Header image!

Ending an Engagement: Break Slowly or Snap Suddenly?

Promenade by Auguste Macke

Tea:  PG Tips with a splash of milk

Music:  Handel:  Alla Hornpipe, Suite in D Water Music

Dear Erica,

I’ve gotten engaged to my boyfriend of nearly five years, but after just a few short weeks, I’ve decided I can’t go through with it.  How can I end it as nicely as possibly?  Do I tell him I’m having doubts now and then later on break the news gently?  Or do I tell him right away?  I know I will hurt him, and I do care for him, but I also know I’d be miserable if I married him.  What should I do?

Distressed in Denver

Dear Distressed in Denver,

If you are certain you want to end your engagement, I advise you to do it right away.  Unfortunately, breaking off an engagement is never easy, as Helen tells her sister Margaret in Howard’s End.

“Can you break an engagement off slowly?”  Her eyes lit up.  ”What’s an engagement made of, do you suppose?  I think it’s made of some hard stuff, that may snap.…

February 22, 2012   No Comments

Toothaches and Tragedy: The Truth behind a Broken Heart

Waterhouse's Lady of Shallot

Tea: Twining’s Earl Grey

Music:  Vivaldi:  Concerto in D for Lute & Strings, RV 93 – 3. Allegro

Dear Erica,

I just found out that my mother was in love with another man before she married my father. She has been getting on in years and let slip that her college boyfriend died at Vietnam, and she married my father almost immediately in a knee-jerk reaction. When she saw my shocked face, she quickly covered and said she of course loved my father, but I can’t get the story of her young lover dying in Vietnam out of my head. I just feel like deep down she must have been miserable all her life.   Any words of advice?

Traumatized in Tennessee

Dear Traumatized in Tennessee,

I can understand that you are shocked and upset. Your mother’s loss was tragic. But, I don’t believe she was miserable all her life. I am reminded of some wise words, uttered by a character in Anne of Avonlea. Miss Lavendar, an older friend of Anne Shirley, explains that a broken heart is not as dreadful as…

February 13, 2012   No Comments

The Steamy One Night Affair – Do you or Don’t you?


Tea: Earl Grey with a splash of Milk

Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme

Quote: “The fine flower of their intimacy was to her rather like an orchid, a bulb stuck parasitic on her tree of life, and producing, to her eyes, a rather shabby flower. She was aware only of the physical aversion. It rose up in her from her depths: and she realized how it had been eating her life away.” Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence


If the opportunity for the perfect, steamy, one-time affair came along, and you knew your partner wouldn’t find out, should you (1) take it because life is too short, OR (2) pass?


Torn in Temecula

My Response:

Dear Torn in Temecula,

As a hypothetical question, it is tricky because you are assuming the impossible, the perfect, steamy, one-time affair. If you are writing to me with this question, it shows that you are not the type to enter into a steamy, one-time affair lightly. Even if your partner won’t find out, you will most likely…

January 11, 2012   4 Comments

The Construction Worker & the Farmer – What do Emma and Conflicted in Chicago have in Common?


Tea:  English Breakfast with a Splash of Milk
Music: Erik Satie: 3 Gymnopedies

Quote:  What! think a farmer, (and with all his sense and all his merit Mr. Martin is nothing more,) a good match for my intimate friend! Not regret her leaving Highbury for the sake of marrying a man whom I could never admit as an acquaintance of my own! You are not just to Harriet’s claims. Emma by Jane Austen


Dear Erica,

My best friend just got engaged and I don’t know what to do.  Her fiance is nice enough, and he treats her well, but I just don’t think he’s good enough for her. I don’t mean to be a snob, but he’s a construction worker, and she’s in her third year of a Phd in Comparative Literature. He, and most of his friends, did not even complete a college degree!  What do I do?  Do I tell her what I think?  Should I try to get her to break it off?


Conflicted in Chicago


Dear Conflicted in Chicago,

You clearly haven’t read…

December 10, 2011   3 Comments

Will Passion or Prudence win out for Nervous in New York?


Tea: Green Tea with Lemon

Music: Wilco: Impossible Germany

Quote:  Elinor knew that what Marianne and her mother conjectured one moment, they believed the next and that with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect. She tried to explain the real state of the case to her sister.
“I do not attempt to deny,” said she, “that I think very highly of him, that I greatly esteem, that I like him.”
Marianne here burst forth with indignation,
“Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh! worse than cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise.” From Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen

Or for another, less erudite, perspective,
Never Regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience. Victoria Holt


Dear Erica,

I’ve been working and living in New York for the past few years and have just been accepted at business school at Stanford. Of course, now that I’m leaving New York, I finally got up the courage to flirt with my office crush, who to my complete surprise likes me back. Well, I’m tempted…

November 26, 2011   7 Comments