It was early afternoon two years ago when my fiancé said, “Wanna go get coffee?”

We’d never, in the almost three years of being in a relationship, gone for coffee. He hated coffee. I knew that something was wrong and I felt it in the pit of my stomach.

We didn’t end up grabbing coffee, instead we sat in his white Mustang in a nearby Mission Viejo suburb, where he admitted to cheating on me a week earlier when he was blacked out at a party. I remember hitting him on his chest, watching the tears stream down his face and wondering what I had done wrong to push him so far away. He dropped me off at my grandparent’s house and he drove down their street for the last time.

I was 17 when I asked him to buy me a ring from the jewelry store at Disneyland and I obsessed over my a-little-too-big cubic zirconia $16 emblem of our unending love that rested on my finger. We talked about having our ceremony on the beach and digging our toes in the sand. I wanted Harry Potter themed items in the décor and he loathed the idea. I should have seen that as the first red flag.

Now at 22 almost every month one of my Facebook friends becomes engaged. I see endless pictures of my feed of stunning rings with captions like "Feyonce", "He put a ring on it", and even more relationship statuses changed to "engaged" to finally cement their love.

(Photo via Huffington Post)

This May I went to one of my high school best friend’s wedding to her lover of only a few months, and I cried while I watched them dance and feed each other cake. I look at these pictures and rub the empty place on my finger where my old ring used to be. It’s hard not to measure my worth as a young woman in her 20s against these young and blushing brides–some years younger than me, flashing their pearly whites beside their handsome beaus. Obviously I know I’m worth more on my own than what a marriage license could give me, but how can I not see these new fiancés and remember when I, too, was planning my special day in a whirlwind romance of love?

It took months and months of crying, Netflix binging and late night conversations with friends in order to get over the man who “got away”. Even now, it’s hard not to feel a quiet pang in my heart when I watch David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding and wonder what could have been. For two years, though, I have never regretted the path that I’m now on.

What I realized is that relationship taught me a lot about my worth as a woman. Being left by someone I was going to walk down the aisle with broke me, but it made me realize what I did and didn’t want in a partner. It was hard, but because of it I take relationships very seriously. I follow my mother's advice, which is to never date anyone I wouldn't marry. I will never again settle for someone. Saying “I do” means more to me now than it ever did before. It doesn’t just mean pinning wedding dresses all day; it means building a lasting and trusting relationship with another person.

(Photo via Instagram)

While it's not my personal path, I say congratulations to all you newlyweds out there. And, to anyone else who is a bit jaded by all the social media engagements, remember we're all on our paths. Marriage isn't on the table for you right now, but it will when the time is right. As for me, I think I’m going to wait just a little bit longer, until I finally feel in my heart that a ring on my finger is meant to be.