Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Things left unsaid leave unmarried parents at impasse
New Jersey: Two years ago, I got pregnant by my mostly platonic friend, T. After agonizing, I decided to keep the baby, whom I fully expected to raise by myself. To my surprise, T has been incredibly involved in caring for the kiddo, whom he loves dearly. Till now we have really made it work, and have never had a problem with boundaries. T and I are not romantic and probably never will be. In mid 2010, I started dating M. We are now exclusive and serious. Unlike most guys I've met, he did not take off running just because I have a toddler, and he is loving and supportive in every way.
The problem is that T cannot stand M. His reasons are unspecific and unfair, but his feelings are very strong. He does not want M around kiddo, but he makes it very difficult for me to see M without kiddo as well (such as by refusing to baby-sit over multinight stretches when he knows M and I will be together).
This has caused our first major fights in eight years of friendship. T really hurt my feelings when he said the only reason I'm seeing M is because I think I can't get anyone better with a baby.
Do I have the right to stay with M? How do I do it without creating major disharmony with T, who I hope will always be a part of my child's life?
Carolyn: Three questions:
(1) Is T in love with you?
(2) Is T protective, and worried about M as "Daddy"?
(3) Would T go to counseling with you?
(1) and (2) seem like obvious possibilities, though maybe T just has a visceral, unbiased dislike of M. It happens.
Counseling (by someone good) can really help couples who have reached an impasse, especially when a lot is going unsaid, as it seems here. You and T aren't a couple, but you have a relationship of great consequence.
I hope, by the way, that you see the qualifiers in your question. "Mostly" platonic? "Probably" never will be romantic? Do you have a "right" to see M? Add that to T's hating your (apparently) first boyfriend since conception, and it screams "unresolved feelings."
Oh, and it's not "T, who I hope will always be a part of my child's life." It's "T, who I hope will always be a part of his child's life."
Cope with fear by taking responsibility for actions
On a roll: I've had a few rough years . . . unemployment, the end of a long-term relationship (my fault), an unchallenging job. Now I've got a new relationship, an interview next week and another professional feather in my cap . . . and I can't help but feel as if everything is going to come crashing down on me. I paid karmically for my bad behavior, but I can't help but feel the universe has it in for me still. Any thoughts on how to shake the negative vibes?
Carolyn: Try: You survived having your world collapse around you, so you know you're strong enough to pick your way out of the rubble and rebuild.
I.e., less "vibes" and "universe," more "My actions have direct consequences, good and bad." Which you will deal with when the time comes.