The Vine: April 11, 2012
D. and I were friends for six years, close enough that we had weekly get-together. I saw him through a devastating divorce; he saw me through the break up of a seven-year-long relationship, etc., and all through it we kept up our weekly check-ins.
D. then started dating R., but insisted all along it was a very casual relationship, even though they lived together for a few months on either side of a summer D. worked abroad. During this same stretch of time D. also told me he had been in love with me for years and hoped I felt the same; he didn't just want to take things to the next level funsexytimes-wise, but since we already knew each other so well, to a pretty serious relationship, headed toward marriage, because he felt that strongly about me and about us. I said no matter what I might have felt, I certainly wasn't about to start something with him while he was LIVING with someone. He said if I would tell him I felt the same way about him, he would break it off with R.; I told him if he felt that strongly about being with me, he wouldn't be with R. in the first place, and please don't use me as an "excuse" to break something off. This tennis match went back and forth for months.
Finally, D. broke it off with R., moved into a new living situation, and declared himself free to be with me if I was ready. I was. So we began dating, and for two months had some magical, romantic, amazing adventures, including of course the funsexytimes, and made many specific plans for our future. We briefly discussed having children and realized for various reasons (age, work and school plans, lifestyle plans, etc.) we probably would choose not to. I met his family, he met mine, and at meeting mine, declared he was planning to marry me. All great, right?
Um. The first red flag (well…) was that when D. did break it off with R., it took three days. Three days of also sobbing on my shoulder telling me how haaaard it was to break up with R., because he loved her, because she is just so awesome, so kind, so easy to be with, and he really "owed her his life" and…I better appreciate what he was giving up to be with me. Um. He also kept seeing R. while we were having our magical, romantic, amazing adventures. Not so big a problem, right, because isn't it great when exes can stay friends? Um, sure, except on one occasion he didn't tell me he had spent a day with her until four days after he had seen her. On another occasion we had plans together, but he disappeared in the middle of the day, and it wasn't until that evening he admitted to me he had spent the day with R. Also, every time he did see her, he would turn off his phone completely, which, whatever, except for the times I had no idea where he was and wasn't getting any answers to my texts or calls.
Finally I had had it with the sobbing and the "she's so great" and "I love her" and the disappearing acts, which were leading to epic fights where I was told I was crazy, hormonal, difficult, and crazy, and…broke it off with him. I mean, it's pretty clear he was still quite attached to that relationship, so, go ahead and BE in that relationship and leave me out of it. At that point D. asked me if WE could, you know, still be buddies…? And I said, politely, maybe in about a year, I could think about it, but right now I was too angry and hurt to deal with him at all. And he hung up on me and has dropped out of my life completely.
Two days after I broke it off with him…I found out I was pregnant. Not by choice (I was on the pill!). Because of various factors, including having been taking birth control pills while I was (unbeknownst to me) pregnant, even if I wanted to keep it, my doctor has said it's a very high-risk pregnancy and discouraged me from continuing it (adding that if I wanted to had a child, I certainly could, but I would have to do some things differently from the very beginning). So I will not be continuing the pregnancy.
My question is: Do I tell D.? Do I owe him that knowledge? I admit for about five seconds I hoped he would be with me in the hospital as a support and comfort, but I realized this is just a fantasy; he is still very much involved with R. and even if he was there to support and comfort me, at the end of it, he'd go back to R. and I'd go back to…my life. So what's the point? I, in fact, will not be comforted by his presence but only hurt by the reminder of what could have been. But is there some…moral or ethical, um, thing by which I owe the man who got me pregnant knowledge that he did so…? Help.
What Are All These Red Flags Doing Here?
Do not tell D.
Let's leave aside his behavior within your relationship for a moment. Said behavior constitutes the bulk of your letter, I suspect because you want an excuse not to tell him, and therefore not to deal with him at a difficult time even though he is technically/genetically involved, and I agree with your instincts there, but let's get to that in a paragraph or two. For now, let's pretend you don't know the guy and it's just a hypothetical. What good does it do for him to have this information? None, really. Learning that he got you pregnant does not protect him from anything, or put him at less risk anywhere; nor will it change anything vis-à-vis the pregnancy itself, as 1) the two of you agreed that you probably didn't want children together, even under ideal medical conditions, and 2) ideal medical conditions do not exist here and will not allow the pregnancy to go on. All it tells him is that his boys can swim, and if that becomes relevant to him, he can find it out some other way.
If you do tell D., it will bring up feelings for him, no doubt — weird, painful feelings; feelings of obligation; feelings, perhaps, of resentment or grief. I maintain that, in most "Do I tell X about Y?" equations, kindness is more important than honesty unless the information will make a substantive difference in the tellee's health, safety, or decision-making — and I don't see those conditions met in D.'s case. Nothing good comes out of knowing for D.
And nothing good comes out of D. knowing for you. Here's where we come back to his behavior within your relationship, because here's what he demonstrated there: unreliable; manipulative; unable to create or maintain proper boundaries; emotionally dishonest; unwilling to take responsibility. And he pulled two of the dickiest dick moves in the book, the "Your Issues With My Self-Absorption Clearly Stem From Your Irrational Uterus" and the "If You Won't Signal That I Did Nothing Wrong Here By Downshifting To 'Friends' Immediately, You're A Bitch."
He's such a nozzle, he could have his own comic book, but that isn't the point, really; it's about whether you can expect him to participate in the situation maturely by supporting you and accepting your support in return. Unfortunately, you have a ream of evidence that that is not possible for him.
Choosing not to continue a pregnancy is fraught. The situation is lousy with opportunities to second-guess yourself and feel like a bad or selfish person, and this is one of those…secondary circumstances, I guess you'd call it, surrounding a termination that can make the decision seem like a referendum on everything you are. Choosing not to continue a pregnancy is also physically intense, and provided you want a friend or relative with you on the day to help with logistics and get you home afterwards, you should ask someone who will drive you and set up the heating pad and the Downton DVDs without making it Them Time.
D. is not that person. And that on its own doesn't mean you shouldn't tell him; it just means telling him won't serve you, logistically or emotionally — and given that it won't serve him in those ways either, it's best left untold.
With all of that said, if you really feel it's something you have to do and that he has to know, I don't think it's utterly awful to tell him — but prepare yourself beforehand for how it's going to go, and prepare to re-draw your boundaries with him once the conversation is done, because, again, the conversation isn't going to change anything. He's still a mindfuck, and you're still better off taking an extended break from contact with him.
Good luck with all of this. Let us know how you're doing if you'd like.
Tags: boys (and girls) health and beauty