Nick originally didn’t tell me about Amy. In fact, I found out about her on my own three months ago after finding a letter on his bedside table mentioning her. Only when I asked Nick about the letter, did he tell me the story and that Amy wasn’t his biological child. That was that, I didn’t question it and was comfortable with what he told me.
Nick almost never sees Amy. He saw Amy once the whole of last year and again at the beginning of the year to sign papers for her to start nursery school (she’s still under Nick’s surname), but, other than that, he never sees her. He never talked about Amy or Karen, up until about a week ago when he mentioned that he’s been chatting to Karen to see how Amy is. I was shocked because he’s never told me that he still chats with Karen and he’s now been talking to me about Amy and showing me the pictures of her that Karen has sent him. He says he still wants to be a father figure in Amy’s life.
I’m a bit uncomfortable with the situation. Karen has caused issues between me and Nick before by spreading rumors about her relationship with Nick through friends of friends and hacking email and Facebook accounts, so I’m weary of her intentions. I also don’t have a child of my own so I can’t relate to that bond you form with a baby when they’re born. But I don’t know how Nick expects Amy to know him when he never sees her. It’s not like Karen is going to tell Amy about Nick and how he asks about her. She’s two and doesn’t have the capability to understand it and, by the time she’s old enough, she won’t know who he is.
Please help. I’m not sure how to handle the situation and I don’t want to come across as the insecure, jealous girlfriend. — Uncomfortable with the Pseudo Daughter
Too late. You already are coming across as the insecure, jealous girlfriend. I’d say you crossed to that line as soon as you went snooping through your boyfriend’s bedside table and read a letter that wasn’t addressed to you. But if you truly don’t want to act like a jealous, insecure girlfriend going forward, you will have to give Nick the space and freedom he needs to figure out his role in this little girl’s life. To believe, through Karen’s entire pregnancy, her labor, and the first few months of Amy’s life, that he was the father only to find out he is not and that Karen cheated on him and lied to him for over a year must be an incredibly difficult thing for Nick to process, on multiple levels.
That he isn’t sure, after a year, exactly how to navigate a relationship with this little girl he believed was his daughter doesn’t seem that odd. How else would you expect him to act? To cut all ties with her completely and never speak to or see her again or ask her mother how she is would seem a little extreme. But to carry on as if nothing had changed would seem equally unlikely (and maybe not totally healthy). I would imagine Nick has been grieving the same way anyone who suffers a loss would. Amy didn’t die, of course, but to suddenly lose a father-daughter relationship and not know how or whether that relationship can or should continue in some capacity must feel a little bit like a death. And so, Nick has probably been going through the stages of grief, at exactly the same time he’s been forming this new relationship with you, while trying to figure out how and whether to navigate a relationship with Amy, while Karen is apparently spreading rumors and hacking emails and Facebook accounts. It’s a wonder Nick has any energy and interest in pursuing a romantic relationship at all right now, especially with someone who is clearly threatened by the thought of his having a meaningful bond with someone else (including a two-year-old girl he believed was his daughter for a year).
If you don’t want to lose Nick, you need to ease up and practice some compassion. You don’t need to have experienced or understand the bond a parent can share with a newborn baby to appreciate that this is a delicate situation in which a lot of complex feelings are at the forefront. And Nick needn’t have spent much time with Amy in the past year to still feel bonded to her and invested in her and interested in pursuing some sort of relationship with her (though he will have to spend time with her in the future if he hopes for some kind of relationship). For all you know, he’s been thinking about her nonstop, and is relieved that he can finally share photos with you and start talking about this important, but confusing, aspect of his life. If you aren’t able to support him through this — if the situation is too “uncomfortable” as you say — then own that and embrace it and let Nick know that this is more than you signed on for, that you can’t handle the idea of Karen or Amy remaining in his life, and that his situation is too complicated for you to be part of. There’s no shame in owning the truth. And you could set a new precedent in this circle of adults and actually embrace and share the truth before hurting anyone by withholding it.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.