Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax
Columnist

Carolyn Hax: A boyfriend, his ex’s pregnancy, and a choice

Hi, Carolyn:

I’m in a new relationship (two months in) and the guy I’m seeing let me know that his ex is four months pregnant and there’s a good chance he is the father. The baby is due this winter.

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of “relationship cartoonist” Nick Galifianakis. She is the author of “Tell Me About It” (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon.

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(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

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Any normal person would run in the other direction. I, on the other hand, truly care about him and a part of me wants to stick around, since I know we will have a bright future together. The other part of me thinks about all of the repercussions, from this child possibly coming to search for him one day, to the ex changing her mind and wanting him back, to her wanting him to pay child support, etc.

The ex-girlfriend allegedly wants nothing to do with my boyfriend, and she is fine with his signing over his rights. I’m just pretty torn about whether I should stick around since I do see a future, or should get out now to escape what’s to come once this baby arrives.

“Lilly”

If you can’t accept the presence of a child in his life or the expense of child support without feeling resentful, then listen to the part of you itching to flee. Assuming he’s the father, these are realities to plan for, not possibilities to fear. Plus, “I know we have a bright future together” is a seriously flimsy notch in the “pro” column when you’ve been together all of two months. Even couples of long standing know that “know” is a word not to be tossed about lightly.

If instead you can see yourself being part of his complicated picture without resentment, and supporting him in handling his responsibilities — whether they start now or years from now when the child shows up, curious, on his doorstep — then stay with the relationship at least long enough to see where it takes you.

Squint a bit, and you’ll see this isn’t really about the realities of an “oops” child, it’s about the realities of being human and welcoming other humans into our lives. With each important relationship, you invite in a whole new set of variables, each one bearing the potential to take your joint lives off on some entirely unforeseen tangent. Even dating a childless man could put you on a course toward, say, an international move, a health crisis, job loss, a passion for a cause that hasn’t even occurred to you yet, money stress, an epiphany, wrenching choices, or even just a good old-fashioned heart-crushing breakup. Are you ready to roll with futures you can’t foresee?

With the baby on the way, you’re merely able to foresee a couple of those possible tangents already in progress; that’s the only difference, and it doesn’t change the fact that a happy life takes flexibility, resiliency and well-tended emotional bonds.

So, again, if you don’t like the foreseeable directions in which your life with this or any man might go, then break up (simple logic, tough execution, I get it). If it’s just the fact of looming, significant unknowns that bothers you, then please know that you’re due for some regardless, as the price of admission for caring. It’s okay not to feel ready for that, and to go it alone till you do.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at http://bit.ly/haxpost.

 
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