What would be your reason for telling him? To get emotional support? To guilt him into staying with you? To lend a more serious tone to your several-weeks-long relationship? Deciding for yourself what reaction you might want or expect will help you decide whether or not to tell him. If it’s emotional support you want, your best bet is probably to talk to a close friend rather than a guy you’ve been “sorta dating for several weeks” who isn’t ready to start anything with you. If you think the news of your miscarriage will somehow change things between you for the better, you’re probably in for a disappointment.
It’s probably also important to realize that very early miscarriages, which I’m assuming yours was since you hadn’t even gotten a positive pregnancy test yet, are very common. Some estimates suggest that up to 50% of all conceptions end in miscarriage, if you count “chemical pregnancies,” which are those that are lost shortly after implantation occurs, or roughly right around the time a woman’s period is due or a few days afterward. If a woman doesn’t test herself or doesn’t get a positive pregnancy test, she may think her miscarriage is nothing more than a heavy period.
None of this is to say you aren’t warranted in feeling some mixed emotions; I just also want you to be aware that what you’re going through is fairly common and probably not the result of anything you did or didn’t do. It’s just biology. So, if part of your mixed emotions include guilt, you should let that go. Let it go not because the guy you were sleeping with says it’s okay to, but because aside from not getting pregnant in the first place, there was nothing you could have done to prevent what happened. And if part of your mixed emotions include relief, that’s perfectly understandable, too. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or that you won’t be blessed with a healthy pregnancy one day when you’re ready for it. Just be more careful in the meantime and use multiple forms of birth control.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at email@example.com.
Mainer March 21, 2011, 9:31 am
This is just my perspective as a guy. FWB can be a rocky road. There are a lot of elements that must fall into place for it to work. The most obvious we think of is emotional attachment. But the other equally important element is being safe. Typically, the assumption of being safe is STDs (or lack there of). But the other element of being safe is avoiding the consequences of “just having sex,” particularly getting pregnant. I think guys often tend to overlook this in their FWB situations. But it is important that we don’t. So it may be wise to tell him. At the very least it will be a sobering reminder of what it is you two are doing. It could remind him that he needs to be extra careful (i.e. use a condom even if you are on birth control). Or it could remind him that sex can have serious side effects and he may decide he does not want to take the risk anymore. Not just with you, but perhaps in general. I know it sucks because you could be out a FWB, but it would be selfish of you to withhold this information just so you don’t risk losing a consistent lay.
Whether it is an STD scare or a pregnancy scare, sometimes it is important to be reminded every now and then that there is rarely such a thing as a free lunch. But I think you should tell him so he doesn’t continue on thinking everything is always going to be okay.
Jess March 21, 2011, 9:53 am
I don’t think the motivation for not telling him is “risking losing a consistent lay” or any selfish motive. In fact I took from the letter that do to external circumstances the sexual part of the relationship is over anyway. I think she is more concerned with their maintaining their friendship.
Also, I don’t think she should tell him just so he is more aware of the risks involved with having sex, and that she wasn’t a “free lunch.” That seems weird to me and a little malicious/spiteful.
I think Wendy’s advice is spot on in that if her motivations for telling him are the above reason, or to seek emotional support, or added significance to their relationship, she will probably be disappointed.
anna728 March 21, 2011, 5:18 pm
I definitely agree, Jess. It certainly did not seem to be about losing the FWB situation, especially if he’s leaving for a year. I think the issue is awfully touchy to make into some kind of fear tactic for using birth control (not that he shouldn’t be using it- although we don’t know if they weren’t or if it failed).
Desiree March 21, 2011, 11:05 am
I actually agree with you. Women, by a fact of biology, are more in tune with the consequences (or blessings, depending on a woman’s situation) of sex. I think men, in their uterus-free state, can more easily ignore these consequences. A reminder of the potential significance of their personal choices is not a bad thing. Wendy mentioned that this girl should “use multiple forms of birth control” as a result of this experience. But doesn’t the guy deserve the same advice?
HmC March 21, 2011, 12:05 pm
I agree. She should tell him, not to be malicious, but because what happened is a consequence of something they both took part in equally. She should *definitely* be careful not to expect this revelation to create some sort of romantic relationship between them, but she seems to understand that he is leaving and doesn’t want that.
LW urges that “he’s a really great guy who I believe is mature enough to handle this” but then continues that “I’m just scared of what he will think of me afterwards”. Um, why?! He was involved in the exact same arrangement you were sweetie, if he judges you, then he’s a massive hypocrite and not a “really great guy”.
ArtsyGirl March 21, 2011, 9:47 am
LW – I would advise against telling him, mainly because nothing is going to change the situation. If you were pregnant then yes you need to tell your FWB that he is going to be a father, but you are no longer pregnant and it happened naturally (I often think women should inform their partners if they are seeking an abortion).
Now, I do have to question one aspect of your story. You said you have been seeing each other for a couple of weeks, but you had already taken a pregnancy test? This tells me you were probably less than cautious or maybe subconsciously hoping you were pregnant. I feel that there is something missing from this story.
ArtsyGirl March 21, 2011, 9:49 am
Point of clarification – I said I “often” and “partners” when I spoke about abortions. I feel that women are under no obligation to tell hook ups or casual relationships, but I think it is the morally correct action if you are in a committed relationship with a person.
anna728 March 21, 2011, 5:21 pm
I don’t think having taken the test necessarily indicates she was subconsciously hoping to be pregnant. I thought that made it sound more like it was a case of a broken condom or forgotten pill, as opposed to them just having had unsafe sex.
ArtsyGirl March 22, 2011, 9:08 am
It might me being nitpicky but her terminology is why I drew my conclusion. She referred to her relationship as being ‘several weeks’ I read this to be less than a month (which is an assumption on my part, but if she had been dating at least a month you think she would have said that rather than ‘several weeks’).
Now even if she had a period immediately before she started being intimate with her FWB that would hardly justify taking a pregnancy test so quickly. Now her instincts were on the money since she was pregnant, but it still strikes me as odd.
RoyalEagle0408 March 22, 2011, 9:10 am
She had been with him for about 3 months I think it was. She posted a clarifying comment.
sweetleaf March 21, 2011, 9:54 am
Where does it say that the guy is just FWB?
Jess March 21, 2011, 9:59 am
she says they are good friends, and having sex, but he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with her.
PFG-SCR March 21, 2011, 10:03 am
I also noticed that she never referred to him as that, but it’s a bit unclear from the letter if they were just casually dating or it was a FWB arrangement.
Does Wendy’s advice really change either way, though?
RoyalEagle0408 March 21, 2011, 9:55 am
I don’t think you need to tell him because you have a miscarriage pretty early on in the relationship. Like Wendy said, if it’s emotional support you need, go to a close friend, not someone who is leaving.
I’m not making any assumptions about whether or not protection was used, but if it wasn’t, that’s really the only thing you should discuss.
Jess March 21, 2011, 9:58 am
Also to directly answer the LWs question, I don’t think he will think badly of you if you tell him. I don’t think it will change his feelings or thoughts at all actually. After all, the pregnancy ended of natural causes, and if he didn’t have romantic feelings for you before, I don’t think he will have conflicted feelings or grief and relief over this miscarriage, just relief.
ReginaRey March 21, 2011, 10:04 am
Wendy made a really great point about being honest with yourself about WHY you want to tell him. The tone of your letter gives me the faint impression that you may be pretty bummed that he’s leaving and that he doesn’t want a relationship with you. If you think telling him about your miscarriage will change his mind or make him stay out of sympathy, PLEASE please do not say a word. This guy is clearly moving on. Healthy relationships can’t be built off of guilt or someone feeling sympathetic for you. Trust me, it doesn’t make you feel any better about yourself to know the only reason a guy stayed was because he felt bad for you. In fact, it will make you feel much, much worse.
That said, I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through. Though your pregnancy may not have been expected, and the miscarriage somewhat of a relief to you, it doesn’t lessen the trauma of it any more. I would definitely suggest confiding in a friend or a local women’s center for support, emotional or otherwise.
fast eddie March 21, 2011, 9:20 am
This a tough decision, yet if he’s a true friend it’s something worth sharing with him, just don’t expect any change in the (non)relationship. If it were me in his shoes it wouldn’t make any difference but I’d be relieved that fatherhood wasn’t eminent and consider using more protection in the future.
🙂 Hooray for the avatar on your bookmark Wendy. 🙂
Callifax March 21, 2011, 10:21 am
If I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t say anything to him…mostly because I don’t see what there would be to gain. I agree with Wendy that emotional support can be given by a close friend, and telling him would just make an already awkward and complicated situation (being FWB) even more complicated. That’s just me.
Callifax March 21, 2011, 10:27 am
Maybe I should add…and to be honest I can’t believe it took me a minute to remember this, because it was years ago…that I actually did have a miscarriage back in college. I was pretty shaken for a day or two, but I quickly realized it was nature and there was nothing I could do. I also didn’t tell the guy about it, because our relationship was rocky and I didn’t want to put that pressure on him. But if you feel confused about what happened, or need to talk about it, feel free to contact me or ask any questions you like.
IdaTarbell March 21, 2011, 10:39 am
I think you should tell him if only for you both to figure out how your birth control failed (if it was used). This could be that important point where you both look at your contraceptive choices and question whether you’ve been using them correctly, was this just a fluke, or if you should find a better contraceptive. It’s better to learn from this mistake and take the necessary steps in the future so that neither of you get in this situation again.
Anne (I Go To 11) March 21, 2011, 10:59 am
Agreed…I think that would probably be the only reason to tell him in this situation. If the motivation to tell him is anything else Wendy mentioned, then that could lead to disappointment like she predicted. But I don’t see the harm in telling him if it will lead to a discussion about safer sex.
EC was here March 21, 2011, 11:08 am
I think she should tell him. I don’t think it’s fair to keep something like that from your sex partner. This gives both of them an opportunity to mature in their relationship and realize that it’s never “just sex.” Also, I don’t understand why women are always so cautious about telling the guy that they’re pregnant. The guy should realize that stuff like this happens, whether on accident or on purpose. The guy should take the necessary precautions on their end to make sure that the chances of this happening again are close to nil. I have a friend that ended up having a kid with a FWB because she wanted to get pregnant, hoping he’d marry her. When I asked him why he didn’t use protection, he said that she told him she was on the pill.
HmC March 21, 2011, 12:11 pm
“I don’t understand why women are always so cautious about telling the guy that they’re pregnant. The guy should realize that stuff like this happens, whether on accident or on purpose.”
I love that! Seriously, they are big boys, they can handle reality. If they’re mature enough to have sex they’re mature enough to face the consequences just as much as girls are forced to.
ArtsyGirl March 21, 2011, 12:14 pm
EC – Sorry to hear about your friend. I hate when people manipulate each other into a relationship. I heard that professional athletes always have to carry condoms with them because some women will lie about being on the pill and even poke holes into their condoms in order to get pregnant.
cmarie March 21, 2011, 11:21 am
I’m going to take the opposing opinion and say I think she should tell him. Selfish reasons are not, it takes two to tango and she should share in the responsibility. I see no reason why she should suffer alone in order to protect his delicate feelings. If she goes into it with her eyes open and her expectations low then the liklihood of being disappointed can be low. She doesn’t have to think that it will change their relationship or that he’ll shower her in sympathy to want to let him in on her pain. Early miscarraiges are normal yes, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when you found out you lost a baby. I had a friend who went through a miscarraige and didn’t even know she was pregnant yet she still grieved for the lost pregnancy. My personal feeling are that by saying she shouldn’t tell him because she’s probably being selfish or by saying the only reason she should tell him is so that he learns how to use a condom diminishes a very real hurt. She’s feeling mixed emotions because she’s feeling pain. She is under no obligation to tell him so that he can learn about safe sex, or not tell him because it won’t make him love her. Whether she tells him or not should be based on whether or not it will help her get over the negative emotions. Just don’t go in expecting miracles, in all liklihood the relationship probably won’t change.
Desiree March 21, 2011, 11:29 am
I realize that it could be very tough to share knowledge of a pregnancy with a partner. So I could see why a woman might be disinclined to share it for personal reasons of emotional privacy, etc. But, assuming she is inclined to share the news, I never have understood the perspective of “protecting” a man from the fact of the pregnancy (as you say, “in order to protect his delicate feelings”). It was his sperm, wasn’t it?
WatersEdge March 21, 2011, 11:49 am
I think that one of the main reasons not to tell this guy is because he sounds like he won’t be a source of support for her. He’s promised her nothing commitment-wise, and he’s leaving and they won’t stay together. So whatever she needs to feel ok in this situation, she probably won’t be able to get from him. IMO, she should not tell him… not to protect his delicate feelings, but to protect her delicate feelings.
One way of approaching action is principle-based (i.e., I “should” tell him because we both acted to get me pregnant and I “shouldn’t” have to suffer alone). Another way is function-based. Wendy’s right to ask, what do you hope to get out of this behavior? What are you hoping will occur as a result of it? As previous poster’s mentioned, one good reason to tell him would be to increase the amount of birth control that they are using and avoid a future occurrence.
Telling him in order to validate her very real pain simply won’t work. He didn’t feel the miscarriage/heavy flow, he didn’t feel the change in hormones. All he has in this abstract situation is “someone I don’t love almost got pregnant right before I intended to leave her”. He is only going to feel relief. Think of how augmented her pain would be if he broke into a grin and held his hand up for a high-five after she told him about the miscarriage. She has every right to tell him if she chooses to. There is no need to protect his delicate feelings. But the reasons to do so don’t seem to be there, because it won’t help her to get what she needs out of the situation.
cmarie March 21, 2011, 12:49 pm
Sometimes the way to validate your feelings are to simply put them out there. Like I said, she doesn’t need to expect him to break down in tears, nor should she, but sometimes the best way to relieve your own pain is to share it with someone else, especially since he was a major player in getting pregnant in the first place. Who are we to say that her reasons for telling him are selfish or wrong? On principle she should tell him because he was there when she got pregnant. As a function, telling him could also help to relieve her pain. Like I said, someimes you just need to tell someone and as the one who got her pregnant isn’t he logically the one person she should tell? I don’t think she’s obligated to do anything except whatever will help her. I also disagree that her miscarraige should be used as a birth control lesson to him. That’s something he should learn on his own.
anna728 March 21, 2011, 5:33 pm
Of course she CAN tell him, but not because she shouldn’t have to “suffer alone”. I think that sounds kind of over-the-top for one thing, but also, I don’t think him knowing would make her feel better. I also think telling him will make having a normal, friendly relationship a lot harder, especially with the timing. Plus, she barely found out about herself, and nearly didn’t realize it was a miscarriage, so why tell him when she could easily have not known herself?
Elle March 21, 2011, 11:25 am
I think LW should tell him, because she wasn’t the only one that caused this. She goes through this confusion and pain by herself, while he helped cause it too. If anything, he should be made aware of the consequences of sex. The other commentators covered this – it will not change the relationship the LW has with the guy. If anything, they will grow apart.
I don’t know if LW can confide in a friend. I mean, she’s sort of dating the guy, nothing official. I would feel weird telling a friend – “hey, I had a miscarriage with this guy”, when I haven’t even told anyone we’re sleeping together.
RoyalEagle0408 March 21, 2011, 11:28 am
I see where it might come across as strange to confide in a friend if said friend is unaware of the situation, but I didn’t get the impression that she was hiding him. Just because they weren’t in an official relationship doesn’t mean her friends didn’t know. Especially if the guy really is a good friend of hers it’s likely that someone would know something is going on.
Either way, a true friend wouldn’t focus on the fact that they were unaware of who the person was sleeping with, since that’s pretty much irrelevant to the situation at hand.
anna728 March 21, 2011, 5:35 pm
unofficial is different than secret
ladiejoy March 21, 2011, 11:50 am
For once, I disagree with Wendy. (gasp!)
Actually, I agree that you need to figure out your reasoning behind wanting to tell him. But ultimately, this is something that happened between the TWO of you, even if he doesn’t know this yet. Trust me… talking to your girlfriends about this might help, and will likely make you feel better… but you most likely want to talk to him about it because he’s kind of a central player in this – I’m sure you can’t think of this situation without thinking of him, and until you say something I think the lack of closure will nag at you. And if that’s selfish, then so what. You need to do what you need to do to get through this without making yourself crazy.
I think, like mainer said, it could shake him up enough to realize he needs to be more diligent about using protection – a VERY important lesson. You make it sound like you have a pretty good friendship, so I wouldn’t think about what he will think of YOU as a result – it’s not like you conceived all by yourself and he absolutely played a part in it – if he’s as mature as you say he is, he’ll see this and offer support.
He might be freaked out (what guy wouldn’t be?) but just don’t let him make you feel like this was YOUR fault. And ultimately, if he does give you a hard time and is completely a jerk about it, then you still have closure and can simply cut your losses and move on – something you’ve kind of done anyway. I just don’t think telling him will really change whatever the true nature of your friendship is – it just might SHOW you what it is under a very bright light.
I’m so sorry to hear about your miscarriage: even if you are ultimately relieved, it’s completely natural to feel sad and overwhelmed about it.
ladiejoy March 21, 2011, 11:53 am
I also wanted to add that NOT telling him is perfectly fine, too – I don’t see any moral dilemma there; but if you _really_ WANT to tell him and you’re scared, you should just do it.
Ricki March 21, 2011, 12:17 pm
this is so weird. i’m not pregnant, but the other day, i had a dream that i had a miscarraige, and when i finally got around to telling my boyfriend, he just laughed at me. it was troubling!
HmC March 21, 2011, 12:21 pm
Omg. Last night I had a dream that my bf knocked me up, and then his mom hated me because we weren’t married so she gave me a bunch of birth control as a condescending gift. Scary as shit.
AKchic March 21, 2011, 1:06 pm
Sweetie – I wouldn’t tell him. You yourself said that he would be leaving soon. He could think that you faked it to get him to stick around. It wouldn’t be the first time a female HAS done that, and because he would probably think it, it would get out and then you would have to deal with the rumors. I’ve been there. A few times. I had four miscarriages before my first son was born (two at 8 weeks along, one at 11 weeks and one at 12 1/2 weeks).
Talk to a friend, but don’t talk to him about it.
ladiejoy March 21, 2011, 3:29 pm
Hugs, AKchic. 🙁
caitie_didn't March 21, 2011, 1:11 pm
In my volunteer position as an emergency services provider, we talk a lot about PTSD. We frequently say something that I think would be helpful for the LW: whatever feelings you have after a traumatic situation are NORMAL feelings for YOU. So you have every right to feel however it is you feel about this miscarriage. And Wendy is absolutely right- early miscarriages like this are incredibly common and many women have had one without ever realizing they were pregnant, so please don’t feel like you are “at fault” or did something to cause it. Take good care of yourself, and I’m sure all of us here will be thinking about you. And, if you feel that you need to tell him about your miscarriage for closure or to help you process it, then you have every right to do that. But like other commentors said, don’t expect it to change your relationship with him.
Miscarriage LW March 21, 2011, 2:23 pm
I’ve read through all the comments and they have been very helpful. I just wanted to clarify a few things though. I was definitely not trying to get pregnant, but both he and I were a little concerned about pregnancy when I realized that antibiotics affect birth control, but we had already had sex without a condom a few times before I realized that (and both of us stupidly got caught up in the moment with not using a condom). Knowing that pregnancy was possible, I still drank on a few occasions, and that’s what I feel really guilty about, knowing that I could have caused the miscarriage.
Also, I definitely do not consider this guy to be a friends with benefits. We dated for about 3 months, though nothing ever official. We went on actual dates, and sex was just a part of it, but not something one of us was particularly looking for. And I’m absolutely not trying to guilt him into anything if I decide to tell him. I’m not bitter or upset that he does not want a relationship right now. I know his feelings for me, and I realize that him being gone for the rest of the year is not going to be good for me or him long distance.
Also, my friends and his friends both know about us and there’s no hiding involved. My close friends already know about the miscarriage, but obviously it’s hard for them to understand.
We still talk everyday and hang out often, and it is hard for both of us because we have a lot of feelings for the other. And while I’ve decided that I won’t tell him yet because I’m not ready to, I’m still not sure if I will tell him in the next few weeks.
Sorry, that was long. I just wanted to clarify a few things.
ladiejoy March 21, 2011, 3:28 pm
OK I just want to say DO NOT feel guilty about drinking, even if you suspected you were pregnant. 9 times out of 10, the miscarriage happens due to chromosomal abnormalities (especially early miscarriages), and has NOTHING to do with your recreational choices. Basically what I’m saying is, nature knows when something isn’t right and fixes the situation. So there is absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent it. Please believe that, and _please_ don’t feel at all guilty about something you couldn’t control. Trust me on this.
Thanks for the added info. It seems even more likely he’d be supportive of you if you feel like you want to tell him, considering your expansion on your relationship.
callmehobo March 22, 2011, 9:29 am
Thank you, ladiejoy
Chromosomal nondisjunctions are the leading cause of spontaneous miscarriages.
Kate March 21, 2011, 3:55 pm
I think LW should tell him. If he freaks out and their relationship ends, so be it. Why try and be with a guy who cannot handle life?
If he handles it well, then nothing lost.
anna728 March 21, 2011, 5:45 pm
I don’t think I would tell him. I don’t think there’s anything he could do, and if he’s getting ready to leave for a year he has a lot to deal with. I don’t really get the arguments about telling him because it was the two of them together who caused the pregnancy- it’s as though telling him is supposed to be some kind of punishment. I don’t think that’s helpful for anyone. I just think telling him would cause their future relationship (whether it’s a friendship or whatever) to to always be overshadowed by the miscarriage.
Bella March 22, 2011, 8:19 pm
Our organization used to run a miscarriage support group, but stopped due to dwindling numbers of women coming to the group. Miscarriage is a terribly taboo subject the way mental illness used to be, and a lot of women don’t talk about it. Please know you’re not alone! There is a website for those grieving – missfoundation.org – and they offer local support groups.
Whether you end up telling the guy or not, take care of yourself and your emotions first! It may be biologically common, but it doesn’t mean that it will be easy to deal with – even if you didn’t want a baby. Don’t play down the situation!