Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Tell My Boyfriend I’m Getting an Abortion or Let Him Think it’s a Miscarriage?”

I met my current boyfriend in November, and in December I became pregnant even after taking Plan B. I found out on January 10th that I’m pregnant, and I have not felt happy since, to say the least. My boyfriend, however, was ecstatic, and he has shared his happiness with me every day. When I’ve mentioned abortion and why we maybe shouldn’t keep it, he gets upset. He’s been through a really rough time lately, and I know that considering my circumstances — jobless, transferring to a university in the fall, and only having known him a short time — an abortion is what needs to happen. He says he would support me and the baby because of his well-paying job and, tbh, we both have supportive families. But I can’t have a baby right now. Our relationship is still new. And there’s no guarantee it will work.

I’ve been having bleeding for five days now and he thinks I’ve miscarried, but the doctors have said the baby is fine. Tomorrow I have a termination appointment, and even though I feel so bad about lying, I know saying I didn’t want the baby would crush him. I’d rather he think it was natural. Am I wrong for this? I just know I wouldn’t be able to give it the life it deserves if the relationship with the father ends up falling through. — To Tell or Not To Tell

It sounds like you’re asking two different things: first, if you’re wrong for wanting an abortion; and second, whether you should let your boyfriend think you miscarried or tell him the truth about getting an abortion. No, you aren’t wrong for wanting an abortion. You know it’s what you want, you have very valid reasons for not wanting a baby right now, and it’s your body and your life. As for telling your boyfriend, I think you need to look at doing so through the lens of the relationship not working out — because, let’s be honest, the likelihood of it lasting is slim. Even based on nothing more than statistics (most relationships don’t work out) before also adding in the pregnancy drama and the very obvious difference in where you two are in your lives and what you want, it simply seems unlikely that the trajectory of this relationship leads to a happily-ever-after.

So, let’s assume you’re going to break up eventually, one way or another. How does telling him the truth affect that? He might end the relationship sooner than he would if he believed you had a miscarriage, and that might not be a bad thing. The break-up would be based on a truth: you two want different things. How would telling him that you had a miscarriage affect your relationship? Well, he might double-down in his commitment to you, wanting to support you through this “loss,” and even suggest trying for another pregnancy before you are ready (because, again, you want different things at this stage in your lives). He may feel you are sharing in a kind of grief together – grieving the lost pregnancy — which may be difficult for you to navigate when your overwhelming emotion will likely be relief, not grief.

If it were I, I’d tell my boyfriend the truth and then let the chips fall as they may. At least whatever happened between us would be based in reality, in the truth, in a shared understanding of the experience even if our feelings about it aren’t shared. Whatever you decide to do though, know that terminating your pregnancy is the right choice for you because it’s YOUR choice. And, for now anyway, women still get to have some agency over their uteruses and bodies and lives.

I have been with my boyfriend for a year and a half. We are both now in our 50s, and from day one we jumped in with both feet and made a go of things. He took me to look at rings the first month of our being together and said he couldn’t wait to marry me, which excited me because we had connected so quickly and made a choice to bypass all the dating and become one. For eight months he asked me over and over if I were going to say yes if he proposed, and I reassured him that I would. We had an amazing journey together until our one-year anniversary came and went and there was no ring. I moved in with him in our third month together, and had I known a year and a half later I still wouldn’t have a ring, I wouldn’t have! I feel like he never really had the intention to marry me, so I moved out two weeks ago. He is asking me to come back but still refuses to put a ring on my finger like he said he would from the beginning. If I’m worth it to him, he would, right? — Worth a Ring?

 
I don’t necessarily believe that a ring/proposal means someone values you and your relationship and the absence of a ring means he doesn’t. I think a person can greatly value his or her significant other and not have any desire to get married (ever or any time soon), just as someone can marry a person without fully loving him or her. However! The fact that your boyfriend pretended to want marriage, especially knowing it was something you wanted, and he led you on for months and months, is deceptive and is most definitely a sign that he doesn’t value you as you deserve and should be valued. Frankly, he sounds like a real dick! And now he’s begging for you to come back to him but refusing to put a ring on your finger? Sorry, but fuck that shit. He doesn’t get to lie to you, lead you on for almost a year and a half, and then get you back just because he wants you back! Where’s his apology? Where are his amends for all the many months he deceived you? Where’s the promise to go to therapy to work out why he’s such a lying dick and to learn how to be better to and for you? Has he offered you ANYTHING to go back to him? Actually, forget that. Who cares if he’s offered you anything if he’s not actually offering the one thing he’s promised you all along and the one thing you really want. He could promise you the moon, but if he’s still refusing to marry you, move on. He’s not the one for you.

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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.

23 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Vathena January 23, 2020, 11:08 am

    Re: LW1, I agree with Wendy, but with one caveat. If you think there is ANY chance that your safety could be compromised if you tell him about the abortion, I’d have a think about not telling him. Or at the very least, telling him in public or with a friend/family member present, and maybe make a plan to stay elsewhere for a little while if you can. Oh, and break up. Any guy who would become angry or vengeful over your bodily autonomy is not a guy you should be in a relationship with. Best of luck to you.

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  • avatar

    Helen January 23, 2020, 11:34 am

    Whatever you tell him, just do it after the procedure. Don’t give him a chance to prevent you or beg you not to. And yes, if there’s a chance he’ll harm you or retaliate just let think it was a miscarriage

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    • Pheebers

      Phoebe January 23, 2020, 12:58 pm

      I was coming here to say that. If you don’t he will likely double down on trying to talk you out of it, or worse, preventing you from making the appointment.

      Wendy gave wonderful advice.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster January 23, 2020, 2:56 pm

      I agree with this too! Make YOUR choice, follow through on it, then tell him. Personally, I’d go with the truth unless your safety would be compromised–and in that case I’d also end the relationship.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse January 23, 2020, 1:13 pm

    Given his previously reaction, I’d let him believe you had a miscarriage. “I lost the baby.” He can fill in the blanks.

    You’re absolutely right that bring a child into a 2 month relationship would be a very risky idea. You know what you want. Don’t worry so much about how he will feel. It’s not his choice to make.

    I’m not normally a proponent of omitting or lying, but he’s already been upset about the idea. I do hope you take a step back from this relationship. You both want different things.

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  • avatar

    Allornone January 23, 2020, 1:36 pm

    Whether you ultimately tell and/or stay with him or not, please consider birth control if you haven’t already. Be it the pill, an IUD, depo provera, whatever. You know you’re not ready. That awareness is good. Help keep this from happening until if/when you are. Stay strong.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ January 23, 2020, 1:49 pm

    I’d probably just let him believe it was a miscarriage, too, given that he (1) was upset at the mention of abortion; (2) that he already thinks you’ve miscarried; and (3) the odds of this relationship going the distance is slim to none, especially if you’re moving in the fall.

    Frankly, I also think it’s a kind of a red flag that he’s upset that you’re considering abortion after a two-months long relationship and that he seems to be angling for you to have it (and forego school?) and basically be dependent on him. Obviously, you know him better than I do, but that just screams controlling, or at the very least, him trying to “lock you down” because of the baby.

    Good luck, LW. And, you’re making the right choice for you and that’s what is important.

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  • Guy Friday

    Guy Friday January 23, 2020, 2:27 pm

    What on earth are people here thinking? OF COURSE you tell him, LW, and you don’t let him just believe it was a miscarriage, both because of Wendy’s points and because it’s generally a shitty thing to do. I’m all for informing him safely and standing firm on your decision, and I’ll admit I go back and forth on doing it before or after the procedure (I vote before, but I also understand the “after” arguments have a lot of merit), but even if you have the final say because it’s your body the fact that it is biologically his as well means you at the very least owe him the courtesy of telling him the truth. Imagine if the tables were turned and he was the one telling you; wouldn’t you want to know? Yes, I strongly suspect he’ll break up with you because of it, and that’ll suck, but I also think he’s entitled to not feel comfortable in the relationship depending on what his views are on abortion, and that’s as OK as your choice to have an abortion should be.

    Also, way to assume the worst about the guy, folks. The LW said he was “upset”, not “angry” or “violent” or “demanding.” Let me tell you, if someone I was involved in a relationship with told me she was pregnant with my child and wanted to abort it, I would be upset too. I think being upset at the news is a perfectly reasonable reaction to have, and offering to support her and the child doesn’t mean he’s controlling her; it means he’s doing exactly what a decent human being does in that situation. He was there when the baby was conceived, and he’s responsible for supporting the child if the LW wanted to have the child. I think any other reaction than “I’m here and ready to take care of you and our child” would be soundly criticized here, and rightfully so!

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster January 23, 2020, 3:05 pm

      I don’t think this is a case of people “assuming the worst” of this guy. The fact of the matter is reproductive coercion is a real factor that needs to be taken into account when a woman is seeking an abortion. And I agree that if he were unsupportive he’d be (rightly) raked over the coals here. I also don’t necessarily think him being “upset” will equate to him being violent. But I can’t and won’t rule it out when giving advice to her because her safety is more important than anyone’s feelings on how men are perceived in these situations.

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    • avatar

      saneinca January 23, 2020, 3:11 pm

      No she doesn’t need to tell him anything unless she wants to keep the pregnancy (and in some cases, not even then if there is any danger from the father).
      Yes, I agree honesty is the best policy but she does not owe him the truth. In fact I am surprised that she even told him about the pregnancy before making a decision herself.

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    • avatar

      Ange January 23, 2020, 3:16 pm

      Given that LW has not been happy about the baby while her BF has blithely been over the moon I think it’s just prudent to think about the what ifs if she’s honest with him. He’s not shown too much concern for her feelings and whether you like to admit it or not there’s a certain amount of pressure that comes from a deliberate ignorance of how a partner is feeling in favour of pushing the outcome you want, especially in a new relationship. She’s right to be wary.

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    • avatar

      Helen January 23, 2020, 3:50 pm

      If he’s framing this in his mind as the LW killing his baby, then she needs to be cautious even if hasn’t been violent. She’s only known him for 2 months! She has no idea how he operates under stress & disappointment. So far he’s not caring about her wants, needs, or feelings on the matter. I don’t think it’s a leap to assume he’ll go to great lengths to stop her if he knows of her plans.

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  • avatar

    William0381 January 23, 2020, 2:32 pm

    Thanks a lot helped

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  • avatar

    ron January 23, 2020, 2:46 pm

    No, I wouldn’t tell him. I’d also break up with him. You aren’t a good match. Why wouldn’t I tell him? Because this isn’t a relationship that’s going anywhere and because he seems the sort of guy who will tell the world how awful you were to him in killing his baby. A guy who is so enthusiastic about you having a kid at the two month point of relationship seems like a guy desperate to lock you down or a very conservatively religious guy which, since you don’t share his views, just isn’t going to work. I can certainly understand an “I’m here for you, whatever you decide” and sharing his preference, in a non-pushy way, if you ask him. But his strident approach in a two month relationship seems terribly controlling and creepy. He wants to tie you down before you learn more about him. Creepy can turn to scary in a heartbeat if you balk him, so just stick with the miscarriage story.

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  • avatar

    Ange January 23, 2020, 3:20 pm

    Also LW2 I think you’re both a bit nuts. This sort of thing is what happens when you think you can just ‘bypass’ the getting to know each other stage of dating. It serves a purpose, like finding out whether or not you’re on the same page about marriage or if it’s just lip service. Next time give that stage a go.

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  • avatar

    allathian January 24, 2020, 2:45 am

    Have the abortion and let him believe you miscarried, since that’s already what he believes anyway. Also, get on reliable birth control STAT, whether or not you stay with him. Quite frankly, I don’t see much of a future in this relationship, as your lives are at such different stages.

    If he makes a fuss and thinks you’re grieving a miscarriage, you can tell him part of the truth and say that it’s frankly a relief and that you never planned on having a baby so soon.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy January 24, 2020, 7:46 am

    From LW1:

    “I actually ended up not going through with the first appointment for abortion because the guilt was eating at me . I ended up telling him the bleeding wasn’t serious and that I was still pregnant. We ended up confessing to each other we both didn’t want it because of our circumstances and only told each other we did because we didn’t want the other to resent us and we end up losing the other . Funny how things work out . He told me he wants to be there for me when I go through with the medical termination so we plan on going together and going through what may come after as a couple . I’m incredibly relieved we’re both on the same page and we plan to get on a form of birth control / contraceptives .”

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    • avatar

      Leon January 24, 2020, 8:37 am

      I don’t know what to think about it.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark January 24, 2020, 9:30 am

      The update is very encouraging as he no longer seems like a crazy guy trying to lock you down with his baby two months in to your relationship…

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      • avatar

        ron January 24, 2020, 12:29 pm

        Yes, it’s a happy ending. It also seems inconsistent with LW’s original statement that her bf was ‘upset’ that she wanted an abortion.

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      • Guy Friday

        Guy Friday January 27, 2020, 11:14 am

        I don’t think it’s inconsistent. That kind of news is a BIG thing, of course, and he could have been reacting at that moment on impulse before really considering whether he actually wanted to have a child at this point in his life. It’s not like he claimed his first reaction was his best reaction.

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  • avatar

    mellanthe January 30, 2020, 6:47 pm

    1. You’re not wrong for wanting an abortion. Ultimately, you take the risks of pregnancy and childbirth on, and the longterm effects. And women take on the burden of child rearing most of the time. If you can’t cope with having a baby, you shouldn’t have to.

    2. It’d be great that he wanted support you to keep the kid, if you also wanted it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he is ready for it, or could look after it either. A lot of people don’t necessarily want abortions, but wouldn’t have chosen a kid either. It’s not great of him to think that him wanting the kid is more important than the risks you face during pregnancy and birth, or that your personal life circumstances don’t matter.

    3. Get a form of long lasting contraception. I have the implant – a firm recommend. If you really don’t want to get pregnant again for some time, you need something reliable.

    4. would it upset him to find out the truth? Yes, almost certainly. It might even be a complete dealbreaker for him. I think he deserves to know – how can you expect to build the foundations of intimacy if you build it on lies, even well meaning ones? But it’s a sensitive issue and you might not feel safe to reveal it, or ready. However, if you’re not compatible on things like whether you want kids, or whether abortion is permissible it’s going to be hard to last.

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    • avatar

      mellanthe January 30, 2020, 6:49 pm

      I’m really glad this ended well and that you talked it through with him.

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