Though you might think that being engaged multiple times is just something dudes on Bachelor in Paradise do (we’re looking at you Josh Murray and Evan Bass), it happens IRL, too, says licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., author of Should I Stay or Should I Go?
While finding out that your S.O. has actually popped the question to someone else in the past isn’t fun, it might not be a red flag, says Durvasula.
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It really just depends on how the engagement and subsequent breakup went down, she says. “He may have had the good sense to get out of that relationship because it wasn’t working.”
There are certain situations where a previous engagement isn’t such a BFD, like if he got engaged when he was young, proposed due to family pressure, or acknowledges that rushing into an engagement wasn’t the best move, says Durvasula. An engagement breakup is really just a regular breakup with higher stakes (an impending wedding), she says.
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But if he’s been engaged more than once in the past, it might be a warning sign. “He may be a serial Prince Charming,” says Durvasula. That means he seems amazing until things actually get serious and he bails (think: Desi from Girls).
Another sign that his previous engagements could mean trouble for your relationship is if you hear about his past fiancés from someone else. “That is a significant event,” says Durvasula, and, if your S.O. “forgets” to mention it, it’s natural for you to wonder what else he’s hiding from you, which could cause trust issues.
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If you’re worried that his previous engagement(s) will impact your relationship or you can’t get over the fact that he asked someone else to marry him in the past, it’s important to discuss it with him on your own or with the help of a relationship therapist, says Durvasula.
Plus, every story is different, she notes. Even if he kept his engagement a secret, it’s possible he was just embarrassed about the fact that it didn’t work out, or he worried that you’d think less of him if you found out, she says.
“Having something like this hanging in the air without talking about it can negatively impact your relationship from the jump,” says Durvasula. “Clear the air, talk it out, and make decisions accordingly.”
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