To his credit, he has been very open with me about it and disclosed the pregnancy on our second date. He has been very understanding, supportive, and communicative. When he first told me, I didn’t want to shut down the idea of continuing to get to know each other, and I eventually decided being with him is worth it. I still feel that way. He has no romantic feelings for her, and the feeling appears to be mutual. She is seeing someone else (she is about six months pregnant), and she knows about me. Mike would like for us to meet, and he wants me to be a part of everything. She is completely amenable as well. He is progressing well in his career, is responsible, and is committed to being a great father (which I’m sure he will be).
We have discussed the future, want the same things, and are on the same page. He is very sensitive to my feelings about the whole thing. I’m trying to be understanding and supportive, but the reality is, I’m petrified. I feel very selfish thinking about myself, but I understand the dynamics of our relationship will change when the baby is born. I’ve just never imagined it going this way. I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but I’ve always envisioned being the first and only woman to give birth to my husband’s children (in the way, way future). Mike understands and respects this completely. Granted, we are still getting to know each other and developing the relationship, but I am at a point in my life where I’m ready to settle down with the right person in the next few years, and so far, I could see it being with him.
I just don’t know what to expect. I want to continue the way we are going and see what happens between us, but the unknown is very scary to me. Can this actually work? Am I being naive to think I’ll be able to deal with this? How can I be supportive but make sure my needs are met as well? Is it selfish of me to even think of my needs when this situation is completely separate from me and will be very challenging for him (and her)? The idea of him being there when she gives birth, not having as much availability for me (selfish, I know, but reality), a significant amount of income going to meet the baby’s needs, etc. is daunting. He is a great guy, and if it weren’t for this situation, I would be in 7th heaven. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! — Scared of the Unknown
Everything you’re feeling is totally normal, from the excitement that you’ve found someone you like to the disappointment that he’s having a child with someone else and the fear of the unknown. Most people, when they fantasize about the person they’ll potentially spend their lives with, don’t imagine a person who is expecting a baby with someone else. But you know what? Most people also don’t imagine in their fantasies people who have been twice divorced and have kids with multiple parents, or partners with enormous student loans, or spouses who get cancer, or people who struggle with mental illness or can’t hold a job or are deployed every other year. But we don’t live our lives in fantasies, we live them in reality where people have stuff they deal with — stuff like exes, and illness, and aging parents, and surprise babies with people they aren’t even dating.
If you don’t stick with Mike and see where things go with him, you’ll always wonder what might have been. And just because you won’t have to deal with the reality of his situation doesn’t mean the reality of the next person you date will be any less challenging. Or maybe it will. You don’t know. There’s no way to know. And the unknown is scary. It’s scary if you’re dating a man who’s expecting a baby with someone else, and it’s scary if you’re married and expecting a baby with your spouse and hoping for a healthy child. The unknown is scary, especially when the stakes — like love and health and family — are so high.
The good news is that the unknown does eventually become the known. Most things don’t remain a mystery forever. If you stay with Mike, eventually what is unknown to you will become apparent. In a matter of months, you will know what his life is like — and consequently, what your relationship is like — when a baby is involved. You’ll know how much attention Mike will be able to give you and how much he’ll interact with the baby’s mother and how you’ll feel about sharing him and his time. Within six months of the baby’s birth — which is about nine months from now — you’ll have a much clearer idea how single parenthood will affect Mike’s relationship with you and you’ll know whether your feelings for him are strong enough to invest more time.
Sure, you’ll probably be more invested in Mike in nine month’s time, and breaking up with him, should you decide to end the relationship, will be harder than if you left him now. But you’ll have answers then that you don’t have now, and that will make a big difference. And on a more optimistic note, you may find that things are better than you anticipate. Maybe the baby will bring joy to your life you never bothered to imagine in your fantasy world because this isn’t the traditional picture of happiness you’ve seen before. A traditional path isn’t the only way to happiness.
I say give love a chance. See where this path leads you. Maybe it won’t lead you where you want to be. But maybe it will. Or maybe you’ll discover that Mike, regardless of his situation, isn’t the man for you. Maybe that’s something you’ll only learn if you invest a few more months getting to know him. And maybe you’ll find he’s exactly the man for you even though his reality is more complicated than what you pictured for yourself.
If we all went around rejecting anything that didn’t match up to our fantasies or what we imagined for ourselves, none of us would ever move forward in life. We’d all be single, homeless, and unemployed. Reality doesn’t look like fantasy. It’s not supposed to. But there is joy and love and happiness to be had in the complicated and messy layers of real life. There’s richness to embrace and lessons to learn, even in heartbreak. Sometimes, especially in heartbreak. Don’t not live because you’re afraid of getting hurt. Don’t stand still because you fear the unknown ahead. Keep moving forward. Push through fear. And embrace the life unfolding in front of you. It may just bring you the kind of happiness you always imagined, even if it isn’t packaged the way you thought it would be.
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