Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Dumped Me For Following My Dreams

Dear Polly,

I feel like such a cliche: I can't get over my ex.

We'd been dating for 2.5 years when I was awarded a full scholarship in a city across the country, to a school I'd literally DREAMED of attending since high school, to pursue a lifelong artistic dream. His entire life—extended family, small business, and industry was in this city, coming with me wasn't really an option. He hated that I had to leave, but offered his full support: he would stay in our house so I always had a place to come home to, and while I was getting my masters, he'd build a nest—focusing on his small business with the aim of buying a home for us, and I would return after school to start a family. That was the plan.

The first semester we missed each other like crazy. He was able to visit about twice a month, and I came home as often as possible, which amounted to about 8 weeks from September to January. In many ways, it strengthened our relationship because we realized how much of a team we'd become, and we talked more on the phone, about our dreams, goals, values, etc. We spoke earnestly about getting married.

I was home for winter break and it was pure bliss. We never left each other's side, and went engagement ring shopping. We went on vacations. Leaving was painful, but I felt like our relationship was stronger than ever.

And then… everything changed. He started travelling, a TON. He was neglecting his business and running around the world. He'd always loved travel, but this seemed excessive—literally 6 countries in 3 months. I became a stopover for him on his way to and from his vacations, and when I got him he was usually tired from ten-hour plane rides and jet-lagged. He complained that I couldn't come home as much, even though I was up to my eyeballs in grad work. When I told him that so much travelling didn't feel right, like he was pulling away from me, he responded that he was getting his yayas out before he was settled with me in a couple of years. On one of these trips, he travelled with a friend and friend's younger (by just a couple of years) sister. I thought is was odd, but trusted him—he continued to write love letters, we continued to talk everyday, sometimes 3 times a day, and, well, I was in love with the man.

You know what's coming.

The week I was preparing to come home from my first year of school, I was trying to sublet my place, finish finals and papers, and get home to him. He wasn't available as much, even telling me that I would have to find a ride from the airport. After I FLIPPED OUT about this he agreed to pick me up, but we fought the whole way home. We were split up within the week. I felt completely blindsided, as did everyone around us. His mother said that she was sure he was planning to propose, and his friends and siblings called me with their own surprised consolations. He told me that I had abandoned him, I had moved away from him, and that he couldn't bear to be alone for so long. He basically blamed the entire demise of the relationship on me, saying that he tried his best but it was all just too hard. Even though I'd come home for the summer—4 months—he was already over it.

Long(er) story short, I found out that he was dating friend's little sister—the one who travelled with him a few weeks prior. She's also worked for him at his small business, and while she and I weren't close, I counted her among friends. I was DEVASTATED. I felt so betrayed, so dumb, and in a fell swoop, I lost my house, my home (he'd originally moved into my place, and he still lives there—he refused to move!!) my future, my friends (our families and friends were so meshed, he still hangs with half of them regularly) and my ability to trust other people, and myself. I feel like he got everything, I lost everything, and I don't know what I did to deserve this.

A year, lots of therapy, and an advanced degree later, I still don't know HOW THIS HAPPENED. I'm not okay. I miss him, or who I thought he was anyway, but I'm also still so, so angry. At him. At them. We don't speak—whatever limited contact has been cold. He is clearly better than fine without me. I feel old, undeserving of love, and an enormous amount of guilt—if only I'd stayed, hadn't pursued my dream (which seems so silly now), if only I'd valued what I had instead of chasing a life that wasn't mine, been more this, less that… I know, cognitively, that this isn't true, but my heart/feelings have yet to get the memo. I now live in a city I didn't intend to live in, far from my support system (my friends in previous city),with a fancy degree, jobless and broke. My family is completely fucked (story for another day) so they are not a supportive option. I miss my old home, my lifestyle, my close knit crew of friends. Moving back is not an option—it's a tertiary city and job opportunities are quite limited for my field; I'd been banging my head against a glass ceiling as it was before I'd left, and was pretty much coming back to start a family with him.

I'm in my early 30s, and it seems like EVERYBODY is blissfully engaged/married/starting a family, or the VP of their company, etc. I'm starting completely over, fighting for entry level jobs, with no relationship in sight. I go out, I have fun, I flirt, I date—from outside appearances everything is awesome. I'm in therapy, meditating, and working towards a healthy mind. But inside I'm miserable. I don't know how to shake this past hurt, how to let go of the guilt, the anger, the betrayal, and even begin to hope for a family, a home, a thriving career. All of those things seem so far away. I want to stop being the victim of all the things he did to me, I want to trust myself again to make good decisions, and I desperately want to trust that everything is going to (ever) be okay. I want to MOVE ON. If I'm doing everything right, but nothing's working, what do I do?


Fetal Position On The Kitchen Floor


You are not in control of what happened, and you never were. You didn't make it happen. Your boyfriend freaked out. He was going to do that before or after he married you, and he chose to do it before. That part is good. Think of Don Draper: He wants a wifey who has no life. You aren't that person. I know that your boyfriend was probably pretty nice in a lot of ways, but ultimately, he was going to have a problem with you pursuing your dreams. Whether your dreams seem arbitrary and fucked at the moment or not, that guy's shitty attitude about you becoming your own fucking person wasn't going to work for you over the long haul.

And let me just add: I don't like that guy. He was a fucking dick. I mean, "Find a ride home from the airport" instead of "I'm dating someone else"? Screw him. Only a tool does stuff like that. Believe it, sister.

You know, I had a boyfriend who was super-dreamy once. I was very young and he was very handsome and funny. But he didn't really love listening to me speak as much as he loved listening to himself speak. He talked about boring shallow shit, too. Most of his dreams amounted to some extension of his ego: he was going to own a bar with red leather booths. He was going to cook something that I found amazing. He was going to have tons of fucking money someday. Not hideously bad, but really not my style. Plus? I like talking, a lot. I should've known a long, long time ago that I needed someone who found my talk talky talk talk delightful.

And look, men like that are out there! Some men love the talkers. Yes! Some men love women who are very smart, who have lots of fucking ideas spilling out of their crazy heads at all times. I know you don't believe me, but it's true.

Do you know how deeply wrong it is to put your light under a bushel? Or a basket, like Ping the duck? That's why it's a goddamn cliché in the first place. I live a good life these days. Why? Because I never, ever censor my obnoxious personality. I don't have to! I have a husband who likes my messy, preposterous self, and I have two kids who like me (for now), too. And I own a closet full of dog treats, and that makes me popular with my dogs.

You dodged a bullet, plain and simple. You'd better stop repeating this bullshit about what a dreamy angel this dick was, and start telling yourself the truth, that he was about to fuck your life over in a giant way. That guy is going to get married and then get divorced in short order. He's not an honest one. He's shopping for perfection. (I could be wrong, but that's what my gut says.)

And even if he's Prince Charming, he's not your guy. He could see that. So you couldn't see it. Time to stop taking it personally and move the fuck on. This stuff happens to most people 4 or 5 times in their 20s and 30s. You're only struggling with this because it probably hasn't happened to you before. Welcome to the human race, princess.

You need to blast your air horn a little louder, if you ask me. This thing about "healthy on the outside, hurting on the inside" makes me suspicious. In addition to your therapist, you might need to find a kind of new-age huggable woman healer, too, someone who's going to give you a little bit of common sense advice that you need to hear, plus she's going to be a soothing presence who talks you through your bummer moments and conjures the positivity of the universe and lays hands on your or something along those lines. I know that sounds stupid, but there are those times in life when you need an optimistic person with wooden jewelry around her neck to get metaphysical and talk nonsense and be the weirdo mommy you never had. Therapy can be very clinical. New age healer types sometimes loosen up the stodgy, overly intellectual part of you that keeps thinking and thinking and thinking in circles. You need to just sit and feel ok with the world, like Ferdinand the bull.

You have to own who you are, in a big way. That’s the part you're not doing yet. You need to back up the tape to where you gave up on your dreams, and you need to believe in your fucking dreams again. This dickhead didn't compromise your entire life by not letting you have babies. You're going to have all the stupid pants-shitters you can stand. But you have to believe in who you are and what you want in order to get there.

Can you trust me on that? You have to give yourself what you need first. You need to believe in yourself in a vacuum of Prince Charmings. That's step one. Step two is, beat them off with a fucking stick.

Believe it.


Hey Polly,

I'm in a bit of a situation. My girlfriend's little sister has been living abroad, and is coming home newly pregnant (will be about 10 weeks along by the time she makes it home.) Her sister is 23, which is not old, but is not young either, she is still considering her options but pretty sure she wants to have/raise the baby. She is in a relationship with the guy who got her pregnant, but he also has several other children that his mom is raising. He is not a long-term life partner prospect for her, as far as she or anyone is concerned.

However, she is pretty likely going to have a baby, and it will be a biracial baby, which is a thing her parents are going to Act Weird about, (as socially conservative white folks) which is particularly important because she will be living with her parents at least in the short term (probably). So I am in a (gay) relationship with her older sister (for three+ years) and her sister/my girlfriend is generally being sweet/supportive/trying to gently encourage her sister she should probably have an abortion. My girlfriend has been holding it together through the day and coming home and crying all night until she goes to bed at about 12:30 to 1 a.m. every night. Mostly I hug her a lot and try to tell her that it will be okay, but mostly she is not ready to hear that it will be okay.

My girlfriend and I generally have a pretty solid relationship—communicate well and often, are generally respectful and loving and fun together. But all the crying is wearing on me, and she says that she's "grieving," which I think means she's grieving the life she thought her sister would have. I also know she has this strong sense of shame and judgment from her parents, which I get is a thing that is real, but also; they are all adults now. I am trying to be supportive, but am starting to avoid her/spend time outside of the house because a) all of the crying is wearing on me, and I am better equipped to be supportive when I am not around it all the time and b) I am starting to get irritated, because ultimately, it's her sister's decision, and my girlfriend can choose what level of support she offers, but I ultimately feel like she needs to deal with the fact that she may well be an auntie in 6 months, and her sister will need both of us as allies in what will be a challenging task. It will definitely change her life but it will not wreck it forever. I don't know. Maybe crying is her way of dealing with it? Maybe she is at the depression phase of stages of grief and will swing around to acceptance in a little while?

I don't know, Polly. Am I being unreasonable? I have friends who are being fairly supportive, but ultimately I go home to my crying girlfriend every night, and shoot, I wish it didn't have to be like that. I have had girlfriends in the past who have struggled with pretty severe depression, and I know that people's lives have ups and downs and sometimes life knocks you on your ass. I guess I just want to know that it will pass, because I can hang for now, and for awhile, but we are on week two of crying almost every moment that she's not at work, and if I try to make her laugh that usually makes her start crying again. I am not sure what my limits are but I am trying to figure that out before I hit them.

What do you think?

It Might Be Okay

Dear IMBO,

Before we talk about your girlfriend's crying problem, let's talk to all the sexually active ladies out there, shall we? Hey ladies! Hi. Listen, if you're having sex, consider what you might do if you got pregnant BEFORE you actually get pregnant, and share that information with your sexual partner. Don't wait until you're pregnant to decide. When you're pregnant, your body wants you to have a fucking baby. Making a rational decision under those conditions is almost impossible, and delaying that decision is pretty fucked up no matter how you slice it.

Because your girlfriend's sister is in no position to support or raise a kid without her disapproving parents' help, I think we can deduce that she's basically looking for a way to fuck shit up. What better way to fuck with your conservative, racist parents, than by adhering to their pro-life dictates and forcing them to help you raise your little biracial baby bomb?

This situation would depress me, too, because it does change everything. Suddenly your girlfriend has a little sister she sees as doomed, and she's also got parents whose issues are going to rise to the surface in ugly ways that maybe could've been mostly avoided under the previous circumstances. So suddenly she has to face that her family is wildly fucked up, and maybe she is, too. This might be the first time she's ever had to openly admit that her family is a depressing dysfunctional wreck.

That said, her crying would drive me insane. Still, I think you're going to be well served to support her for another few weeks and try to draw out exactly how she's picturing the future. Part of her trouble is that she has no control over a terrible situation. This bomb is going to go off and she doesn't have any way to stop it. I get it. When you talk to her, don't skip straight to the part where everyone is fine and it's all okay, because you're going to make her feel alienated and lonely, and that will only make her cry more. You have to try to go with her to the scary place and allow her to express the ugliness of it all. Sometimes that means you have to agree, and be quiet, and demonstrate that you can tolerate her tears.

But I'd also strongly encourage her to get a therapist, because if this situation is depressing her this much, there are dimensions to it that even she doesn't fully understand. Her family is a major source of anxiety and stress in her life, and she feels responsible for her sister. She needs to make sure she has healthy boundaries, now more than ever. Little sister might be looking for someone to save her and the baby. Who knows? Maybe part of your girlfriend's stress comes from some strange dynamic between her and her sister, where her sister makes a mess and she cleans it up. I don't know much about them, but I do know that it's crucial for your girlfriend to feel some clarity about what she can do to support, help, love her sister, and what she NEEDS to avoid doing in order to make sure that her sister understands that this is her baby, her problem, and her life, and no one can bail her out if she decides to have a baby on her own. If she decides to take that on, she has to be prepared to deal with all of the consequences of that decision.

Fuck. Why does it feel like so many kids these days have babies and expect their parents and extended families to raise them?

But look, don't avoid your girlfriend, as hard as that must be right now. You can take care of yourself, but you have to be honest and tell her that you're a human being and you have your limits. You want to be there for her (ask her how best to do that) but you also need to know that she's going to get some help.

Things WILL get better. Your girlfriend is anxious about what's going to happen next. That's a big part of this. Once her sister makes a decision and figures out what she's doing, your girlfriend might relax a little. It's not her life. Right now she's tortured because she thinks she can change the outcome. She can try—and if I were her, I'd get on the phone and have a really harsh talk about what life will be like, raising an unwanted baby under her crappy parents' roof. But once that's done, she needs to wash her hands of it and move on. Life is just too short to carry other people's shitty decisions around on our backs. She can be supportive, and helpful, but she doesn't have to bear this cross.


Do you have a weakness for doughnuts, or a funny job dilemma? FOR FUCK'S SAKE, WRITE TO POLLY AND SAVE HER FROM AN UNHOLY TIDE OF UNWANTED PREGNANCY LETTERS.

Heather Havrilesky (aka Polly Esther) is The Awl's existential advice columnist. She's also a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and is the author of the memoir Disaster Preparedness (Riverhead 2011). She blogs here about scratchy pants, personality disorders, and aged cheeses. House on fire photo by Scott Teresi. Poor baby photo by Paul Keller.

55 Comments / Post A Comment

Kzinti (#245,115)

I don't get the reasons behind crying all the time because your kid sister is going to have a biracial baby. It is not HER that is going to have the baby, so I have to wonder what else is going on to sustain this level of agony over a two week period.

I have stage IV cancer and my dad just died, but I haven't cried for two weeks straight because of either of those. I know each of us has a different level of tolerance for pain, but I fail to see the pain in this situation. That is why I think it has to be something deeper and would agree that a therapist is needed in this situation.

xccxeryreu (#245,140)

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Kzinti (#245,115)

@minijen Thank you! My cancer is not breast (I have colon cancer, discovered at age 44), but my cousin just died of breast cancer last week after a 9 year battle, and I appreciate that there are things like this available.

minijen (#234,898)

@Kzinti – It's still available, they don't limit it just to BC. I worked with them at the beginning, and helped with their annual charity ride, Scooters 4 Hooters (I take no responsibility for the name). One of the big things that they did was provide those in need with advocates. The idea was to help them deal with all the paperwork and details, so that time could be spent with family and friends, not dealing with Medicaid. It's since expanded to providing free mammograms and such to high-risk individuals.

Fizigig (#245,116)

Only thing I'd take issue with is the part about parents-to-be dumping their kids on their extended families. I'm no parent, but speaking for what I've seen, I wish there were some way for more parents to do this. Nuclear family parenting just seems so utterly exhausting — and the examples I'm thinking of are from married, high-income couples, one of whom gets to stay home with the kids all day. I have absolutely no idea how anyone needing two incomes can manage to do it, and no idea how I would do it if it came up.

Anyway, I know you're making a different point about people being responsible for their actions. But it touches on the fact that parenthood is just so damn hard now, now that so many of us have no communities or even anything you might call an extended family to support us.

minijen (#234,898)

@Fizigig – My (much) younger roommate just asked my opinion on a co-worker that asked her out. A 20-year old guy with several children by several women. My response: "I don't date or have sex with people that can't figure out birth control."

@Fizigig : I strongly second that. Young people have raging hormones. They are actually way better suited physically to bear and raise children. Our fucked up society is denying youngsters even the glimmer of a chance at the requisite financial security that would make nuclear parenting possible.

Still, birth control isn't rocket science, and there really isn't a more time-tested way to change your whole body forever than by asking it to birth a whole separate human body. Not to mention that parenting of any kind is not for sissies.

questingbeast (#201,738)

@Fizigig Yes, I don't understand what Polly means by 'these days'- surely extended family is generally far less involved in raising children now than at any previous point in history? Especially a baby out of wedlock- 100 years ago the grandmother might well have to just pretend it was hers.

enic (#241,103)

@questingbeast Yes, this is exactly what I was going to say.

The whole point of "my body, my choice" is that abortion is a CHOICE a woman makes for HERSELF. Also, yes, it may be the hard choice, but it's entirely possible this young woman wants to have the baby and take the hard route of being a single mother. I would be beyond devastated if I decided to keep the baby (I mean, 22 is not super-young, either) and my sister didn't support my decision. This does NOT mean the sister should feel the need to financially/time-wise be responsible for actually parenting. Just supportive of her sister's decision either way.

Also, the parents may Act Weird about the biracial baby (and daughter-having-sex-with-person-of-color), but it's also entirely likely that they will come around when the baby is born because: lots of times people come around to !!Babies!! regardless of whatever circumstances brought about said baby.

kerrypolka (#231,809)

@questingbeast "surely extended family is generally far less involved in raising children now than at any previous point in history?"


iforget (#245,211)

i don't know if there's anything to this but…
what if what the sister/girlfriend is grieving over her sister having a kid
my sister had a very hard time when i got pregnant before she did, and i wonder if that feeling isn't a little compounded here because the older sister can't get pregnant or adopt without somebody outside their relationship being involved

heynow (#245,119)

Just chiming in from the perspective of older sibling who had to deal with a younger sibling having a surprise child and the whole family freaking out. I spent a long time freaking out (at my significant other) about how TERRIBLE of an idea this was and WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? and Everything is Ruined.

Two years later, it's been bumpy, younger sibling still makes infuriating decisions, and we stress out occasionally about Why Didn't They Use a Condom. But: kid is adorable. Sibling is learning to be a good parent. And my ultimate takeaway? I had so little control over this situation. I kept freaking out and thinking I was going to do x, y and z to "fix it" when I was the last person who could "fix it." So maybe I needed some time to freak out and process my emotions, but in the end, my ranting did nothing.

Once she gets the crying out of her system, the letter writer's girlfriend should figure out realistic, active ways she can be there to support her sister and her parents. They are the ones who will be dealing with the baby (especially if sister is living there). Maybe that will give her some way to move forward, instead of the endless freaking out…because, from my experience, the freaking out feels cathartic and self-righteous but it ultimately really does nothing.

jaimeleigh (#1,840)

Sorry Polly, I typically love your advice. And I realize I’m totally, completely missing the point of the advice, which is about the sister and her selfish tears. But the shame and condemnation being leveled against this young woman for choosing to have a baby at 23 is just…amazing. Maybe consider all the lives of the women and their children you're trashing when you reference their inability to make a rational decision and their fucked up choices. I was far younger than this 23 year old when I got pregnant, and from that "shitty decision" came a delightful, bright, happy, loved child. That "shitty decision" turned my life around, and brought forth happiness and peace I didn't believe existed. My more obvious need for family support (support, not an expectation that somebody else bear the burden of parenting) means that my daughter is growing up incredibly close to her aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, who all came together to give and share and love as part of a big, beautiful family. There isn’t one ending and one ending only to this story. Suggesting that there is and that it’s an inevitably awful ending is shitty and dismissive and closed minded and, yup, full of privilege.

You mention an unwanted baby and all the horrifying consequences of this terrible situation, but the only person who we can be certain doesn’t want the baby is the sister of the mom to be. It sounds like the person who is actually having the baby is pretty clear that she wants the baby. I think we’d all agree that it would be messed up in the reverse, if the pregnant woman wanted an abortion and the sister was trying to counsel her to keep the baby. So why is this cool? Your body your choice, so long as the choice is abortion? What the hell is she crying about, exactly? 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom or whatever MTV reality TV bullshit you're imagining is not what all young mothers look like. And you know what else? Age isn't some magical equalizing factor that makes people good (or even just prepared) parents. If you're going to be changed by becoming a parent, that will be true at 16 or 46. And if you're not, having ten years on the next girl won't count for shit. Again, what, exactly, is this woman crying about? Yes, she needs therapy, but maybe to examine why she’s so desperate to control her little sister’s life.

Sorry. I probably sound so wacky. But it gets really lonely on the internet when you’re surrounded by 40 year old “bad mommies” who get to yap about drinking straight from the wine bottle and hating their kids – and that makes them cool and normal! – but any and all young mothers are filed away as shitty people who made shitty choices and god, should have just had an abortion.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

@jaimeleigh According to the facts laid out in the letter, the young mother-to-be doesn't have her own place, doesn't have a job, and has a partner who has already passed the care of his existing children on to someone else. So no, not a great idea for her to be having a baby. Yeah, it's her choice, but she's making a shitty one.

jaimeleigh (#1,840)

@IBentMyWookie Well, I recognize that my choice probably looked shitty to a lot of people, too. But you know what forced me to quickly pull my life together? The realization that I wanted to keep my baby, and I was damned well going to make it work. I got a place, I got a job, I left the not great dad, and eleven years later I continue to have a lovely family and a happy life. I was 16! She is 23! I'm only saying there isn't one outcome and one outcome only, and it is really frustrating that the world writes you off if you're young and choose to keep your baby.

mooseketeer (#239,282)

@jaimeleigh I totally agree with you- calling this a shitty decision is way off base. The girl is 23 years old, which in many parts of the US is not that young for your first kid. She was obviously capable of living on her own in a foreign country no less! We don't know her employability status or anything really. Just that she will have to temporarily live with her parents when she gets back into the country, and her parents might be slightly weird about a biracial grandkid. Homegirl has 30 weeks to figure shit out, which (as a 30 week pregnant lady looking trying to sort my own stupid life out, I have some sense of) is a long fucking time.

The sister of the pregnant lady needs to calm the fuck down and let her ADULT sister make her own decisions.

HeatherH (#241,099)

@jaimeleigh I respect what you're saying. But my advice was aimed at the girlfriend of the sister of the pregnant woman, not the pregnant woman herself. I was urging the LW to understand her girlfriend's feelings of helplessness and anxiety, as a means of supporting her a little more, and also urging her to get her girlfriend to see a therapist. When I talked about shitty decisions of other people, it was pretty obvious I mean other people's shitty decisions in general.

People rarely regret having kids, in my opinion. As someone with kids, I can understand why that's the case. Kids are fucking awesome, and they make life great, not just for us old geezers, either. But this woman has no job, no partner, and she's about to move in with her disapproving parents. You think her sister shouldn't have a realistic discussion with her about how hard that's going to be? You know what it's like to be pregnant. Do you think there's a small chance that this woman is feeling a tiny bit romantic about babies right now, maybe to the point where she could use an outside opinion on what's happening?

I can understand your perspective on how the culture frowns on unwed mothers unfairly. And look, I used to really hate kids, and now babies are one of my favorite things. Obviously I understand that babies bring a huge amount of joy to people's lives, and you've had a great experience and it went well for you and your family is fantastic. Honestly, though, that's not the scenario that's been described to me by the LW, and here's this massively depressed big sister whose girlfriend's nerves are starting to fray. This letter really isn't about your life. From what I can discern, this story is very different from yours.

And also? If the pregnant woman wrote to me, my response would be a little different. I'm not urging women in general to run out and have abortions. I'm encouraging them to consider the potential problem of pregnancy before they're knocked up and bowled over by pregnancy hormones. When I hear that someone is rapidly approaching 10 weeks, but they're "still deciding," it makes me wonder what the fuck is going on with them. People don't talk about making these decisions in advance, but as long as you're having sex, it's really something you should consider and discuss with your partner ahead of time.

I agree that the sister sounds a little bit hysterical and depressed to boot. But we don't know the dynamic of her relationship with her sister. She may have served as a kind of substitute mother, so this might feel like something that she herself is partially responsible for, at least to her. There's some mysterious dynamic in play that should be approached with care by the LW. Copdendent or not, she's feeling a lot of compassion for her sister, and pain and anxiety over possible ways this could fuck with her sister's life. All of that is understandable and not exactly worthy of contempt.

yourbodyyourchoice (#245,135)


Just wanted to offer you my FULL ON TOTAL SUPPORT, lady, you (and your kiddo) sound super awesome!

As a 100 mega-percent pro-choice lady, who is VERY super frowny face at the issues women face in having access and the right to a shame-free and drama-free abortion if they inadvertently become pregnant.. a not altogether unlikely event given the HUGE biological imperative of sex and reproduction (and hence these two intense things being linked sex!! and the creation of life!!) It shocks me that this is the state of reproductive rights for women in the 21st century in one of the most first worlds of first world countries,

BUT I still ABSOLUTELY 100% want to express my SUPPORT of YOUR CHOICE to have a kid, when you found out you were pregnant, even though circumstances might not have been ideal.

I, too, heard some serious judgement that did not at all strike a tone of compassion or understanding, or general coolness. Some hatin' on young parents who may not have all the "pieces" in place before they have a kid, but who make the personal choice to go forward with procreation, anyway (not who are forced to, thru lack of access to abortion/funding for abortion, or birth control and good education and training about contraception).

Do I wish that WAY more people would choose NOT to "bring life" into this world to only damage it pretty badly. Yes, yes I do wish that people would maybe do a bit more to ensure that they were creating good conditions for raising a healthy child, primarily starting with feeling good about themselves/being in touch with themselves, and having happy, love-filled lives, and hopefully having a good support system, and some financial structures in place.

However, I totally hear you, that plenty of OLDER, externally-having-their-shit-together people make totally crappy parents, and it is REALLY unfair to say that a young person can't be an excellent parent, especially if they are (as you are) fortunate to have a supportive network of family and friends.

If I had to choose between having a young, not totally-having-her-shit-together but very loving mom, or an older -and, I'm sorry, but jaded by life- mom, I'd take the young sweet mom any day of the week. I'm totally against ageism, plus Polly was obviously totally off about "these days" since in "those days" 23 would be late to start popping 'em out. And sure, old-skool you'd have a hubby who would support your material needs for food and shelter…. but, that system doesn't seem like some "advanced, evolved system" that we should look back to as the halcyon days. I feel like lots of times women were even more isolated and trapped back in "those good old days" of a very tightly bound (and wound) nuclear family where a kid out of wedlock was a HUGE shame, and people would marry people they really didn't like, let alone love, just because they got preggers. SHOULD you have a kid if you haven't got your shit together? Probably not. BUT life isn't perfect, and plenty of people LOOK like they have their shit together when they totally don't and end up shitting all over themselves, and other people including (especially including!) their kids.

People who make the decision to have a kid, and then do their very best to raise those kids deserve our support, not our criticism and judgement, just because they aren't perfect. And if we do judge them, we should judge them evenly and fairly. Being financially stable and married are, I'd argue, not really actually even an accurate predictor of how good of a parent you will be. Think of how many kids LOVE LOVE LOVE ADORE their single parent mothers (or fathers) who worked so hard to raise them, then think of how many middle class kids of two parent households who feel COMPLETELY TOTALLY very alienated from their parents. It's not a cut and dried situation, because it comes down to love, and that can't exactly be quantified.

That said, I do think that it is SHAMEFUL that so many women who WOULD like access to BOTH birth control (which should be free and VERY accessible) and abortion (funny, the two aren't unrelated – more birth control, less abortions!) are denied these very basic components to a healthy life as a woman, I think it's TERRIBLE that women are forced by circumstances to procreate when they are not ready to do so and do not wish to do so. Life can be so amazing, and it should not be crappy and bad (for both the parents, and the kid(s) ) when people are forced to bear life when they are not ready/capable of doing so in a loving way.

yourbodyyourchoice (#245,135)


Your response here sounded much more balanced.

People rarely regret having kids, in my opinion. (Research bears this out… although if people were to glimpse an "alternate life" with different reproductive choices, I'd bet that PLENTY of people would regret having kids when they did, and would do A LOT more personal growing before they went on to "continue the race". Maybe if our life expectancies increase dramatically, along with our ability to procreate much later in life, it will not be uncommon for many people to live a whole "lifetime" before they "settle down" to have kids…. and that will probably be a VERY GOOD thing – the best of both worlds for many people to have more time to get to understand themselves and life better, before they jump into starting a new person's life that they will have so much influence over!)

But this woman has no job, no partner, and she's about to move in with her disapproving parents

Yep – I think all this SHAMING of abortions has made a huge negative impact on the decision NOT to continue on towards the creation of another human being when you are not really taking care of yourself and your own life very capably. If you could avoid a whole world of UTTER CRAP in favor of a life lived with much more care and planning and intentional creation and cultivation… which would you choose. MORE IMPORTANTLY – WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE FOR YOUR CHILD?????

Because if I could be born to utterly fucked (and fucked up parents) or, say, wait a few years and be born in to a super-cool awesome set up…. PLEASE SIGN ME UP FOR THE LATTER PLEASE THANKS.

And, since if you DO procreate, you are TOTALLY responsible for the situation you bring YOUR kid into, it might be best to hold off, to wait on that…. have an abortion, get your life to a good place where it pleases you and you want to welcome another being – one that will be totally helpless and vulnerable- into it. If you HATE your life and it sucks, it's kind of not fair to bring/force someone else into it. Go ahead and get an abortion, and then have a kid when it's a better time. FOR YOUR KID'S SAKE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

So, I definitely hear the advice of understanding why the sister might be freaking the eff out, and being supportive of her.

But I do think the original answer was kind of down on a young person who might choose to have a kid and get help from their family to raise it. That seems like a legitimate choice to make, and one that doesn't inherently involve any less love and nurturing than one a financially secure (and perhaps older) person might make.

HeatherH (#241,099)

@yourbodyyourchoice I don't understand why we're comparing 40 year olds w/ kids and 23 year olds with kids. No one is casting aspersions on this woman because she's young. I gave advice to the girlfriend of a woman whose sister is pregnant, and that pregnancy was described in pretty stark terms. I don't get the sense this pregnant sister is on the phone cheerfully musing about her future baby, do you? I understand the points made by someone who successfully, happily raised her baby with help from an amazing extended family, but that scenario doesn't seem to bear much relation to LW2. Pretending that there's no difference between raising a baby you can support financially and raising a baby for your disapproving, possibly racist parents to support financially is absurd. There's a difference. If it makes her happy, fantastic, but I'm not advising her. I'm advising her depressed sister's weary girlfriend. Different. And again, still deciding what to do at 10 weeks? I'm about as pro-choice as it gets, but it doesn't sit all that well with me to consider someone sitting around trying to make a sane decision as the fetus grows bigger and bigger. Shit happens, I get it, I'm just trying to put it out there that, if you're sexually active, it's good to know what you'd do if you got pregnant, so you don't torture the fuck out of yourself for making a choice that your pregnant body might have reasons not to want. Again, that's not advice for the woman who's already pregnant, (and it's obviously not advice for a woman who happily raised a great kid with her family's help). It's advice for women who maybe don't know how crazy and emotional it feels to be pregnant, and therefore don't know that it may not be ideal to make giant life decisions under those circumstances.

Undone (#245,194)

I just wanted to say that your reply to jaimeleigh is my favorite reply in the history of the internet.

Undone (#245,194)

Hmm, it's funny how different people can read the same letter differently. I didn't think the situation was described in "pretty stark terms" and I didn't think the parents were 100% going to disapprove. I probably need to read the letter better but all I can recall (and easily pick out) is that they'll "Act Weird." So maybe the sister/LW's girlfriend should stop being so upset/judge-y because everything might be just fine, really. And also, getting this from the perspective of the sister's girlfriend is skewing this whole thing for us. Maybe the pregnant sister and the parents will figure out how to deal with this situation and live happily ever after! I'm just thinking about my own husband and how he thinks/talks about my parents and sister–he actually thought my own mother wouldn't be thrilled about our baby, and duh, she was and is.

rosinator (#245,121)

Girlfriend of the sister of the mom-to-be: yeah, I agree that there's a deeper issue here. Your gf needs a therapist, stat. Sounds to me like all of the tears were triggered by the sister's pregnancy, but not all related to the pregnancy.

LW1: I created an account just to comment on this. You dodged a bullet, girl, you did. I will email you every day to remind you of this if you want me to (rosielo.1234 at gmail). I'm totally serious. I dodged a similar bullet a few months ago, which is why this hit home for me. I was lucky enough to have great support from my family. Where do you live? I'll buy you a drink if you're in NYC.

rosinator (#245,121)

@rosinator Also, sounds not like he is shopping for perfection, but that he wants a wife who is subordinate, but doesn't want to admit it to himself (and certainly not anyone else). That's why he started to unravel as soon as you showed some independence.

iforget (#245,211)


i dated somebody like this in college.
i now fondly refer to him as the bullet that dodged me. :D

Bittersweet (#765)

Polly, loved your advice for LW1. Extra points for the awesome Ping and Ferdinand references.

E (#14,552)

LW1: I went through something pretty similar with an ex. And it basically forced me to think about how I'd built myself the type of life that felt unfulfilled without a relationship to guide it. Which becomes a problem when the relationship gets pulled away.

The way I let go, was by deliberately not letting go. I made a list of breakup recovery cliches and checked them off one by one (take a class, go out clubbing, get a haircut. listen to our song and cry, toss his stuff, etc- anything in a rom-com montage). I made a list of all the qualities I'd wished he'd had or things I knew would bug him and specifically went on dates with men with those qualities- taller men, men with better jobs, etc. I came up with adventures for myself to do that I thought would help me win if I ever ran into him again (took trips, got great pictures that I figured mutual friends might share with him, that kind of thing). And then over time a larger and larger percentage of that kind of stuff turned into just me living my life for me, and not always thinking of how I was totally grinding his face into the dust.

I find that a negative way of thinking helps me more. Like, for instance what if I am never going to meet anyone ever again and also my job always sucks? What then? You can't just hate your life for the next 60 years if that happens. There's other stuff besides work and relationships, and if you are truly going to suck at the other two, which you probably won't for long, but just in case, will you be able to find other awesome stuff? You have to fill up the time somehow, might as well like it.

lemmycaution (#243,936)

LW1 seems like a long distance relationship issue. If you move away from your partner for an extended period of time, a breakup is likely.

Lawks (#235,190)

The crying sister is in a same-sex relationship. She cannot get pregnant accidentally like her sister, and likely can't get pregnant easily or without significant expense. And she thinks the baby should be aborted because it is biracial, otherwise why counsel the sister to do that?

My advice? First, give up on the stupid fallacy about there being "stages" to grief, and second, run far far away from the wet racist.

Now you wait just a moment LW1

Am I right in reading that the home or whatever belongs to her, and he will not move out? Sometimes I have trouble with taking things too literally.

But, like, if this has lit. imploded and he's in a place that belongs to you and he's being a dick– there's got to be some measures to take there, come on.

Know what I'm saying?

charlsiekate (#231,720)

@prairie homo companion YES! It is a beautiful thing I like to call – EVICTION. Let's make that happen if he truly is living in the house that LW1 owns. I would take pleasure in drafting the complaint.

RobotsNeedLove (#236,743)

Babies are blessings. They're not blessings that take precedence over the right to choose, to be sure. But blessings they are, and most babies in the world are not born into the perfect nuclear family that has a nice house and savings and a nanny on call. That doesn't make those PEOPLE (those people those babies become) worthless. This is all so offensive and racist and classist I can't even.

Holy crap this sister better get her head around the fact that this fetus may eventually be a person, not a tragedy, and quickly. A PERSON.

cat party (#245,187)

LW1, i just got dumped for following my years-long dream of playing roller derby. roller derby. can't even parse that playing a sport warrants ending a three year relationship.

Undone (#245,194)

@cat party
Aww, good for you for following your dreams. You sound awesome and your ex-partner is undeserving of you.

Jolly (#245,185)

I kind of take exception to the idea that LW1's boyfriend is some loser ape who wanted to keep her from following her dreams. It sounds like he was excited for her, that she was doing things that made her happy, and then he realized that their relationship was not going to function in a world where she lived a million miles away, that he wanted something different in life, and that he didn't want to be with her anymore. Wanting different things is a good reason to break up and it is good that he broke up with you, because now you get a new life and a shot at someone who wants the same things as you (or not? maybe being single is pretty cool).

The way he expressed it (or didn't) to you, LW? Unacceptable. Waiting until you came back to be like "SURPRISE I'm dating someone else and this relationship is over" was some dumb, immature shit. It really sucks that people who act dumb and immature get to luck into being happy while you are out there having to work for it. But here you are, right? This guy is not a part of your life, this old town is not a part of your life. If you haven't blocked him on everything, definitely block him on everything.

I would honestly just not look back. I don't have any real solution for you, but when I got dumped horribly, I just decided that I was not allowed to think about that any more. Thinking about ex? Time to read a book. Thinking about what life would be like if I had got that visa and was splitting a tiny flat in London with him RIGHT NOW? Nope, actually I am going to be cooking something very delicate that I have to focus hard on. Or watch a non-romantic movie. Or browse OKCupid and laugh at the fedora dudes. Or jerk off. Or literally anything that was not putting a scrap of thought into a life that I don't have, and never will have, with a person who I will never have anything with ever. Join stupid clubs in your city, take dumb classes, anything to keep yourself away from the "what if" and rooted firmly into the "his life has literally nothing to do with my life, ever, and especially right now while I am taking a class on urban foraging, with a hot instructor."

Also I would put serious thought into the idea of, maybe you'll always be single? Maybe This Is Really It, so try to set up your life in a way where that doesn't feel like a miserable failure. I mean, still try to meet new people, keep yourself open and all of that. But getting over my last breakup and the future I thought we would have together definitely involved rethinking what my future might look like, and that the one I had envisioned with him was not actually the Gold Standard.

Anyway, good luck! Breakups fucking suck, but the rest of life is pretty good, once you get around to it.

MountainDo (#245,192)


Oh my goodness Lady! Do you teach classes on that mental ninja shite? That is some WISDOM right there. You should be teaching seminars…

Although I would suggest that it's often kind of useful to imagine and envision the things that you want, not to get all "The Secret" on you, because, obviously that's pretty lame, but while I think it's very cool to be single, I feel like it's a sad thing to think you have to "resign" yourself to it, if it isn't what you actually want because you truly enjoy the freedom of "being on your own" and maybe having one or more (or none, too, that's okay) friends with benefits, also known as casual lovers. I mean, I think that's a great way to live, although I evolved into a different place where I became really into/warmed up to the idea of meshing my life with a lovey-partner. But, I will say, for me at least, getting to the point where I could actually meet that someone involved me really dealing with some of my "black hole of loneliness" issues first, which frankly, Life, I find kind of annoying…. oh, sure, give it to me now, when I don't absolutely NEED it — I mean, I'll take it, don't get me wrong! (!!! :) <3 <3 ;-P ) but it's kind of annoying that I had to "deal with some of my loneliness" ALL by my LONESOME! I mean, really, wtf is up with that?!? A bit of a contradiction, no? But, whatever, I'm used to life's contradictions and incongruities!

chevyvan (#201,691)

@Jolly & @MountainDo Please tell me one or both of you live in Chicago and want to hang out.

hillcricket (#224,902)

Oh, LW1—hang in there, woman. Your story and mine are very, very similar, except I'd married the guy (be glad you didn't do that, because whoa, hassle). I'm 8 months out, so I feel you. This is not anything you haven't heard (see above), but it's helped me to no end to remember: 1. It wasn't your fault—that's his rationalization; and 2. If this hadn't happened, he would have destroyed your happiness slowly and miserably in a way that would have completely fucked your life, as opposed to quickly and painfully in a way that lets you hit restart now. Imagine if he'd waited until you had a kid to lose his shit.

In one of many marathon bar sessions during the blackness that was this past winter, a wise friend said, "Eventually, this is just going to be something that happened to you." So simple, but so powerful. It's part of your life now, but it does not define you. Cherish the education you got, remember what it felt like to look forward to the career you're starting, and go be amazing. Oh, and start a Hairpin meetup for your city! Sending anonymous life-sister love.

IgotthisISWEAR (#245,193)

LW1: I find that, despite how therapeutic it may seem, telling oneself that the ex who you loved and believed in was actually just a terrible person is really damaging to one's ability to trust one's instincts in the future (if you were wrong about him, what else are you wrong about?) There's really no way of knowing "what really happened" or totally understanding why other people do what they do. What you need is a narrative that allows you to move on in a healthy way.

So here is the one I propose: maybe it will make sense to you. Your ex loved you and could imagine spending his life with you. He was brought up to put other people first, he was brought up to be responsible and end up as a family man. He supported you to follow your dreams; he felt a tiny bit resentful that you got to go off to an exciting adventure, but he squelched it because that's not how a loving, respectable husband feels. But once you were gone, he was jealous. His resentment grew, but he couldn't acknowledge it, because that would have challenged his idea of the kind of man/husband he was. Instead, he stewed until his "why shouldn't I have what I want?" feelings burst out and led him to neglect his business and gallivant around the world, sabotaging his relationship with you by having an affair because he couldn't separate his feelings for you from his feelings for the "script" the two of you had developed for your life together. He then constructed a narrative for himself in which you had abandoned him and it was all your fault, which allowed him to sleep at night thinking he's an ok guy.

Many people, and I think especially men, find it very difficult to confront their not-so-admirable feelings (resentment, jealousy, insecurity) and communicate with their partners about them before the feelings start to affect their actions. I think that your ex was deceiving himself about his level of comfort with the plan the two of you put together, and as a result he was dishonest with you. You had no way of knowing how he felt– he wasn't even lying to you, because he wasn't honest with himself.

Despite your ex's other good qualities, you need– you DESERVE– a life partner who can deal with his on feelings and communicate with you about them before they reach crisis point, rather than denying them and then flailing around and blaming you for it.

alphabet (#245,204)

@IgotthisISWEAR I agree with this a lot. I was similar to the ex in this situation (my boyfriend moved away, I became resentful without really realising it or knowing how to express it, and eventually I dumped him in a really shitty way. Don't be like me, obviously! But this idea of having a narrative, reality starting to slowly not match up to the narrative, and a big build up of unacknowledged feelings exploding into crapness really does fit to my experience. I regret the hell out of my actions. But I'm not an evil jerkface for not realising what was going on until too late, and in my case there was also a lot of depression and abandonment issues bubbling away which I'm still working on a year and a half later so that I don't do it again. This is not really about me, but just to point out that I agree that the cathartic 'he's just a massive asshole' is not always helpful or accurate. Unless I'm also a massive asshole. Eep, I hope not). And in the end LW1, I think it boils down to this: you had a plan and never considered that your boyfriend might have other ideas or change his mind. I'm not saying he handled things right; if at any point he realised he was mad at you or wanted out, he should have used his words like a grown up, but we all make mistakes. He doesn't matter now, and clinging onto the anger as though he still matters is the problem you have to deal with now, not thinking about what he did and why and why you didn't see it coming.

The lesson I would take from this is that age old thing, that we should really all learn from the age of about 12: the only person you can control is yourself. You had a plan for how things were going to work, and he didn't stick to the plan, and that's what's bugging you. But plans involving other people don't tend to work out if you aren't flexible. If he decided to go travelling (and really, what is wrong with that? He's an adult, who saw you having fun in another place and wanted to try it for himself. Who are you to tell him that it's 'excessive'?), that's up to him. If he decided he no longer saw a future with you, it doesn't reflect on you. It sucks and it hurts, but you couldn't have done anything to stop it. A friend of mine passed on a very wise piece of advice which I love: 'Don't try to stop the sea. Just learn to love the sound of each wave, no two the same'. Life sometimes really really sucks, but holding on to pain that you really cannot control, trying to fight it or explain it away, will eat you up. [OMG, I may actually be the bead wearing life coach that Polly has recommended! :)]

I read with concern the part of your letter that said you have lost 'your future'. What does that mean? Do you mean that you saw your entire future with him? If so, why did you go away? I don't say this to be a troll; what I mean is, you yourself knew that he wasn't your entire future (you imagined him being a large part of it and now he won't be, and that's sad and you're entitled to feel sad about it), and you went off and had this amazing experience at college, you have learnt stuff and grown and developed all these ass kicking world-beating skills. Now you have a bit of a gap which was previously occupied by 'boyfriend' which you can go and fill with something new. Grasp that and run with it, you are free and young and educated, and nothing that happens today will likely be of any note in five years time, so just luxuriate in the awesomeness of being the only you there will ever be. Date yourself. *Find* yourself. Don't second guess yourself (what if I'd stayed! What if this, what if that!? You didn't stay, so thinking of what would have happened if you did is such a waste of energy). And yes, don't pretend everything is OK if it's not. Find a shoulder to cry on if that's what you need. Don't date, if you're not ready, date or sleep around if you feel like it. This is your life, and you can do whatever nourishes you, without having to worry if it fits 'the plan'.

And anyway, just stop trying to make 'plans' (I don't mean drift through life aimlessly if that's not what you want, but writing a script and being scared to change it when life throws curveballs, will *always* lead you down this same path of despair). Btw I am also in my 30s, single, trying to restart a career, so I am not trying to be all 'you youngsters, when you get to my age blah blah', I have that anxiety too sometimes. But until you are truly happy with the fact that *you* are the only person you will be with for the rest of your life, this feeling of fear, of 'running out of time' will eat away at your ability to feel joy.

Hollymole (#245,225)


Oh, honey, you are definitely the bead wearing life coach of which Polly spoke. Once you start talking about listening to the waves, well… I can see the moonlight glinting off your beads from here (which are very pretty, by the way…) Date yourself? That's classic bead-wearer talk. And usually always very good advice.

alphabet (#245,204)

@Hollymole Hmh yeah, it's possible I did get a little carried away there…:)

alphabet (#245,204)

Because I didn"t want my first Awl comment to be some kind of mega-essay (sorreeee!), I will also say that re LW2, I am also kind of confused by the assumptions going on. Unless Polly has some kind of longer version of the letter where it's categorically stated that the sister will require the parents to look after the child (rather than maybe live with them for a short time from 10 weeks on, which doesn't sound excessive after moving back into the country?), that the relationship that the sister is in is somehow doomed forever (OK, it doesn't look good, but it's still an assumption), or that the sister didn't in fact consider what she might do should she become pregnant, I can't find the part of the letter justifying why it's anyone's business what a *23* year old (23 is too young to make rational decisions now or realise what pregnancy and having a child might entail? What?) does with her body? I am as pro choice as they come, but seriously, big sister needs to stay out of little sister's uterus, big time. We also don't know how far along the sis is currently (/when the letter was written) – '10 weeks when she gets back home' could mean 'just peed on the stick and booked a flight'. Maybe I am splitting hairs here, but I think there is a lot being read into the letter which just isn't there.

All in all though, this letter isn't even really about the pregnancy. What LW2 is really asking is 'my girlfriend is being a control freak and kind of a jerk to her sister and I want to know if I should say something'. And the answer is yes, yes you should. But I don't necesarily agree this should take the form of agreeing with the girlfriend's viewpoint that is is somehow her place to try and change her sister's mind. If LW2 is starting to *avoid* her girlfriend because of the crying, then this is the kernel of the problem. I'm afraid it is time to sit her down and say 'yes, I know you are upset. However, I think you are letting this problem become too large, and it is starting to affect our relationship. Your sister is an adult, and the only job you have as her sister is to support her choices and support her in the event that your parents are asses about it. And I think this problem is about something deeper, that you should see a professional about' [side note, if presumably the socially conservative parents have got around big sis being in a long term lesbian relationship then they can handle a biracial grandchild out of wedlock (unless they are really specifically only massive racists, again not specified). Anyway, all this 'they're socially conservative and this will fuck shit up' is at best third hand via the big-sister-girlfriend-ask a stranger on the internet route, so I'm not sure we can be certain it's as big a deal as big sis is making out. Side-side-note, the assumption that a major driver for the sister to have the baby is to somehow deliberately spite her parents might be hands down the most offensive and racist thing I have read today]. The other job of the aunt-to-be, by the way, is to fucking LOVE THAT CHILD and if you like, knit it things, because once it is born I swear(/hope desperately) that all of this 'she's ruined her life' bullshit will fly out of the window. If sis has essentially made up her mind about keeping the baby, then the girlfriend *can't* (and shouldn't be trying to) control the situation, and is therefore essentially pushing big rocks up a hill and wasting precious knitting time, ffs :)

Man I waffle. Essentially, I think all the stuff about whether the 23 year old is in a position to have a child is at best moot as far as the actual letter is concerned, and at worst offensive on so many levels I don't even. Be supportive of your girlfriend, sure, but don't agree with her just to avoid setting her off. You are 50% of the relationship and if you are actively avoiding her because of her meltdown, then you have *got* to set that boundary even if it means saying 'we disagree and I'm no longer going to be your sympathetic ear on this particular issue'. I agree that should also be accompanied by 'get thee to a therapist' because this seems to be triggering something huge in the girlfriend that's entirely out of proportion to the problem. But again, the job of LW2 is not to enable her gf's feelings of despair, but encourage her to find a healthy way to deal with them, including putting a foot down where it starts to creep into relationship-damaging territory.

Don'tcallmeJenny (#245,210)

@alphabet:I absolutely agree with you. This woman's behavior (LWs girlfriend) is completely self destructive and harmful and right now she's being a self centered jackass when what her sister really needs is love and support. Honestly, I would tell the LW to perhaps give her girlfriend some real talk about how her behavior is affecting their life together and see how that plays out. And if the answer is not well, I would advise LW to run fast and far because if this is how out of control she gets when it's her sister, imagine how completely fucked you are going to be when you guys have your own drama to sort and you can't get her to stop weeping long enough to be an equal partner.

alphabet (#245,204)

@Don'tcallmeJenny Seriously. Every second she's not at work, until 1am? That is not a reasonable response to someone making a decision you don't like. I see it as a red flag for the LW too, but hope that given she says they otherwise communicate well, might give girlfriend the benefit of the doubt that this is just some weirdly specific family/parents/sister/babies dynamic that she can work through. I agree that if the gf reacts badly, or if the LW has a think and realises that there have in fact been other issues where she's gone the appeasement route for fear of setting off some overreaction, then problems in the relationship may lie ahead.

starfish (#245,226)

@alphabet I can understand why the sister might be freaking out so much. These parents raised, then presumably at some level, rejected her (for being gay… I'm assuming that racist and homophobic are two little peas in a pod). So, here she sees her sister with an unstable and vulnerable situation, about to subject generation two to the same thing that they had to endure… ie. not unconditional love. She is probably totally empathizing, at some level, with the innocent little unborn kid, who is about to (sister fears, not unreasonably but hopefully at least a little unnecessarily, let's pray) be subjected to that same rejection (and perhaps sense of shame or unworthyness).

It's like watching an accident that you've already lived thru, and survived (and been damaged by) happen right in front of you again, and you're just kind of watching in horror with no way to prevent it and a fuck-ton on unresolved feelings and wounds that still have not completely healed. That's a freaking nightmare. Of course, what's different this time around is that the two sisters are presumably not going to reject the essential spirit of this child, whatever color, whatever sexual preference. But she feel scared knowing her sister isn't in a strong place, and that they were both once vulnerable innocents at the mercy of their parents who were not (is what I'm super big time getting here) lovely awesome people who will love and support their children (/grandchildren) no matter what race or sexual orientation. Big Sis is grieving all right, but what she is probably grieving about is her own childhood, and how she was subjected to this psyche-damaging rejection.

However, this new-to-the-world child upcoming is not the cause of this grief. That is only what is causing it to come to the surface. In this way, actually, this child could be bringing a blessing before it's even being born, by allowing the Big Sis to work thru some of these issues. If they can do this, GF and Big Sis could actually grow and grow closer, as a result of this childhood/family stuff coming to the surface. Yes, it's often easier when it's buried deep, but it's healthy to get it out and deal with it, that way you aren't lugging around all that heavy baggage around with you all the time. So, I'm wishing desolate inconsolable Big Sis, and frayed-nerves GF tons of luck in working thru this, rather than both of them shutting down, to some extent because they don't have a handle on what's really going on. This is about Big Sis, and GF is involved with Big Sis, and that means trying to help you SO as much as you can to "work thru their shit" (but definitely not to just stay mired in it – it's better to just go for a walk or get some distance and stay healthy yourself, rather than go down a co-dependence hole).

Don'tcallmeJenny (#245,210)

@starfish I think you are also reading WAY too much into the letter. No where does LW2 indicate that Big sis was rejected by her parents. She doesn't even state that this baby would be rejected or subjected to bad treatment–rather that she believes Big and Lil' Sis's parents will be "weird" (whatever broad thing that means).

Fuck, my parents are conservative christian white folks, but they never gave me, my (now)husband or our child any weirdness about the fact that I had a baby out of wedlock with a Jew that we are raising atheist. And it was definitely something I was concerned about. Parents tend to do bizarre things that go against their supposed "moral code" when it's their children or grandchildren involved and we simply do not have enough facts in this situation to make the case that Big Sis is suffering from some deep, hidden emotional trauma relating to her parents treatment of her coming out.

Don'tcallmeJenny (#245,210)

Polly: I think you have maybe some of your own issues that you are attaching to LW2s letter because your answer reads like you have some hidden agenda that the rest of us are not privvy too. *Maybe* your advice to the LW was ok (though not the advice I would give), but your beat down of the woman's sister is just so completely out of left field and quite frankly not at all pertinent to what the LW was asking.

TrilbyLane (#1,318)

I find both advices very mired in judgment. LW1 needs to let her ex go and deal with the fact he changed his mind about her, not write him off as a dick who's inevitably headed for divorce. Who's to say the friend's little sister isn't the love of his life? She's better off, but because he didn't want to stay with her, not because she's amazing and he's hopeless. He had the right to end the relationship.

And why shouldn't LW2's girlfriend's sister be encouraged and supported to raise her baby without all this talk of rage, regret and sorrow? She's 23, not 13. It's been done before. His girlfriend should gets some counselling over whatever this has triggered in her, and be nice to her sister. No-one's life is over.

Moine (#245,244)

I feel like I can identify with where LW1 is coming from, having been in a similar situation myself. I support Heather's response because, while it might not be particularly charitable towards the man in question, she's right to point out that this man would likely not have made her happy due to his evident insecurity and poor communication skills. She should keep in mind that its likely that these same issues will recur in his new relationship, especially once the honeymoon-new-relationship phase wears off.

And she really just needs to stop romanticizing her past life.

Jolly (#245,185)

@Moine But is that really what she needs to keep in mind? That his relationships are going to fail? That seems unhealthy to me. To me it would seem that what she needs to keep in mind is anything but him, or if that isn't possible, at least the fact that him and his relationships and his future and the imaginary future she had with him has absolutely nothing to do with her life anymore. It doesn't matter if his messup with her is a pattern, or one series of bad decisions he's learned from and will take lessons from to his new relationship. Because right now, what she needs is to be free of thinking about ANY of it.

I guess if she needs to believe he is horrible and will be forever horrible to everyone in order to get herself over the hump, maybe that is fine. But I think the main point/long-term goal should be to NOT think about him, period, even if all she would be thinking is how much he sucks and how bad he's going to fail.

voltogen19 (#245,295)

Not to mention that parenting of any kind is not for sissies.

1278995834@twitter (#247,411)

Hello every body, my name is natasha from uk ,and i really just want to let you all know that having a broken heart is not an easy thing, but no matter how bad your situation may be, i want to let you all know that there is a way to get your ex chasing you around again wanting to be with you, because this is exactly what i did when my boyfriend left me for someone else and i am happy today cause he is back. was were i got the chance to get my boyfriend back and i will also want you all to give it a try

Jelena (#253,103)

I'm really sorry but you choose to pursue your career over a man. And you made your own choice, nobody made you do that. You say it was your dream but was he ever a part of your dreams? Do you understand what I'm trying to say? Relationships are not one-sided and as much as a person can be supportive if you're not present than there's no relationship. Once you realize that maybe you'll stop acting like a victim. You need to take responsibility for your life and accept that for actions you take come consequences. You put it right — 'if only I'd valued what I had instead of chasing a life that wasn't mine'.

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