Your Turn: “Should I Fight For Him or Let Him Go?”

I’m spending the morning taking Jackson to his first day of kindergarten and getting him oriented there. This LW is looking for “neutral advice” and I know you guys won’t let her down.

I am scared and desperately seeking neutral advice to try to help me navigate a situation that I never thought I would face: being a single mother to my beautiful one-year-old, or fighting for our family so she has her mom and dad together. I have been in a relationship with the baby’s father, “Rick,” for three years. It has been a very rocky three years, including his seeking and getting attention from other women. I asked him to leave last month after a fight about a broken dryer.

My family and friends do not accept him anymore. I am an over-sharer and they know very intimate details of our relationship that I wish I had kept personal. They believe he has changed me into a person who walks on egg shells and that he took away my personality. I believe them in a sense; I always felt like I would do or say something wrong. If I dropped an egg, he would lose it, or, if I baked a pie on a hot day, he would complain; if I was tired or feeling lazy and didn’t cook and he was working in the yard, I wasn’t a good woman. But, I wonder if, in reality, it’s me and everyone around me is just taking my side.

He’s a great father (he has two other children from different women), he helped me around the house–he cooked, cleaned and did all of that stuff. But, when it came down to it, I never really felt chosen by him. He has told me he wasn’t sure he loved me, and, two years ago he cheated on me and impregnated another woman (resulted in an abortion) whom he has recently contacted in order to tell her that he has always had feelings for her. But, then he comes back to me and says that that’s normal and that he needed to work those things out with her in order to move forward, and that he didn’t mean that he didn’t love me. I caught him sexting others in the beginning of our relationship, I have caught him in little white lies. He once told me I wasn’t the woman worth putting two feet in, and has told me my family and culture lacks substance.

Now, he wants us back. He seems to have had a “come to Jesus” moment and realizes he misses us, but I don’t hear any apologies and I don’t see much action. Everything from the beginning of our relationship and all of the lies/deceit is smacking me in the face, and I feel terrible because I should have gotten past that and now I am losing a family because of it. So, what is more important: trying to get through this as a family, or fighting for what I feel like I deserve which I’m not even sure is out there? Or am I asking too much? People make mistakes, so why can’t I forgive? — Worth the Fight?


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].


  1. Avatar photo GertietheDino says:

    If you have to subvert your own personality or be in constant fear that someone will “lose it” if you do something they don’t like, that is not a healthy dynamic. It’s best you MOA. He’s a cheater and a manipulator. Be done with him.

    1. Avatar photo GertietheDino says:

      PS – It’s better to be alone than with the wrong person.

  2. He seems like a real schmuck! And it’s very telling that ALL of your friends and family feel that he’s changed you and that you’re essentially scared of him (which you admit to being true). Not only that, but there’s a long history of lying, cheating, and belittling. Based on this letter, you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, and it is paramount for you and your child that you stay strong. If he’s really had a “come to Jesus moment,” he can get himself into therapy and work on himself before he even thinks of trying to get back with you. If, at some point well down the road, you two decide to try again, you need some serious couples counseling as well.

  3. Northern Star says:

    You are not “losing” a family, whatever you decide to do. You do not have the safety and security of family with this man. You do not have loyalty, caring, or concern for your welfare, and you do not come first. He doesn’t think of you as his family.

    I know that sucks, and it’s scary, but it may help you make a decision.

    1. Avatar photo MaterialsGirl says:

      Exactly NS. You have YOUR family. Your child would be better served to be surrounded by loving adults who have her best interest and welfare in mind as well as your own. That is not this man. Do you want your child to grow up cowering and fearing the consequences of shouting or playing too loudly? No, you want your baby to grow up confident.

  4. You absolutely deserve to have a family and a man who loves you, respects you and treats you well. This is not that man. Leave him and make a life for you and your child. When that man does come along, you will be ready for him.

  5. Oh noooo girl. Don’t be fooled. From what you’ve said here, he’s never treated you well. Not ever, since the beginning of your relationship. He didn’t “make mistakes”. This is who he is, someone who treats you badly and cheats on you. You made the choice to stay with him and to have a baby, but now you have a chance to make a better choice. If you stay with him, your baby will never know what a healthy family and a healthy relationship look like. I agree with BecBoo above; the ONLY way you should consider taking him back is if he commits to therapy and works on himself, actually apologizes to you, and makes long-lasting changes. And does all those things BEFORE you consider getting back together. But it sounds to me like you made the right choice, and are realizing you should have done it a long time ago. Lean on your friends and family – it sounds like they will have your back.

  6. artsygirl says:

    LW – Please look at your child. Do you want him or her to mimic the patterns you are establishing? Do you want him or her to think that it is acceptable to cheat or be forced to accept cheating? Do you want him or her to believe that it is fine for one partner to berate another for any perceived ‘infraction’? Do you want him or her to live in constant upheaval where your boyfriend walks in and out of your lives? He already has two other children (and a close call on a 4th) and has not bothered to make any of those relationships work – also you say he is a good father, but is he a good father to his other children as well or just the one in close proximity? Please work on co-parenting but acknowledge that in 3 years, he has not been a good partner for you and move on.

    1. Great advice. Think about the impression all of this will make on your child. Would you want your son to learn how to treat the women in his life based on how his father is treating you? Would you want your daughter to be with a man who cheats on her and disrespects her because she thinks that’s normal?

    2. artsygirl says:

      I will also point out that he is verbally abusive to you. Claiming that he does not love you, that you are not worthy of commitment, and that you and your values lack ‘substance’ are meant to diminish you until you are a door mat. He wants you to believe that you are not worthy of him and therefore will continue to put up with his cheating and lies (and BTW none of the things you mentioned come close to ‘little white lies’ – sexting and cheating or flat out betrayals). Please call time on the relationship and spend sometime focusing on healthier parts of your life including your child, friends, and family.

  7. LW – You shouldn’t be scared of loosing a family because you never had one to begin with. You do not have a ‘home’ with this man. If he’s a good father he will work with you on co-parenting and pay child support. He can be in his child’s life but that doesn’t mean he has to be in your life.

  8. LW – I know it will be hard for you to read comments and see that not one person will be advocating for you to “fight for your relationship.” Not one. I say this with a great deal of empathy – please, please move on from this guy. A relationship should be based on trust and respect. I’m not sure how you could ever trust someone who repeatedly lies and cheats on you. He does not respect you, which is why he compares you o other women, diminishes your worth when you don’t act in a way he prefers, and blatantly comes and goes as he pleases.
    I truly encourage you to seek therapy. One little thing I’ve learned: if almost everyone in your life hates your significant other: it’s probably for a reason. This guy has you so beaten down emotionally that you feel guilty even being honest with those close to you, so I think an impartial therapist, who is an medical expert in these issues so you can’t ignore their advice, is your best bet. If you are working, look into whether or not your company has an EAP program (where you may get a few sessions of therapy for free). And if not and you do have insurance, the copay is likely low. If you have no insurance, you can look up “sliding scale” payment options. Care about yourself, take care of yourself…if not for you, for you child.
    Lastly, your options are not: be a single mother forever or stay with a guy who is objectively terrible. Leave him, build up your self worth through therapy, get child support, move on and there’s a great chance you will be someone else who is so infinitely better than this asshole that you will look back at this letter one day and say “why did I ever tolerate this for myself and my child?” YOU DESERVE BETTER.

  9. Juliecatharine says:

    Don’t let this man back into your home or your bed. There is a better life waiting for you and your child. Do not settle for this nonsense. Walking on eggshells for an emotionally abusive cheater is not going to lead to anything but heartache and misery. Do not model this for your little one, you both deserve better.

  10. MOA. And be sure to file for child support ASAP.

  11. Monkeysmommy says:

    I am not sure I can be as nice as some… this guy is a loser. He cheats on you. He knocks other women up. He tells you that he isn’t sure he loves you and you aren’t worth it. He told the abortion chick he has feelings for her (not normal or okay, btw). He trashed your family. Your friends hate him. Why are you even confused here? If I were your friend, and I came to you with this story, would you encourage me to take him back? I sure as fuck hope not, and I am not going to tell you lies to make you feel better or justified in giving him another shot. It is extremely unlikely that this will ever get better. Your friends are trying to tell you, listen to them.

  12. I’m sorry, but “fighting for my family” is something out of a bad Lifetime movie. It’s not real life. It’s soap opera crap.

    What you’re doing is not at all good for your daughter. You’re teaching her that she should subvert her feelings, be submissive, walk on eggshells, accept mistreatment, cling to men who don’t love her or treat her with respect. Its that what you want her to learn from you? That if a man lies and cheats and tells her she’s worthless, she should “get past it?”

    1. artsygirl says:

      This! Also fighting for your family does not work when you are fighting your partner in order to create the family. He does not want to be a family, he wants a soft landing in-between relationships but seems to have no interest in investing or emotionally supporting a family.

  13. You’re not a family. He is your daughter’s father, and you need to start looking at him in ONLY that way. Obviously he doesn’t want to or is incapable of settling down with someone long term – if I read your letter correctly, your daughter is his third child with a third partner. Does that not ring a warning bell with you?

    You’re not seeing apologies or any action to make things better, because he doesn’t want to really apologize or change to make your relationship work. He’s saying what he thinks you need to hear to get back with him, don’t let him pull the wool over your eyes on this.

    Walk away, especially while your daughter is young. Work to maintain a relationship with her father, for her sake, but keep things platonic between you and him. Your daughter will suffer far more greatly from living in a dysfunctional home with a father that doesn’t respect her mother (and he does NOT respect you) then living with her single mother and hopefully seeing her father on a regular basis. Keeping a family together means nothing if the environment is detrimental to a child.

    Listen to your friends and family, admit to them that you may need help in leaving and let them help you. This guy isn’t the only person in your life, let those around you offer a hand to get you to a better place.

    1. SpaceySteph says:

      Three children from three different women– I read it that way as well. This guy has an MO- date, impregnate, leave, repeat. Apparently he hasn’t learned to use condoms to stop fathering children all over town, or maybe he actually enjoys keeping all these baby mamas tethered to him for 18 years just in case he wants to swing back around to them. He had a gap in his roster and that’s why he’s back with you to try again, not because he loves you but because he doesn’t want to be alone.

      The only relationship you should have with this man is one where you co-parent your child together. Get a custody and child support agreement and then let that be the only contact you have.

    2. This guy is seriously nothing more than a sperm donor. PERIOD.

      Your family and friends have got your back. I’d look to them for guidance and support in raising your child. I’d also stop worrying about fighting for your relationship and focus on fighting for YOU.

  14. No honey – not worth the fight. You would be the only one fighting for the success of your relationship…which means you are all but guaranteed to fail. Coming to Jesus isn’t about figuring out what YOU want on YOUR terms. I’m not terribly religious but Coming to Jesus is about repentance and humbly asking for forgiveness as you make a plan for the future devoid of the mistakes of the past. Nothing is what you’ve written says that. Nothing. This isn’t some epiphany he had. This is what is convenient to him right now. Don’t put yourself in that situation again and don’t do that to your child. Surely you don’t what his behaviour as an example for your child? Or for your child to model your relationship one day? Don’t take him back. Speak to a lawyer and arrange for child support and visitation and go about your life. Finding a partner that loves and respects you is not too much to ask for. That is the bare minimum. Free yourself to find someone else.

  15. girltuesday says:

    LW, this guy sounds like a total asshole. Reclaim your life, protect your child, and run like a thief in the night.

  16. dinoceros says:

    Your letter makes me concerned for you. He’s a total and absolute jerk and disrespects your relationship, but you’re berating yourself for not getting past it? I think that your idea that maybe your loved ones are just taking your side and don’t really think he’s that bad is denial. Because you know that if someone is bad enough that everyone in your life hates him and thinks he’s changed you into a fearful person then there is absolutely no reason to stay with him. But if you tell yourself that they are just making it up, then you don’t have to fully leave.

    I’m not sure what sort of perception you have of what relationships are supposed to be like, but it’s the exact opposite of this. I hope that you’re able to gain some sort of self-esteem so that you realize that you have more value than to be treated like this. Sure, people make mistakes, but forgiving them doesn’t mean willingly asking them to treat you poorly again and again. You say the two options are being a single mom or fighting for her to have two parents together, but that’s a very misleading statement. Most kids would rather have a single mom than a mom who is treated like crap. That’s not a good example to set for your kid — that they should accept that sort of treatment from someone.

  17. Whatever made lose confidence in yourself, girl ?

    Do you think he is too good for you and you need to take crap from him to keep him in your life ? Even if he is more good looking, earning more money than everyone you know and have women throwing themselves at him, that does not mean he is actually a decent human being and is capable of being a good father to your child or a good partner for you.

    You say he is a good father ? Where did you get that idea ? He irresponsibly had 3 children with 3 different women. He is not involved with raising them day to day. So no, he is not.

    Also you say you are fighting for your family. Why ? If you had 3 kids with 3 guys will you all live together as a family ? No. He is not your family just because you had a kid with him.

    You are flattered to think you are chosen above all the other women because he wants to come back to you. The reason he is doing it is because you are biggest doormat to tolerate his shenanigans.

    Don’t do it. Never let him back. Choose a better life for yourself. And what ever lack of confidence in your self is making you think allowing him back, You need to fix that. ASAP. Be a better role model for your daughter.

  18. Letter writer… I know how it feels to walk on egg shells, to be cheated on at the beginning of a relationship, to not feel good enough, to be told that I had changed into a bitter woman. I thought that it was the life I chose and had to live with it for the sake of our children. After 13 years I seperated from my husband. I saw our children grow up feeling scared, anxious and nervous. That’s when I knew I had to move on for my children’s well being and mine. Don’t let that happen to you or your daughter. Don’t believe the spit that comes out of his mouth, believe in his actions. For two years my ex husband begged, pleaded, cried etc.. but his actions never changed. He would get pissed of since he wasn’t having his way anymore. Called me the worst names you could think of one hour and the next he couldn’t live without me.. Please listen to your gut feeling, you deserve to be happy and be the mother and woman creator intended you to be. Three years isn’t not much take it as an experience which will help you become wiser. You are not in a health relationship, break the cycle before your daughter ends up picking a man just like her father.

    1. artsygirl says:

      Jade – sorry to hear about the strife you went through but I am so happy you were able to see the light and put yourself and your children first

  19. LW, this man has told you and shown you in every possible way that he doesn’t care about, respect, or love you. What more do you need to know? Instead of spending time and energy relating everything to him, his thoughts, his (ha!) feelings, his wishes, his blah blah blah, stop being his doormat and make it all about you and your child and the bright future you are going to create on your own. You have family and friends who care about you so you don’t have to go it alone. If you need guidance, search out those people who are trustworthy (as this man is absolutely not) and listen to what they say as you move forward. Best wishes!

  20. You have already left him, and it was a good decision. He can still be a great father for your daughter. But it will be a great burden out of your shoulders to part.
    Have a conversation with him about custody, child support, like two adults who are breaking up. Good luck, you will make it.

  21. Worth the fight? says:

    Wow…thank you all so much, this is everything I needed to read. The sad truth, clearly I don’t have much self respect or esteem at this point, so how would anyone ever treat me differently. I appreciate all the support and advice on this column, it really saved me from going deeper into a dark place.

    I can see I have been emotionally manipulated in a sense. But, my mind creates “justifications,” well we were long distance for almost 2 years so what man woulnd’t want to see what else was out there, or his behavior changed once he re-stationed to my town, and it really did… he wasn’t pulling the sexting, or electronically flirting with other women. But, what happened was everything I did just didn’t seem good enough, and he would remind me what a jealous insecure woman I was when I was a little bit needy of attention and support during my pregnancy. So, i started to blame the person I was because I became an insecure, jealous, worried, anxious woman.

    He was so loving and passionate, so helpful around my house, so intense on me when it was good but after some drinks or a fight in which I would express my feelings of feeling neglected or that he didn’t really love me, it would always turn back towards me that I was just insecure and unhappy with myself. Maybe I was, and I’m not saying that as defaming myself, but I do believe someone can’t give you what you need if you’re not giving yourself. And my greatest fear in life would be realizing down the road that it was actually me or my attitude that didn’t allow him to get close to me, or to love me. I have a hard time just accepting, we weren’t good for eachother, that he will be good for another, that I will have to grin and bear when he is seemlingly happy and in love like he used to be with me, but with someone else, and I will have to share my child with that someone else. It makes me physically ill.

    Again, thank you so much!

    1. Another Jen says:

      The advice here is good and I hope you’ll follow it. I left a really emotionally abusive marriage and the hardest part was getting back to a place where I could be honest with myself about how bad things had gotten. If you’re focused on how jealous and unhappy you’ll be to know that he’s happy and in love with someone else, you’re not being very realistic. From the bit you’ve shared about him, a happy, long-term relationship isn’t very likely with you or anyone. He’s probably great at beginning relationships (you and several other women thought so)…but the staying power isn’t there. So, in the course of building a happy, stable life for yourself and your daughter, you’ll probably see him begin a lot of happy, loving relationships…over and over again, messing up the same way each time. He isn’t a man who puts his children or significant other first…having three children with three women and then impregnating a 4th doesn’t show consideration for how he’ll support any of these kids and their moms along the way. It shows a man who puts his own pleasure ahead of everything.

      You deserve to be happy. If you fight for a “family” with this man, what will you really be fighting for? A home where you walk on eggshells and your baby’s father belittles you and your family and your culture (keep in mind, it’s your daughter’s culture and family, too). Fight for a happy life for you and your daughter. Focus on your happiness and build a life you’ll feel good about whatever happens to him.

      Good luck! Stay strong. AJ

    2. Glad to see you respond and that our words have given you confidence! Really, really hope you get therapy just for a safe place to talk. And know you are always welcome to make a thread on e message boards here for support too. We may be strangers, but we care and want better for you and your child.

      As for the fear of seeing him happy with someone else: you can co-parent and still stay out of is comings and goings for the most part….delete/block him on all social media, ask mutual friends not to update you on his dating life, etc. I promise when you build yourself back up, you will see him with someone else and be sad for her. A “better woman” or “more compatible woman” won’t make him suddenly be a great guy, so she will more than likely be dealing with many of the same things you are now. He has his own shit to work out (and not on your time).

    3. artsygirl says:

      Hugs across the internet – know that you are worthy and supported no matter how much he tries to convince you that you are not

      1. Worth the fight? says:

        Thank you for all the support and hugs. Hug back to all.

  22. feelingroovy says:

    Lurker here.

    Dump his ass and change your number. Your beautiful child deserves better, and so do you.

  23. This guy is a player and a user of women, who has already told you that he doesn’t love you, that you are not good enough for him to make a commitment to you, that your culture and family are beneath his standards, who has cheated and to cheat on you, and who doesn’t treat you kindly, no matter how good a father he is or how much work he does around the house/yard. Everyone you know says he has changed you for the worse.

    Do you really have such a low opinion of yourself that you are willing to fight to keep this loser? His come-to-Jesus moment is just more of his bullshit. A player’s greatest talent is the ready line he has to talk himself out of any problem and keep his multiple women wanting to hang close. This never ends well.

  24. wobster109 says:

    Hey LW, sometimes a bad family is worse for a child than a single-mother family. Remember, the relationship that children see is what they think is normal. If you stay with this guy, your little daughter learns that marriage is about one partner yelling at the other over a dropped egg, saying he doesn’t love her, and sexting other people. She’ll think that’s normal. So please get out of there, and teach your daughter not to take that kind of crap treatment from anyone.

  25. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    I think that when you have to fight for a relationship it is already doomed or over. I don’t know of a single good relationship where someone had to fight to maintain it. In a good relationship the people meet, they like each other, they get to know each other and go out with each other. The relationship progresses because both of them want it and they want to spend their time with each other and they like and enjoy that time and respect each other. It happens naturally and happily. If it doesn’t happen with both people happily in the relationship it isn’t a good relationship.

    When you reach the point where you need to fight for it you have reached the point where it is basically harmful to stay in it.

  26. I am so glad all the advice here has been useful to you. I hope it helps you to escape this. On the other side, I promise (from the point of great age) things will get better, so much, and you will have learned from this, and all experience is useful in a million ways. Get out now, though, the sooner the better. The sooner you are off building something new, the less of your precious life you will have wasted.

  27. bittergaymark says:

    NEWSFLASH: No man who has as many baby-mamas as he is has kids is a GOOD father. (And conversely no woman who has as many baby daddy’s as she does children is exactly gonna ever be mother of the year.) Sorry, but my patience is at an end… NEWSFLASH #2 — If fucked up people like the LW would get this hilariously simple and hilariously obvious truth through their dim-as-fuck heads, the world would be a better place.
    As for you, LW. Stay and fight. It IS too late for you in that you are clearly too fucking stupid to be with anybody of quality. You simply don’t have the wisdom or self esteem or — enough plain common sense — to pick a man who isn’t an ass-hat. But whatever you do — for FUCK’S sake — get your tubes tied. NOW!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Honestly, this was a bit rude and harsh. I’m here for help, when people reach out for hell its because they recognize something is wrong with them, with a situation, or whatever. You can get your point across in words that aren’t meant to hurt an individual who is already down. In nicer words, I have to agree with you but seriously I don’t believe that was necessaryz

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Its just… There have been HOW MANY LETTERS LIKE THIS?!

      2. Worth the fight? says:

        Its just… you could be kinder with your words. If someone wrote a letter contemplating suicide or help out of a depression even if it related to the same scenario or something that you feel is so obviously wrong…it’s not helpful for someone in a state of mind to hear such harsh commentary and name calling. honesty is one thing but calling someone “dim as fuck” and telling them to get their tubes tied? way to kick someone while they are down

      3. Worth the fight? says:

        And, like I said… your point is clear and I agree with the POINT you are trying to make. The words are what I don’t agree with. A single word, a single sentence can save somebody, or break somebody….put your words to better use to save.

    2. I think it is the guy who needs to have a vasectamy ASAP rather than the LW.

  28. “He’s a great father (he has two other children from different women)…”!!!

    No, just no. A “great father” does not go around randomly knocking up women. A great father or even just an ordinary respectable father makes a commitment to and takes care of his children. He does not just show up now and then with toys and treats. He does the hard day to day work of rearing a child and he does every day of the week. One unintended pregnancy is a mistake; four is (as SpaceySteph said above) an MO.

    LW, you have gotten a lot of good advice here today. I pray that for your sake and the sake of your child that you take it.

  29. Monkeysmommy says:

    LW, I think the concern is that some of your responses lead to the belief that you are going to justify this all away and take him back. Don’t. He is a loser. A total loser. Let him go ruin someone else. Oh, and your comment about how “we’ve been together almost 2years, who wouldn’t want to see what else is out there “… NOOOO. Normal, nice men don’t dick around because it’s been two whole years. Wtf??

    1. Worth the fight? says:

      I won’t. I have a daughter to raise, I see the importance of instilling in her everything that I am doubting about myself so she never is in a situation like this. Clearly, I know I am damaged… I’m not sure yet what happened in my life to think this behavior is okay, and I am almost certain that Ive lived 3 years with someone who SOMEHOW always turned everything around on me, so that I believe has deeply effected me. Really, everything HE did, was somehow my fault and I believed it…it sunk into the core of my being…. it erroded who I once was. I once was an independent woman with great friends and family, I have a masters degree, a home, a very stable govt job of 13 years… but all of those accomplishments have washed away in my mind and look at the woman I have become… I see and believe what everyone is saying. I am done 100% but the support and advice is what helps, sometimes your mind is so clouded, its unbelievable.

  30. He sounds like a horrible person in general and very unkind to you. People don’t just want or need “a family” regardless of the quality of life or relationships involved; they need a good family and a peaceful home life, even if that includes only the mother and the child. You two do not sound destined to stick together for 17+ more years, so the reality is that you are better off ending it now and moving on. I would rather do that early on than wait until my child was attached to a crappy father and thought a crappy relationship was the norm. Get it over with early.

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