Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Breach of Promise of Marriage

Go To

Basic Trope: If a man breaks up with his fiancée, he is to pay damages to her (or her family) associated with leaving her Defiled Forever and stigmatized.

  • Straight: Alice and Bob are engaged. Bob breaks up with Alice and pays damages to her family.
  • Exaggerated: In order to break the engagement, Bob has to formally divorce Alice.
  • Downplayed: Alice and Bob call off the wedding, and Alice gets to keep the engagement ring.
  • Justified:
    • In a World... where a high value is placed on a woman's virginity at marriage, if Alice loses her virginity before marriage, that could jeopardize her future ability to get married (and if this is also a society where women are economically dependent on their husbands, her livelihood). Bob is therefore held liable for jeopardizing her marriageability.
    • An engagement in this society is considered to be just as legally-binding as a marriage; breaking it is thus considered a breach of contract.
  • Inverted:
  • Gender Inverted: Alice and Bob are engaged. Alice breaks off the engagement, and pays damages to Bob's family.
  • Subverted:
    • Alice is not engaged to Bob, but she does have sex with him (maybe consensually, maybe not, depending on the work).
    • Advertisement:
    • Alice is the one who breaks the engagement, not Bob.
    • Alice cheated, so she doesn't get anything, and neither does her family.
    • Alice and Bob are at the altar for the wedding ceremony.
    • Alice and Bob break off their engagement in the modern era.
    • Bob gets back Alice's engagement ring.
    • Alice is still a virgin, so in theory Bob is off the hook.
    • Alice and Bob are already legally married.
  • Double Subverted:
    • He has to pay damages to her father (or if she was engaged to someone else, her fiancé), the price he would have received if she were a virgin. (Bob may or may not be required to marry Alice.)
    • Bob still has to pay damages for the loss of Alice's virginity.
    • She can, however, sue Bob for pain and suffering.
    • Bob says, "I don't" at the last minute, and has to pay for it.
    • Bob is expected to help Alice cover nonrefundable deposits associated with wedding vendors. And Alice says she gets to keep the ring. The problem? The ring is in pawn shop after Alice herself sold it; or Bob has to bid for it on eBay in order to get it back.
    • Advertisement:
    • In practice, however, he is not; Alice is assumed to have had sex with him, or it's done "just in case," or a broken engagement looks bad for Alice no matter what.
    • They have a prenup that heavily favors Alice, in the event of a divorce.
  • Parodied: ???
  • Zig Zagged: ???
  • Averted:
    • Alice and Bob are engaged, and neither one of them call off the wedding.
    • Alice and Bob are not engaged.
    • The story takes place at a time when women are free to have active sex lives before, during, and after marriage, are not considered the property of their fathers or husbands, are not considered "damaged goods" if they have a failed engagement or a failed marriage, or have premarital sex, and are able to earn money in their own right.
  • Enforced: It's a period piece, or written during an era when this was the law of the land.
  • Lampshaded: ???
  • Invoked: Bob breaks off the engagement, and Alice's patriarchal society does not look well on a woman who is presumably no longer a virgin (and unmarried). This jeopardizes Alice's ability to get married later. Also, women in this society are economically dependent on men, so Bob's leaving her might condemn her to a life of prostituting herself or begging on the street to survive.
  • Exploited: Alice's family has her do this in order to get money.
  • Defied: Alice and her family refuse the money. Alice runs her own business and earns her own living, so she never had to depend on Bob.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???

Back to Breach of Promise of Marriage

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: