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How often do men break off engagements?

Getting engaged is an exciting milestone in a romantic relationship. However, not all engagements lead to marriage. Sometimes one or both partners realize they are not ready for such a big commitment and an engagement gets called off. This raises the question – how often do men break off engagements compared to women?

Why Do Engagements Get Called Off?

There are many reasons an engagement might end before a wedding can take place:

  • One or both partners realize they are not ready for marriage
  • There are unresolved issues in the relationship
  • Partners discover irreconcilable differences about major issues like having kids
  • Infidelity occurs
  • Major life changes like a job loss cause stress on the relationship
  • Family or friends point out red flags
  • The pressure and planning of a wedding highlights problems

Getting engaged is a major step, but it doesn’t automatically mean a couple is ready for the commitment of marriage. The engagement period serves as a trial run in a way, and allows time to ensure both partners are on the same page about spending their lives together. It’s not uncommon for doubts and dealbreakers to come up during this time. While breaking off an engagement can be disappointing and difficult, it’s ultimately better than going through with a wedding if the relationship has major issues.

Men Break Off More Engagements Than Women

Research indicates that men initiate break ups more often than women when it comes to calling off engagements. There are a few key statistics:

  • One study found that 2/3 of broken engagements are initiated by men.
  • Data from a wedding planning website reported 71% of canceled weddings were called off by the groom-to-be.
  • A survey revealed that 32% of men got cold feet before the wedding compared to only 15% of women.

The consistent data shows that men tend to be the partner backing out of engagements more often than women. There are a variety of possible explanations for this gender difference.

Why Men Are More Likely To Call It Off

Some key reasons men may be more prone to rethink engagements include:

  • Men commit sooner: On average, men propose and commit at younger ages than women. They may realize they are not ready.
  • Less social pressure: Women face more familial and societal pressure to get married, while bachelors face less judgment.
  • Independence fears: Some men worry marriage will require sacrifice of hobbies, friends, freedom.
  • Doubts about monogamy: Men report more hesitation about lifelong monogamy.
  • Women initiate dating: If women push relationships to advance faster, men may not be at the same level.

These factors can make men more likely to experience last minute doubts or feel unprepared as a wedding approaches. While stereotypes shouldn’t be applied to all couples, general patterns like these do emerge.

How Common Are Broken Engagements?

Exactly how many engagements end before marriage? Estimates vary:

  • About 15-20% of engagements get called off based on various reports.
  • The rate may be as high as 50% for couples under 25 years old.
  • Amongst couples ages 35-45, around 14% break engagements.

In summary, somewhere between 15-20% of engagements don’t make it to the altar. Couples who get engaged at younger ages have a higher rate of split ups before weddings. Older couples tend to have lower broken engagement rates, likely due to being more established in careers, lifestyles, and goals before committing.

When Do Breakups Happen?

Looking at when engagements fall apart provides further insight:

  • Over half of called-off weddings occur within 4 months of getting engaged.
  • About 75% happen within 9 months.
  • Only 15% occur in the last 2 months right before the ceremony.

These patterns reflect that issues tend to arise earlier rather than later after couples take the big step of getting engaged. The first 6 months seem to be a make or break period. If significant doubts or problems don’t surface in that time, engagements are less likely to be split apart as the wedding date approaches.

How Men And Women Cope Differently

Breaking off an engagement can be an emotional event and men and women tend to react and cope in different ways:

Women’s Response

  • More likely to cry or be very upset initially
  • Turn to close friends and family for comfort
  • May blame themselves or struggle with self-esteem
  • Benefit from validating emotions and having a support system

Men’s Response

  • More likely to seem withdrawn or emotionless
  • Try to mask hurt feelings or pretend to be fine
  • Keep tight rein on emotions and don’t ask for help
  • May avoid talking about the breakup or deny it affected them

Due to differences in emotional expression, women usually have an outlet for heartbreak while men keep it inside. Coping mechanisms also diverge, with women vocalizing feelings and men retreating. However, both genders experience pain and sadness when engagements fail. Having a trusted confidant of the same sex can help men open up if they are hesitant to show vulnerability and emotion.

How to Move Forward After a Broken Engagement

It takes time for both parties to heal after ending an engagement. Here are some tips:

Give it time

There’s no set timeline for moving on. Feelings of grief, anger, and regret are normal initially. Be patient with the process.

Remove reminders

Put away gifts, photos, or wedding mementos so they’re not a constant reminder. Give yourself space.

Lean on loved ones

Don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with close family and friends who can listen without judgment.

Take care of yourself

Focus on your needs and things that bring you joy. Eat well, exercise, get sleep, and invest in self-care.

Change your scenery

A weekend getaway or new hobby can provide a constructive distraction as you transition to normalcy.

Get closure if needed

Have an honest conversation with your ex to address any unresolved issues or questions about why things ended.

Forgive yourself and ex

Harboring resentment will only lead to more pain. Accept that it wasn’t meant to be and make peace with it.

Remember lessons learned

Reflect on any positive takeaways about compromises, communication, and compatibility that will benefit future relationships.


Calling off an engagement can be painful and shocking when a couple expects to get married. However, it’s ultimately better than being stuck in a marriage that lacks strong commitment from both partners. Research shows men initiate breakups more often than women, especially at younger ages. While the party who ends things may mourn the relationship less, a broken engagement is hard on both sides. Seeking support and allowing time to heal are key to bouncing back. With resilience, understanding, and care for oneself, individuals can move forward stronger.