QUESTION: My boyfriend has a child
by an ex-girlfriend, and I don't know how to deal with it. He says
his ex-girlfriend became pregnant without consulting him, dumped him
without telling him she was pregnant, but then agreed to let him give
the child his name when the child was born.
Currently, the child is four years old, and
even though he and this woman are barely on speaking terms, he helps
in supporting the child and naturally wants to have as normal a relationship
with his child as possible. I am wary of this situation because I
know that this child and this woman will always be a part of our lives.
I have talked to my boyfriend about my concerns
and he assures me that he knows how to give each one their place,
that his child could never be a wife or a companion to him and that
therefore I shall never be "second". However, whenever I think of
that child and its mother, and the time, concern, and money my boyfriend
inevitably has to spend on them,fear and resentment well up in me,
and I think I should "call it quits", to avoid any future problems
Am I being too selfish? how can I successfully
deal with my boyfriend having a child with somebody else?
ANSWER: This is your judgment call!
Your boyfriend is not only clear about the boundaries with his ex-girlfriend
and his relationship with his child. He is unequivocal in his belief
that he can place you by his side as a partner. No doubt you are attracted
by the positive qualities of clear communication and acceptance of
responsibility that could make him a wonderful lifelong partner. Paradoxically,
you are wary of the emotional baggage that may have allowed you to
see his highly attractive attributes in the first place!
Your boyfriend comes with a "past". Yet, there are
many that do not accept responsibility for their past actions. The
good news is that your boyfriend appears not to be in this
category! You must balance the downside of his past, with the qualities
he brings to the relationship. You must also weigh your own ability
to adapt to this situation and what it means if you do forge a life
together. Should you decide that the pluses outweigh the minuses,
you will be challenged to grow accordingly. It will be necessary to
work through your resentments and make a place in your heart for giving
to a child that is not biologically your own.
Continue to discuss this issue openly, but do not
allow it to cloud your objective assessment of your relationship.
Does your boyfriend fill your needs? How does this relationship compare
to others you have experienced? Do his words bear out in actions?
In other words, if he says you "come first" does he act with integrity
towards you? Consider whether he has acted as you would have in a
similar situation. Or as you would like someone of maturity to respond
to adversity. Everyone carries their own brand of "emotional baggage".
However, it is up to each one of us to determine to the extent possible,
what is acceptable in our lives and what is not. Consider your own
needs, strengths and weaknesses. Honestly assess your own capacity
and willingness to handle this situation.
You certainly have the right to decide that this is
not what you want to sign up for! And it is possible that you will
find a less complicated situation and a man of integrity that better
suits your needs. Or you may feel that the character of the man and
your bond to your boyfriend does not justify the emotional baggage.
If so, acting on "calling it quits" now may save not only you, but
others prolonged grief and pain.
The question is not one of "selfishness", but genuine
accountability to yourself. It is your responsibility to honestly
assess what is truly in your best interests. And it is in the best
interest of the relationship that you take responsibility for "staying"
or "leaving". Remaining for the sake of "others" will only commit
you to resentment and pain. While choosing the relationship with open
eyes reflects your willingness to handle the presence of adversity.
Accept the responsibilities inherent in the situation
if you choose to "stay", and the mourning that will be inevitable
if you "leave". Perhaps the growth value of this experience lies in
the opportunity to deepen your own sense of integrity. Do what you
determine is right!