Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Is a Cross-Global Relationship with a New Parent Realistic?”

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I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about three months. We’ve been close friends for about one year. I am from Latin America, he’s European, we’re both 30, and we’re in his home country.

When we started hanging out six months ago, he told me he had broken up with his first girlfriend some months before and he was still processing that, so we remained friends until he was ready to move on.

Before anything serious happened between us, he told me that he’s going to be a father. He had a hook-up and they used a condom, but there was an accident. He suggested taking the day-after pill, but she said it was unnecessary since she was on the pill. Three months later she contacted him to tell him she’s pregnant and confessed she was not on the pill; she has two kids with two men and apparently sees no problem in how she handled things. We liked each other a lot, so we talked and decided to give us a chance to see where it could go.

To add another complication, I recently received a job offer in North America, which I took. I could have stayed here in Europe longer, but the position is great and it’s been quite hard for me to adapt culturally. I talked to him about all of this as it was happening, and he’s supporting me.

It’s been really great to be with him; we have the most wonderful time just talking for hours, our sex life is great, we trust each other, communicate really well and support each other, we’re both considerate of each other’s feelings and look out for each other’s happiness. After I accepted the job we decided to continue dating and see if, when it’s closer to September (when I’ll move), we both feel it’s worth it to continue long-distance. He’ll finish his PhD early next year and he could look for a job where I am, which is a possibility he suggested. He doesn’t know what kind of role he will have in his child’s life (I haven’t given any advice, just general support), and I don’t think he will know until the child is born, which will happen in about three months. He thinks it’ll be challenging to co-parent as he and the mother have different views on parenting. I think he should be a big part of his son’s life, though I’d want him to live with me eventually; we could come visit his son often and call every day.

He’s going to have a child here, I’m moving to another continent, and yet our relationship is wonderful. Is it crazy to think there might be a way to make this work? How would you proceed in general? Being with him would also mean becoming a stepmother, which isn’t a small decision. As I don’t think he knows how he’ll feel about this child until the baby is born, I also don’t know how I’ll feel about this, but I know I love him and what we have.

All these issues are bringing up questions that normally people have much longer to consider. What should I do? — Overwhelmed With Decisions

This is too big a mountain to climb. If it were just a cross-global relationship, it would still be too big a mountain for a couple who barely knows each other. And I don’t buy that you’ve been “close friends” for a year; if you were really close friends, why did you only start hanging out six months ago? Why were you not already aware that he had just broken up with a girlfriend? Oh, and there’s another complication. It took three months after you started “hanging out” for your now-boyfriend to process his breakup, move on, and be ready to date you? And during that time you were hanging around waiting for him, he went and got another woman pregnant? I mean, I guess that’s one way to process your breakup grief.

Here’s the truth: the guy wasn’t ready to date you because he wanted some time between relationships to sow his oats, which is all well and good — I mean, I certainly don’t think anyone should rush from one relationship to another and I don’t begrudge someone taking time after a relationship to date around — but he wasn’t entirely honest with you about that, was he? He used vague language, like “processing a breakup” so that you could infer whatever you wanted to infer, and I’m guessing that didn’t include him banging and impregnating someone else. But that’s exactly what happened. And you didn’t find out about the fact until after you’d been waiting around for him for several months.

And now, after three months of everything being “really great,” you’re thinking about pursuing a cross-global relationship with a guy who has to wait and see how he’ll feel about his own baby before deciding what kind of role he wants in that child’s life and how it might affect his ability to maintain a long distance relationship and plan a future with you? Just, no.

You’re very much in the honeymoon phase on this relationship, which is a nice way of saying you’re kind of blind to the huge challenges and road blocks ahead and the stuff that should be motivating you to peace out before things get really complicated. Three months is a good length of time for a fun a fling. I say MOA now and leave it at that. Let the guy tackle his challenges ahead without the enormous burden of a cross-global relationship weighing on him. And give yourself the freedom of finding a match who can give you the attention a new relationship needs and deserves in order to thrive and move forward.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

72 comments… add one
  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark March 22, 2016, 10:16 am

    MOA. Sorry, but this is just a mess. PS — Its awfully funny how condoms mysteriously break seemingly ALL the time for straight people — even though I would suspect its gays that have hotter rougher sex… But my oh my — there sure are a lot of inexplicable accidents out there that somehow belie the official condom failure rate.
    .
    But seriously. Him leaving the continent thus insures he will have ZERO real impactful role in his child’s life… it’s time to cut him loose.
    .
    PS — Nearly every failed relationship I have had has been super awesome and filled with the possibility of being “The One” after merely three months… Cut your losses and move on. “You’ll always have Europe…”

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 12:43 pm

      Yeah, we do get a lot of broken condom stories on here. Personally I had about two condoms break over about 15 years. I had a few dry spells in there, but probably 10 solid years of being in sexual relationships overall. It might just seem high though because we don’t hear the stories of “I had a one night stand and everything was totally fine”. 🙂

      And one of those condom breaks happened in Germany while we were at my bf’s parent’s place, and he had to go ask them where he could take me to get Plan B or whatever they call their equivalent. Awkward!

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      • Portia

        Portia March 22, 2016, 2:33 pm

        I’ve had about the same amount of time in sexual relationships and never had a broken condom. I thought that I must be lucky when I was younger. but I must be extremely lucky to have never had it happen.
        .
        I agree that some of it is because we only really hear about it when it leads to pregnancy. I wonder if we can do a poll of how many people on here have had condoms break and how often…

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 22, 2016, 4:30 pm

        Twice. Same guy. He knew they broke. Both times, I took PlanB after since I wasn’t on birth control

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    • avatar

      dinoceros March 22, 2016, 4:39 pm

      Back when I taught sex ed to folks, I knew the statistics regarding why condoms break. I believe it’s mostly due to not putting it on entirely correctly. Of course, a lot of guys tend to say it’s because it isn’t big enough…

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  • avatar

    anonymousse March 22, 2016, 10:23 am

    “…apparently she sees no problems in how she’s handled things.”
    What? Handled what, exactly? It sounds like she’s a grown adult woman who makes her own decisions for her own life and body.
    I’m so tired of the “other woman who tricked my man into getting pregnant.”

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    • avatar

      ktfran March 22, 2016, 10:39 am

      But in this case, it kind of happened. It sounds like he had sex. The condom broke. They talked about Plan B. She said she didn’t need to take it because she’s also on birth control. She became pregnant. Admitted that she was, in fact, not on birth control.
      .
      I’m sorry, that’s some shady shit if he’s telling the truth of how it went down.
      .
      Regardless, LW, WWS!

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 10:51 am

        But realistically, that IS the risk you take when you have sex. You could end up with a baby even if you use birth control. And he can’t force her to take Plan B after the fact anyway, so even if she just said “no I don’t want to”, the outcome would have been the same. She probably figured lying was just an easier way to make him stop bugging her about it. The outcome’s the same though whether she lied or outright told him she won’t take it.

        To be clear, I’m not saying it doesn’t suck for him, I’m saying it’s realistic. Sometimes you roll the dice and you get snake eyes. Her decisions after the fact have no bearing on the risk he chose to take. He got unlucky, but now he has to live with it.

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      • mrmidtwenties

        mrmidtwenties March 22, 2016, 2:35 pm

        Here’s the thing about broken condoms, you can feel when they break. Every broken one I’ve had, I’ve known exactly when they break, and promptly pull out and get another one.

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      • avatar

        Jessibel5 March 22, 2016, 3:39 pm

        The ONE time in 15 years of sexual history that I had a condom break happen, my boyfriend kept going. We realized after we were done and I asked him how he didn’t notice and he said “in retrospect, it was feeling really good, and then it was feeling REALLY good, so now I know what it feels like for it to break” It was pretty funny at the time, but I wasn’t trying to trap him into anything and was on the pill that he’d physically seen me take at times. I am absolutely certain that if he were ever to have one break again, he’d pull out, knowing what it feels like.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse March 22, 2016, 10:51 am

        Yeah, but it’s a really popular trope, as of late and generally always secondhand information from the red-flag baring man that paints the woman as the she-devil who is apparently, solely to blame for any unwanted pregnancy.

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      • FireStar

        Firestar March 22, 2016, 12:48 pm

        Isn’t it? It seems like EVERY one night stand has a broken condom and a promise to take plan B only to lie about it….apparently in order to “trap” the unemployed men who want no part of fatherhood… that all women secretly want? It makes no sense. If I’m getting pregnant through deception – why am I picking losers for fathers?

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      • avatar

        anonymousse March 22, 2016, 3:03 pm

        Exactly. Step one, pick up random player. Step two, make sure I’m ovulating, and that the condom breaks. So easy.

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      • avatar

        Cleopatra Jones March 22, 2016, 2:06 pm

        But is it really a new thing? I seriously remember hearing this back in 90’s (when I was in the military) except it was, ‘she used a pin to poke holes in my condoms’, to explain why some dudes had so many baby mamas.

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      • Portia

        Portia March 22, 2016, 2:28 pm

        Yeah, this trope sounds vaguely familiar, and the 90’s sounds about right to me too.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse March 22, 2016, 3:04 pm

        I just meant we’ve had an influx on the forums and just on DW in general. I’m pretty sure this blame game had been around forever.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 3:26 pm

        It’s been around almost exactly as long as child support laws have. Before that, a certain type of man wouldn’t give a crap how many women he knocked up, because there were no legal repercussions for him. Not his problem.

        Once abortion became legal and there was a societal switch to giving women control over whether an abortion was done (as opposed to men choosing it, which is how it originally was), the blame game got even worse. I can’t wait until male BC comes out and we can end this crap once and for all.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 22, 2016, 3:37 pm

        Paternity testing also stops them from claiming that there is no way the baby could be theirs.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 3:41 pm

        True. It’s been getting harder and harder for the deadbeats.

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      • avatar

        Ron March 22, 2016, 12:11 pm

        No guy has a right to simply assume that a woman will agree to use Plan B if the condom breaks. Nor does that make this woman shady. She barely knew LW’s bf, didn’t know if he could become violent, knew that she didn’t want to use Plan B, and said what she felt she needed to say to get him out of there. It’s not like LW’s bf had any agreement with this woman prior to having sex. Probably didn’t have enough conversation with her to have any hint about her feelings on the matter, if a condom accident should occur. And LW knows only what her bf told her: the tale of the devious other woman who tricked him into a pregnancy which he didn’t want. As Wendy said, a lot about this guy is shady, so there is no real reason to believe his tale, but even if it is true, that is on him, not the other woman.

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      • avatar

        Ron March 22, 2016, 6:12 pm

        No, it’s not some shady shit. The condom broke. Whatever she says doesn’t change that. She wasn’t on the pill, so the condom was the only form of protection. The LW says she mentioned the pill after the condom broke, so, no he didn’t ask before they had sex. What does it matter if she says she was on the pill if that is the easiest way to get him out her door. Do you honestly believe she is obligated to take Plan B just because he wants her to. Clearly she didn’t want to take it. Nothing shady at all about that, her body, her prerogative, and telling him she was on the pill changes that not one iota, because it was all after the fact. So zero shadiness on her part as I do the scoring.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna March 22, 2016, 10:42 am

      Yeah, the problem is – no matter how shady it all may have been – it doesn’t bode well if there’s resentment against the mother from the get-go. It’s fine for LW to be upset over the situation, but instead of staying involved, she should just get the hell out.

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 22, 2016, 10:51 am

        I totally agree. There’s no sense in laying blame. The guy did have sex with her. What’s done is done. It sounds like she has two other children too, from two other men. This women should come with a warning sign… “Sleep with me, and chances are, you’ll be a dad.”
        .
        I do feel kind of bad for this guy. But I agree with Wendy in that the LW should MOA.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark March 22, 2016, 11:14 am

        Also, it’s not like the mommy-to-be has some tacky history of doing this with other men. It’s not like she has… I dunno… say, two children with two other randoms and so that this would be three for three…
        .
        Oh. Wait.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 11:54 am

        To be fair, if he’d cared to find that out, I’m sure he could have. If I were a hetero guy who didn’t want kids, I don’t think I’d have sex with anyone without first getting to know if they have kids, if they want more, what their BC situation is, and what their thoughts on things like Plan B and abortion are. I’d also always use a condom and spermicide. Because guys don’t have as many ways to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, so I would make sure that I lowered my risk as much as possible.

        What I really dislike is when guys don’t take those precautions, and then complain about it after the fact. Sorry, but grown men should understand how babies are made. They should know there are risks. If they’re afraid that the steps needed to mitigate those risks will result in less casual sex, well, that’s a choice they’re making. Realistically, it probably will. So they’re choosing more sex instead of choosing less risk. Again, that’s fine, that’s their choice. But then they have to step up and own it if it results in an unexpected pregnancy.

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        ktfran March 22, 2016, 4:40 pm

        Thank you. I’m not at all saying this guy doesn’t need to take responsibility for his actions. Because he does. But I am also calling out the pregnant lady, which others are unwilling to do, because seriously. THREE CHILDREN. THREE DIFFERENT ME. Then lying about being on birth control. She’s 100% irresponsible and should not be having sex.

        The fact is, we don’t know if she told this guy she was on birth control before or after sex. Maybe he asked about PlanB when he realized the condom broke as a third backup and she assured him she was ok. Really, we don’t know what the conversation he had entailed. Yes, he does need to support the child, but to say the pregnant woman isn’t in the wrong is ridiculous.

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        anonymousse March 22, 2016, 5:18 pm

        But even the multiple other children with more than one man (oh, God, the horror!) story is coming from him, it could be another lie.
        But another thing…why does that matter so much? what are the implications? She’s had two failed relationships before this “condom broke?” Are we really going to judge a woman for having two babies before this guy? No one, including the LW, knows the circumstances. More power to her for having kids, probably raising them mostly herself, and not staying in a shitty relationship because of kids and judgemental onlookers.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse March 22, 2016, 5:46 pm

        No one here knows why she has two children already. My aunt had two kids, divorced, had another kid. Does that make her some kind of irresponsible tramp?
        My mentor in highschool later had two seperate kids from two seperate fathers. They turned out to be not great dads, but she’s a great mom, does that make her an irresponsible tramp?
        My point is you don’t know her life from this third hand account. It’s the year 2016, I hope we can move on from labeling unwed mothers with multiple kids form multiple partners as somehow irresponsible or wrong.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark March 22, 2016, 6:36 pm

        Just that she CLEARLY can’t pick men for shit. 😉

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 7:26 pm

        Hahahah then LW should take that as a warning! 🙂

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      • avatar

        anonymousse March 22, 2016, 8:06 pm

        Very true.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 6:35 pm

        Pretty sure if she’d lied about BC beforehand that would have been in the letter, because it’s perfect ammo for the blame game. By the LW’s own account (and so presumably her bf’s), the lie about BC came after the broken condom. At that point it was moot because the other woman had already decided not to take the Plan B, so what excuse she gave to put him off didn’t really matter.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse March 22, 2016, 11:14 am

        No sense in laying blame..lol. That’s why she should come with a warning sign, right?
        How can anyone honestly believe a guy when he spins this “condom broke, we only had sex once story…”

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    • avatar

      Missy March 22, 2016, 10:44 am

      The not telling the guy for 3 months doesn’t sound great to me, but of course she was the one who could decide what she wanted to do with her own body.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 11:29 am

        She may have been waiting to see if she miscarried. The chances are so high that personally if I got pregnant with a one-night stand, I wouldn’t tell the guy till I got past the first trimester and had a good chance of not miscarrying. What’s the point of worrying him about something that might not even happen?

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  • avatar

    SasLinna March 22, 2016, 10:37 am

    Honestly, I think “new relationship and partner has just gotten someone else pregnant” should be almost an automatic MOA. It’s early in the relationship and you haven’t invested much yet, why would you burden yourself with that situation? I remember there was someone in the forums recently who had decided to stay with a guy in that situation, and she had lots of complaints a few years later (didn’t get along with the mother etc.).
    You have the added problem that, if he wants to be involved in his child’s life at all, he won’t be able to move to North America to be with you. And that would make a relationship impossible for all intents and purposes.

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      _s_ March 22, 2016, 12:56 pm

      YES. Has Wendy ever done an “automatic MOA” article? If not, she should, and “new relationship and partner has just gotten someone else pregnant” should be #1 on the list!

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    • avatar

      Ron March 22, 2016, 2:16 pm

      But other than that little unwanted pregnancy thing, he’s just too great a guy to walk away from because…. three months!

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana March 22, 2016, 10:51 am

    Sometimes, even with a great person, even maybe a person who is right and could be long term right for you, the timing is not right. Timing is like 90% of what makes a lot of relationships work. You have a great new opportunity waiting for you in North America, and the guy you are in to is about to be a father in Europe– I mean this situation especially after just a few months, is basically impossible. Don’t leave one foot behind for this. Two weeks before I moved back home from Europe I met an amazing guy, I fell super hard, but it was 2 weeks before I left… we didn’t have enough to build a LTR on and if we had tried, the resentment, fighting and sadness that would have likely ensued would have totally wiped out all of the beautiful things I felt and experienced with him. Sometimes people come in to our lives for just a short time period, not everyone we like, or even love is a person we should or can have a long term relationship. A part of being an adult, I think, is realizing that we don’t get to hold on to every person we connect with or want to have a relationship with and appreciating the time we spent with them for what it is. A beautiful interlude that has come to a close due to even better prospects on the horizon. This is not the only guy you will find to fit with you and be a potential long term partner. Make a clean break, and just start your new life both feet planted firmly in North America, looking forward.

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    • avatar

      Jessibel5 March 22, 2016, 3:42 pm

      One of my favorite quotes about this is from How I Met Your Mother:
      “If you have chemistry you only need one other thing-timing. But timing’s a bitch.”

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        K March 24, 2016, 11:36 am

        Yup! Timing is super important…there are a couple of other guys with whom I think I could’ve had fulfilling relationships over the years, were the timing not off. When I first met my current boyfriend through my hiking group, he was in a relationship. By the time we went on a hike alone together 9 months later, he was single. If that had happened sooner, he might not have been ready to date…if that had happened later, he might’ve already found someone else.

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    Steph March 22, 2016, 11:18 am

    The fact that “he doesn’t know how he will feel about the baby until it’s born” would be enough for me to MOA. If you stay with him chances are he won’t be a great dad. My ex boyfriend had three kids from two different women( found out about 6 months into our relationship) and didn’t see them or make an effort to be a dad to them, as soon as I found that out, I broke up with him. If he wasn’t a good dad to them what are the chances he would be a good day to the kids I want to have.

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  • kare

    kare March 22, 2016, 12:07 pm

    So one time I met this guy at a bar and he was talking to me about his 8 year old son. He said that he had a one night stand, didn’t use a condom, but he sees his son every weekend, plus the summers. He mentioned not moving despite not loving the state he was living in because that would mean leaving behind his son. So yeah, one night stand pregnancies are a thing, but a halfway decent guy would a) not place all the blame on the girl carrying his child and b) consider moving so far away during the formative years of his child’s life. MOA yesterday because even without the complexities of a transatlantic relationship, this guy doesn’t sound like a winner.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse March 22, 2016, 5:20 pm

      But he didn’t use a condom. Different than “condom breaking.” And…you believe everything nice guys in bars tell you?

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. March 22, 2016, 12:25 pm

    I speak from experience here: don’t do it. Even if all the things Wendy pointed out weren’t true, a cross-global relationship is really, really hard. It’s more than long distance; it’s very long distance. It’s different time zones, which makes communication very difficult, and it’s expensive. Who’s going to fly to see whom? How often? Can you afford it? Is he willing to foot the bill if you can’t? Now add in all things Wendy discussed. I don’t think I would get with this guy if he lived on the same block as me. MOA and spare yourself the grief.

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  • avatar

    inkyboots March 22, 2016, 12:57 pm

    Sometimes you meet the right person at the wrong time. Do you know what that makes them?

    The wrong person.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse March 22, 2016, 3:06 pm

      Brilliant.

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  • avatar

    Ron March 22, 2016, 1:03 pm

    You know what, I read stories like this letter and doubt/hope they aren’t real. We have women who present themselves as intelligent, aware, progressive, modern women who feel fully entitled to be fully in control of their own lives and bodies… until it comes to the actions of another woman whose actions have inconvenienced them or disturbed their current aims, then it’s back to the stone age. Really, a member of the mens’ rights movement couldn’t tell a more poignant tale of their basic argument: it’s unfair for me to be inconvenienced or have to pay child support if she decides unilaterally that she’s going to continue with a pregnancy that I don’t want — it’s her decision, all the responsibility and cost should be solely on her.

    This is the third letter like this we’ve received in just about two weeks about the shady one night stand who tricked a poor lad into an unwanted pregnancy and now the LW’s plans with her poor bf are inconvenienced. One LW even lamented that her foolish bf hadn’t actually stood over the other woman and supervised her as she swallowed Plan B.

    How’s that for a woman’s Right to Choose? That seems to only apply if the woman is choosing isn’t that shady other woman of loose morals who engages in semi- or un-protected one night stands, while telling gullible men that she’s on the pill or will take Plan B. She chose to have sex so now she needs to accept the consequences and not inconvenience the poor lad. Really, our conservative Bishop couldn’t have explained it any better.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom March 22, 2016, 1:46 pm

    This guy sounds like someone interested in running away from responsibility. If he joins you in North America that is exactly what he will be doing. There is no way you can spend lots of time traveling back to visit his child. It isn’t like you can go visit for the weekend because it takes a full day of travel to get there and a full day to get back so you have to use chunks of vacation time and that is very limited in your first years at a new job. It isn’t realistic. Also with the cost it isn’t realistic. You have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of money and you can’t go over there frequently. It doesn’t work. I know because we live in the US but my husband is English and we can’t afford to go over frequently. If you had kids it would be even worse because then you have to buy more tickets for the trip. You also don’t call an infant or toddler every day. They wouldn’t know him and wouldn’t want to talk to him on the phone. That is a flimsy, shallow way to parent. It is the opposite of parenting.

    Also, if she was a one night stand how does he know her views on parenting. I think his comment is giving away the fact that he has spent more time with her than he is admitting.

    I don’t think this guy is honest and I don’t think he will take responsibility for his own decisions so he is a very poor bet for the future. This is the perfect opportunity for you to make a clean break.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros March 22, 2016, 4:41 pm

    Said this in the forums, but he’s apparently hopes for abandoning his child show that he’s not a great person. Hoping a dad abandons his kid so you can have him to yourself is pretty selfish, too. I want all children to have parents. Period. He’s probably in a relationship with the other woman. LW has no way of knowing since she barely knows him and is not an actual part of his everyday life.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 5:59 pm

      Believe it or not, that was a different poster. I thought it was the same one at first too, but unless she’s changed a bunch of the details, this is a different story. The one in the forums had known the guy for 7 months or so, but they’d only seen each other 3 times total, two of those for one day.

      Although I guess it’s certainly possible that the LW from the forums wrote in to Wendy with a different story, hoping to get different answers. We’ve certainly seen that happen before.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros March 22, 2016, 9:01 pm

        Whoa, I didn’t ‘even realize that! I have to admit that I started reading and assumed it was the same and stopped. Guess my advice doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore. 🙂

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  • avatar

    Baccalieu March 22, 2016, 6:50 pm

    I know I’m probably going to get massively attacked here and so I apologize in advance, but I’m not sure I agree with the suggestion that a number of commenters have made that this guy should be considered sketchy because he doesn’t know at this stage if he is going to play a role in the child’s life.
    This guy did not want to be a father and (if his story is believed, which I agree is problematic) he wasn’t careless about it but he did take steps to make sure he didn’t become one. Surely, its reasonable of him to take some time to come to terms with the fact that he is going to be one.
    Also, considering the circumstances here it is quite reasonable to say that he won’t make up his mind if he wants involvement or not until the child is born. What are the mother’s circumstances going to be? Is she planning to stay where she is or does she have plans to move? Is she financially secure and does she have help with child care? What involvement do the fathers of the other two kids have with the family? Does the mother want him to be involved or will she fight him? (In the latter case he will have to fight a legal battle to get to be a father to a child that he didn’t want.) How stable is the mother? (As Wendy noted if he takes a role in the child’s life, he is going to be involved with the mother for 18 years, and if she is genuinely crazy, he will be letting himself in for a lot of grief.) On top of all this, his girlfriend is moving to a different continent, and it seems like if it wasn’t for this child, he would move with her. By deciding to be a father to the child, he would be giving up his relationship.
    If he really doesn’t want to be a father does he have an obligation to try and be one anyway? Surely, he can’t force himself to love the child. If his heart isn’t in it, but he tries to do it because he feels it is his duty, isn’t the kid going to notice? Is it really better to have a reluctant father than no father at all? Obviously, he has a legal obligation to financially support the child, but does he have a moral obligation to have a relationship with him or her, too. (I should say that personally if this did happen to me there would be no doubt that I would be a father to the child and gladly. I wish that I had been so lucky in my life as to have had a child.)
    I suppose the obvious response to this is that if he didn’t want to be a parent he shouldn’t have sex. But do we really believe that? I don’t think it is irresponsible of someone who doesn’t want to be a parent to have sex as long as they use appropriate birth control. Yet even the best birth control can fail. Shouldn’t we have some sympathy for someone that it happened to? (Assuming, of course, that it did happen that way.)
    Anyway, if I have offended or upset anyone, I am really sorry. I am not mansplaining or trolling (or at least I am trying not to). I am just trying to express myself. I really enjoy reading this column and reviewing the comments and occasionally contributing and I wouldn’t like to lose the right to do so.

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      RedroverRedrover March 22, 2016, 7:35 pm

      I tend to agree with you. Hell, I wasn’t even excited for my own kid till after he was born (a kid I deliberately had, no less). So I can understand not knowing exactly how you’ll feel till after the baby comes.

      What I do have a huge issue with is how the LW is characterizing the mom-to-be. It’s not clear whether she’s getting that from her bf or if she came up with it on her own, so the bf might not have the same attitude at all. And same thing with the part about him considering moving overseas… from what the LW has said, it looks like he’s open to see how it goes with the co-parenting, but is concerned it won’t work out because of parenting differences, and maybe that’s the only case where he’d consider moving overseas. And it never says he’s planning on not financially supporting his kid.

      This is totally different from the one in the forums where it was pretty clear the guy was planning to try to ditch the kid and his responsibilities. I don’t vilify the guy here, it sounds like he’s willing to try to make it work. Notice too that a lot of us aren’t talking specifically about this situation, but about other ones where the guy complains he was “trapped” or “tricked”. As far as we know this guy doesn’t feel that way, although the LW seems to think that’s what happened.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana March 23, 2016, 12:02 pm

        Woah yeah… I mean the man just gets to “choose” to not be a dad. I have a best friend who got pregnant with someone she was casually dating, they took plan b immediately and it failed, then this guy who refused to acknowledge that she was pregnant, tried to bribe her in to getting an abortion, and spread rumors after the child’s birth that he may not be the father. He then refused to give up his paternal rights to the father and took her to court for a formalized custody and child support agreement . He didn’t even meet his daughter until she was over 6 months old. Now, this beautiful little girl is four and basically sees her dad 1-2x a year, whenever he feels its convenient. It is insanely sad that her entire life will be impacted by this. No, you don’t get to “decide” if you want to have an active role in your child’s life. If you do feel you are entitled to that decision, you are a shit human, and there is no two ways about it. Two people made the choice to have sex, just because the woman decides to go through with the pregnancy does not just absolve the dude from any and all responsibility.

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        Baccalieu March 23, 2016, 5:32 pm

        Actually, my point is that he doesn’t have a choice, since you (and lots of others) have declared that he’s “a shit human” if he doesn’t try to be a father to the child. I think it would be better to give him the choice, at least of being involved in the child’s life (perhaps not with respect to financial support) because having a bad father is probably going to be harder on the child than not having a father present at all. Your friend’s situation is actually an illustration of my point. Her daughter no doubt loves her father and it will be devastating to her when she realizes, if she doesn’t know already, that he doesn’t care about her. It would be better if she didn’t know him at all. And in that case, it would be better to have just let the father walk away in the beginning.

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        keyblade March 23, 2016, 6:46 pm

        If he really doesn’t want to be a father does he have an obligation to try and be one anyway?
        Yes.

        Surely, he can’t force himself to love the child. If his heart isn’t in it, but he tries to do it because he feels it is his duty, isn’t the kid going to notice?
        Yes.

        Is it really better to have a reluctant father than no father at all?
        Yes.

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        anonymousse March 23, 2016, 11:40 pm

        I’m not sure having a reluctant or uninterested or unloving father is better than none at all. Speaking from experience, if I had the choice, I’d go with loving, caring, stepfather or alternate father figure, or even none at all vs unloving, uninterested, duty bound man.

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        keyblade March 24, 2016, 3:56 pm

        I think most people would not choose to have negligent, toxic, or abusive parent. But I don’t think the best advice to a parent in this position is to just wipe your hands clean of your kid in the hopes that whatever is left in your absence will be enough; it would be to learn how to stop being negligent, toxic, and or abusive and replace these behaviors with kinder, healthy ones.

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        keyblade March 23, 2016, 6:51 pm

        “It would be better if she didn’t know him at all.”

        You can’t possibly know that. “Caring” is a choice. Being brought into existence is not a choice.

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        Baccalieu March 26, 2016, 12:14 pm

        We can never know anything about a counterfactual situation for certain but it seems to me quite likely. Lots of children are being raised by single mothers who don’t have biological fathers in the picture (sometimes by the mother’s choice, such as when a single woman has a baby) and they do fine. It seems to me that saying that those children are all worse off then a kid who has a negligent or bad father is a bit of a stretch. Keyblade, you don’t elaborate with respect to your answers to my rhetorical questions, so all I can say with respect to your first and third answers is that I disagree with you. On number 2, you do agree with me, which makes it hard to understand your position. If a child is going to notice that his or her father doesn’t care about them, then he or she is quite likely to suffer significant pain or even long term damage from that. If that is the case, why insist on inflicting a reluctant father on him or her. You can’t just handle the situation by shaking your finger at reluctant fathers and say, “Be better fathers!” and expect it to work.

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        keyblade March 27, 2016, 12:16 pm

        I’ll try to clarify my position once, Baccalieu. I have no interest in engaging in a philosophical chess game or spending endless amounts of time pontificating on how I’ve arrived at my beliefs. I doubt you’ll find them valid or that my position will change your own.
        If a man ejaculates his sperm into a fertile womb and the outcome is the growth of a fetus and delivery of a baby, he is a parent. The existence of his offspring is not theoretical, it is a reality. The question is what does he owe to this creature which will not have a fully developed brain and ability to ability to survive for debatably a minimum of 10 years though most would argue closer to 21.
        Life exists as a result of a set of two biological parents. I believe this should come with a legal and moral responsibility for the life. For me, the exception is when biological parents come to a consensus to donate their sperm, egg to other consenting adults who wish to be parents. If a child exists and parents wish to transfer what I see as their legal and moral responsibility to other adults who may be better fit, the co-creators are obliged to come to an agreement on the matter and do their due diligence in making an informed decision on the adoptive parents.
        This obligation might not feel fair to someone who never wished to carry the weight of that responsibility. I know many parents who often feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and are hardly always at peace with their decision to be parents. I know people who have children who appeared as typical babies only to require an intense amount of time for special needs that may preclude them from ever being independent. I know people who have kids who got into drugs or had accidents or have mental health problems and will require money, effort, and sacrifice for the rest of the parent’s life. I know people who are smart and hardworking who work crappy shifts and don’t sleep enough and work at boring, unfulfilling jobs because that’s where they can find work. I suppose observing lots and lots of people doing things that they’d rather not be doing and having to work on their attitudes to adjust to circumstance allows me to see people as adaptable.
        To me, if one parent is willing and wishes to take on the full scope of obligations to their mutual offspring then I think the parent who wishes to give up their rights can do so, perhaps with no judgment from me.
        But when both parents do not agree with abdicating the responsibilities of their child to one of them or a different person, then those responsibilities don’t just vanish into thin air. I think you are arguing in such a case that a parent is reluctant to do their duties it falls on the other parent to relieve them. I disagree. They could choose to relieve them if they believe the reluctant parent would act in a distant, unreliable, reluctant manner. I suppose the parent who is trying to live up to their obligation would have to weigh the emotional cost of having no co-parent to balance responsibilities with versus the potential dysfunction that could arise by the presence of the selfish parent.
        I would love to see children all raised in by doting parents who feel accepting and grateful to have kids. But there is no shortage of struggling single mothers who really do “have no choice” but to do it ALL on their own. Sometimes it is enough to meet all the needs of a child with minimal issues impacting the kid later on. Sometimes it’s not. None of us know. Even in what might appear to others to be perfectly ideal circumstances, none of us know what is to come and if it is enough. We all emote. We all struggle with finding a balance between what we want to do and what we feel we need to do sometimes. Some of us struggle a lot. None of us expect to be perfect. Welcome to parenthood.

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      Steph March 23, 2016, 7:13 am

      I tend to agree with you and I’ll probably get attacked as well, but the woman gets to decide if she wants the baby, and then the man is stuck paying for it due to child support even if he didn’t want the kid. However, if the woman wants to abort and the man wants to keep the baby that is also his, he is shit out of luck. I get feminism and pro choice and all of that, but women in these scenarios have all the power and basically get to make a man be a dad (or at least pay for a kid) to a kid he doesn’t want or abort a baby that he does want to keep because she doesn’t want it.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy March 23, 2016, 7:46 am

        Because it’s a woman who has to carry the baby and give birth to the baby and then raise the baby often without any help from the father. Even this guy says he basically has to wait and see how he feels about the baby before he decides what role he wants to have in its life. I hear that ALL THE TIME — in letters I get, in real life, in essays, etc. Men are always peacing out when baby comes (even when it’s one they say they want or are open to), so I am more than fine with the balance of choice (or becoming a parent) swaying more in the favor of women in this scenario since they BY FAR carry more of the burden of child-rearing.

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        RedroverRedrover March 23, 2016, 8:01 am

        I don’t think you do “get” feminism and pro choice and all of that. Everyone knows what BC choices are available to them, right? Just because women have more options, doesn’t mean they should take responsibility while he takes none. Men can lower their risk of being a father by doing a lot of things – condoms + spermicide, sleeping with women who also don’t want kids, checking what BC methods the women they are sleeping with use, checking if the women they sleep with would be willing to do Plan B or abortion in the case of an accidental pregnancy, etc. They’re not helpless. Give me a break.

        And women have all the power, hahahahahaha. Yeah! Awesome! They get to choose between having an abortion and being a single mom! Wow, there’s nothing I’d rather do than lie awake on a table and feel my baby be literally scraped out of my body. Or spend the rest of my life struggling to raise one on my own. What great, powerful options, right?

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        Ron March 23, 2016, 8:47 am

        I agree, Steph doesn’t get pro-choice at all, although not entirely her fault, the Republicans have done everything possible to blur the issue. No, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. Feminism doesn’t mean that either. It means that the woman has a right to control her own body and that includes refusing to abort or use Plan B (which Catholics and many Evangelical Christians view as the same as abortion). Just because a man doesn’t want to be a father, it doesn’t mean he has a right to badger the woman to go against her own wishes and take Plan B. Many women have a religious objection to doing so. Many women badly want a child and worry they aren’t ever going to have that opportunity and think in the back of their minds that this accident, which they did nothing to cause — the guy likely put the condom on wrong — might be their last, best, ‘blessing from heaven’ chance.

        This is the danger of random, one-night stands. This guy should have known that his horniness was driving him to take a significant risk of fatherhood by having sex with a woman he literally knew nothing about. He didn’t ask beforehand whether or not she was on the pill. He didn’t know her religious beliefs so he didn’t know if she would be willing to use Plan B if the condom failed. He was either too dumb or too into the moment to realize that the condom had broken and pull out.

        Every woman has the total right to refuse to take Plan B if a condom breaks. That’s the pro-choice feminist answer. It doesn’t matter whether or not the guy desperately wants not to be a father. If he is that concerned about being a father he should use spermicides, buy high quality condoms, make sure he puts them on properly, and find out at least a little about the women he is considering having sex with. He obviously picked the wrong woman, who did not agree with him on Plan B. That’s his tough luck, but it also was very avoidable.

        He’s the shady one, in the way he treated the LW and in feeling he could force this woman to use Plan B. She did nothing at all shady. If I were a woman and a guy much bigger than me was going nuts over the possibility of becoming a father after a condom accident and just shouting “Plan B, Plan B” and I was anti-abortion and felt Plan B was abortion and had absolutely no intent of taking it, I most certainly would tell him “don’t worry dear, I’m on the pill” or anything else needed to get rid of him, while staying safe. There is absolutely nothing shady at all about that. Had she told him prior to having sex that she was on the pill or that she definitely would use Plan B if there were a condom accident — that would be different and that would be shady, because that would be a lie to get what she wanted. Not allowing herself to be bullied is not shady. It’s self protection.

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        anonymousse March 23, 2016, 10:17 am

        “I get feminism….” are you sure you do?

        “Or at least pay for a kid.”
        Men have rights, too. He could sue to terminate his parental rights.
        Because being totally responsible for another human is something so many women want to do on their own, with child support or not…

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 23, 2016, 8:14 am

      If the mother is genuinely crazy then the father should try to get full custody and if he can’t get that he should spend as much time as possible with the child because the child needs it. I think most western countries give dad’s legal rights to their children so I don’t think he would have to have a legal fight to have custody rights to his child. He wouldn’t have full custody but he would have shared custody. Apparently the guy also thinks it would be hard to co-parent with the women because they have different views on parenting but how could he know that if she was a one night stand. The only way you could know how someone parents is to have spent time around them when they are with their kids to see how they parent. That makes him seem dishonest because the things he says are inconsistent with each other. I think that anyone, man or woman, who has sex with someone they think would make a terrible partner or a terrible parent is playing with fire. If you think she is crazy don’t have sex with her. If you think she is a poor parent don’t have sex with her. If you can’t get along with her don’t have sex with her. If you think she has too many kids with different men don’t have sex with her.

      Most three month old relationships don’t last. All long term relationships did have a three month point but most three month old relationships don’t become long term relationships.

      The guy will probably have trouble getting a visa to work in North America. Just because his girlfriend will have a job here doesn’t mean that he can get permission to work here. We aren’t part of the EU and he can’t easily move here permanently. Coming over to be with her seems at least as problematic and difficult as staying at home to face the future with his child. The idea of traveling back a lot to visit the child is also unrealistic. It’s like magical thinking where difficult problems are easy and parenting from another continent allows a good level of father child bonding and interaction.

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    Ron March 22, 2016, 7:33 pm

    The guy’s avoiding child support by skipping across the ocean. That’s hardly responsible. Yes, there are many factors involved which could determine whether or not he is able to be a father to this child. You listed them. But none of that hits the question of whether or not he desires to be a father or feels a moral responsibility to try to be a father. Saying he needs to wait until the child’s birth to know that seems a stalling tactic to get him safely away before the child is born in 6 months. If he is so determined to not be a parent, then he should have asked this woman if she was on the pill or if she would be willing to turn to Plan B if the condom failed. He didn’t do that. He didn’t try all that hard to avoid parenthood.

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    Brise March 23, 2016, 8:45 am

    The LW should ask herself: “Am I his ticket out of this situation (the baby)?” It looks so.
    For her, the whole picture is not that interesting. The BF is not in control of the situation, and she will be even less in control. Everything is suspended (PhD, birth and parenthood, job market) and for others to make decisions. In this context, the LW had better consider this love as an experience, and free herself (move on) in order to embrace fully the new stage of her life in America. Good that she chose the job anyway.
    It is also unrealistic to imagine any significant relationship with a baby through daily telephone calls. The idea is even a bit ridiculous. Which mother would accept that from an absent father anyway? All this is doomed from the start. Don’t set yourself for a masochist situation.

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    Saatl March 23, 2016, 9:47 am

    Raise your hand if you think LW is going to ignore Wendy’s advice. ?

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    Jax March 23, 2016, 2:06 pm

    MOA. It just doesn’t seem like there is much of a relationship to salvage here. Plus – now that he has a kid, he’ll have a much harder time relocating, so unless you want to give up this job in the US, it’ll be even harder for you to be together.

    Go to your great new job – enjoy the US and hopefully you’ll meet a great guy there.

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