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My relationship ended the day I announced my engagement – here's what happened

Life coach Michelle Elman told her 500k followers that she was engaged, then found out her fiancé was cheating. Here's how she navigated the public heartbreak

By: Michelle Elman
May 10, 2024
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When I found out I had been cheated on, I was embarrassed.

After three years of keeping my relationship private, I announced my engagement publicly online to over 500k followers. But within a few hours, my life was falling apart.

The future I had been celebrating disappeared before my eyes when I received a DM from a follower which let me know my fiancé had been cheating on me.

Woman with her head in her hand looking at the camera© Luke Nugent Photography
Michelle Elman shares what heartbreak taught her

I had always kept my partner private because I never wanted to be in a position where I would have to address my private life while going through an emotional crisis. I had seen other influencers announce their breakups online and admired them and felt sympathy too.  

Going through a heartbreak is hard enough, without the public pouring in all their opinions about how you are moving on and grieving. That’s why I had chosen to wait, until I was sure, and then this happened.

It felt humiliating to have to share what had happened, and on top of that, I was a life coach, how could I not know what was going on?

WATCH: Michelle shared her heartbreak with her followers
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Shame and humiliation

As I learned more and more about the affairs my fiancé had, it occurred to me that the shame and humiliation I was experiencing was not mine.

You can’t take the life coach out of the girl and there was a line in my book, The Joy of Being Selfish, that came to me: 'That is your shame, it does not belong to me,' where I use the analogy of someone handing you a bag of rubbish and asking you to carry it.

Woman in a dark top looking into the camera seductively© Luke Nugent Photography
Michelle Elman decided to be open about what happened to her

I decided I was not carrying this. This was not my shame and not my secret.

I was judging myself on the basis that being a life coach, I should have my own life in order. People assume you are teaching others and giving advice from a pedestal where you live a perfect life and this is not the case.

 MORE FROM MICHELLE: A life coach shares the simple habit that helps her stop overthinking - and we can all try it 

I speak a lot about boundaries, not because mine are perfectly in place, it's because I had none.

I wrote a dating book because I hated dating for so many years and did the hard work to figure out how to fall in love with the process. I only talk about positive body image because I had none. I have never claimed to have the answers.

I am a good life coach, not because I am perfect, but because I mess up and I learn from it every time and vow to do better. I am good at what I do because I lead from the front and so, what other choice did I have but to do exactly the same in this situation?

michelle elman headshot
Michelle Elman is open about her highs and lows

Navigating the lows

I’ve been open and transparent about how I navigate my lows and if we want to live in a social media world where people aren’t just showing the highlight reel, then this is what it looks like.

It looks like people being vulnerable on the internet and if my experience has taught you anything is that most of the world is good.

 INSPIRATION: Tips for loneliness: try this expert-approved 5-minute hack next time you're feeling lonely

My video declaring my breakup was met with love, kindness and compassion. Things happen, life changes and catches us off guard in ways we cannot predict and as much as my future is going to look different to what I planned, what I know for sure is that I am stronger and more capable than I have ever given myself credit for. For someone who ended up in a position that she never would wish on her worse enemy, I am proud of myself.

Moving on

If you have been cheated on, I am sorry you can relate to my story. My heart is with you and you can hold your head high and sleep easy at night knowing that you aren’t the one who is going to have to live with the decisions they made.

Their behaviour is not an indication of how loveable and worthy you are and if the worst thing you did was trust the wrong person, then so be it.  It’s better to have loved and lost than closed yourself off to the world because of one person doing you wrong. 

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