28 Divorcees Opened Up About Their Lingering Regrets From Past Marriages, And It's A Hard-Hitting Reality Check

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who have been divorced to tell us about any regrets from their previous marriage. We heard from so many brave, vulnerable folks that we made a part two to share MORE stories.

1."We were married for 10 years. After a few years, he put everything before his family — work, hobbies, and friends. I begged and begged him to spend time with me and our kids. NOPE. Everything else was more important. He went outside our marriage, so I did as well...and I instantly regretted it. I regret the way our divorce went down. I regret being an emotional and mental punching bag for him. I regret not standing up for myself. I regret our lack of communication. There will be much better communication in the next marriage, and I will NOT be a punching bag. My next marriage will be completely and totally different from my first one, and 1,000x better!"


2."I regret marrying and having kids with someone terrible with money. I paid for everything when we were together, including buying him a vehicle and paying off his loans, and now he won't pay the monthly court-ordered childcare, and I am struggling to raise our children. When our children are grown, I'm sure he will sponge off them, negatively impacting their finances. He is a true parasite."


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3."I regret that I stayed in a relationship and married a man that, in the five years we were together, never gave me an orgasm. I had them before and have had them since the relationship, but sometimes you just aren't physically compatible with someone. Clearly, we weren't."


4."My biggest regret is that I didn’t work on myself more before marriage. It would have ended either way; we were two pieces that never quite fit together, but I would have been able to see the signs earlier, trust my instincts more, and spend fewer years fixing something that was clearly not working. I trusted societal standards instead of my gut, which caused a lot of turmoil for me. But as I started healing in my marriage (personal therapy and marriage counseling), I was able to see the signs, break the cycle, and feel better about my choice to walk away for good."


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5."I regret mistaking comfort for love. My (soon-to-be) ex-husband always made me feel very comfortable and safe. I was young and had gotten out of a toxic relationship a year before meeting him. He was the opposite of my ex and much older than me. He respected my feelings and ensured I was comfortable before initiating anything. He was a perfect guy on paper, but now that I look back, I don't think we ever truly loved each other. I thought that 'mature' love meant feeling comfortable and safe, and while that can be true to an extent, it made me ignore the other things a relationship should have. I've now realized that when you love someone, there are inevitable times of discomfort — times when you feel scared of losing, disappointing, or hurting them, and they should feel the same way about you periodically."

"Those feelings help you not take your relationship for granted. My ex and I had to learn that we were/are much better as friends than as married mates."


6."I regret marrying on the rebound. After some issues surrounding my divorce from my first husband, I felt like no one could find me desirable. Then, I bumped into my ex, who quickly clarified that he was still interested. I forgot there was an excellent reason he was my ex until two months after the wedding. Thankfully, I finally met the love of my life, and we've been happily unmarried for almost 25 years."


Person removing a wedding ring from ring finger
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7."I wish I'd recognized my use of porn as an addiction. I ended up using a lot of religious and spiritual self-deception to pursue marriage as a cover for my shame at wanting sex to make myself feel whole and happy. I knew porn was wrong and that I should've looked for a partner and love. That was unfair to her, and once we really knew each other, I couldn't pray away either of our red flags. I'd rather be abstinent now than harming mine and my partner's hearts."


8."I wish I hadn't ignored the red flags of how disrespectful and rude he was towards strangers or that he had only one friend, who is immature, disrespectful, inappropriate, and lacks manners."


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9."Don't marry someone to feel like you belong. I got married so I could feel like I belonged to a religion. It didn't work. No matter what, I was never going to be accepted. After 16 years, I was finally ready to accept I would never be happy in that marriage."


10."I regret getting married. I was miserable the morning of my wedding. When I saw him, I felt empty. I was young and had fallen for his 'no one else is going to take you' speech. I didn't have any self-worth. I found it and divorced him. And it didn't take another person to make me feel better. I just learned to value myself."


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11."The number one thing I regret after the end of my first marriage is not grieving. I was the reason we got divorced. I hid a heroin addiction for several years and was a functional alcoholic the entire relationship, so when it ended, I knew it was my fault, said my apologies, and took all the blame. To a huge extent, I still do. I know what I did was wrong. That said, she was my high school sweetheart; we were married for almost 10 years, had three kids, and lived on three continents together. There was a lot that I just accepted as gone without processing. Therapy has since helped me realize that my fault or not, something I loved died, and someone I loved was taken from me, and I should grieve that. We co-parent, we are kind to each other, and we fight like mad, but it's all so much easier now that I can say I regret the loss and am sad the marriage died, even if I killed it. It's complex, but what isn't in relationships?"


12."I hate to say this, but I regret having a kid with him. Since my ex's abuse was only towards me and not our daughter, he got 50% custody. Co-parenting with him was a nightmare, especially when it came to dealing with our child's behavioral issues. When I recognized the need for our child's therapy, he did whatever he could to undermine it. He would discredit me to the therapist and say I was paranoid. As a result, the therapist wrote off my concerns. He didn't believe that his child should experience consequences. When our child got into fights at school, he would harass the teacher who punished her. The result: Our child has been kicked out of school after being arrested for assaulting a teaching and school social worker. She has been institutionalized to avoid being incarcerated. This is after years of exhibiting violent behavior at home and school. It didn't have to be this way."

"Co-parenting is important whether you are divorced or married, and the gritty stuff shouldn't fall on one parent. It was more important to my ex to be the favorite parent than it was to ensure our child had the discipline she needed. As a result, our child got into trouble that his bullying can't get her out of."


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13."I don't wish I had never married him because we have two precious daughters together, but I wish I had divorced him sooner. I ended up having two affairs, the last of which I decided to divorce him for, only to find out after I filed the papers that the married man I was seeing did not do the same as he said he had. The future I had dreamt of with that man crashed and burned, and I was alone for a year. I wish I had divorced my ex before I put all my eggs in another man's basket. I should have done it for myself when I knew the marriage was bad and not waited until I found another man."


14."I had a feeling that I should call off the wedding about three weeks before, but my in-laws were covering a 450-person wedding, which was all paid for by that point. I thought, 'It can't be that bad,' and I went through with it. Wasting their money would have made a lot of people angry and disappointed, but it would've been better than a four-year abusive relationship."


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15."I regret ignoring all the red flags at the beginning. I gave up many friends and some family. I stayed way too long, first because of a dog, then because of children. The only thing I don't regret is my three beautiful kids, so it's good I stayed. I missed out on a good chunk of my life by being with someone who was manipulative and controlling and ended up broke."


16."I regret not pushing harder for counseling sooner. Things became so bitter, and by the time I pressed for counseling, I think we were already past the point of no return."


Two people facing each other on a couch with a blurred person in the background
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17."I regret not listening to my dad. My father never liked my ex-husband. Dad knew from the start he wasn't a good fit for me. I regret not taking his advice because it would've saved my daughter a lot of heartache. I got married at 19 and divorced at 36. I didn't want my daughter to grow up in a broken family. I learned that emotional abuse is just as bad as physical and not worth staying for."


18."I regret letting my spouse handle all of the banking and bills. I opened the bank statement and was shocked at his expenses around lunch while I was packing PB&Js. I dug further and found overdraft fees, suspicious purchases he wouldn't discuss, and late payments. After leaving him, I realized he didn't pay any bills in my name and ruined my credit."


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19."I regret thinking marriage would fix our relationship. We were together for nearly five years, and towards the end, we started drifting away from each other. We even cheated on one another, but didn't acknowledge it. I thought getting married would help reground our foundation, but we divorced six months later."


20."My ex-husband cheated on me several times. I ended up revenge cheating, which I regret. At the time, I was tired of feeling like a victim and foolishly thought if we were both bad, I would feel empowered and maybe get past his betrayal. All I did was successfully make a toxic situation way more poisonous. I became a person I no longer recognized and had to work hard for years to feel good about my choices as a human being again. If your spouse is cheating, whether you need to back away slowly or throw them out like garbage, get yourself in a situation to take care of yourself. NEVER compromise your value or your dignity for ANYONE."


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21."Well, I will never regret either of my marriages, as they both gave me my beautiful children. I regret thinking that I needed to have a successful marriage to be fulfilled and wasted significant portions of my life on people who ultimately ended up wasting time. From immaturity and growing apart in the first marriage to narcissistic abuse and alcoholism in the second, I've learned to become a strong person who doesn't 'need' a spouse to be fulfilled. Sharing my life with someone and giving and receiving love is still very important to me, but never again at the expense of my sense of self. My worth is not based on my partner or relationship status."


22."I have HUGE regrets because of the COSTS of dating and marrying Mr. WRONG: long-lasting financial damage, lost time, and no kids because too much time wasted on various Mr. Wrongs. I really recommend background checks and some sort of private investigation BEFORE you go out with someone. Don't waste your time. Even a $10 background check could point out secret wild behavior, financial issues, driving misbehavior, prison, and false identities. Even if everybody is in a small town, there are secret gambling, substance, and violent habits that the locals don't know about. The other regret is being afraid of being alone. This pushed me to make terrible choices. I wish I'd created much more of an active social/home/hobby life."

"Regarding kids: Pursue marriage/family-minded guys (not sure where they are), or I should've studied small-town job skills to live by my folks and create kids independently, with my parents helping. My siblings, who had kids WITH Mr. Wrongs, have had HORRIFIC times with Mr. Wrongs, and the kids have been messed up and have horrible role models."


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23."I regret not being strong enough to break it off before we reached the altar. I knew it wasn't forever, and I never loved her. I was a bit of a screw-up then, and in my family's eyes, she was the perfect woman who saved me. I let her take the alpha role and went with the flow. My best man and brother tried to stop it the night before, but I decided to plow through. It was done six months later, and I am ashamed of what I put her through."


24."I regret marrying someone my family and friends barely knew. They could have helped me realize earlier that the man I married was not right for me. Now, as I date, I introduce my boyfriends to my most trusted friends and family earlier in the process, and I ask for their feedback."


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25."I should never have A) felt obligated to marry the man who got me pregnant and B) stayed with him after being physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and financially abused because society subscribed to the notion that children are best raised in a household with both parents. Those aren't the only reasons — being gaslit and threatened were among the top contenders. My son and I suffered considerably until the day that toxic relationship ended, and we still have deep, deep scars."


26."I regret passing off strange, pre-wedding behavior as cold feet and ignoring signs from the universe. I kept seeing ads for cheap divorce lawyers everywhere before the wedding. We also got married despite having different opinions on having children."


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27."After 20 years, 10 children, four cross-country moves, and supporting him emotionally (and once financially) through getting fired three times, my biggest regrets are the decisions I made that left me financially unstable when he decided that girlfriend number whatever (he cheated continually) was his soulmate, and he wanted to marry her and have a new family. I dropped out of college my senior year to get married. I made a career out of caring for him, the kids, and the house, and I loved it. I worked nights and weekends so we could have the extras because he made very little. It was good enough for me. I don't need much to be content, but I never had enough to build a savings account, and even when I did, he used it for what he wanted."

"I got left high and dry with four kids still at home. His child support is never enough. I work four jobs because they flex around my needs as a single parent. I have no backup. I have to be there if school is out because of the weather or if a child is sick. My job has to allow unlimited parenting space. He does nothing except play 'super dad' in the summer. If the adult kids are having a hard day and need to talk, I'm on the phone until 3:00 a.m. I get back up at 6:00 a.m. to go to work.

I have no regrets about having my children. I regret choosing him to be the father. I haven't had a vacation in eight years. I work 60-80 hours a week, six days a week, with Sundays for church, groceries, and errands. But I have an excellent relationship with my kids, and they think that their dad and I are still terrific friends. I refuse to trash their dad, even though he never paid one penny of alimony or even offered. He was so unkind to me! Narcissistic abuse tore me to smithereens, and I get to watch him take his new wife on cruises and travel the world while he leaves their child with a babysitter. They have date nights, and he showers her with everything he denied me. I couldn't even get a hug. He refused to hug me. In 20 years, I got one rainy overnight stay at the beach while the kids stayed with their grandparents. We didn't even get to go to a nice restaurant to eat. It was winter and cold. He was sick.

He stole the youth of my life, but now I get to rebuild, start over, and have the best golden years I can dream of! I don't need much, but I'm finding new friendships with other single moms, and we love and encourage and support each other. It's becoming beautiful."


28.And, this parting piece of advice: "Don't marry the person you want them to be. Marry the person they are."


Thank you to everyone who was vulnerable and chose to share. If you'd like to add your own story, you can do so in the comments or by submitting to this anonymous form.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.