Should I have ended my engagement?

Hi Meredith,

Two years ago, when I was 27, I broke up with my fiancé who I'd been with for four years. At the time, I'd fallen for someone else, making me think there must have been something missing in my relationship. The breakup was devastating for both of us, but he's a great person (better than I deserve) and never treated me badly or angrily for having cheated on him. We're still on good terms, though we don't talk or see each other regularly.

Since then, I've dated a few people casually. A few weeks ago, I started to miss my ex a lot, wanting to talk to him more and spend time with him. I miss the beautiful life we'd built. I asked him if he'd want to go on a date to see if there was anything there, and he said no. He's moved on and wouldn't go there again. I'm devastated and heartbroken all over again. I think a part of me was clinging to this relationship, feeling like I was the one who ruined it with my wandering eye. He was always wonderful to me, and I didn't appreciate it enough. I know I'll never cheat again, but how do I forgive myself for the past and move on from what I thought could’ve been the happiest life for me?

– Uncertain and Unsure

This isn't just about forgiving yourself – it's also about trusting yourself.

Two years ago, you made a decision based on real feelings and concerns. You were uncomfortable signing on for a lifetime commitment with your fiancé, so instead of going through with it, you were honest. I'm not sure that was a mistake at all.

But because of the timing of all of this, you weren't able to pause and grieve the relationship after it was over. You say you were devastated, but you were also distracted by your feelings for someone else. Then you started dating others. Now that you have a moment to think, you're finally saying, "Wow, it's really sad that I was with a wonderful man for four years and now he's gone." That kind of grief can hit hard, even when the decision was for the best.

Lately I've been noticing that a lot of people in my life who were dumpers (the people who ended long, almost-forever relationships) experience their grief very late. It's sort of comforting, actually, to see them reflect and miss an ex. Breakups are sad for all parties, at different times, in different ways.

Don't mistake your sadness for longing. You left the relationship because you fell for someone else, and that happened because there was something missing, at least for you. If you had been living your happiest life, you would have made different decisions.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this second-guessing part of the process? Is the letter writer's age part of this?