel. I have hope. My potential relationship with this guy could crash and burn before it even begins, we both are aware of this. But still hope.
posted by erigeneia at 11:19 PM on October 20, 2012

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