Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Lied to My Boyfriend About My Abortion”

Pregnancy test

I’m a junior in high school, and I got pregnant recently by my current boyfriend. We found out about three weeks ago. What I didn’t tell my boyfriend is that I had an abortion just a few days ago. He and his family begged me not to go through with it and, though I didn’t want to either, considering all the circumstances, it NEEDED to be done.

My boyfriend and I are both still in school (although he only has a year left of college). We had relationship issues a little while back because he got naked pictures from another girl when drunk and, before that, he also made out with another girl when drunk at a party. He lied at first about anything happening at the party, but eventually he told me the truth. And I caught him in the whole picture incident. He apologized and nothing has happened since. I honestly think he won’t mess up again, but he knows I don’t trust him much right now.

We are currently working on our trust issues, but we still aren’t ready for a baby. I’ve never lied to him until now when I lied about the abortion. I really love him, and I know he loves me. I told him I had miscarried and that the clinic did a D and C to remove the already-dead baby. I had to tell him something because he knew I had had a surgery appointment. I feel horrible for lying, though. Should I tell him the truth or not? I feel really guilty and I don’t want to lose him; I’m aware, though, that I may lose him for lying. So the big question: Do I tell him or not? — Lied About Abortion

I answered a similar question a couple years ago and I’m going to tell you what I told the previous LW who was also debating whether or not to tell her boyfriend that she had had an abortion: As long as you keep your abortion a secret from your boyfriend, it will continue to be a burden that will weigh on you. The truth is that an abortion is nothing to feel ashamed of. And as long as you keep it a secret, you perpetuate the myth, if for no one else but yourself, that it IS shameful and it IS something you should feel guilty for. Of course, telling your boyfriend doesn’t mean you won’t be free of shame or guilt. His reaction to your admission might contribute to those feelings. But what telling him the truth will do is free you from the anxiety of wondering what would happen if he knew.

Maybe what will happen when he knows about your abortion is you’ll lose him. But maybe this relationship wasn’t meant to last forever anyway. Maybe the trust issues you’ve had and the fundamental difference of opinion regarding an unplanned teenage pregnancy are signs that you aren’t entirely well-matched. And maybe if you do break up, the lessons you will have learned from your relationship and your breakup and the way you handled a difficult decision will benefit you in future relationships. As I told the LW in your situation before:

Sometimes the success of a relationship can be qualified by the lessons we learn rather than the duration. It would be a mistake to sweep an issue under the rug in an effort to make a relationship last longer. Instead, face the issue head-on and see what you learn — about yourself and your boyfriend. Do you share the same values? He is supportive of you? Does he trust you? Can he forgive? If the answer is “no” to any of these, you are better off without him. It may be a hard lesson to learn, but knowing the answer, one way or another, will open the door to a more fulfilling relationship eventually — whether it’s with him or someone else.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

37 comments… add one
  • avatar

    thatgirl October 23, 2014, 8:28 am

    Tell him…i am not a huge advocate of people deserving to know things but you should tell him.

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  • avatar

    zanderbomb October 23, 2014, 9:22 am

    Can we also rewind to where LW is a junior in high school (16-17) and her boyfriend has one year left in college?

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray October 23, 2014, 9:29 am

      yesss pleeease – ew

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    • FireStar

      FireStar October 23, 2014, 9:29 am

      I missed that! Grrrr.

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    • becboo84

      becboo84 October 23, 2014, 10:15 am

      That was the first thing that stood out to me too. YUCK!

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    • avatar

      resullins October 23, 2014, 10:31 am

      Um… I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but where I come from, JUNIOR high means they’re 12-13, not 16-17. 16-17 years olds go to high school.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh October 23, 2014, 10:34 am

        yeah she’s a junior/11th grade in high school. i read that wrong the first time i read through thinking it said junior high instead of junior IN high school. makes a giant difference!

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      • avatar

        MissDre October 23, 2014, 1:20 pm

        I think the confusion here is that only Americans use these terms (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior — I think that’s how it goes)… In Canada (at least the part of Canada that I’m from) we don’t talk like this. Ever. You would say, “I’m in Grade 11”. So probably some Canadians and people from other parts of the world are confused by the term “Junior” and are thinking it means junior high school.

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    • muchachaenlaventana

      muchachaenlaventana October 23, 2014, 10:53 am

      yeah I couldn’t really get past that at all.

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    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite October 23, 2014, 11:43 am

      Yep, that’s where I froze in this whole business.

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    • avatar

      zombeyonce October 23, 2014, 11:44 am

      And even with that age difference, LW seems to be by far the more mature one in the relationship. That could explain why they seemed to be in a semi-decent relationship in the first place, though the making out with someone else and lying about naked photos doesn’t bode well for any future for them.

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  • Miel

    Miel October 23, 2014, 9:25 am

    Wendy, in the last paragraph there is a “liked about the abortion” that should be replaced by a “lied about the abortion”.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar October 23, 2014, 9:27 am

    It’s tough. I think for the most part that honesty is the best way to go…but where the need for outright honesty stops and your right to privacy over your medical information begins is more of a spectrum than a definite place. I have a friend that has had numerous abortions and she never told anyone except me – even the man she subsequently married. The difference being that she didn’t tell them she was pregnant either. So there was no actual lie – just one of omission. Is this a lie you can live with or will it weigh on you?
    What would be accomplished by telling him? Is he someone who would be understanding and care or you? Or is he someone that would turn on you petulantly? If you feel that you need to clear your conscience and that would give you relief then tell. If you feel like it truly isn’t any of his business then keep your secret. But two things with secrets – the second you tell anther soul it is no longer a secret and the truth might out anyway given the lie of a miscarriage to cover an abortion isn’t so uncommon.
    For what it’s worth, I think you did the right thing… and there is no shame in that.

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    • avatar

      csp October 23, 2014, 9:51 am

      Yes! LW, Wendy is right in that there is nothing to feel ashamed of and this relationship may or may not have staying power. However, other people can be very judgmental and that pressure on you might be too much. If his parents were begging you not to abort, realize that there might be some very mean words sent your way. Frankly, your boyfriend could say some very hurtful things that you do not deserve. I think at your age, you should not feel responsible to stand up for women’s rights here. Only tell if you feel comfortable and realize you have every right to your privacy.

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  • avatar

    Kate October 23, 2014, 9:27 am

    I don’t know, I don’t think the 4-year age gap is as concerning as some of the other stuff, like he and his family begged her not to have an abortion… Seems to speak to dissimilar values… And that she doesn’t trust him. Just not a good foundation. Tell him and get it over with. Maybe it will give the clarity to move on.

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    • avatar

      zanderbomb October 23, 2014, 9:33 am

      Chances are the age difference = statutory rape, depending on the state. I would think its even more concerning that his family supports the relationship. Not to mention the probable power imbalance in a relationship between a high school girl and a college guy. I just have a hard time ever understanding why a ~22 year old man in college would choose to be in a committed relationship with a junior in high school. There’s something more off than just the abortion here if that’s the case.

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  • barleystonks

    barleystonks October 23, 2014, 9:36 am

    Throwing this out there, though I don’t necessarily think it’s the case: 2 years of running start in high school means 19 with one year left in college. Just saying.

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    • avatar

      EricaSwagger October 23, 2014, 10:26 am

      Yeah she could be 17-18 and he could be 20, not that big of a deal.

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      • avatar

        resullins October 23, 2014, 10:32 am

        She’s in JUNIOR high, not high school. That’s middle school… that means she’s like 13. Not 18.

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      • avatar

        eelliinnss October 23, 2014, 10:37 am

        Nah she’s a junior in high school!

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      • bondbabe

        bondbabe October 23, 2014, 10:45 am

        No, it reads, “I’m a junior IN high school…”

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      • othy

        othy October 23, 2014, 10:46 am

        She’s a junior IN high school, not in junior high. So, 11th grade, i.e. 17 or so.

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      • redessa

        redessa October 23, 2014, 10:46 am

        No you misread. She’s a junior IN high school not in junior high.

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      • avatar

        cakemonster October 23, 2014, 10:46 am

        No, she specifically says she’s “a junior IN high school” in the first line.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray October 23, 2014, 9:36 am

    I think her decision to have an abortion is such a personal one that, if she doesn’t feel comfortable sharing it with her boyfriend and his family, she shouldn’t. In a good relationship, I’d hope that would be a decision a woman would feel comfortable sharing and discussing with a supportive partner. But this is far from a good relationship. They don’t trust each other, he (and his family) pressure her, she’s only 16/17 and he’s 21/22 – a dynamic that is probably not helping the matter… It’s all off. So in that context, if she doesn’t want to tell him, she shouldn’t feel obligated to. But I think that should be a big indication that this relationship is no bueno.

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    • Portia

      Portia October 23, 2014, 10:13 am

      WAPS. And LW you have nothing to be ashamed or feel guilty about. You did the right thing for you and it sounds like you know that.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh October 23, 2014, 10:14 am

      Yeah I agree with you too AP. And I really hope LW that you have someone telling you these things in person.

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    • avatar

      shakeourtree October 23, 2014, 10:16 am

      I’m with you on this one. My immediate thoughts were that she shouldn’t tell him & should also probably dump him. I think there is something off with the boyfriend and his whole family. The age/experience difference between them is off-putting. His family’s involvement is also weird. But the biggest thing is that they were pressuring her to have a baby that she clearly is not prepared for. I’m guessing that he’s probably pro-life, and it makes me worry that he will react very poorly and maybe even retaliate against the LW. Ultimately, LW has the right to make her own health care decisions and keep them private if she so chooses. Moreover, the standard advice we give when someone has cheated and is debating whether to tell usually goes something like, “If you’re not going to do it again, there’s no point in telling your partner. It’s really only to alleviate your guilt etc etc.” So anyway, I don’t think she has any obligation to tell him. She can tell him if she wants, but just make sure it’s safe. And also dump him, like yesterday. She doesn’t trust him, and he wasn’t supportive of her making one of the most major decisions she’s probably ever had to make.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray October 23, 2014, 10:38 am

        exactly, I’m in the “don’t tell (unless she wants to, but she clearly doesn’t want to) and dump him” camp.

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    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite October 23, 2014, 11:46 am

      WAPS

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. October 23, 2014, 10:35 am

    First, I need to congratulate the LW. You had to make a difficult decision, but I think you made the right one. You were realistic about your situation and readiness for a baby. You recognize the difference between want and need. This puts you a bit higher on the maturity meter than most of the people who write in. But, hiding the truth from someone because you’re afraid you might lose them is not the answer. Think hard about what you have learned from this; about yourself, about him and about your relationship.

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  • othy

    othy October 23, 2014, 10:54 am

    LW, I would tell him you want to stay with him. It’d be better for your relationship if you are upfront and honest with him. If you don’t think he would handle it well, I wouldn’t tell him and I would break up with him. If he’s not the type of person who can support your decision, he’s not the type of person you should be with.

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    • othy

      othy October 23, 2014, 10:58 am

      Also, my brother was in the exact position of your boyfriend at the same age a number of years ago (really early 20’s, 18 year old girlfriend, knocked her up, she told him she had a miscarriage). The worst thing to do in this situation is to break up with him for something unrelated in a few months, and then, as a parting shot, just to be mean, mention you really had an abortion and you lied about the miscarriage.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie October 23, 2014, 10:24 am

    She doesn’t trust him and he doesn’t trust her. BAD combination.

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  • SixtyFour

    SixtyFour October 23, 2014, 11:59 am

    i wish that in this world you could tell and be supported in your decision, but unfortunately we don’t live in that world and the fact that your boyfriend and his parents were pressuring you not to have an abortion is proof of that. Since you are still in high school, I’d be really worried that these people and others in your town would make your life terrible for the next two years. For your safety and emotional health, I would only tell a few trusted people that you know won’t judge you and will keep it to themselves. If you were older, my advice would be different.
    My other advice would be to break up with this guy. This isn’t a secret you can keep forever. And it sounds like you have plenty of other issues going on. Find someone who you trust their commitments to you and who will respect your right to make decisions about your own body.

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  • avatar

    MsMisery October 23, 2014, 1:01 pm

    FWIW, you’re not pregnant anymore. So even if you lie by omission by not explaining the abortion, you will have to tell your bf and his family (who already know about the pregnancy) what happened. So did you plan to invent a miscarriage? No longer a lie by omission and now the story grows and grows. I think you’ll probably have to tell the truth and if he cannot deal with your choice (which was legitimately yours to make), you’ll have to accept his reaction/response. It could mean the end of your relationship but YOU’RE YOUNG!! Take this as a learning experience and move on.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 23, 2014, 1:03 pm

      She told him she had a miscarriage: “I told him I had miscarried and that the clinic did a D and C to remove the already-dead baby.”

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