Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“She Told Me She’s Pregnant The Day before I Planned to Break Up With Her”

My long-term partner announced she is pregnant a day before I planned to end the relationship. We’ve been in a really bad place for a couple of years and everything we agreed to work on simply hasn’t happened. A lot was to do with motivation and fitness after failed pregnancies over the years. We hadn’t been intimate for a year except for a couple weeks ago. I wanted to be sure there was no connection and there wasn’t. I had planned to break up in a couple days, but this morning she took a pregnancy test and there was a very faint line! Of course, I’ll be there if we/she decides to keep the baby although I feel that I need to be honest with her as staying together for the wrong reasons is only putting off the inevitable. She’s in her mid-40s and we have no other children, so I believe she will choose to continue the pregnancy. How should I handle this? — Done Putting Off the Inevitable

I’m assuming you didn’t use protection when you two slept together? Did it occur to you that she might get pregnant? Did you consider before you had sex what you might do if there “wasn’t a connection” and she got pregnant? I’m guessing not. I don’t know exactly what you mean by “a lot was to do with motivation and fitness,” but I do know what you mean by “failed pregnancies,” and maybe this pregnancy also won’t last, especially if there’s a history of failed pregnancies. Your girlfriend would be very, very early in this pregnancy, and she’s in her mid-40s (an age when pregnancy risks skyrocket). Regardless of whether this pregnancy continues or not — and she may decide to end it herself — you need to be honest with her about your feelings.

I would tell your girlfriend that you need her to know that you are no longer in love with her and are ready to end this relationship. Don’t leave room for misinterpretation. Tell her that this doesn’t have anything to do with the pregnancy – that you had been thinking about this for a while and were planning to have this discussion with her before she shared the pregnancy news. Tell her that you will support her in whatever decision she makes about the pregnancy and that you are prepared to be a committed co-parent although not a romantic partner to her. The ball will be in her court then. And whether or not you’re romantically involved with her, if she has this baby, you’re as much responsible for it as she is, and you can’t break up with the baby. That’s probably something you should have thought of before you had sex with her to make sure there was no connection…

I dated a man I loved for five years. However, we dated while I was recovering from a domestically violent relationship, and I wasn’t really ready for him. I cheated and he left. I am a single mother of two, and he wants to be in my kids’ lives. We broke up a year and a half ago, my kids were heartbroken, and it’s taken this long to get them to understand that he won’t be around like he used to be.

After we broke up, I didn’t handle communication with him well — I was also diagnosed with MS and had a lot of fear and overwhelming emotions going on — so instead of visiting the kids, he just kept in touch with them through texts. Now, a year and half later, he feels we’ve all adjusted and he wants to start seeing them again. I feel that since he’s now dating a new woman and building a future with her, it doesn’t make sense to have him visit my kids. He argues that he always responded to my kids when they reached out to him after our breakup. The truth is, a quick, two-second text is nice and all but not like physically being there. He also sent them gifts and they, on their own, mailed him cards, called him, texted him, and wanted him in their lives.

I have not moved on. I actually don’t know how to. I know why I cheated (it wasn’t sex but a kiss). In the end, I’m still heartbroken and not really ready to see him, and I don’t know if it’s right that I keep that relationship open when he’s starting a life with a new women. I don’t think he gets how women think. His time will be taken up by that woman and I’m scared my kids will be always on the back-burner. I’m honestly still heartbroken and my kids still cry to this day when I ask them not to reach out to him and to start to give him space. I don’t know how to handle this or if I even have to. — Concerned Mom

 
First, please get yourself to therapy if you aren’t already. Between a domestically violent relationship, sabotaging a loving relationship by cheating, being diagnosed with MS, raising two children as a single parent, and not knowing how to move on from a relationship that ended a year and a half ago, you have a lot to unpack and get support for.

Second, please do not foster continued communication between your kids and your ex. For all the reasons you gave — you’re not ready to see your ex, your kids have only just started to understand that your ex won’t be in their lives like he used to be, and you are worried that your ex’s new girlfriend will complicate his physical and emotional availability to your kids — it does not make sense to re-inroduce your ex into your kids’ lives more than what they’ve had with him over the past year and a half. It could potentially be confusing and painful – for everyone involved, especially considering your own unstable emotions around your breakup and your ex. What your kids need much, much more than a relationship with your ex-boyfriend is for you to be strong and stable. If their having a deeper relationship with your ex jeopardizes that – and it sounds like it will – any benefits of the relationship (which remain questionable anyway) are far outweighed by the negatives.

Because you don’t know how to move on and your kids still cry if you ask them not to reach out to your ex or to give him space, I would argue to move toward ending all communication among them. Tear off the bandaid and have everyone move on with their lives. I wouldn’t forbid your kids from reaching out to your ex, but I would ask your ex to stop reaching out to them unsolicited, to stop sending gifts and cards in the mail, and to begin limiting his responses to these expressions of communication from your kids (as you begin to limit what they send to him, with the goal being that within a few months to a year an occasional text is the only communication that remains). It will be painful for your kids to eventually lose contact with him, but I think it will be less confusing for them in the long run than having this ongoing text and penpal relationship with a person they want desperately to be physically in their lives and isn’t/can’t be.

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

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

19 comments… add one
  • avatar

    SpaceySteph July 11, 2019, 10:30 am

    For LW1, Wendy’s advice is spot on. Don’t have her make decisions about what to do with her pregnancy without all the facts. The facts are you want to break up, you don’t love her; don’t let her imagine you’ll be a big happy family when you know that’s not the case and if that would change her decision to keep the pregnancy or not, she deserves to know. And I hope you have learned a very valuable lesson about using protection. If she’s over 40, I imagine you are also no spring chicken. You need to grow up and be more discerning about where you leave your semen.

    For LW2 Going to ex and asking him to cut off contact is the right move, but there’s no guarantee he will. He may even double down on the contact. And if the kids are old enough to have their own cell phones then they’re probably old enough to figure out mom is trying to block contact here and may rebel. You might be better off setting reasonable bounds for contact and letting time heal things for both you and them.

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    • avatar

      Emily July 13, 2019, 11:57 am

      I can’t coparent with someone who won’t be available. He says ilhe would be. But I don’t know any man who would miss a year and half despite text or communication with our physical.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 11, 2019, 10:47 am

    LW 2 If your ex is the father they know and they want him and he wants them I’d think twice about cutting their bond. Overall, kids seem to do better with two involved parents. When you bring a man into their lives and make him their father for five years you have built that bond and you should think twice about breaking it. I’d talk to a counselor and have the kids talk to a counselor and get an opinion about what is best for the kids.

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    • avatar

      Emily July 13, 2019, 11:58 am

      I do see a counselor they all say to cut ties. The kids are just now giving it space. I’ve asked them to only text him once in awhile and started to ask them to back off. They listened. One said he would like to see him as a friend. I’m still cautious strange territory for me

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  • avatar

    Allornone July 11, 2019, 10:50 am

    LW1- Are you certain she’s actually pregnant? A very faint line two weeks after intercourse is not the soundest of evidence, especially since it’s harder to get pregnant after 40. I hope she’s visiting a doctor to confirm very soon. But yes, if she is, everything Wendy said.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 11, 2019, 11:10 am

    LW1 Tell her that you’ll be breaking up regardless of whether she has the baby or not. She deserves to know.

    At the same time I can’t believe you sabotaged your own exit plan by having unprotected sex. If a baby is born you will have a life long connection. If you do have a baby be a good dad. Even better, be a great dad. Be the parent your child deserves.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse July 11, 2019, 11:11 am

    LW1- tell her the truth. Let her have all the info before she decides what to do.

    LW2- I agree with Wendy that you need to help them move on. Do they have any other male role models in their life?

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 11, 2019, 11:57 am

    LW2 Your kids have already lost a dad. The man in the abusive relationship. You don’t say whether he was their biological dad or whether that was someone else. They are better off without the abusive dad. Now they are losing a second dad and they are desperate to keep him. Part of the stability kids need is the continuing support and love of their parents. Especially in the teen years kids need the emotional support of both parents if they have them. If teens are emotionally hurting from the loss of a parent they are at risk of trying to numb the pain with drugs and/or alcohol. They are at higher risk for teen pregnancies because they search for that emotional connection with their peers.

    If they are desperate to keep him and he wants them I’d seriously consider letting them have the relationship. If you can manage to get counseling for you and for the kids that would be the best. You all need help managing your loss and the past abuse. You could also get advice about the ex boyfriend and what would be the best situation for the kids. Maybe the counselor would tell you to cut contact between him and the kids but they might say the kids are better off keeping him in their lives.

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    • avatar

      Emily July 13, 2019, 12:01 pm

      Yes the abusive dad was the biological. The guy I broke up with was around the majority of there up bringing. I have started Ronald them to space out on communication and give somethings a rest. They did listen and are doing that. He canceled coming June and July. He told me to move forward and that he had . I started to apply tondating apps and am trying to talk to guys . But with out my kids knowing. I don’t know if he will ever come or not but I’m trying to get over it. I’m angry that he’s okay with a broken home despite trust issues. He said I had to many chances. Without even taken in place my background. That made me more certain that it’s an excuse than anything else. So I’m pushing to move forward.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark July 11, 2019, 11:59 am

    LW1) Try being fucking blunt. (For once!) Tell her it’s over — it’s been over for ages and may you kindly suggest you both look into having an abortion to save yet another unwanted child from both of you mess.
    .
    LW2) I dunno. Sounds to me the the kids could actually use a stable not crazy influence in their life as mommy dearest has proven herself to be anything but.

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    • avatar

      Emily July 13, 2019, 12:04 pm

      I don’t think that’s a stable scenario. He’s a good guy and all for his life. But his involvement is out of his convients other wise during the year and half he would had showed up. I had offered to pay for his trips and not be there for visits and he always said he wasn’t coming because of me and my behavior. Which wasn’t fair and hurt my kids. It’s been hard but recently I started to let him know that my kids will be okay whether he’s around or not. He’s moved on and isn’t as dedicated which we all knew would happen.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor July 11, 2019, 1:16 pm

    “I don’t know exactly what you mean by “a lot was to do with motivation and fitness,”

    From the context below, I believe that it means that she got or stayed fat after her pregnancies and he didn’t want to have sex in her anymore.

    ” A lot was to do with motivation and fitness after failed pregnancies over the years. We hadn’t been intimate for a year except for a couple weeks ago.”

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    • avatar

      Fyodor July 11, 2019, 1:17 pm

      Sex with her, I mean.

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    • avatar

      000 July 12, 2019, 8:57 am

      That was my immediate interpretation as well. It was a euphemistic phrasing that left out all pronouns indicating who’s who–but he was turned off by her lack of “motivation” to be “fit.”

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  • avatar

    bloodymediocrity July 11, 2019, 5:01 pm

    LW2 – I don’t know – it seems icky to me to deprive these kids of someone who loves them and to deprive the dude of seeing these kids he’s forged bonds with as well. I get that the writer is clearly not in a good place, but the good (more stability for the kids) outweighs the bad (awkwardness and bad feelings for the mom). Is it really so hurtful that the kids to receive presents from this guy?

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    • avatar

      Emily July 13, 2019, 12:08 pm

      I offers to pay for his trips and to not be there if we would visit the kids for the year and half. He didn’t take it. He said he wasn’t coming because of my behavior but kept speaking to the kids. It was a neglectful move on his part. I was fully open. But I made it clear to him I didn’t want to be there and he made this big deal how I was showing unsupport by my actions. So he didn’t come. Now it’s like I want my kids to just be okay. Whether he’s around or not so I’ve been working on them getting use to the new norm and not relying on him or thinking he’s be around. He canceled June and July. Which is okay. I told him at this point there’s no pressure for him to visit and my kids are okay either way. I also told him I was going to move on in my life. All he said was it sounded like he wasn’t welcomed and that hurt him and only a part of him hurt to know ones moving forward. I was pretty angry when all of me hurt only apart of him hurt. This was just last week. Even more making me aware of how I need to handle this. I did keep all avenues for him to visit and he just didn’t do his part. So I’m done.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros July 11, 2019, 6:37 pm

    LW2: I guess I see where people are coming from when they say that he should be in their lives. But he’s not the only person on the planet who can be in their lives. And I’ve seen enough letters on here to know that all it takes is one girlfriend who doesn’t like her boyfriend parenting someone else’s kids to remove him from their lives again. I think you need to be absolutely clear with him what his relationship with your kids will be in various hypothetical situations (for example, keep in mind that if you get involved with someone else, how will you handle it?) before you start all this again.

    But I will differ from the others and say that I don’t think it’s the end of the world if you choose not to have him get involved with them again. Having a second parental figure is great, but not if it comes at the expense of the actual parent’s mental well-being, which is also very important to your kids’ lives.

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  • avatar

    PurpleStar July 11, 2019, 7:38 pm

    LW2 – I think the age of the children matter in this situation. Are they old enough to have their own relationship with your ex? Meaning, you don’t have to see him for them to see him. you were with him for 5 years, it has now been 1 1/2 years – if they were not babies when you met him then they are what, tweens? early teens? He has kept the door open with them for the past year and a half – that shows a commitment to staying in their lives, even if only tangentially. And it seems they want him .
    I get that it makes you uncomfortable – but the time to cut off all ties was a year and half ago. Now is the time to have a frank discussion with him and your kids and find out what their vision of their relationship is moving forward. That, and individual and family therapy, would you help you move on and make the best decision for your children.

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    • avatar

      Emily July 13, 2019, 12:14 pm

      That’s true he did do that. I am asking my kids to back off from communication from him only recently. I had offered to pay for his trips and express for him to visit without me and he canceled and wouldn’t take my offer. My kids basically are with me on moving forward. We have Ben to therapy and I’ve been to counseling and I just barely wrote to him that I was going to move on. He didn’t really care. He already had someone else and I knew his hole priority is his girlfriend. He asked me to not keep him from the kids it’s just I wasn’t. He did that on his own and he didn’t take up responsibility and instead just moved on. Made me really mad this week .so I’m trying to draw Aline and not allow him to pass it. I told him I didn’t want to see him and he can see my kids but we sent in a hurry no pressure and st this point he can’t do parent with me. Since he already made the choice after we broke up to not really do parent with me. Plus his dating life came first. So I told myself I’ve had enough. I did wait. But if he doesn’t know I’m a good women and I don’t want to support a broken home than he’s not good fit either.

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