relationship advice

[Two Pronged] My ex fiancé got engaged (to someone else) right away

Jeremy Baer
[Two Pronged] My ex fiancé got engaged (to someone else) right away
'How do I get over an ex fiancé who got engaged the same year we broke up?'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,

How do I get over an ex fiancé who got engaged the same year we broke up? The current fiancée, who is 15 years younger than my ex and 13 years younger than me, has just turned 20. 

Her youthfulness and the fact that he was able to replace me so easily has triggered insecurity and hopelessness. 

Please help. 

Thank you for your advice and stay safe.


Dear Ana,

Thank you for your email.

Perhaps what might be helpful is to bring a little perspective to bear on your situation.

Firstly, when you and your fiancé broke up, you did so presumably because you didn’t think that you were suited to a lifetime commitment together. From that moment, your lives became totally separate (apart from your shared memories) and moved in different directions. Your ex resumed the single life, as did you, no longer bound by the constraints of engagement.

If it then transpired that he met someone to whom he got engaged more quickly than you did, that is no reflection on you whatsoever, just a matter of luck or karma. After all, we seldom have any control over how or where or when we meet a partner, leaving aside those who live in isolated communities or believe in arranged marriages and the like. (You may marry a high school sweetheart but if he had gone to a different school… or you may have met at a party (pre-COVID) but if either of you had not gone.)

To measure yourself against the speed with which he got re-engaged makes no more sense than measuring yourself against the speed with which the plants grow in your garden.

You interpret the youthfulness of his new 20 year old fiancée negatively but at the end of the day, if your lives have diverged definitively, what does it matter if she is 20, 30 or 40? You had your (undisclosed) reasons for ending the relationship and if she is foolish enough to get into bed with him (figuratively and literally) that is her lookout and perhaps her age may not have stood her in good stead.

It is time to stop looking back, decide how you want to live your life in the future, and if you have to measure yourself against others, do so using examples that will contribute to your growth and future happiness.

All the best,

JAF Baer

Dear Ana,

Thank you for your very honest letter.  Thank you for accurately describing how many women feel – hopelessness and insecurity – when their partners do as your partner did: move on.  As if that weren’t bad enough, he moved on with someone much younger than you.  

Granted, I do not know how you broke up but usually, when a person finds it difficult to move on, it is because the other instigated it OR behaved in such a way that, to maintain your self respect,  you had no other choice but to break up with him. 

Learning he found someone else so quickly adds to that sense of betrayal, especially if you have many reasons to suspect (even if you’re not sure) that he started going out with her even before you separated.

Of course you felt even more insecure finding out how young she was! This is not just because media, cultural mores, etc. teach us to fear “the younger woman” but because, evolutionarily speaking, younger women become pregnant more easily. 

Despite the above seeming a patently and simplistically sexist and ageist sentence, this reflects exactly what Richard Dawkins revealed in his book The Selfish Gene, considered the most influential science book of all time. 

In time, you may realize that at 33 and in this day and age, you are young and in your prime, and many secure and much smarter men than your ex will consider themselves lucky to find a woman such as you. Happily, most men in this day and age know there are more important considerations than how effective a baby mama his fiancé can prove she is.

You describe yourself as feeling hopeless. In my clinical experience, hopelessness is one of the clearest symptoms that you are depressed. That is highly probable, given what you have just been through, but depression need not last forever and can, in fact, be one of the easiest (and quickest) mental conditions to get over.  

While not all depression is, as Sigmund Freud described, “anger turned inward,” I feel yours might be. You might have an inner voice telling you how naïve you were to trust your former fiancé. 

This inner voice can quickly change – especially when depressed – to an overly critical negative voice that makes it hard for you to move past feelings of pain, shame and the unfairness of it all. 

It’s ok to be angry sometimes, but staying angry at yourself will just reinforce everything depression wants you to believe. 

There are times your inner “depression” voice can guide you towards being a kinder, more mature person, but before that, we usually have to recognize what’s going on (and I so hope this column has helped?) and turn this critical voice into a more realistic, positive one.

I have no doubt you can turn that voice around when you’re ready, Ana. True, depression takes both young and old, rich or poor, educated or not, as prisoners. 

However, usually people like you, fearless in looking at, describing, and accepting yourself have greater chances of getting over it more quickly. I sure hope that happens in your case.

All the best,

MG Holmes


Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.

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