Adapted from a recent online discussion.
If you know relationship is not right, get out as early as you can
Oldest trick in the book?: She got pregnant, we got engaged. I was resigned, if not thrilled. She subsequently miscarried and I saw no choice but to end our engagement.
The day I did so was literally the last time she and I spoke, and it's been over a month now. I guess I'm just seeking validation that what I did wasn't inherently wrong or evil.
Carolyn: No one's going to give you a medal.
But of your two choices — break up or remain engaged to someone you didn't want to marry — breaking up was the only one that held any promise of happiness for both of you in the long term, even though it meant telling someone who was already grieving, "Oh, and I also don't love you." So there's validation for you in that.
The reason it isn't a complete gosh-that-stinks pat on the back isn't just that you rejected someone who is (possibly) grieving. It's that the only good outcome in this situation was one you seem to have declined to choose when it became available, before the shotgun engagement. Your signature suggests you now have doubts she was even pregnant — and that plus the not-thrilled engagement says you were sleeping with someone you didn't love, didn't particularly trust, and possibly didn't agree with on some significant things, like what to do if she got pregnant.
There are so very many examples of people in relationships despite a full-blown set of doubts, few of them happy.
I realize that it's extremely difficult to act on those doubts and walk away from relationships — usually people do care to some degree, even strongly; I also realize that most people don't get punished for dithering the way you and she just did. Still, the fact remains that there are consequences to getting 100 percent involved with people you're less than 100 percent comfortable with.
I am sorry both of you got smacked with those consequences. Next time, please, see them coming — and get out as soon as you realize you're promising more than you feel.
No shame in looking inward before beginning a career
Va.: I graduated from college this winter, and took up full-time hours at the job I worked during class, but have since taken no steps to move forward with my career. I just feel paralyzed. Any words of advice or inspiration to get me moving forward?
Carolyn: Trust that the answer will come to you when you're ready for it, and enjoy being young and employed full time. There's a fine line between contentment and paralysis, but especially for someone just starting out, it's okay to decide you're on the contentment side and live your life a bit without agonizing over your next step. The career choices that suit you in the long run will be the ones that fit your lifestyle, temperament, habits and natural skills — and you're just starting to see how all of those things present themselves away from the protective scaffolding of school life.
Just make sure you're saving as big a chunk of your income as you can afford, because having money saved will help you act on your ideas when they come to you.