#1186: “How do I rebuild trust in my relationship?”

Hi Captain Awkward,

My partner [26M] and I have been together for about 6 months. We both genuinely love each other, and have been telling each other that we love each other for the last few months; but some recent events have led me to reconsider how seriously committed he is to the relationship, and how much I can trust him.

All of this started about two months into our relationship, when he invited me to his roommate’s brunch at his apartment. He introduced me to a friend of his at the brunch, let’s call her Sophie. It was immediately obvious to me that they shared some sort of a romantic history, for the following reasons: 1) Sophie felt comfortable flirting with him in front of me, 2) she wouldn’t make eye contact with me when we were all engaged in a conversation together, and 3) she made a rude joke about me during this three-way conversation that was frankly quite demeaning (accusing me of being afflicted by a psychological syndrome). I didn’t say anything to my partner at the time because we just started dating two months prior (and I didn’t want to come off as jealous/possessive/controlling), and we hadn’t officially talked about being boyfriend-girlfriend yet (although other events at the brunch sparked the wonderful conversation which resulted in us making it official, two days later). So I decided to brush it off.

Fast-forward about two months later. My boyfriend kept inviting me to parties/get-togethers that Sophie was throwing, and I kept declining. (I gave excuses, but I should’ve been forthright about the fact that I didn’t want to go to an event with someone who I suspected he shared a past with, and who felt comfortable flirting with him in front of me). He ended up going to her birthday party one night. When he came to my apartment later that night, I finally built up the nerve to confront him about whether or not they shared a past. He said yes. Here are the many red flags that popped up during my partner’s recounting of said party:

At this party, her and her friends filmed a movie reenactment, including a scene where my partner kneels down on one knee, grabs Sophie’s hand and kisses it tenderly. My partner showed me this video with pride and laughter once he arrived at my apartment later that night. Important note: Although there were many parts to this video (approx. 7), which all appeared on Sophie’s Insta story that same night, the only part of that story that she *permanently posted to her public Instagram profile* was the video of my partner kissing her hand.

My boyfriend revealed to me that they spoke at the party about their (almost) romantic past (they went on a date and almost hooked up once on a separate occasion, but they never pursued anything because Sophie was “interested in something casual” and he was “interested in something more.”).

Sophie asked him if he “made me his girlfriend yet”, to which he said yes; which was followed by “are you two exclusive?”. When my partner said that we were indeed exclusive, he explicitly reported that Sophie reacted in a “disappointed way”.

Just before my partner left the party, Sophie grabbed his phone and sent me a selfie of the two of them together (despite my not knowing her? It was strange.).

Breach of trust #1: Not telling me about his romantic past with this “friend” of his before inviting me to multiple events that she was throwing

After this all happened, my partner and I had a long conversation about boundaries. I explained to him that it makes me uncomfortable to be around people he shares a romantic history with; and that, because I’m the kind of person that prefers to remove myself from situations where I feel uncomfortable, I *need* to know this information before making a fully-informed decision about whether or not I want to show up to a social event with said person. (I can’t very well tell him who and who not to be friends with; all I can do is decide where I want to go and who I feel comfortable surrounding myself with). I also explained that Sophie’s behaviour was especially problematic, because she feels comfortable actively flirting with someone who she knows is in a relationship (not to mention– flirting with someone who is in a relationship [my bf] *in front of* the person they’re dating [me]).

At the time I thought the conversation went really well. My boyfriend was receptive to what I was feeling and saying, acknowledged that Sophie was indeed flirting with him, and promised to tell me in the future when invited to a social event if someone he shares a romantic history with would also be there. Everything seemed to be going well until the last couple of weeks, especially until last Sunday…

Some context is in order here: my grandmother passed away two weeks ago, and her funeral was last Saturday. I also found out that I was pregnant the morning of last Sunday (I’m getting an abortion). I was out of town for the last two weeks to help with the funeral and such, and during this time my boyfriend fell into radio silence. We did speak every now and again, but he was far from supportive during this time. Even worse, when the test came out positive, he waited three hours before contacting me; and when he did, he didn’t even acknowledge that the test was positive.

Okay, back to the main narrative: on Sunday afternoon, I received a notification that I was invited to my boyfriend’s birthday party. I checked the invite list, only to find that Sophie had already clicked “going” on the event.

Breach of trust #2: Invited Sophie to his birthday party (which indirectly uninvited me) *despite* me telling him that being around Sophie makes me feel really uncomfortable [context adding insult to injury here as well].

I was pretty devastated to say the least (and especially, in the context of grieving the loss of my grandmother and having to deal with an unwanted pregnancy). I called him that night to explain to him why I felt hurt, disrespected, and disappointed. I explained that I would not be attending his birthday party, because his inviting Sophie indirectly uninvited me. I explained that this shouldn’t be a surprise to him, because we had a conversation explicitly about this and explicitly about her. I explained to him that I was hurt because he was prioritizing his relationship with Sophie over his relationship with me. (I can go into more detail about the conversation we had in the comments section if need be).

Anyways he apologized, and went so far as to cancel his birthday party (which I thought was a bit drastic, but OK it’s his decision). He’s since seemed to *actually* realize how inappropriate Sophie’s behaviour was, and has admitted that “he didn’t want to see the bad side of her behaviour when I first brought it up because he likes to see the best in people.”

Breach of trust #3: Less than a week after the birthday party fiasco, after I explicitly asked him not to tell his two male friends about the pregnancy, he told them anyways. He (again!) apologized after the fact, but this is another installment in a set of trust breaches that has sounded two many alarm bells in my mind.

Part of me thinks that my boyfriend is actually interested in Sophie, and that’s why he’s been enabling her flirtatious behaviour all of this time (despite saying multiple times that he isn’t interested). But part of me also knows that I’m thinking these thoughts because I have lost trust in him, and I don’t know how to rebuild that trust. I’ve had a conversation with him about open communication, teamwork, and honesty in relationships since BOT #3. A huge part of me, the “pessimistic” side I guess, still doesn’t believe that he’s going to put in the effort to change his behaviour and to become more trustworthy a boyfriend. That’s why I’m here… for advice on how to think and how to act going forward in this situation. I’ll provide more details in the comment section if need be, don’t feel shy! Thanks all in advance.

Sincerely,

A Confused 23yr old she/her

Hi Confused and 23!

I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandmother, how upsetting on top of everything else.

Here are some big things I’m seeing in your letter:

  • You’ve only known this person for six months.
  • He is not careful with your feelings. 
  • Whenever there is a situation where he could choose to respect your wishes, he…forgets…what they are?
  • When there is a stressful life thing that you are tackling, instead of supporting you, he…ignores…you? Gotta be honest, “There was a death in my family and the person I’m in love with responded with ‘radio silence'” is not what comes to mind when I think about what the Great Loves Of One’s Life might look like.
  • He apologizes, but he doesn’t learn. He handles conflict by telling you what you want to hear in the moment and then doing exactly what he said he wouldn’t do.
  • You’ve only known this person for six months and, whatever his many fine and attractive qualities might be, we already know that he is not great at boundaries, not great at respecting (or even remembering) your wishes, not great at preserving your privacy, not great at showing up for you, and he continually seeks the company of someone who aggressively flirts with him and who blatantly tries to squeeze you out of the picture.

Even if we assume your boyfriend always acts with the best intentions and genuinely doesn’t mean to upset you, there is a kind of cluelessness and clumsiness that is indistinguishable from malice. The word that keeps coming to mind is “feckless.” At minimum, this guy is feckless. At minimum. He’s also evasive? Slippery? Conveniently forgetful?

As I see it, there is one person besides you in this situation who is being entirely transparent and consistent in their behaviors and intentions. Unfortunately, that person is Sophie (whose video/Instagram trick/text message trick should win some kind of Captain Obvious Award for Attempted Dramatic Annexation, truly that is next level work).

I know that cutting this dude loose feels like letting Sophie “win,” and that feels unfair, but I also think the right partner(s) for you in the future are going to be people who can see through antics like hers and be straightforward about all of it. What you need and deserve is a partner who can say (to you) “Yeah, Sophie had a thing, or we almost did, she can be really blatant like that, I’m so sorry, that was a gross thing to do and I’m sorry I participated in any of it, and I definitely should have warned you” and say (to Sophie) “Look, your interest is flattering and maybe if we’d figured this out way back when we could have had something, but that moment passed long ago. I’m happy and in love, so back off, and if you’re supposedly my friend you must stop being rude and weird to my girlfriend!” then also skip inviting her to things for a while.

Not because you’re some caricature of a controlling girlfriend who polices your partner’s friendships, but because if you correctly sense that something is complicated or “off” with a particular friendship, your theoretical future partner should have enough emotional intelligence to register when the “Sophies” of the world are NOT acting like friends and when everybody could benefit from some space and time to regroup into their best selves.

As mentioned often in this space, I don’t think people have to be friends with exes or past hookups or people where there’s been a strong pull or possibility, or that everyone should even try.  But people certainly can, when it’s been possible for me it’s frankly outstanding, and I know from experience that people with complicated histories and longings actually can go on to have healthy and awesome interactions someday. Want to know what makes any of that possible? First, it’s honesty, but not JUST honesty, not the kind that’s like “Of course the Fae can’t lie in response to direct questions, so I just made sure you never asked me any” or the kind that’s like “Well I didn’t technically lie, I just didn’t happen to mention it, but ok, you’re right, when you mentioned it I did technically act like the whole idea was ridiculous, but come on, when you finally dragged it out of me I told the truth, you can’t be mad! I was honest!” I’m talking actual honesty, honesty that is forthright and respectful, honesty that gives you the information you need to consent.

Making friendships-with-history work also involves a shared adult understanding that “friend” isn’t just a word we use as catch-all for people who we don’t want to fuck at this exact present moment, like once you say that word everyone in your life is just supposed to go “Oh, the lady who directed a short film on her birthday primarily so that you would have to kiss her and then weaponized that clip against your girlfriend using both social media and text and then kept asking you if you and your girlfriend were ‘really together’ is Just A Friend, cool, yeah, it’s obviously unfair for anyone to have reservations about that, carry on.” The more I think about this incident, the more ridiculous it seems. You’re 23, everyone in your story is probably pretty young, but you’re not “This is an episode of Glee and we’re trying to get to regionals” young, are you really supposed to fall for the “let’s put on a play, it’s all innocent fun!” gambit? No.

More generally, if you start dating someone new and their social circle is teeming with exes and unfinished business and hushed conversations and you leave every gathering with a strange feeling like “Am I imagining this or is partner’s ‘friend’ I just met trying to undermine me in some weird way?” consider: Is this a) a cool new relationship or b) the setting for a trashy vampire novel? No shade against trashy vampire novels, some of my best reads are trashy vampire novels and some of my best friends are trashy vampire novels waiting to happen, but haven’t we all met That Person, the one who is only friends with people they want to sleep with (or used to sleep with or almost slept with but didn’t…yet), the ones who look you in the eye and reassure you that all these people are “just friends” and “don’t be jealous, darling,” and maybe they never actually do cheat on you during the actual time you technically agree to be exclusively together, but the  possibility is always there, watchful, communicating only in in-jokes and“Oh, nobody you’d know,” hugging too long and smelling each other’s hair and most/worst of all reminding you that should your needs ever get too needful or your boundaries get too fence-like, your charismatic new love interest has other options. I think there are people who thrive on this kind of thing and I wish them well in life but holy shit do I wish I had learned to spot them earlier than I did. They make for interesting bedfellows but not comfortable ones, you can get shredded right in front of them by their so-called “friends” and never be certain they even noticed the blade. You’d be surprised how much damage someone can do without any of it ever being precisely their fault.

Or maybe you wouldn’t, Letter Writer, since it’s only been six months since you met your boyfriend, you are unhappily pregnant, reasonably jealous & suspicious, grieving, your privacy has been hung out to dry by a person who is supposed to make things easier and better for you and who was told, clearly, with words, exactly what you needed. And on top of it, he’s avoiding your texts. You’ve lost your trust in him for a reason and you asked me how to rebuild it, but I can’t in good conscience tell you anything that is likely to work. You weren’t the one who broke the trust that was forming between you and frankly, you’re powerless to fix it. He’s the one who would have to do the work, he’s the one who would have to continually demonstrate growth and trustworthiness and learning. You could of course pretend that everything you experienced didn’t happen the way it did, you could try your best to create a fictional dreamworld where you let him start over from scratch, like a snow globe that you can shake and reset, shake and reset, one you clasp with increasingly white knuckles as you keep hoping that he’ll rise the occasion for fucking once in his life. Even then, he’d have to, idk, text you back?

The heartbreak of it is that you love him. The heartbreak of it is that maybe he will grow up and improve, with enough chances, maybe he means it, maybe he wants to do better. And if you break up now, you’ll never know. That hurts, and I’ll never tell you that hurt isn’t real, that the grief we feel when we love someone who isn’t right for us and choose to let them go doesn’t matter. What I will tell you: It passes. It heals.

I’ll also tell you that you are too precious and lovely, you are worth far too much for me to advise you to bet any more of your irreplaceable time on someone who has been so careless with you.

In closing, my actual recommendations are these:

  • Break up with this guy, grieve for what might have been and what you felt for him, but let him go. “This isn’t working, let’s break up” is a useful script, maybe the less said the better right now.
  • Surround yourself with true and trustworthy friends. Hopefully one of them can hold your hand before and after your upcoming medical procedure* that sounds to me like a very wise and useful and good way to take care of yourself right now. May that all go extremely smoothly.
  • Thoroughly filter and block off your social media so that when the inevitable news of your ex and Sophie celebrating their instant rebound with their Instacart groceries braising in their Instant Pot on lands on Instagram it won’t even be a blip.
  • Be very, very good to yourself.

*Moderation Note & Policy Reminder:

I am allowing comments on this post, as I think people will have lots of valuable insights on trust and breakups for the Letter Writer and it’s been a while since we’ve had a good “Disappointing People And How To Dump Them” thread. I thought about deleting the abortion information from the letter to make this all easier on myself, but screw that, Letter Writers and community members are allowed to talk about abortion as the routine, sensible medical procedures they are without apology and without dealing with a creepy onslaught of stranger-feelings or debate club antics.

I assume it’s clear by now that I think that people who can become pregnant should have safe, free, convenient, frictionless access to every possible avenue to make their own medical and reproductive decisions, but in case that was somehow unclear: The official policy of Captain Awkward Dot Com is that abortion is good and useful.

If your personal ethics or beliefs prohibit abortion, I support your choice to never have one! You’re the boss of you and your body and your situation, nobody gets to yell at you about your private medical choices. I’ll even throw in doing whatever I can to vote for and advocate for policies that make pregnancy and the choice to be a parent more affordable, safer, and more possible for everyone in my country who wants to choose that path.

Still, let me be absolutely clear: You are the boss of your body and nobody else’s. I am the boss of this website and I do not have to hear out “both sides.” Attempts to persuade the Letter Writer about her medical care or “debate” reproductive rights, comments that have even the merest whiff of being weird and overly interested in that aspect of things will be deleted, though you should feel absolutely free to share your thoughts here, where they’ll do (me) some good.

In closing, please keep comments kind, focused, and on-topic (The topic is handling disappointing people who break your trust. Do you break up? Anybody got a good story for something that actually worked to rebuild the relationship?). Thank you, and love to the Letter Writer and all who are jumpstarting this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations by cutting loose unworthy boyfriends in order to focus on World Peace.

 

March 9: Comments are closed! Thank you!

 

 

 

362 comments
  1. I think I was this guy once (not the lying/ignoring needs part, but the “female friends primarily made through romance” part). Everyone should have broken up with me. (And mostly they did.)

    You should break up with him. I am sorry he’s treating you this way.

    • TrixM said:

      Well, I am still that person in a way – most of my closest friends are exes. To be honest, I would forget most of the time to mention that fact to any new partners if we go to hang out. It’s not a secret, it’s just “most of my friends” means I don’t explicitly think about it much – I tend to have a pretty early conversation about the zillions of exes in my life for that reason. And, once I got through my 20s, I finally realised that I’m into open relationships, and sometimes the boundary between friends/lovers is “fuzzy”.

      BUT. My exes are EXES. Ok, maybe there’s some weird shit between us for a while after we break up (like most breakups), but when it’s done, it’s really DONE. For friends I haven’t done the deed with, but might, there’s no way in hell I would behave in the same way that this dude does with this woman in front of anyone I’m currently in a relationship with (my very open, “you can shag who you want” relationship). Denying, obfuscating, all that crap.

      Yes, maybe there might be some light teasing or flirting, but only where my current partner knows the score, and not to the extent it would be in the slightest bit uncomfortable and excluding of them. (One of the things I actually enjoy about open relationships is when two people I have a current thing or some “history” with gang up on me for a bit of teasing… but only if we ALL enjoy it.)

      I sure as hell would not continue to enable this woman to blatantly and publicly disrespect and undermine my current relationship and partner, which this guy is doing. As for HER, her behaviour is unbelievable and utterly shameless.

      Yes, dump this guy. Not because he’s got some weird thing with an “ex”. But because he’s got some weird thing with this woman, full stop, he’s enabling it, he’s allowing his partner to be disrespected, he’s allowing this horrible human being to be in his life, and he’s being totally unsupportive of the other stuff going on in the OP’s life. To be honest, when I read that last bit, I was not surprised at his behaviour in the least. It’s much more fun when two women are “fighting” over him. It must be boring when actual difficult reality intrudes.

  2. ShadowAngel said:

    I have no actual advice, just the offer of Jedi hugs and emotional support for this situation. How is your Team You? Especially with the combined emotional whammy of a dead grandma, a surprise unwanted pregnancy, and relationship problems, you need that Team You in your corner.
    For at least the abortion component, I know at least one local group in my area has offered emotional buffers/temporary Team You services to accompany women, act as a buffer in case of protestors, and just be a hand to hold through the procedure. If your general Team You might not be able to make it or might bring their own thoughts and opinions in too much, this is a potential route to look into for support with that element.

    • Thanksforallthefish said:

      This right here! You are going through a lot right now. It’s awful to feel so disapointed by the person who should be most in your corner. You deserve so much better.

    • Kaos said:

      Absolutely. I do escort services for PP from time to time. It doesn’t drown them out, but at least it gives a somewhat physical buffer plus moral support.

  3. Charlene said:

    LW, your boyfriend might not be interested in Sophie *as a girlfriend* but he is showing every sign of appreciating her attentions. A man who was as devoted to you as you seem to be to him would have shut Sophie down long before now.

    That said, his disappearing act around your grandmother’s funeral and your unwanted pregnancy are far more troubling than his refusal to ditch his boundary-busting ego prop. He is telling you by his actions that he is bad at emotionally supporting others, that he will let his partner twist in the wind rather than feel bad about anything. He is not a deep person, nor is he worthy of your trust. You can’t build trust with a partner who only wants the good times.

    • RNL said:

      Yes, I agree with all of this. When I got to the grandmother’s funeral and pregnancy part of the letter I thought “oh, LW, you buried the lede”. Or perhaps even more so “oh, LW, this guy has got you so twisted up that you are accepting far less than you deserve”.

      Sophies are going to Sophie. But it takes two to tango. Your boyfriend is not being respectful of you and your feelings in this regard, at all. My husband had an attempted Sophie when we were dating and when her game became clear she disappeared from our lives for while until they were able to re-make a friendship that was respectful of our relationship (and when I say a while I mean like several years).

      LW, I think you are so careful about not being manipulative or demanding or setting ultimatums that you are doing yourself and your boundaries a disservice. He can be friends with whomever he wants, but a partner should be someone you can trust to be friends with people in a way that does not hurt you. This guy is indeed very very bad at emotionally supporting you.

      Sending some love your way, LW. This is a hard time.

    • I’d honestly hoped he would have shut Sophie down when she’d made that rude joke about LW’s mental health! That was a yellow flag, at the very least.

      Also, yes, a boyfriend who won’t emotionally support his partner? Dealbreaker.

    • Lil Fidget said:

      Yes, I had to realize at some stage that even if the boyfriends of the world aren’t actively causing the drama, they are probably passively inviting it because they enjoy the attention, they’re getting something out of the drama or the feeling of being wanted by two lovely ladies, and it’s some kind of ego boost for them. If they didn’t feel that way, there are a hundred ways they could choose to shut this down. They are actively choosing to not choose to do that.

      • Stayce said:

        Right!? The LW is showing so much more maturity and emotional intelligence than her boyfriend. BF has a passive aggressive ‘friend’ who is trying to create some kind of love triangle? LW decides her (reasonable!) boundaries, clearly explains them to the BF, and then sticks to them. She is not the one creating all the drama and tension here. LW, jedi hugs if you want them. I am so sorry your boyfriend is not being a good partner to you, you deserve to be treated better. I hope you have a support system (friends family, therapist, spiritual counselor, whatever) who has your back more than this dude does. We are all rooting for you.

      • Me said:

        There are lots of combinations that produce this sort of situation – there’s the people (men and women) who actively like having people fighting for their affection and feeling insecure, the ones who passively like it (they aren’t encouraging it, but enjoy the result), the ones that are monumentally clueless and really don’t notice, the ones that notice but are really bad at setting boundaries. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. What matters is

        – the behaviour of Sophie and the LW’s boyfriend makes the LW uncomfortable

        – she has spoken to her boyfriend and he claimed to be supportive and willing to act, but his subsequent actions have been inconsiderate and made things worse

        That’s really all the information she needs to make a decision. She can accept that Sophie and her boyfriend have a thing and will continue to have a thing and she just has to put up with it, or she can decide that she deserves better, break up with him, mourn the relationship and move on.

        And that’s without getting into the boyfriend’s other behaviour showing that he’s not someone she can trust or depend on.

        Ultimately, you can only build (or rebuild) trust in a relationship when people are willing to be trustworthy.

      • myswtghst said:

        “there are a hundred ways they could choose to shut this down”

        This is really important. Even if someone is non-confrontational and doesn’t know how to approach their “Sophie” directly, there are many, many ways to improve the situation for the LW, and the boyfriend has instead chosen to continually choose the approach that makes things worse.

      • Atomic Cowgirl said:

        That was my ex. He had multiple women – “friends,” ex girlfriends, etc, all of whom flirted with them. One married friend kept insisting to me they were just friends and it didn’t mean anything, later it turns out she was in love with him and wanted to leave her husband for him, ew. My ex needed the attention and the ego boost these women gave him, and me being jealous seemed to be something he used to validate his self worth. I married him anyway, and as you can imagine, it didn’t last.

    • I do think it’s possible for two people to have legitimately different ideas of what constitutes a big deal when it comes to past relationships or ongoing flirtation. If I were two months into a relationship that wasn’t yet even exclusive, it wouldn’t automatically occur to me to tell my partner in advance about someone I’d gone on one date with, even if they were a friend of mine. Likewise, I don’t think it’s automatically wrong for two friends to have a flirty vibe and enjoy a kind of slightly charged attention from each other, and not think of it as anything more than that. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have malicious intentions or aren’t devoted to their partners.

      That said, I’m not giving the boyfriend a pass on his behavior – I’ll buy that he wasn’t actively trying to get away with anything, but he should have given more consideration to the LW’s feelings once they established that they clearly were in Camp Big Deal.

      I’m with you, though, on that second paragraph. Unplanned pregnancies and grief *are* pretty automatically A Thing for the people going through them (and, uh, pregnancies don’t happen by themselves – it’s his Thing to go through too here). Someone who up and vanishes when you’re going through that has no excuse.

      • Working Hypothesis said:

        My biggest issue with Boyfriend’s response to Sophie (and FWIW I think you’re entirely right that his *real* biggest issue is the vanishing act he pulls whenever LW is in a time of serious trial and needs support, but I’m sticking to the Sophie issues for the moment) is that he allows Sophie to behave badly to LW without speaking up and saying, “Hey! That is Not Cool, Sophie. This is someone I care about, and you will not talk to her that way, or you will not be my friend; take your pick.” It’s not really about the flirty vibe, though the fact that he’s being flirty *with somebody who is treating his partner badly* is a strong sign that he is not in LW’s corner… the big deal is that Sophie is mistreating LW and Boyfriend isn’t choosing to stop her.

        • Oh, absolutely. As I said, something can be just fine in one context and a major nope in another, and once you’ve established that you’re in that second category you don’t get to fall back on “but I’m not OBJECTIVELY wrong here”.

      • correcthorsebatterystaple said:

        I definitely had a different idea of how this letter was going to go based on the beginning, since I think a lot of the Sophie stuff just comes down to different ideas about what’s “acceptable” behavior/contact with someone your SO has had feelings for, plus general conflict-avoidance that’s all about figuring out how to manage your friendships as a 20-something. Then it took a hard turn with the pregnancy and grief piece. You can’t simultaneously be an important part of someone’s life and also think it’s acceptable to ignore those events (ESPECIALLY if you were partly responsible for the pregnancy happening).

    • Even if he hadn’t carried on with Sophie the way he had, what kind of boyfriend disappears when their girlfriend’s grandmother dies?? Even if he was just her friend that wouldn’t have been cool.

      • Amy said:

        This! It almost doesn’t matter at this point that he’s failing to shut Sophie down; even if he completely shaped up on that front, the rest of his behavior is still shouting that he doesn’t care enough about OP to even try to be a decent partner for her. I get the sense that he likes the convenience of having a girlfriend, and he likes the ego boost of having someone care a lot about him (and also of Sophie’s new jealousy), but he doesn’t actually like OP herself so much as he likes having someone (anyone) filling those roles.

        OP, someone who cares about you might not automatically have all the same boundaries around things like flirting with friends that you have. But they will do a couple key things. First, they will listen when you tell them what you needs are, and they will do their level best to make sure those things happen. And second, they will be there when you’re having a hard time, to the absolute best of their ability–and if they absolutely can’t, then they’ll explain that, they won’t just avoid you and ignore what’s going on. I feel pretty comfortable saying that someone who doesn’t do those things doesn’t really care about you.

      • JMegan said:

        I was thinking the same. That alone would be a dealbreaker for me, even giving him the Benefit of the Doubt and Best Intentions and so on for the Sophie situation – which I’m not, but even so.

        The fact that he disappeared off the face of the earth during a time that the LW was grieving, and when anyone with half an ounce of empathy would have concluded that she probably needed some support – yeah, no. Not okay. Everything in the letter is not okay, but this is the part in particular that would have me flipping him the middle finger and taking back my spare keys.

        LW, if you enjoy angry breakup songs, I recommend “Losing Grip” by Avril Lavigne. Also, I wish you lots of love and support and a soft landing after the chaos of these last few months. You have so much going on right now.

      • I hate changing my passwords said:

        yes, yes, yes, this guy has got to go — no one who acts the way he did about the grandma loss and the pregnancy is worth keeping in your life for another minute — this would be horrible if he were a random *friend*!! and he’s supposed to be her PARTNER!

        What does “I love you” even mean if he won’t support you at a funeral or honor your privacy around your pregnancy! I really can’t stand it.

    • Tim Tam Girl said:

      The last paragraph, so hard. The Sophie bullshit is bullshit (extremely painful bullshit, I’m not dismissing that, but still just… bullshit), and if he otherwise behaved in honourable and supportive ways, I’d be open to the possibility that this was some lingering immaturity that he could overcome. But ditching you around two massive, back-to-back life events during which any reasonable human in your life would offer you care and support? Fuck that noise.

      • Cherries in the Snow said:

        What really gets me as well is that this unwanted pregnancy is 50% HIS RESPONSIBILITY. He didn’t even acknowledge it, he ghosted LW, he isn’t there for her at all, and he blabbed about it to his buddies. This isn’t just something the LW is supposed to face and deal with alone—it’s HIS responsibility to be there, talking about options, supporting the abortion, *cough* PAYING FOR HALF OF THE ABORTION, etc. He’s done none of that. At that point, I would never be able to trust him again, or look at him with anything but thinly veiled contempt.

        • Cathy said:

          All that, yes. I was part of a religious denomination with a 4% divorce rate in which men were treated like puzzles to be solved and made whole by their wives. The bones I broke to wrap myself around my husband’s constant self-absorption (“opportunities for growth,” we loved to call everything from falling asleep during my labor to selling pot out of our home) are fault lines to this day. The man I’m with now would break his own bones to support and protect me (not that I’d ask him to), and seeing how a mature, empathetic person handles his relationship throws the old horseshit into sharp relief. Don’t cross oceans for someone who won’t jump a puddle for you. Get you someone you don’t have to beg to be kind.

          • Planegirl said:

            “Get you someone you don’t have to beg to be kind.”
            That, I think, is the nub of the issue here. Even if LW decided to stay with this guy, and keep using her words every time he did something thoughtless/fuckwitted etc, she would be having to manage his behaviour all. the. time. She would find herself repeatedly, day after day, having to ask to be treated like a human being. There is nothing so dehumanizing as that.
            LW, you are still young, and you deserve much better than this. There are good guys out there.

          • Jenz42 said:

            Truth! I used to think that as long as a relationship was only 49% horrible, that meant it was good! Because it was 51% okay! But I used to cry because of that guy every single day, and the last time my husband made me cry was when our air conditioner broke in August and the loaner window unit was listing backwards and he thought that was okay and I didn’t (the crying may also have been the result of overheated, exhausted misery).

    • goddessoftransitory said:

      Everything the LW said about Boyfriend smacked, to me, of a man who resented that fact that Sophie wasn’t into him the way he was into her back in the day, and now that Sophie is showing the green in her eyes, he’s reveling in the whole “crazy what you coulda had” vibe of The Ex Who Finally Realized What A Mistake She Made.

      I’m quite sure he wants LW around–consciously for relationship reasons, and subconsciously for the ego boost of watching Sophie dance around trying to get his attention now that he’s “taken.” He may not have the goal of hurting his current girlfriend but his method of dealing with the hurt he’s dealing out is “ignore/deny/minimize until she’s temporarily mollified.” He doesn’t want to give up the sweet, sweet idea that somebody actually wanted to be with him, that he is admired and wanted by two women. It’s the rock star syndrome writ small.

      • Neurite said:

        I suspect you’re spot-on there, goddessoftransitory.

        LW, if you do decided to cut this one loose, may I recommend as part of your post-breakup playlist* Dar Williams’ “As Cool As I Am”? It’s come up in comment sections here before and it’s really a lovely takedown of this kind of behavior in some dudes.

        *And dealing-with-fresh-grief and shock-of-finding-out-about-unwanted-pregnancy self-care playlist… so many Jedi hugs, LW, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all of this stuff.

      • neverjaunty said:

        This. And this is the best-case scenario.

      • hkenny said:

        And how much you wanna bet Sophie’s interest would wane as soon as he was available?

      • threejane said:

        ChumpLady calls that the “pick me” dance. Urgh.

    • Kaos said:

      Not to mention betraying her trust, against her explicit request to not tell his friends she is pregnant.

      • MsMildew said:

        This part bothers me because it would seriously upset me if I had a serious life issue that involved my partner, and they asked me not to talk to X, Y, and Z about it…but X, Y, and Z are my support system/team me/the people I talk about all my serious issues with. Boyfriend does not sound particularly mature or emotionally developed, but even so, he certainly has the right to speak about the issues in his life with whoever he chooses to process them with (and without a partner’s judgement of who he chooses as his support systems or how he handles his problems.)
        And you can’t say on one hand that “unwanted pregnancy is 50% BF’s problem he needs to help her with it!” (Which I 100% agree with) and also say that the pregnancy is OP’s private business and only SHE gets to choose who hears of it. If BF is equally responsible, then he has an equal right to be able to share it with whoever he wishes.

        • Kaos said:

          Except that it’s her uterus, her private medical condition, and blabbing to all and sundry puts her at potential risk of harassment at the very least.

          Plus let’s be honest here, this guy is not a “partner.” He is soneone hooking up eith LW while he weighs his options and basks in the “war” between LW and Sophie. He has done zero to earn the title “partner.” In fact he’s done pretty much everything opposite of that.

        • Yes, but he talked to his friends about it without providing her with any emotional support for it. This is a huge issue.

        • Anonyish said:

          He does – if he is equally responsible. But being responsible involves doing all the things that involve responsibility that he didn’t do, like respond to LW in the first place, and also to say to her that actually, he would like to talk to X because this is something he needs to process himself, too. And to assure himself first that X is someone who can be trusted with his girlfriend’s medical information, which is what sharing news of a pregnancy at this stage does. It is clear that Boyfriend did precisely none of those things, that he shared his girlfriend’s medical information in a casual way with his buddies while not giving a shit about supporting his girlfriend as she dealt with an unwanted pregnancy.

        • Jules the 3rd said:

          No, he gets to find appropriate means of support that don’t impact LW – a journal, a therapist. A variation of Ring Theory of comforting – LW is the center, he’s the next ring out, but he shouldn’t use support that short-circuits back to the center. He’s partially responsible, but it’s her body.

          • mara said:

            Exactly. My partner told me something incredibly personal, sad and upsetting recently. He said I was the 3rd person he’d ever told. Although I had my own feelings about it, it would be super inappropriate for me to tell anyone when he’d worked up the courage to trust me with this sensitive information. I processed it in a safe place, with my therapist, who helped me work through my feelings. LW’s partner sounds really emotionally immature and frankly needs to go.

        • GingerBaker said:

          ^100% agree that he has every right to discuss the pregnancy/abortion as part of his own emotional processing. I think a request can reasonably be made to not share this info with “everyone” but close confidants are another story. It’s unclear to me from the letter whether the two friends are “dude bros Boyfriend sees once a month to do shots with” or “close friends he has confided in before”, so I won’t go down that road of trying to guess whether it was inappropriate for LW to request, but as a general concept, I don’t think we can reasonably request anyone to not discuss their own information with close friends. The balance of privacy is difficult, though.

          • Sarah said:

            I think to me it’d be different if LW weren’t terminating, but given that that’s a choice that can come with a major amount of judgement and unfortunately seems to invite speculation about the person making that choice, this is the one situation where I could see it being a reasonable ask. Not to talk to nobody, but to talk to nobody who is not bound by some kind of confidentiality.

    • ZaraThustrA said:

      ITA that the pregnancy/death nonsupport is more troubling than any of the Sophie stuff. Honestly I’m wondering whether he hadn’t more or less course-corrected about Sophie until LW had Actual Real Problems that demanded he step up and be a supportive adult…which, whether due to immaturity, assholery or plain being overwhelmed, he has completely failed to do. Instead he’s flung himself backward in time, to his most immature friends & behaviors, and gotten closer to Sophie, who provides all the ego-boost of a girlfriend without him having to do a damn thing, because hey, she’s just a friend!

      In brief—Sophie sounds irritating, but Sophie is not the actual problem. The actual problem is that when LW’s needs called for him to step up, he failed to do so. At best, the guy’s not truly ready for an adult relationship. At worst, he’s an asshat. Either way, LW is better off walking away.

    • Celeste said:

      I’ve always thought that just appreciating the attention from someone else (or even the thrill of pursuit) is a big sign that the person isn’t interested in being settled down at that time. I feel like that is a helpful way to look at it. When people are ready to commit, they pretty much get it done. Wouldn’t it feel so good to have that, instead of…this?

  4. Sarah Ross said:

    I love the Captain’s advice about this. I know this is about a romantic relationship, but this holds true with friendships as well, or any social situation. People always have History and Context, but healthy relationships will be able to be honest about that. Trust your gut. Trashy Vampire Novels are fun to read but not to live through.

  5. doylist said:

    People draw very different lines on when and how and with whom flirtation is okay – and that’s okay! But to me it very much sounds like LW & boyfriend have very different boundaries around that issue, & if those boundaries are too far apart for them to comfortably compromise, they should go their separate ways.

    (Also, boyfriend should speak up, not be radio silent and then stealth go back to his old habits which make his current partner uncomfortable! Super uncool!)

    • What kills me about that is that he didn’t even go back to old habits stealthily. He invited Sophie to his birthday party publicly, in a forum where the LW could see it! He didn’t even try to hide it.

      • MsMildew said:

        OP says she would never tell BF who he can and can’t be friends with, and didn’t say he couldn’t invite her to the party, just to LET HER KNOW. I can totally see someone as clueless/emotionally immature as BF thinking that a public invite = letting OP know.

        I’m also going to state that I think that outwardly saying “I’ll never dictate who my partner can/can’t be friends with!” but then also issuing ultimatums like “since you invited X to your party, I just can’t/won’t go!” without any other discussion, is actually a sneaky and manipulative way of dictating who your partner gets to hang out with.
        If you don’t like them hanging out with X, use your words and say EXACTLY THAT, and EXACTLY WHY, and EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT from them going forward. Don’t play emotional guessing games in the hopes that they will understand that “I want to know in advance if an ex partner will be invited” actually means “don’t invite ex partner/s at all.”

        • MsMildew said:

          Want to make it clear that I think this partner sucks and that OP should absolutely DTMFA. I also know that being with a sketchy partner can inspire one to words & actions they would never normally engage in with a good relationship partner. But I am still pointing this out because 1. it’s just a plain unhealthy way of dealing with issues and 2. it is VERY likely that this will not be the only person OP ever dates who is friends with an ex of some sort, which could be anything from a hook-up to 1 date that didn’t work out to “I dated my best friend and we found that friendship was best” to ex LTR’s or spouses. It’s common enough that unless OP is part of a subculture where it’s very unusual for people to date around or divorce, the issue of “exes in their partners life” will most likely come up more than once. And to have a flat “I don’t want to be around any of my partner’s past romantic partners” policy is going to end up causing them a LOT of heartache. It’s also not fair to any potential partners to expect that they won’t have friends that are ex partners, or that they will give them up for OP, or that partner will make sure their paths never cross.
          I haven’t read through all the comments yet, but I am honestly really surprised the Captian didn’t mention something along those lines.
          Sure, OP can have whatever standards she like for her partners/relationships, but this one is likely to cause her more problems than it solves.

        • “I explained to him that it makes me uncomfortable to be around people he shares a romantic history with; and that, because I’m the kind of person that prefers to remove myself from situations where I feel uncomfortable, I *need* to know this information before making a fully-informed decision about whether or not I want to show up to a social event with said person.”

          So LW told BF she didn’t want to attend parties where his past romantic partners would also be. BF, knowing this, invited Sophie to his birthday party. I’m not seeing any sneaky manipulative guessing games here.

          • MsMildew said:

            Maybe we just parse the same information differently. I see saying “I want to know if X will be there so I can decide whether or not I will attend” as not meaning the same thing as “I need to know if X will be there because I will not attend if X is there”. If someone SAID the first one but MEANT the second one, I would be completely blindsided if I told them “hey, I invited X to Event I invited you to” and they responded with “By inviting X, you have indirectly uninvited me as well as betraying my trust” because I would have been doing exactly what they asked me to. I am not emotionally immature or unaware, though I do have (non-spectrum) disabilities that make for some difficulties in some kinds of communication, but when people tell me A Thing, I tend to take them at face value and not try to figure out if they meant or wanted something different.
            It sounds like what LW wanted was for BF to not invite Sophie at all, but didn’t want to come right out and say it, or to make BF overtly choose between inviting Sophie and inviting OP, so said something she thought would make BF put 2 + 2 together and figure it out. And with an emotionally aware person that might be all it takes, or at least all it takes to start a dialogue that would let OP say “this is what I would like from you”
            But if OP did not come out and say “I do not want you to invite Sophie to your birthday party” or “I will not come to your birthday party if you invite Sophie” she should have used those words and not expected him to guess.
            I’m not trying to excuse anything BF is doing and I think LW needs to dump him yesterday. But I think this is an issue that may come up again for LW in the future, if only because how difficult it will probably be to find partners who have zero contact with any of their former romantic partners. Don Whiteside put it very well, so I’m not going to repeat it, nor do I wish to try to persuade LW into wanting something different- if that is your dealbreaker, you get to have it! But it is really wise to consider all the aspects of your choices, and own whatever possible downsides may come as a result of them.
            If “people being friends with exes” is your dealbreaker, you have these choices: date people who do not stay friends with exes, date people who do not have exes, break up with anyone who does not meet this criteria
            You do not have this choice: date people who are friends with one or more ex and then try to get them to end or alter their friendship with an ex.
            It’s easier and much more productive to get rid of the partner who has the dealbreaker than it is to try and make the partner get rid of the dealbreaker.

          • Kaos said:

            @ MsMildew Regardless of how it’s parsed, it’s pretty obvious, or should be that LW doesn’t want to be in Sophie’s company.

            If Husband said to me that “I feel really uncomfortable being at the same events as Your Former Almost Couldda Been At One Time Even If Only In your Own Head Boyfriend™ (IYOHBF) and I prefer you to let me know ahead of time he will be joining the group…” I would take this to mean if IYOHBF is at location X or invited to event Y and plans to attend that Husband will not want to be there.

            Moreover, before inviting IYOHBF I would let Husband know I was planning to invite him so that Husband had the option to join or not, privately not in public where his reaction(s) had the potential to be the subject of public scrutiny.

          • MsMildew – I’m still not seeing the sneaky manipulative guessing games you mentioned.

        • Kaos said:

          She did. She told him it made her uncomfortable, she told him she didn’t want to be at events where Sophie would be, and she told him she needed to know ahead of time so that she cold make an informed consent choice. That’s neither sneaky or manipulative.

        • Belle Starr said:

          I agree with this, and wonder if there’s a bit of, “I can’t just object to specific behavior, it has to be a blanket rule” kind of thinking I see a lot in younger people. I think it would be pretty controlling to say, “I will never be in the same room as anyone you ever *almost* hooked up with, so if you invite such people to your own birthday then I can’t come and you’re an untrustworthy person.” But sometimes it feels easier to say that–to talk in terms of absolutist “codes”–than to say, “You and this person clearly have unresolved sexual tension, and she’s really rude to me, I’m not going to put up with that.”

          • JenniferP said:

            Ha, jinx, I just posted this. This is absolutely right.

  6. Lissa said:

    Just another cheer for all of Captain’s advice and recommendations. It’s really, really, *REALLY* hard to build back up trust once it’s broken, and that’s assuming the other party is actively trying, which it really doesn’t seem like he is. A partner should be Team You and help with what’s bothering you (and not continue doing said things). He doesn’t seem on Team You. Find your friends and a support network that is. Internet hugs and good thoughts your way!

  7. Nanani said:

    Oh LW. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with so much all at once.

    You sound like you know what you want and don’t want. You definitely don’t sound like you have any sort of problem communicating your needs or standing up for yourself.

    The problem isn’t you, it’s him.

    He’s bad at putting you first, like a partner. He’s bad at caring about you. He’s bad at remembering what your needs are because he doesn’t prioritize them and probably isn’t really listening. He’s bad at being there for you because he doesn’t actually want to be. He’s not careful with your safety and your body – you didn’t get this unwanted pregnancy from fairy dust after all.

    He’s not worthy of you.
    Breaking up will suck less then signing up for more of this relationship that is frankly beneath you.

    • MsMildew said:

      I don’t think much of this BF at all, but I wouldn’t make the leap from “whatever form of birth control they were using failed & OP is now pregnant” straight to “he’s not careful with your safety and your body” without any further information I think this is a real stretch.
      Unwanted pregnancies can happen no matter HOW careful both halves of a couple are or what form/s of BC they use, even surgical sterilization (and I know *several* supposedly lifelong infertile women who still ended up pregnant at some point.)
      That he is unbelievably callous and unsupportive in the face of a pregnancy he is 50% responsible for is beyond question. But that does not mean the actual pregnancy was caused his purposely unsafe behavior.

  8. Nine said:

    Aaah god this gave me deja vu. I spent nearly two and a half years with a dude who repeatedly inflicted the maximum emotional damage possible despite an abundance of crystal-clear conversations about boundaries, triggers, and ways to do things that would either be less hurtful or not hurtful at all. And of course, I loved him, so I kept thinking maybe I could just find a different way to explain it to him, one that’d stick – despite the fact that I’ve been working with words since forever, and overlooking that he was an intelligent person who just didn’t want to take any goddamn responsibility if it got in the way of his fun.

    So yeah. I stand with the Captain on this. Get out, grieve, save yourself a bunch more time and heartache. It will suck but you will get past it and be so, so much better off. Good luck, dear Letter Writer.

    • ohgeeeeez said:

      Bleurgh yeah yep same. I had continued seeing him for months and months after I noticed how damaging our relationship was to me. Always hoping that next time we would be able to hammer out the things that made me feel so low and gross and sad about our dynamic and interactions. No matter what, the conversation either would get derailed or he would make promises that he immediately broke (in spirit, even if they were not “technically” broken). It took a lot for me to hit my limit and send him a one pager about what I felt had been happening between us. He never responded, and here we are (it’s been about a month). My heart still hurts, and my head still hurts, and my libido is nonexistent, but I am so relieved.

    • Smithy said:

      Yup, same. Only I dated mine for 3 years.

      The amount of conversations where boyfriend and I talked about how X was important, X boundary got crossed, but then boyfriend was super sorry, totally forgot the conversation and that he totally loved me…… That was a cycle played on repeat and was miserable for me on a number of issues.

      I will also add that less than a year after we broke up, he started dated a girl and he’s been with her for over ten years now. Maybe he changed, maybe they’re just suited where those types of disconnects don’t cause that kind of hurt or friction – I have no clue. But I do know that by the time we split, I was spent on going through those cycles that really did feel endless and emotionally draining.

      • Isotopes said:

        I married mine. Someone who doesn’t “understand” boundaries isn’t going to magically realize the error of their ways, in my experience. I keep seeing myself in the comments here, and I put up with it for SO LONG.

        Leaving my marriage sucked. Tremendously. But guess what? All through the process, the way that my boundaries were repeatedly ignored and stomped on just helped to reinforce that I was making the right decision.

        Letter Writer, I’m so sorry for the loss of your Grandmother. I’m sending very kind, compassionate thoughts your way. Also, it’s ok to love someone and realize that you can’t be with them. Because it might not be the best thing for you. You are allowed to be happy, and to do what’s best for yourself. It sounds like breaking up with this person is what’s best for you. His actions are speaking very loudly, but sometimes it’s difficult to listen to actions, and easier to listen to words.

    • time_seer said:

      Same! And if I could go back in time and tell me after the first three times he stomped all over my emotions because he just didn’t care to let him go and then also if I would’ve listened, my life would’ve been so much better. Its awful when you know you’re making mistakes, but you think “but maybe just one more time.” There’s a quote about not wasting time on something once you’ve realized its a mistake, and that absolutely applies here. You are not at fault that it’s not perfect. There is no expectation for you to stay somewhere that is failing you. Be free.

    • Yes, when you have to twist yourself into pretzels to explain simple things about your boundaries to the people who claim to love you… it´s time to ask some questions. Like – why am I the one making all the effort? Why is s/he not making the effort to listen and act accordingly?

  9. VooDoo said:

    Six months is way too young a relationship to be trying to do this level of “rebuilding”. There’s nothing really to rebuild – the trust you wanted & thought you had wasn’t how this guy operates. He has spent the time you’ve known each other showing you who he really is and how he acts with someone he claims to love. Cut him loose and take care of you.

  10. Magpie said:

    Your boyfriend is acting in a manner that I find “yucky”. He’s not someone that I’d be comfortable continuing a relationship with. You clearly laid out your boundaries, and he immediately disregarded them and crossed them. Please consider the Captain’s advice, as it is really spot on here.

  11. ThatGirlFromQuinn'sHouse said:

    What jumps out at me is that, even if Sophie wasn’t in the picture at all, his behavior still fits all the points that the Captain made. It’s just not a good fit.

    The biggest and warmest Jedi hugs to you as you cope with surgery. This may seem silly, but especially as you will need extra comfort, maybe get yourself a new blanket? I did this after a breakup, and being able to have a blanket that was all mine, that he had never slept on or under, really helped for some reason.

    • MsMildew said:

      Yep. Sophie or no Sophie, boyfriend is not being kind, compassionate, or supportive, and that’s the REAL issue.
      Honestly, even though, I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with an SO having a flirty relationship with another woman, but the level of flirtiness in their behavior is masking the real issue their- that LW doesn’t want her partners to have friends that are exes, and I suspect this friendship would still be an issue even if BF and Sophie acted completely appropriately. if LW doesn’t want her partners to be friends with their exes, that’s fine, but then she needs to only date people who do not have exes as friends rather than expecting her partners to end or alter their friendships with friends any women they have previously dated.
      So not only is boyfriend unkind, they are fundamentally incompatible as regards what they both want/need from a relationship partner. It would be better for both of them for LW to end it. They would be a bad match no matter what.

  12. Sarah said:

    Aww babe. ❤ I really feel for you here. I've been in a situation where a boyfriend replaced me with someone who kind of quietly loathed me and made it known to me in ways he chose to ignore, and it sucked. Based on that experience, here's my take:

    I think the presence of Sophie, and all the mixed messaging and duplicity both from her and from him about their relationship would really muddy these waters if I were in your situation–I would want validation, either from her or from him, that their relationship was more than he told me it was, that he was cheating on me or soft-fading me out or otherwise just prepping to replace me with Sophie. I would hang onto this relationship, this conflict, just to get a clear answer about that, because the uncertainty would be ruining me. I would want validation, a clear answer, an obvious signal that he was either In It with me or on his way to be In It with someone else.

    It's not worth it. You don't need 100% certainty about his intentions or behavior to have 100% certainty that this shit isn't working for you.

    Leave him. Shelve his and Sophie's bullshit highschool semi-surreptitious drama as something beneath you, because it *is* beneath you. Shitcan this guy like last week's leftovers. You're 23, you have so much life and so many loves in front of you. I hope they all treat you with dignity and transparency and respect.

  13. Allison said:

    LW, I’ve been in weird situations like this so many times throughout my 20’s, and in hindsight, I don’t know why I put up with it, and why I insisted on staying in and fighting for these relationships instead of walking away. I guess what really put it in perspective was finding my current boyfriend, who has friendships with women but as far as I can see they’re all very conventional, straightforward, platonic friendships; not weird, flirtatious, complicated, “special” friendships like some of my exes had.

    I don’t know why we want so badly to make a relationship work in situations like this – you’re not doing anything wrong, they’re doing weird, crappy stuff that makes you uncomfortable, and you haven’t even been dating that long. And yet, you can’t deny your feelings, and you can’t let go of the vision of what could be if things could only get better, if you could just get past The Thing. But if you do get past it, and things do get better, will everything feel okay? Or the past always loom in the back of your mind, making you wary of things to come? And I do generally believe in speaking up when something is wrong, and trying to somehow work things out, but you did this, and it didn’t work, he’s not putting in the work, probably because he doesn’t care.

    It is possible to have a really, really amazing relationship with an awesome person who makes you feel happy, loved, supported, and valued, and NOT frustrated or uncomfortable. But you aren’t going to have that kind of relationship with this guy.

    • Anonyish said:

      In addition to our own emotions, which are heady stuff, I think that women receive powerful social messages that encourage them to stay in relationships like this rather than cutting their losses. There’s the idea that it’s better to have a not great relationship than to have none, there’s downplaying of how bad crappy stuff is, and there’s the perfidious idea that relationships always take “work” and that you should do that work, not end the relationship, which gets applied to everything as blanket advice, rather than in the context in which it can be good advice, namely that even a wonderful 30 year partnership is not going to be sunshine and roses every single second and that sometimes you’ll want to put some extra effort into your good relationship.

      It is possible to have a really, really amazing relationship with an awesome person who makes you feel happy, loved, supported, and valued, and NOT frustrated or uncomfortable.

      THIS!

  14. Oaktree said:

    All of the stuff about the boyfriend allowing his not-quite-ex to throw herself at him in the service of his ego is bad enough, and I would say grounds for dismissal. Not even a text to say “I’m sorry for your loss” when the grandma passed is even worse. But what made my mouth drop open is that he disappeared when the LW found herself with an unwanted pregnancy (almost certainly his)- that behaviour is truly appalling, and someone like that cannot be trusted or appreciated. I’d run like the wind.

    But mostly I’m just so sorry for the LW that she finds herself in this situation. It’s a very, very hard one to be in, and I wish her strength and resolve, and hope she has friends and family to call on for support.

    • Mercutia said:

      Agreed, and I’ll add this: I think Sophie is in for an unpleasant surprise once the LW dumps this guy, because he seems to mostly drift towards whoever’s paying him the most attention. Some other girl will come along and start vibing him, because he’s probably very cute and charming and accommodating, and he’ll drift over to her, and Sophie will be grinding her teeth and competing with THAT one. Lather, rinse, repeat, until she finally wises up and figures out he’ll keep doing this until he matures, grows a backbone, and learns to make a damn decision and stick with it. Then she’ll figure out if she wants to keep giving him years of her life in the hopes that he’ll pick her and not someone else, which he absolutely WILL pick someone else, because of life being that way.

  15. gwern said:

    This whole situation sounds utterly draining and exhausting. LW, you deserve to spend your time with people who replenish you and lift you up, not…. whatever the heck this dude is doing. Loving someone really, really doesn’t have to be like this. You’ve worked really hard and probably learned a lot. Time to peace out to somewhere more peaceful. I hope you have a wonderful Team You to be with you through the tough bits.

    I’m always in favor (IF you have the bandwidth!) of hitting them with a good old, for example, “Hey, things aren’t working out– I’ve tried hard to make this work because I care about you, but you are very obviously not putting in the same level of effort– you haven’t prioritized my feelings, you abandoned me when I was going through a tough time including an unwanted pregnancy (!), and you gaslit me about your friend’s weird behavior. That’s not how adult humans communicate, I’m tired of it, and I deserve better, so this is as far as we go.” Idk I just think people (especially dudes) don’t get that kind of feedback enough; we have such a convention of “it’s not you, it’s me!” or trying to pin our decision to split up on one thing rather than patterns, that I could easily see this dude walking away from this with a narrative where “it just wasn’t meaaaaant to beeeee” or “she was too insecure about Sophie” and that is NOT what’s going on here; LW is great, and this guy blew it. So being me I want him to hear that– but of course, LW, it’s NOT your responsibility to make this a teachable moment, and if you need to just say “this isn’t working, bye” that’s 100% your call.

    • Lily said:

      Guys like that one just transform a very reasonable “you suck, asshole” explanation into “Wow, she still cares so much about me that she says this stuff! The reason she says this is just her hurt feelings! And they are hurt because I’m too hot for two women!”
      Believe me, he knows where his shortcomings are, he just doesn’t consider them to be shortcomings.

  16. twelves said:

    I have been in a similar situation more than once and would just NOT admit to myself that there was something going on (or something that went on, or something that could potentially happen in the future) between my boyfriend and someone else. I wish that someone had been as supportive and kind and clear as the Captain to assure me that the right thing to do was to put myself and my own well-being first and Dump Him Now.

    I was very convinced in my early 20s that relationships required “work” and I stayed with one guy in particular far longer than I should have. I learned the hard way that dating wasn’t so much about magically finding The Right Person but learning what I need and like in a partner by dating The Wrong Person a few times. But shifting to that mindset of “it’s okay to break up with people” made dating so much better. I became more aware of red flags and was able to identify when it just wasn’t going to be a good match. There are a lot of different types of relationships (or no relationships! That’s okay too!) and it’s worth giving yourself the time to find what works for you and makes you happy.

    • Bess Marvin said:

      ahhh this was me, too, in my early 20s — I think I kind of thought of dating as “trying to figure out how to make a relationship work, no matter what,” and if one didn’t work, I had failed.

      I would start dating someone who seemed interesting, something would go sideways, and I had this idea I was doing it wrong if we (or… mainly me) didn’t spend a lot of time trying to Overcome The Problem or Fix The Person or Make It Work. I was trying to make us share the same values, instead of looking for a person who already did share my values.

      It would have been much better if, when something went sideways, I had thought “hmm, this appears to be a sign that this relationship is probably not going to work for me,” followed by “it was nice getting to know you, all the best in your future endeavours, goodbye.”

      Not that I’m suggesting LW did something wrong — but this guy doesn’t share her values. LW, you won’t be able to convince him to share your values even with many hours of explanation of how you feel and why, and his agreeing your feelings are valid or whatnot.

      Best to you in the hard times, LW. It gets better.

  17. I believe that LW has seen the best that this boyfriend has to offer, and it is lacking. LW wants privacy respected and to be supported when dealing with large hurts and disappointments. Boyfriend provided neither and it makes my heart sad 😦 – and that’s not even including having the ex-flame buzzing around like a giant mosquito trying to suck away your joy. (and sending the pic/video feels particularly viscious). It feels like a package of sad, all the way around. I pray you have some other resources (friends, family, professional services) to help you through your next steps in life. Better things lie ahead!

  18. This dude sounds like a pile of blah and you should get rid of him posthaste so you can enjoy the sense of relief you’ll feel down the road when you look back on dodging this bullet of disrespect.

    That said, I would encourage you, in future relationships, to try to stop thinking about past romantic partners as people you can’t abide being around and instead focus on how your current partner actually behaves and treats you with respect to them. You can set your own standard and if you just can’t deal – your feelings are valid and your partners should respect you enough to either honor your request or tell you they won’t and end the relationship.

    But I’ll say that as An Old this would have been a really difficult standard for myself or my wife to have set when we met. And while I can’t be sure this will be true in your generation, my observation is that as people get older and build up a history this is going to be a bigger and bigger challenge. I agree with the Captain that nobody is obligated to be friendly with their exes. But I think a pretty sizable number of us have folks we share some intimate past with who are actually good friends now that time has gone by.

    If my now-wife had made this an ultimatum, ditch this person who you had a super brief thing with what had been a decade before, back when we were in the first six months of our relationship? I’d have said ok, I’m sorry you feel that way and have a nice life. Because hoo boy I am SOOO glad that my friend and I realized quickly we were not meant to be and the idea of any relationship with her by then would have been laughable. But at that point she was a good friend of many years. I’m not going to jettison people who have been important to me for the sake of something new and unproven. And a relationship that necessitates cutting out people close to you? Man, that is a HUGE red flag.

    It’s my ninth wedding anniversary in a few months and we just celebrated the sixteenth anniversary of our first date last month. We’ve hosted this person I have previous-century history with in our home, just as I suspect we’ve hosted at least one person my wife had something with at one time or another. I can’t say for sure because we’ve never talked about it so I couldn’t point to any one individual and say I know she was with this person. (well there’s the high school boyfriend who comes over for brunch with his husband sometimes but I’m excluding him from this count) It’s never been an issue because we have never treated each other badly over these people or caused each other any reason to feel threatened.

    We both know our partner has a past. It would have been surprising, when we met in our 30s, if we hadn’t. What always mattered was that we kept that past there and respected our present. If we’d not behaved honorably towards each other over someone new that wouldn’t have been any less shitty. If one of us had behaved badly with someone we had no past with that would have been just as bad. And someone who will do that to you with someone they have history with will do it with people they don’t. I think if you use that as your yardstick instead, and jettison these folks quicker when their behavior is crap, you’re gonna have a better shot at finding someone good.

    I dunno, there’s a lot of fish in the sea and maybe this is not a common enough thing to be a problem. But as my too-long blather indicates, I feel a little twitchy about rules for partners that ask them to get rid of folks close to them. Rules that they have to treat you with respect seem a lot more overall useful, accomplish the same goal, and don’t sound like trying to pry folks loose from their support system.

    • Planegirl said:

      I understand what you mean, Don – it can be a bit Darth/Darla Vader to forbid a new-ish partner to see any of their old friends or exes. But I don’t think that’s what is going on here. It looks more as if LW’s boyfriend and Sophie are enjoying their little schoolyard romance, messing around and flirting in a really obvious way. The fact that Sophie is making efforts to throw this “almost-romance” in LW’s face removes any doubt.
      LW’s boyfriend does not seem mature enough to cope with an actual relationship at this point. The fact that he was so painfully absent when LW lost her grandmother and then found out that she was pregnant just shows this. Right now LW needs good friends and her Mum (if she is close to her Mum).

    • MsMildew said:

      Thank you Don, this was very compassionately written.

      This bothered me too and I was honestly really surprised that the Captain didn’t comment on it.

      Also OP, while you can have whatever boundary you want regarding exes as friends, it’s one you need to make crystal clear both to your partner/s and yourself.
      Because while saying “I want to know in advance if an ex is going to be at an event” is an ask that would not be out of bounds if this is a boundary you and your partner have agreed to it, adding “…so I can decide to NOT come to any event that ex will be at” is really problematic. While I’m sure we can all think of special cases/tricky relationships where this might be a totally reasonable ask (like a Toxic ex that partner must see at times because they have a child together), the vast majority of the time this is (or comes across as) a very manipulative way for a person to say “choose between your ex who is a friend and me” and that’s REALLY ICKY and you really don’t want to be that person.

      And one last thing. Perhaps you think someone who hangs out with an ex is more likely to cheat than someone who hangs out with non-exes of their preferred gender. I don’t have any concrete evidence to back this up, but experience tells me that is not true. Someone who is likely to cheat on you is going to cheat regardless of the cheating partner’s status as an ex romantic partner or not, and someone who is not going to cheat on you, will stay faithful regardless of their friend’s statuses as ex romantic partner or not.

    • CarpeFelis said:

      I had an uneasy feeling about LW’s requirement to never be around exes; it comes across somewhat controlling and very insecure. It also sounded like someone very young and/or inexperienced, so finding out she’s 23 came as no surprise. At 23 I felt the way she does and I completely sympathize with her feelings on this. At 61 I recognize that it’s just not realistic or entirely reasonable. LW, as you get older you will run across more and more exes, and not all (or even most) of them will be a threat.

      That said, not wanting to be around Sophie after the way she’s (mis)behaved is totally understandable. But as everyone here is saying, you’d be better off not being around your so-called boyfriend, either. This guy absolutely does not have your back in any way. His plainly enjoying Sophie’s antics isn’t even the biggest red flag. His disappearing act when you needed support, his taking zero responsibility regarding your pregnancy, and his lack of respect for your privacy are the big problems. Dump him and don’t look back. And don’t worry that this means Sophie “wins” – this guy’s no prize! They deserve each other. (And I wouldn’t get sad about the breakup, I’d get mad over the way he’s treated you.)

    • Ginger Baker said:

      QFT: If we’d not behaved honorably towards each other over someone new that wouldn’t have been any less shitty. If one of us had behaved badly with someone we had no past with that would have been just as bad. And someone who will do that to you with someone they have history with will do it with people they don’t. I think if you use that as your yardstick instead, and jettison these folks quicker when their behavior is crap, you’re gonna have a better shot at finding someone good.

      THIS, all THIS. Caveat: like others, I think your current BF is a pile of flaming garbage, however nice he may otherwise be, and you should ditch him yesterday. But like Don, I think you will get a LOT more mileage going forward if you consider less whether someone has a past with a particular person and instead center whether they treat you respectfully at all times, and with all people in their life. (And as an Also Old, there is literally no way that anyone in my life, even if I were monogamous, could date me if they refuse to allow me to be friends with people I’ve had previous romantic involvements with – not only more casual friends where we had some brief thing and it fizzled out over 6, 10, 15 years ago, but also because my exhusband is a dear friend, parents two children with me, and our hard-won friendship I would chop my own arm off to keep – but, importantly, we are always super respectful of each other’s partners (as it happens, I ADORE his gf, though I will note I also was always respectful of his then-second-wife despite that I personally did not like her very much).)

    • JenniferP said:

      Hi Don and others who have pointed out that forbidding current partners to hang out with exes – with the LW did NOT do btw – is potentially controlling.

      The LW would not have suggested this as a “rule” if the boyfriend’s behavior around Sophie wasn’t pinging her radar that something was up and if he gave any kind of satisfactory information or reassurance. I suspect the rule is less “I don’t want to be around anyone’s exes, ever” than “I don’t want to walk into complicated situations without all the information” and/or “If you’re gonna flirt a ton with your exes in front of me/or ‘not notice’ when they’re super mean to me then I’d rather have stayed home.”

      The LW is responding to an icky situation the way a lot of people do (see also #LW 1185) when they are afraid/unwilling to have a direct conversation with someone who is bothering them, so they try to reshape that conflict into a general “rule” and support it with “objective” reasons. Instead of saying “wtf is the deal with Sophie, she is being an asshole to me and you are enabling it” it feels safer to decide, “Crap, I don’t want to look like a jealous girlfriend, I’ll try to find some objective ethical safety net for this that will get me what I want without engaging this issue directly.” Like LW #1185 – who would like to avoid saying to either partner or little sister “Listen, you gotta corral your drunk friends better, I’m tired of us having to babysit them” or saying to those friends “Listen, you’re past your limit, no more drinking at our house,” they tried to come up with a fair “system” for monitoring people’s intake.

      I think almost all rules/systems like this are doomed to fail – the person in your office who never makes a new pot of coffee doesn’t get it when management sends out an All Office Reminder b/c they don’t think they’re the problem -Or, as in this truly amazing Ask A Manager post (https://www.askamanager.org/2019/02/my-coworker-is-setting-toilet-paper-on-fire-in-the-bathroom.html) sometimes you gotta say directly: “YOU, SPECIFICALLY, STOP LIGHTING YOUR TOILET PAPER ON FIRE IN THE WORK BATHROOM.” Hints don’t work, systems don’t work, broad communications don’t work (and risk coming across as controlling), but I don’t think we need to widely debate a “Hrm, the LW did something wrong, too” platform when the boyfriend is being such a jackass. I think rules like this are doomed to fail, I think that controlling people can use them badly, but the instinct (“I don’t feel safe saying what I actually want so I’m trying to find another way”) is a very human one.

  19. Honestly, if it’s already like this at six months, I think it’s a sign that this relationship isn’t good for you, LW. My sympathies–I definitely had similar conversations about needs/boundaries, and they would be acknowledged, and then flagrantly ignored (if I wasn’t getting DARVO’d, but that’s getting into a tangent here).

    I agree with the Captain: time to leave. He might promise to change. He might even follow through for a while, but it never goes on long enough to actually take, and you deserve a boyfriend who treats you like you matter.

    • Esselyn said:

      Yes, I’m going to just toss my amplification in right here.

      LW, it’s been 6 months. You have an unwanted pregnancy, a host of broken trust moments, a weird, lingering sense of being boxed out while your BF allows his sorta-ex to shake her tail feathers for him, and a whole bunch of other nonsense. And this is supposed to be the “best-behavior” portion of the dating!

      Please, LW, let one of those things be enough to say “NOPE!” You deserve someone who makes your life happier, warmer, safer and more connected.

      • Someone, anyone said:

        Yeah. On rereading – especially knowing what this letter is about – the title sounds all wrong. “Rebuilding trust” in a relationship of only six months?! That time should have been spent BUILDING trust!
        The “trust” at the start is really just goodwill, optimism and hope – there’s a much stronger trust that develops over time as a result of experiencing actual support. The LW really is just asking how to rebuild HOPE in this relationship.

    • Solestria said:

      Agreed. Six months in, you’re supposed to be swimming in NRE. Anything this fraught during what should be the honeymoon period really isn’t going to get better. I’m sorry, LW, you deserve better than this and I’m sure that you’ll find it.

      • Joielle said:

        I think this is true in the LW’s case but I don’t think it’s a universal rule. My now-husband and I started dating in our last semester of law school, and with the stress of that plus studying for and taking the bar and looking for jobs in a tight market… let’s just say neither of us was our best selves during the beginning of our relationship. It was rough, but once we got past that period of situational stress, it was like night and day.

        I do think the LW should break up with this guy in this situation – but because he’s disrespectful of her needs, not because it’s only been 6 months.

  20. Mimi Me said:

    I don’t know about you, LW, but this just seems so exhausting. I think the advice is good and you should surround yourself with people who are honest with you, who love you, and who respect you. Your boyfriend is not one of those people.
    Also…sorry about your grandmother. Jedi Hugs if you want them.

    • Lil Fidget said:

      That’s a good point, if you scroll out to the ten thousand foot level – your significant other should be making your life *better,* making you feel happier and more seen and more supported. Maybe not 100% of the time but in general, yes. It sounds like this person is … not doing that. So it doesn’t really matter how much “at fault” the person is and how much he apologizes or whatever, this relationship just isn’t uplifting you.

  21. lasers said:

    LW, your boyfriend reminds me of the leader of a student group I was in in undergrad, who was also one of my best friends. He was thoughtful, charming, and I think he really cared about me and was invested in me. Problem was, our whole friendship had to be on his terms. When I started resisting that, and asserting my priorities more, he lashed out.

    Cutting that friendship loose was the hardest breakup I’ve ever been through. And every day I am so grateful that I did. I got to grow into my real self, not the version of me that was filtered through him.

    I think you should break up with your boyfriend. There’s so many good, trustworthy partners in your future. And if/when you do, just remember it’s OK to grieve the relationship, even if you ended it.

  22. Smellanie17 said:

    Hi LW!

    I terminated an unwanted pregnancy (with a dude I’d only been dating a few months, at the time!) coming up on a year ago. I read so many stories that amounted to disinformation, so Captain, I hope it’s ok for me to share this…

    I never questioned my decision. I never regretted my decision. It didn’t cause some major rift in my life. I don’t eschew crying babies or subconsciously track would-have-been milestones in the pregnancy I chose to terminate.

    I did feel relief. I did feel surprised at how much it didn’t hurt to have a medical abortion at home. I did feel like my hormones were kinda fucked up for a week, maybe two? and it was like bad PMS. I did and do still believe I made the best decision for me.

    Just wanted to lend you some words of support on that front. I think Captain’s got the relationship part pretty well pegged. Good luck.

    • MrsLangdonAlger said:

      Seconding this comment. My abortion was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    • nswgl said:

      seconded. I terminated an unwanted pregnancy (with the dude I’m gonna marry in 3 months!) and also do not regret or have otherwise suffered any ill effects physically, emotionally, or relational-ly due to that decision. the at home option was also probably the best option for me as well. If you haven’t already done so, LW, just make sure you have a lot of self care in place to tackle this as it can be a roller coaster emotionally initially as the hormones get flushed from your system.

    • bambi_beth said:

      Seconding all of this. I terminated an unwanted pregnancy in 2008 and it was the right decision all the way. Never questioned or regretted. I also recommend, as below, take someone with you who is team you and pro-choice. Someone who can pick up takeout after while you’re feeling bloated and watching the teevee. Jedi hugs, if you want them.

      • dsg said:

        Thirding – 1988, and while I sometimes think of what might have been, I do not regret it in any way at all.

    • Rebecca said:

      I too had an abortion. Here’s my experience:
      I had a a d&c which was mildly painful, quick and done in a respectful manner regarding my privacy and choices. This was 24 years ago in Wisconsin; laws have since changed making the experience more difficult. Afterwards I had bleeding as though during a heavy period and cramping for two days which was easy to manage.
      I did have some sadness but never in an overwhelming manner. Mostly I felt relief, hope, and an increased drive to complete my goals and make children a possibility in my life.
      My husband and I never doubted abortion was the right decision for us at that time and place. I have 2 children now and am glad that abortion was available and I work to keep it that way.
      For you, LW, I offer support and solidarity.

    • Sam Sepiol said:

      My experience: I was sad and cried afterwards, but I never regretted it. I suspect the crying was as much related to the hormones as anything.

      Still don’t regret it 20 years later.

    • Aliecat said:

      I miscarried the week before my abortion appointment. I never felt so conflicted in my life. I was relieved that I was no longer pregnant and was relieved to not have to walk through protesters, but I was a little sad that it happened (hormones can do that sometimes). The feelings you have about this are ok and I’m glad we still live in a country where you don’t have to risk your life to terminate a pregnancy. I wish you good luck in the coming weeks.

      • Kaos said:

        “I’m glad we still live in a country where you don’t have to risk your life to terminate a pregnancy.”

        And let’s hope (and fight to) it remains legal. I can’t believe that in 2019 it’s still even up for debate, but here we all are…

    • Eliza said:

      Hi LW! I just wanted to jump on this band wagon. I terminated a pregnancy 3.5 years ago, in a relationship with a guy who sounds a lot like your boyfriend. He constantly trampled on my feelings and boundaries, and told me the fact that I even had feelings and boundaries was a major “boner-killer.” Ugh, why did I stay so long?!? He even treated traveling to my Grandmother’s funeral like a free vacation and pretty much disappeared the whole time to go see the sights! The abortion was very difficult for me, because it was all wrapped up in my feelings about my failing relationship, but I have never regretted it. It was hard, but I got through it, and it allowed me to go on to live the life I wanted without being forever tied to an abusive partner. I’m sending you major Jedi hugs, and hopes that you surround yourself with love and soft things and people who will support you during this tough time. ❤

      • MsMildew said:

        “it allowed me to go on to live the life I wanted without being forever tied to an abusive partner”

        I know someone who had two abortions for the same reason, and she had no regrets about either one.

    • sb said:

      I love all of you for telling these stories. You’ve shared a great kindness ❤

    • GingerBaker said:

      I had an abortion when I was (for much too long!) with a guy that sounds a great deal like yours less in the particulars in his actions and more with his overall lack of caring and me choosing to stay when I was so constantly unhappy and trying to “rebuild”. That abortion remains one of my best life choices (and to think, I even debated having the baby since I knew he wanted one – but I already had two and had repeatedly said previously I didn’t want a third and he happily picked up on that and didn’t suggest having that baby…thank gods). Also had at-home chemically-induced abortion. I recall it was pretty cramp-y and unpleasantly and I definitely was emotional/touchy but not really about the pregnancy, more just like Super PMS Mode. The next day I was okay. Two days later I was perfectly fine.

    • I had an abortion in 2011, and it was a great decision. It allowed me to finish my master’s degree. My partner was emotionally abusive and controlling, and I’m thankful I live in a country where abortion is legal.

  23. roramich said:

    run. this relationship isn’t working, and it’s not about YOU rebuilding trust, it would be, IF he were interested, HIM rebuilding trust in him. He doesn’t seem interested in that, though. so… run is what I would do.

  24. GreenDoor said:

    Everything else this dude did or didn’t do aside, the abortion point really made me made for you, LW. You had to make one of the most incredibly difficult decisions a woman can make – one that does, indeed, come with a lot of judgement, prejudice, and Opinions. And instead of being by your side and keeping it a private matter, he blabbed it and, in doing so, just exposed you to all kinds of possible condemnation and judgement by your group. Which he will no doubt skate away from and leave you to deal with on your own. That ain’t love.

    I am reminded of the expression “Love is a verb.” And a verb is action – something you do. So this guy can saaaaaaay he loves you, but how does he “do” love with you? The Captain laid it out very well. He’s actually done all kinds of things that are the exact opposite of what you’d call acts of love. It’s only been six months. You’ve already decided not to have the baby therefore, you have no obligation to continue to enmesh your life with this guy’s. Move on to someone who will “do” love properly – supporting you, sticking up for you, respecting your boundaries, and forsaking all the Sophie’s in his life.

  25. giraffe said:

    The Sophie stuff is annoying and a clear sign that he doesn’t respect boundaries, but IMO those are just decorations on the huge pile of red flags. Your grandmother died and you found out you were pregnant, and “radio silence” is *not* an acceptable way for a partner to handle either of those situations. This dude isn’t the right partner for you in the most basic ways, and you have so many more years ahead of you to find someone better. Good luck with everything.

  26. EL said:

    Cinnamon Owl commented on a Doctor Nerdlove column: “When someone’s words and actions seem at odds, you should believe the one that isn’t telling you what you want to hear.”

    I’m sorry about your grandmother, love. I think you deserve better than this, and I hope you get all the support and care and kindness you deserve in this shitty period.

  27. kwolicki said:

    The Captain’s advice is so good, I wish I’d had it when my situation was similar. You will get through this. Here’s the thing: if this guy is going to grow and change (maybe?) he can do it without your help, and some day if he’s worth your time, you can consider him again from a position of strength, where YOU are the one choosing to forgive him for the dumb stuff he’s done, and accept his love and apologies. You are Worth so much more than this guy.

    And FIVE BIG STARS for not blaming his actions on Miss Sophie, because I see that kind of blame-the-woman even with middle-aged friends. But he’s in charge of himself and his actions. And if he’s too dim to see what’s going on when she acts this way, he’s too dim for you.

    True story, I dated a guy who told me WITH PRIDE that he slept next to another friend while she was naked while we were dating “but that’s just how she sleeps!” He actually argued with me when I suggested he should have said no AND that her behavior was not normal. We are all now in our 40s and (due to some other history that locks us all together) 1. He’s still an idiot; 2. She has expressed her regret to others but never to me; 3. I don’t actually have to be friends with these people but I can be a polite acquaintance…never does my husband, who is friends with them both, try to apologize for them. Never does he require that I spend time with them. Never does he conceal spending time with either. And as a sop to my petty desire for others to acknowledge that they are not the sharpest people, he tells me when they do the dumb stuff.

    The smart guy who will love you and not immature himself out of tough emotional situations or frame your joint pregnancy as something he gets to blab about…that guy is out there. This one is just going to be a good story about Doofuses I Have Known someday.

  28. He’s showing you who he is. Please believe him, and walk away. You deserve so much better.

    • Angel said:

      “Better” or just “different”? I think we’re unnecessarily villifying someone who approaches relationships differently than his partner and also might not be great at Huge Bad News Bears.

      • Megan_NJ said:

        Better. Texting some version of You Ok, after a funeral, is the barest of minimums between being in a relationship & being good or bad with bad news.

      • Sel said:

        Someone who blabs about their partner’s pregnancy after being explicitly told not to is definitively Huge Bad News Bears. Period. That is a disgusting violation.

        LW definitely deserves someone different. Someone who proves themselves different by being better.

        • sofar said:

          Seriously! And if his friends have as little respect for her as this guy does, it’s very possible his whole friend group knows.

        • Karyn said:

          I want to push back on this a little. To me, it depends on *why* she didn’t want him to tell these two friends. Are they blabbermouths? Are they likely to take a bad view of her decision to terminate, and treat her poorly because of it? Absent a reason, I’m inclined in his favor. Because the pregnancy affects him, too. I think he has a right to talk about it with a couple of close friends and get support.

          • Jiu Jiu said:

            I’m totally with you on this Karyn. I process things verbally with folks not immediately connected. I also agree that the reason for asking him not to share is important.

          • OtherBecky said:

            If he wants to talk it over with close friends and get support, that’s reasonable, but he needs to tell her that. The problem isn’t “he told his friends.” The problem is “he told his friends after promising not to.”

          • Karyn said:

            I’m not certain that he *did* promise not to. The letter says that she asked, but doesn’t confirm that he agreed to it.

          • TO_Ont said:

            Yes, if talking with his closest friends about a pregnancy he was part of was the only thing in this letter, I’d probably be inclined to forgive him. But there are so many things going on in this letter that are at worse not respectful or kind, and at best just not what the LW needs to feel good in a relationship, that I don’t think that one thing is the tipping point either way.

          • Scarlet said:

            It doesn’t matter “why”, it matters that she asked him to respect a boundary and he trampled all over it. It would be great if people could let go of the idea that they need “(good enough) reasons” to set boundaries. Everyone is entitled to set whatever boundary they want, just because they want to. If bf absolutely “needs” to tell someone, he can go see a therapist.

          • MuddieMae said:

            @ Karyn, if he didn’t agree to it that was his opportunity to speak up. That sort of “well, I didn’t technically agree to it” is exactly the kind of crappy lying by omission stuff discussed above.

          • Cherries in the Snow said:

            For a pregnancy that supposedly equally affects him, he hasn’t bothered to take on even a quarter of the responsibility for it. I’m extremely dubious that he needed to “talk out his feelings”. He sounds like a gossip who enjoys stirring the pot. Not good enough.

          • Nanani said:

            Why does not actually matter. If he really needs to process verbally he can do that with people who aren’t the ones the pregnant person EXPLICITLY ASKED HIM NOT TO TELL.
            It’s right there in the letter, no need to seek excuses and plays devil’s advocate. The shit is written, in shit, on the wall. Which is also made of shit.

          • Sel said:

            And I’m going to push back against the pushback. It doesn’t matter why she didn’t want these two particular people to know about her pregnancy. She’s the only one pregnant. It’s HER pregnancy and hers alone. It’s a boundary she is entitled to set.

            That cis men who can never be pregnant get in any way to control the narrative of a pregnancy just pisses me off. Cis men have enough fucking input about pregnancy. They need to let pregnant people take the lead and center the needs of the pregnant person. Including not telling people the pregnant person has explicitly asked not to be told until the pregnant person is ready.

          • Jake said:

            Sure, me too. I can’t process anything except by saying it out loud to a person who is listening. But in that case, what I say to an important person who has asked me to keep a sort-of-theirs, sort-of-mutual secret is not “yes, I’ll keep it secret.” I say “I’m sorry, I can’t promise that. I need to process this with X. But X and I will process it together and they won’t share it with anyone.”

            And I choose an X who will maintain a polite fiction of not knowing. Yes, “my girlfriend is pregnant and having an abortion” is a reasonable thing to want to talk to a friend about. Promising to keep it secret and then reneging on that promise and letting the girlfriend find out? Not okay.

          • MusicWithRocksInIt said:

            And in a society where men and woman are given equal share of the responsibility for getting pregnant and take equal share of any judgement that comes from decisions about that pregnancy this might be a good argument. But in this society that we live in the narrative is 100% that SHE got pregnant and SHE is deciding to get an abortion – no matter how much he contributed to the outcome or decision, that is the (dumb) way everyone is going to view it. Anyone knowing about this thing that is happening to HER body right now is going to affect her a hell of a lot more than it affects him. There is no pretending otherwise.

            If he needs to talk about his feeling he can find a shrink or call a hotline and talk to a stranger. There is no possible way he doesn’t think this getting out could affect her – he is just choosing to do what he wants to do and will apologize to her later if she finds out, because that has worked out just fine for her so far and he considers being able to do what he wants to do more important than her feelings.

          • Saira said:

            I’d have more sympathy for this argument if he at all showed up emotionally for the LW, or helped her navigate access to an abortion, or was paying for it, or literally anything at all beyond the initial getting his dick wet. Unless the letter writer left out some major component of the story, it sounds like he told just to generate more drama around himself.

          • Kaos said:

            I disagree. SHE is pregnant, not him. He is by all appearances an asshole. If this was the only thing, maybe…maybe he could get a pass, but nope. Moreover males get a pass for so many things all the time. This pushing back because his feelings just sounds like more standard issue patriarchy.

          • Jane said:

            Except it’s her uterus and her private medical condition. If your datemate has cancer and they tell you not to tell anyone, you don’t get to go and blab.

          • MsMildew said:

            I agree. You can’t in one breath say “He is 50% responsible for this pregnancy!” and in the next say “but he doesn’t have the right to talk about with anyone except who the LW approves!”
            No, I’m sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If he is 50% responsible, he is still 50% responsible whether or not he actually takes responsibility for it, and he doesn’t only gain the right to discuss it with people once he steps up to the plate. LW doesn’t actually have the right to pick & choose who he can talk to about it or who he goes to for help. Even if she doesn’t like those people, even if they are gossipy, even if they are judgey & shaming, even if they are totally immature jerks. We don’t get to approve who he chooses for his Team Me or vet their reasons why. We don’t get to control who other people talk to or about what.
            I cannot believe this is even in question here. What if BF were trying to dictate to OP who she could talk to about the pregnancy, or any of their relationship problems? Would you be agreeing that she should protect his privacy and only speak to friends he’s he’s approved, or would you think that was inappropriate behavior (to say the least)?

          • xms967 said:

            If it affected him at all, as evidenced by the LW’s letter, then he could’ve gotten a damn therapist and talked to THAT person. If I ask someone to not talk about $thing, I expect that either they will not talk about $thing, or they’ll tell me about their personal exceptions (“I’ll want to share with my partner, so you know”).

            Also, “I’m not certain that he *did* promise not to” is some interesting dude-behavior apologism.

          • Kaos said:

            IMO when a male person invests more than 30 seconds (and I am being very generous) to a pregnancy, then we can talk about how “it affects him too.”

            Her contribution: Her body, her uterus, her pregnancy, her medical condition, her emotional investment, her researching/arranging a pregnancy test (and no doubt her money paying for it) medical appointment(s), and her abortion…again no doubt her money paying for it.

            His contribution so far: ejaculating.

          • Glittering Girl said:

            No, he told them about her *abortion*–or was he planning on telling them that she miscarried after she had the procedure?

          • beautifulblue said:

            N-thing my disagreement, for the reasons stated above (he’s doesn’t seem to actually be affected in any way with this pregnancy since he hasn’t done anything except blab to his friends, this is absolutely a situation where LW has the potential to be judged harshly for her decision and he gets off scot free) and also because this seems like a pattern with him where L sets a boundary, he goes “okay sure absolutely” and then goes and does whatever the hell he wants anyway.

            If he had a problem with this boundary (or any other boundary LW set in the relationship) it’s his responsibility to say, “no, that’s not something I can/will do” and have the tough conversation. I think it’s junk to sit here and think of all the reasons he might have wanted to roll over this boundary when he could have used his words and told LW himself, but chose not to.

        • To me, him blabbing to friends is the biggest violation. Some people get very worked up over pregnancy/abortion and being able to control who knows isnl crucial because next thing you know your super religious aunt somehow found out and now your abortion gets brought up at thanksgiving or a coworker finds out and then everyone at work k pea. You can face harassment. So much nope there. Even when I was pregnant with a wanted, planned baby, it was important to be able to control the information until I was ready.

      • MrsLangdonAlger said:

        Better. There is no relationship style that makes ignoring stated boundaries okay.

      • “Better” for the LW. It doesn’t matter if he’s somehow miraculously a good person. He is bad for the LW:

        1) She gave him boundaries, which he agreed to and then ignored.
        2) He got her pregnant, failed to respond to that information, and then blabbed when she’d asked him not to.
        3) Nothing so much as a ‘sorry for your loss’ WRT grandma. (This wouldn’t actually be a dealbreaker for me because reasons, but per the LW it was hurtful).

        #1 is the biggest deal breaker and is adding a level of BEC to this, for me anyway, not that #2 and #3 aren’t also awful.

        #2 is hugely problematic; she can’t be very far along in the pregnancy and A LOT of miscarriages happen in the first three months so even if she were keeping the baby if she asked him not to tell people and he did, well. That’s a betrayal, too.

        #3 he supposedly loves her. I’m not good with my emotions or anyone else’s, but I have ALWAYS had a stock phrase in place for when those I merely *know* lose someone. On the two occasions when someone I loved lost people, they knew I was there as a probably somewhat stilted shoulder to cry on or a place to go when they needed to not be centered in grief. He didn’t do either of those things for LW.

        I relationship different than literally everyone else I know. And if I were in a relationship, and my partner realized my way of being was fundamentally incompatible with the things they needed, I would hope they’d be gentle as possible about breaking up with me (but still very, very clear) and then go find someone better, too.

        • Speaking of not doing social emotions well: LW, I am thinking of you in your time of grieving.

        • Michael said:

          2) He got her pregnant, failed to respond to that information, and then blabbed when she’d asked him not to.

          I really strongly disagree with this. You can’t order your SO not to confide in their support network about things going on in their lives, and a pregnancy (wanted or unwanted) is definitely one of those things.

          You can ASK, but it’s not an expectation you can enforce, and it’s not a ‘huge betrayal’ not to agree.

          • Revieloutionne said:

            Here’s a thing about sensitive information, and another about pregnancies: the further you get from the source the less weight “please don’t tell anyone” carries, so unless his friends are better at respecting wishes than he is that’s that information going even farther out of LW’s control. And as that information about her pregnancy spreads, guess who becomes more likely to face judgment for it? Not the boyfriend, that’s for sure. Especially once no child arrives.

            Sharing that information against her wishes is opening up a route for harm to come to her that she had foreseen and asked him not to open. And then he did.

            That’s a betrayal.

          • Helen Damnation said:

            But it is a betrayal to agree, then do it anyway.

          • Karyn Ellis said:

            I’m with you, Michael, with a caveat: If these particular people have shown themselves to be blabbermouths, or unsafe to share discussion of abortion with, or some other decent reason, then I think she’s on firmer ground to ask that they not be told.

          • But if you ask and the other person disagrees, it’s on them to say so. Not to nod and smile and make you think they agree with you, only to discover after the fact that they didn’t. You can’t trust a partner who tells you what you want to hear and does the opposite behind your back.

          • Scarlet said:

            So *he* needs his support network, but he can’t even bother to support his partner, you know, the one who actually has to go through with the abortion???
            Obviously, the “feelings” that he has such a pressing need to discuss with his friends don’t include his pregnant girlfriend.

          • Sel said:

            lol, why am I not surprised to find someone with a male name arguing that the feelings of the not-pregnant dude (who has demonstrated himself to be unsupportive, uncaring, and selfish) are more important than the explicit desires of the actually pregnant person. /eyeroll

            Sure, the LW’s pregnancy affects her boyfriend. BUT NOWHERE NEAR AS MUCH AS IT AFFECTS HER. Her needs take priority, and she needed this information to be kept from those particular people at this juncture. That her boyfriend took an explicitly stated boundary and shat on it says everything about how he perceives her boundaries: that she doesn’t get to have them.

          • Drew said:

            Dude. No.

            Boyfriend is NOT THE ONE WHO IS PREGNANT. If she doesn’t want to say anything yet – either because she can’t even with the anti-choicers or because she’s still mulling over the decision or just because she doesn’t feel like having HER PRIVATE MEDICAL CARE become fodder for public conversation – then he needs to STFU.

          • I see no ‘ordering’ here. I see someone saying “please respect my boundaries” and someone else saying or implying “sure” and then turning around and violating the stated boundaries. As noted upthread, he had the option of saying ‘I want to tell Person X but I won’t tell anyone else’ but he didn’t.

            If he had at any point explicitly said “no, I do not agree with not telling anyone outside of the two of us about this pregnancy” then I expect we’d be having a very different conversation.

            But as far as we can know he didn’t, and so we aren’t.

          • B. said:

            He’s allowed to have conflicted feelings over the pregnancy and abortion. But before going and doing exactly what she specifically asked him not to do he needs to tell her, “I’d like to talk over my feelings with a close friend, and I think ___ is a good choice and will respect your privacy. Can we work out something where I can process the way I need and you still feel safe?”
            He also needs to do a lot more supporting of her before I can give him the benefit of the doubt.

          • So it’s fine that he ignored her (you know, the person he got pregnant) but then told her business to other people?

      • Better. Even those who approach relationships differently ought to care about their partner’s feelings and actively try to solve problems with them. I can’t tell whether or not LW’s boyfriend deliberately malicious or just thoughtless, but 1) LW finds his behavior hurtful, told him so, and he’s completely failed to follow through/change and 2) a lack of bad intentions doesn’t negate the impact of the boyfriend’s actions.

        It’s been six months, LW’s raised concerns, and Boyfriend has ignored them. Enough already.

    • Harpy with a harp said:

      Definitely better.

      I think the violating of boundaries around the pregnancy is actually a super big deal. If I got pregnant again somehow, I’d absolutely need to get an abortion due to health and life issues. And I’d expect my husband to not tell anybody without my permission, and especially not any friends or family that I thought would judge me. Probably not a lot of his family at all, given the heavy pressure I’ve had from them to provide them with “real” grandchildren/nephews/nieces/etc., as if the daughter I already came into the relationship with does not count. Yeah to an extent he might be going through something to, but I’d expect him to primarily be supporting me given everything I’d be dealing with, and to absolutely not violate my privacy or expose me to potential judgement.

      I think its really crappy that the boyfriend told the LWs private issues to his friends despite her wishes, and meanwhile couldn’t be bothered to support her.

      And I also think his tolerating Sophie’s very nasty behavior (the mental illness “joke”, the weird selfie thing, the hand kissing video thing) is pretty low. This guy seems like bad news. And he seems selfish, unable to give the LW support when she needs it, ahd have no respect for the LW’s privacy.

      It’s ok to expect the person you’re with to behave in a decent, respectful, upright manner. It’s ok to expect the person you’re with to keep your private medical stuff private. It’s ok to expect the person you’re with to not tolerate disrespectful weird behavior from the Sophies of the world and to protect you from that behavior if for whatever reason he chooses to be friends with a Sophie type.

      This isn’t just a case of LW and boyfriend want different things. This is a case of the boyfriend actually behaving really badly towards the LW, in a variety of ways.

  29. Angel said:

    I’m honestly surprised by the answer to this letter because it seems like the Captain is on LW’s side about the boyfriend being Wrong, and I don’t think he’s Wrong. I think he’s wrong for you, LW, but not objectively Wrong. (About everything.)

    Bias: I’m a very flirty person AND I’m friends with nearly all of my exes, so I identify a lot with how Boyfriend is in this scenario.

    Radio silence when you’re getting buffeted by two huge storms in your life is Wrong. There’s no justification for ignoring your partner when they’re struggling like that, and I’m absolutely not defending him. But.. banning him from sharing the huge stressful life event that is Unintended Pregnancy with two people who presumably support and care for him? And then getting upset about it? This seems unreasonable to me. You might be the one with the fetus, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t affected by your pregnancy, and barring him from support is selfish.

    I don’t think friendly or even mildly flirty relationships with exes are always Wrong. I think Sophie might need to dial down her shit a bit, but you putting a blanket ban on ever interacting with anyone your partner has ever dated doesn’t make it Wrong for him to want that kind of friendship. He is friends with Sophie, and you can’t force him not to be without fundamentally damaging your relationship with him. Having had a boyfriend who demanded I choose between him and a friend, this is the inevitable result. I made the choice of my own volition, and I regretted — still regret — letting him ask that of me.

    Here’s what I see when I look at this letter. I see two people who have different expectations from a relationship, both trying to hold the other to a standard that doesn’t suit who they are. I don’t doubt you love each other. What I do doubt is that you can give each other the kind of relationship each of you wants. He wants to be friends with Sophie. You want to never interact with your partner’s exes. Neither of those things is objectively a Wrong thing to want! (Like, I don’t know, you not wanting him to leave the house without texting you every hour to inform you his whereabouts. That would be Wrong.) But they’re mutually exclusive desires and I don’t think either of you should be forced to sacrifice the Way You Are for the sake of the other person’s wishes.

    I don’t think this is the one for you, LW. I don’t think you’re the one for him. This is worth grieving, but it’s also worth letting go of the effort to Make It Work. Find someone who will be devoted to you the way you are to a partner, and let Boyfriend find someone who is more chill about the people he chooses to include in his life.

    • Smithy said:

      For me the difference between two people being two people just being wrong for one another and boundary crossing that has been raised is how those differences are discussed. On the issue of privacy around an abortion – for a couple where that is happening, what privacy and support look like in that moment may be different. If I was with someone who didn’t want me to tell my mother I was having an abortion – maybe that’s a complete deal breaker. Or maybe there’s a negotiation where I wouldn’t tell my mother but would have to tell friends A & B for support. Or that I wouldn’t tell my mother now, but likely in a few years I’d need to revisit that possibility. However, if I were to say “I understand your desire for privacy in this moment and won’t tell anyone other than a therapist” – and then went and told my mother – that’s where a breach of trust and boundary issues begin.

      Being flirty, being friends with exes, being more open about issues others see as private – lots of people have gaps to cross with potential partners on those issues and sometimes compromise can’t be reached. But someone who says “yes, this is your boundary, I will respect that” and then later crosses it puts the conversation into a different territory.

      Ultimately if the boyfriend finds someone with more compatible preferences – some of these issues might not emerge or wouldn’t emerge as quickly. But the mentality to not be honest about desires that are contrary to your partner’s or rather “ask for forgiveness and not permission” is a more problematic behavior in a relationship regardless of specific inclinations.

    • purps said:

      This is one of the places where I feel like we can’t take things in a gender-blind way yet. There’s a particular willful combination of “ladies please don’t fight over me”, “it’s not up to me to figure out peoples’ intent towards myself and others”, and “it’s not my job to do emotional labor to make other people comfortable” that shows up in some dudes this age, and it ABSOLUTELY hinges on how our culture values men versus women. There’s a kind of harem-building maneuver that you get to be able to spot after a while. In my limited experience, declaring yourself poly vs. monogamous doesn’t really change the dynamic one way or another, it just changes the exact configuration of the relationships that That Kind of Dude is playing off against each other?

      I don’t know if the LW’s dude is fully That Dude, but this sounds really familiar to me. The key marker is over how much mind-reading and bending-over-backwards-not-to-be-unfair a woman is doing, and how much evidence or lack of evidence there is that the man whose mind she’s trying to read is putting forth even a quarter of that effort. This guy is putting in so little that he’s in the negative numbers. If just sitting there silent is ground level, he’s dug a hole below it.

    • If you had an SO who sat you down and said, explicitly, “For my health and comfort, could you not flirt with Person X anymore. Can you do that for me?” Would you say “Yes” and then continue flirting with Person X?

      If you would, do you understand that you are crossing a boundary you agreed to respect?

      If you were the SO who said, “Hey, you’re doing [behavior X] and it really makes me uncomfortable, would you dial it back a bit?” and the person said “yes” (or said nothing at all in response) and then they went and continued Behavior X in ways they were sure you’d find out about it, would you feel betrayed?

      Why are you assuming he only has those two friends to talk about the pregnancy with? (I mean, even if he did, hiring a therapist to process his feelings is not out of the question and wouldn’t involve stepping so far over the boundary she’s asked for that it’s not even a line anymore, just a dot on the Event Horizon.)

      I understand you are identifying more with BF than LW in this case because you see yourself as more “like” him. But we are here for the LW, and with regard to the LW the BF is, in fact, Wrong in several fundamental ways, as addressed by the Captain.

    • I reread the segment of the letter that discussed Sophie, and I’m not sure where you got the idea that LW “wants to never interact with her partner’s exes” from this. Sophie clearly has a thing for LW’s BF and is actively disrespecting the relationship and LW either by insulting her or directly sending flirty selfies with BF to her phone. Wanting BF to set boundaries against Sophie for her actions isn’t the same as never wanting to see a partner’s exes; to me, it looks like it’s Sophie *individually* that bothers LW, and not a general distaste for partners still being friendly with exes, or, even, trying to police whom BF can be friends with.

      This strikes me as a really unfair and unkind reading of LW’s situation.

      • It’s about three paragraphs down:

        I explained to him that it makes me uncomfortable to be around people he shares a romantic history with; and that, because I’m the kind of person that prefers to remove myself from situations where I feel uncomfortable, I *need* to know this information before making a fully-informed decision about whether or not I want to show up to a social event with said person. (I can’t very well tell him who and who not to be friends with; all I can do is decide where I want to go and who I feel comfortable surrounding myself with)

        • Ah, thanks. My apologies for the misreading, then. Please disregard, Angel.

          • Harpy with a harp said:

            But there’s also the part where Sophie made some nasty “joke” calling the LW mentally ill. (Ableist and also super rude and not ok!) And also sent a selfie of her and the boyfriend flirting to the LW, from the boyfriend’s phone. (Who does that???) And the boyfriend was apparently ok with all of that and doesn’t stand up for the LW. This is way beyond any harmless flirting, this is not just an incompatibility issue. Sophie is being completely inappropriate and actually really horrible, and so is the boyfriend in refusing to set any boundaries about it. This is an issue where Sophie and the boyfriend are both clearly in the wrong.

            My husband is friends with some exes. Some exes are friendly/mildly flirty. I’ve met the exes he’s still friends with, and am friendly with them. But if an ex of his ever behaved like Sophie I would be very distressed, and would expect my husband to end the friendship with such a toxic individual, and if he didn’t I’d be seriously considering did he prioritize my emotional well being enough for me to want to stay married.

          • Well, Angel is right in that “not wanting to see partner’s exes” and “wanting to be friendly with exes” is approaching relationships differently, as sistercoyote pointed out when correcting me.

            That being said, I’m still not willing to apply it wholesale to this relationship, since 1) Boyfriend could have mentioned to LW that he felt differently when she mentioned that she didn’t want to see her partner’s exes, but he agreed to her face and then immediately the birthday party thing happened, and 2) I’m really bristling at how Sophie has trampled over LW and the relationship to–as you said–being inappropriate and horrible, and how the boyfriend hadn’t thought to set any boundaries until LW brought it up. That’s not approaching relationships differently, that’s being disrespectful to your partner, even if done without malicious intent.

    • k8899 said:

      No, it is 100% fair for the person who might face harassment to request the privacy of HER SENSITIVE MEDICAL INFORMATION and there is no evidence whatsoever they are close friends, or that he needed support, especially when he’s given no support for her. Just because a woman is insufficiently ‘chill’ with exes doesn’t mean she should have her needs that include SAFETY to be negated, and yes, you are absolutely defending him by suggesting he betray her privacy in such a massive, dangerous manner was anything other than wrong.

    • MsMildew said:

      +100000

      There are two separate problems here:

      1. Boyfriends crummy behavior towards LW

      2. LW and BF are not suited as partners because their needs are fundamentally incompatible

  30. Dear LW,

    I wouldn’t trust him again, so I don’t fault you if you don’t.

    I think you should drop him, not because he’s untrustworthy, but because the two of you seem incompatible. You want someone whose social life isn’t littered with the corpses of romances past, who will stand up for you when crummy things happen ; he wants a cool chick who takes his fecklessness in stride.

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. I hope your abortion goes smoothly. Fwiw, none of the dozens of women I know who have had abortions had complications or regrets.

    I hope you soon find a more compatible love.

    • MsMildew said:

      Well said!

  31. Norrey said:

    One of the hardest and also best lessons I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is to judge actions, not words – and I don’t mean in a ethical or moral way, but in a “how am I going to respond” way. Regardless of what he’s said – his behavior has disregarded your needs, and he has failed to be present for you during a stressful time. You can leave someone and still love them. You can leave and still grieve for the relationship. You deserve someone who will show up when you need them, and who will respect your boundaries with others. I’m rooting for you.

  32. Angle-a said:

    Bob Dylan wrote, “When something’s not right, it’s wrong…”

    LW, you know this dude is all wrong, sorry. I know that letting the sorrow flow, believing the relief that follows & not trying to second guess & manage yourself is a difficult & wonderful process.
    Bravo for knowing what you want & need, now go out & enjoy being you. Live the life you want & good things always come from there.

    Best of luck!!! 😊✨💕

  33. ObamaMama said:

    I could imagine giving Boyfriend some benefit of the doubt until I read about him MIA with you grieving plus a pregnancy. His inability to be there for you shows an astonishing lack of maturity. Miscommunication can be worked out, but I can’t see a happy ending on this one.
    I am so sorry.
    PS: definitely block all social media on Sophie and Boyfriend if you decide to break up! Sophie will be thrilled to send suggestive pics and videos… they might not be true, but are purposely triggering! Sending hugs to you!

    • Inch said:

      This. For me, the letter has a lot of Sophie when IMO Sophie isn’t the main issue. Into every life a few a-holes must fall, and Sophie is one. I think that could be managed with a frank conversation amounting to “I don’t like her, I don’t like how you act around her, I’m not interested in spending any more time with her.”

      But to me, to disappear when you leave town for two weeks and when you are dealing with both a family loss and then the difficulty of an unplanned pregnancy — that is inexcusable and would be for me a deal-breaker. And that’s no a trust issue, it’s you being in a different relationship than the one he is in. It is reasonable to expect your designated other will be there to stand by you and to support you when things get tough. I mean, where would you be if HIS grandmother died? If you couldn’t be at his side, how often would you be texting and phoning and reaching out? If ANY friend of yours texted “OMG I’m pregnant” how many hours, how many MINUTES, would you wait before texting or calling?

      Even if he were fully trustworthy — which obviously he is not — he is not treating you well. You deserve better.

    • Kacienna said:

      Yeah, that’s kind of where my line is too. I don’t feel like one necessarily owes a partner the non-medically-relevant details of one’s past, though once things came up w Sophie it was definitely on him to a) be honest with LW and b) cut that shit out. If he was supportive of the LW through the pregnancy and abortion process, I’d be more willing to say “Okay, the pregnancy happened to him too; he needs to be able to talk to close friends about major events in his life” as long as he was straightforward with the LW about his intentions. But the combo of not being there for LW but still talking about it with others when she explicitly asked him not to is a bad combo.

  34. Tea Rocket said:

    I want to pick up on Breach of Trust #1 because I think it’s a stance that the LW should reconsider when it comes to future partners. In principle, I don’t think that information about someone’s former partners/flings/crushes is something that current partners (or anyone else, for that matter) are entitled to, unless it’s relevant to the current situation—and my threshold for relevance is high. I don’t think “I still see this person socially”, “you will meet this person”, or even “This person gave me an STI,” qualify (though currently having an STI should definitely be disclosed in a sexual relationship, and before it becomes sexual). I’m thinking more along the lines of, “We have a kid together,” or “We’re in a highly contentious and expensive legal battle against one another,” kinds of things, where one’s life with one’s partner is affected in tangible ways.

    This is all to say that I don’t think the boyfriend did anything wrong by not volunteering his “history” with Sophie to the LW. When the LW finally asked him about it directly, it sounds like he was pretty open about it, and actually, I think his forthrightness was probably more information than the LW needed to know. Since that conversation, the LW has had to live with the detail that Sophie wanted a casual thing with the boyfriend, while he wanted “more”. Speaking personally, I would find that knowledge tough to live with even if Sophie had been nothing but a positive presence in my life.

    I also think it’s a red herring for the actual problem. Sophie was/is rude to the LW and was/is out to alienate the attention and affection of the LW’s boyfriend and the boyfriend was/is happy to let her. That’s inappropriate and disrespectful regardless of what did or did not happen between them previously. Additionally, not being there for the LW while she dealt with a death in the family and then blabbing about her abortion plans to two people she had expressly asked him not to tell both paint a picture of a guy who is not a considerate partner and certainly not a good match for the LW. And those last two things are independent of the Sophie nonsense. I agree that the LW should end things with him.

    Finally, I strongly suspect that the boyfriend’s appeal to Sophie is entirely in his unavailability. If and when the LW and the boyfriend break up, he may well start dating Sophie (i.e. she may take her victory lap), but it’ll be brief and she’ll start looking for new avenues to boost her ego, this time at his expense.

    • Thistledown said:

      Yep, I think “I don’t want to attend a party where anyone you’ve ever been on a single date with might be in attendance” isn’t a very reasonable stance. “I don’t want to hang out with someone who flirts with you and is rude to me” seems like a good policy, no matter what the prior history is.

      Ghosting you around your grandmother’s death/unplanned pregnancy is inexcusable in pretty much any context though. At best you’re incompatible, and most likely he’s a huge asshole. I say you can’t dump this guy fast enough.

    • MsMildew said:

      If I was dating someone who considered one date and an almost hookup with someone to be an “ex romantic partner”, I would consider it a HUGE red flag for either jealousy/possessiveness or unrealistic expectations/wanting to get serious too fast.

      • GingerBaker said:

        ^Concur. (But I still think this BF is trash and also just a terrible match for LW.)

    • Okay, I completely disagree here. If you have a romantic history with someone you’re seeing regularly (even if it wasn’t a full-blown relationship), your partner deserves to know about it. Even if there’s nothing going on, it’s a lie by omission to not disclose that kind of information, especially if you’re going to claim that the relationship no longer matters to either of you. I’m not at all a jealous person, but I’d be pretty upset if I found this out through the grapevine instead of the person I’m dating just being up front.

      • walkingwhilefemale said:

        ^ I agree with this. After a couple awful interactions with a Sophie (and a Saheila, and a Sophronia… during all of which my partner had my back and shut their shit down immediately) I asked that my partner please just give me the courtesy of a heads up if we were going to be interacting with someone with whom he had a previous relationship – serious dating, a hookup, a “timing wasn’t right” wistful could have been, etc. Not because I felt insanely jealous or because I wanted to go out of my way to avoid them, but because it helped explain a whole lot of awkward right out of the box without a lot of angst.

        Overkill? Maybe. 95% of the time there was zero awkwardness, and everyone went on their merry way. But GOOD LORD did it help when we attended a college alumni function co-hosted/organized by a woman he had dated briefly as a freshman, broken up with amicably and hadn’t spoken to in 9 years. Everything started out on the level, but ended with her having a few too many drinks, grabbing my left hand (engagement ring), throwing a toaster at my partner, and screaming “I ONLY WANTED YOU FOR YOUR HEART AND YOU ONLY WANTED ME FOR MY BODY!!!!”

        Ahem. This is obviously an extreme example, and one we were able to laugh off later DUE to the courtesy heads up.

    • Hmm. I agree that for relationships of a few months, unless it’s relevant to the person, they don’t need to know. But if the person could be feeling gaslit around the situation, or that they’re being made a fool of, I see that as relevant to them– such as “I’m getting such a strong vibe here, what’s really going on?” Ideally the responsible dating partner wouldn’t let that situation arise in the first place but if it did, there’s no way to respond that doesn’t affect the person they’re dating.

      As to MsMildew’s point below, “ex partner” is a weirdly extreme way to put it, yes, though I don’t know if that wording was the LW’s. I do think that seemingly insignificant one-date encounters can be a big deal in one’s personal history, even if it’s one-sided, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It sounds like he was really into her, we don’t know about the lead-up or denouement to the date, etc. And it seems to color the way they interact still. Anyway, I don’t think it’s necessarily red-flag material if someone considers themselves to have a “romantic past” with someone even if it doesn’t look significant on the outside. It’s the feelings the LW really wants to know about anyway. I’d consider a partner as having a “romantic past” with someone even if they’d only had a big crush and the other person never even knew.

  35. Cat said:

    LW, my friend, I think I’m you in a decade or so! I remember what it feels like to be trying so hard to be the bigger person, open-minded to all people and eminently fair in all matters. The advice I want to give you (or maybe it’s permission) is to BE SELFISH! Or rather, you’ll feel like it’s selfish to prioritize yourself and your feelings over others’, but I promise it’s actually the best way for you to find yourself in relationships that you deserve. You deserve friends and significant others who work as hard for your feelings as you do for theirs!

    For your first step, I recommend you do as the Captain suggested and hit your boyfriend with the “It ain’t workin”. Tell him it’s over unconditionally, and if (WHEN) he wants “closure” about why, tell him he can’t have it. Not just to be cruel to him but because it’s healthier for YOU to be completely done with him right now.

    Sending all the love ❤

    • Purps said:

      Agreed. God, the words I wish I’d had with my particular feckless youths are “I just don’t feel like dealing with this right now.” It’s okay not to wear yourself down to a nub working on a relationship with someone who doesn’t show up for you. LW, your gut is giving you good information when it’s like “trust: super broken!”.

      • Joielle said:

        Yes! I wish I had learned a long time ago that it’s ok to just… not. Honestly, I’m still working on learning that now. Do Less 2019.

    • sofar said:

      Ah yes. All that time wasted on people (romantically and otherwise) because my brain kept reflexively responding, “SURELY no person would just be that shitty to me! I must be over-thinking things and not making my needs clear enough.”

      Some people are just that shitty.

      • Yes, this! I was thinking “surely they have SOME reason for why they’re doing this” and accepted any excuse wholesale. These days, I’m much wiser now. Sometimes it doesn’t matter why. If I don’t like the way someone’s treating me, I don’t have to accept it!

        • Oh, lordy, this.

          The Captain said: “I’ll also tell you that you are too precious and lovely, you are worth far too much for me to advise you to bet any more of your irreplaceable time on someone who has been so careless with you.”

          It took a lot of repeating “Step One: Remove hand from flame,” before I managed to remove my hand fully from the flame, but it turns out that not actively being burned over and over does help a lot with clarity of mind. (It’s OK to be sad about how it has turned out, but you can be sad it turned out that way without going back and sticking your hand back in.)

          Also I am so sorry for your loss of your grandmother, and I hope you have good supportive people to be around during all of this.

          • Honestly, the whole “intent =/= impact” was a huge lifesaver in breaking the awful treatment loop I would find myself stuck in. You don’t have to accept excuses. And it also helped, learning that when I was in the offending position, my reactions were different than those who claimed to care but would keep treating me poorly anyway.

          • Cathy said:

            This this this. My metaphor for it is to say backing away from someone who is slapping you is not an attack on them. They shouldn’t be slapping you. If you tell them something is a slap and they keep doing it, you don’t have to explain better. They should want to stop.

      • Jiu Jiu said:

        Agreed! I never judge someone based solely on how awesome their awesome points are. I judge them based on how shitty their shitty points are. Being super awesome doesn’t counteract shittiness.

      • Kacienna said:

        “Some people are just that shitty.”

        Twitter is full of them, it turns out.

      • Me too. I was sexually assaulted at age 20 and years later I was still trying to figure out how I could have communicated better.

  36. Sel said:

    LW, please break up with this guy. This is way too much work and energy to be sinking into a partner, especially a partner who has proven themselves to be untrustworthy, thoughtless, and unsupportive.

    I have been married to my husband for 6 years, together for 14. Our relationship has had some good times and some bad times. Neither of us have ever, remotely, behaved as badly to the other as your boyfriend has to you. I say this to point out: if your partner has already demonstrated that he will behave this badly in barely 6 months, how badly will he behave if you give him more time? The answer is: very badly. And the longer it goes on, the more worn down you’ll be.

    Please, leave him. You deserve so much better. And good luck, I wish you the best of everything.

  37. I’ve been upset before when Partner didn’t tell me in advance that Person at Event was their ex/whatever. I think that the real question is how Partner behaves around Person and how Partner behaviors when you say you’re upset. “I didn’t think you’d mind,” “It was so long ago,” “It’s over now” CAN be reasonable answers, as long as Partner seems generally on your team! But here, it doesn’t seem like Partner is on Team You, in so many ways.

  38. Sana said:

    LW, I’m very sorry for your recent loss and then this burden of handling the unwanted pregnancy by yourself instead of with his support. That sucks. I do not get the impression from your letter that you want to break up with him. I feel like you were hoping the good Captain could steer your ship back to a trusting port. So I’m also very sorry to say that the captain’s advice is spot on – you can’t trust him, you’ve been very clear about what your boundaries are and he doesn’t respect them. There isn’t a way to fix this. Maybe if you hadn’t be clear you could now sit down with him and have a serious talk, but you’ve already done that. And you’ve seen the results.

    I’m slightly sympathetic to the boyfriend wanting to talk to his friends about the planned abortion, HOWEVER I think he could have said to you, when you asked him not to tell, that it was important to him to have a place to talk about his feelings about it without stressing you out or burdening you further. Then you two could have had a conversation about it and maybe come to an understanding about who he would or wouldn’t share with (and why). But he didn’t do that, because as he demonstrated with all the Sophie stuff, he’s not really all that concerned with how you feel as long as his needs are being met.

    I’m really sorry that in the wake of all this other emotional turmoil you now have to break up with your boyfriend. It’s very hard and very sad. He will probably try to talk you out of it, and he will make all kinds of promises (or he will try to turn you into a total bad guy). I wouldn’t trust his promises and I definitely wouldn’t let him convince you that you’re being unreasonable. It sounds to me like you’ve done a really good job and communicating what your needs and boundaries are. I wish you the best.

  39. Aunt Crabby said:

    LW, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this specific trifecta of bullshit. Any one of these issues alone would super painful and difficult enough.

    Even if The Captain’s advice isn’t what you hoped to hear, please take it to heart. You deserve someone who treats you well, is thoughtful and forthright, considerate of you, and doesn’t need so much hand-holding in the How To Human department.

    Make a clean break. Take your time to process and heal. And let this dude be an ever-shrinking dot in your rearview mirror.

    All the Jedi hugs to you, if wanted. 💜

  40. ashbet said:

    I’m someone who needs anyone I date to be okay with me being friends with exes, because we tend to stay good friends (and my late ex-husband and I were close friends from my teens to when he passed away in my early 40s.)

    HOWEVER — this guy sucks. There’s a difference between “exes who are friends, with appropriate and trustworthy boundaries on their behavior,” and someone who actively encourages an “ex” to blatantly flirt in front of a partner who’s uncomfortable with it, to aggressively set up suggestive situations and confront their partner with photos, AND to ignore the partner’s clearly-stated boundary about not wanting to spend social occasions with this specific “ex.”

    (I’m putting “ex” in scare quotes, because Sophie isn’t acting like someone whose relationship is comfortably over — she clearly wants to move in on the LW’s boyfriend, and is making her intentions clear… and he’s doing nothing to stop it.)

    LW, even though you and I have different boundaries about friend-exes, I agree that you’re right to be uncomfortable with this situation, that you are being treated disrespectfully, and that your boyfriend is not abiding by the boundaries that you asked for and he agreed to.

    I’m sorry about the loss of your grandmother, I hope that you have good emotional support during/after your procedure, and I hope that you can get out of this relationship and move on to a place where the people in your life feel safe and trustworthy, and that they have your best interests at heart.

    • I just want to say that when I was reading the letter, I was getting a lot of “LW is overall right that boyfriend is exhibiting problematic behaviors and she should be concerned, but also some parts of her assessment are kind of off” and I feel like taken all together the comments are painting a really good picture about which problems are super big problems, and which problems are actually kinda debatable or maybe not actually problems.

  41. QuinFirefrorefiddle said:

    This guy is not a “catch.” Sophie does not “win” if they end up together, neither does he, it sounds like nobody wind unless/until both of them do some serious personal work & become better, more caring people. Free yourself from their shackles and celebrate with ice cream, or chocolate lava cake, or whatever. Be free!

  42. I am almost always Team “You Gotta Throw the Whole Boyfriend Away” when LWs are at the point of writing in, but just for a change, here is a list of things my current partner did to regain my trust after he did something that made me seriously think about ending the relationship two years ago.

    1. He was proactive. He didn’t make me chase him down for an apology; in fact, he had to chase after me and say he wasn’t ready for the relationship to end when he felt that I was growing distant. We ended up meeting in a public place and hashed it out for several hours.
    2. He listened to my perspective and didn’t try to invalidate or dismiss my feelings.
    3. He explained his perspective, but didn’t defend his actions. I didn’t realize I needed this, but understanding the how and why of his choices helped me believe he wouldn’t repeat them.
    4. He participated in the “what do we do now” part of the conversation, suggesting solutions and compromises instead of waiting for me to come up with, I don’t know, some rules for him to follow.
    5. Subsequently, he showed me more than once that he took the conversation seriously by checking in verbally and actually doing the things I asked him to do.

    LW, Sophie sounds annoying as heck, but you’ve got to know that it’s not very normal to ask a boyfriend of six months not to invite a friend to his own birthday party. I think you got to that point because BF was showing you that he could not be trusted to put your relationship first around her, or maybe around anyone that massages his ego the right way (hence the privacy breach). I had one of those boyfriends too, a long time ago, and I have to say that my reactions did not age well even though it was completely reasonable for me to want to be treated better. I want you to be treated better, LW, but.. well, you might have to throw the whole boyfriend away.

    • Boyfriend is not bringing her joy. Time to KonMari that sucker. 😉

    • k8899 said:

      It may not be normal to ask that a friend not be invited, but it’s not respectful or kind to allow his friends to treat her poorly without intervening, so I see her as being in the right with that one.

      • Inch said:

        Not to speak for anyone else, but I think the point was that if the problem is the BF being disrespectful and unkind, the solution is not to demand that he remove the catalyst for his bad behavior by dis-inviting a friend he’s known longer than he’s know the OP’er. The solution is to expect him to be respectful and kind. Ultimately it’s HIS problem, not Sophie’s, because he’s the one the OP’er is in a relationship with. So it’s not: “I don’t like how you act around X so you can’t invite X to anything I’m at,” it’s “I don’t like how you act around X so you need act better.”

    • GingerBaker said:

      Thanks for sharing this. I, too, think the whole boyfriend has to go, but I’ve also had a few relationships mended (on either side) by a similar set of steps. I think #3 is super important, actually – it took me QUITE some time, after a relationship ended where that was always a given [my ex and I would Both Talk, every time] to realize that it was not happening with my then-current boyfriend and THAT was why I would just…keep…talking…waiting for him to chime in at any given pause I gave him with *his* feelings and perspectives, which he never did. The problem is, indeed, if I don’t know why (and know you know why) you did something, how do I know it can get resolved? And what if there is an aspect I need to hear so I can adjust MY actions/expectations (definitely happens!)? Dear Reader, I am SO VERY HAPPY I ended that relationship and now it is an absolute requirement to me that all these steps (not always item 1, depending on whether they knew I was upset) happen if we have a disagreement/conflict and let me say, life is so much better.

  43. Laurie said:

    I’m older, in a 30+ year relationship, but still remember the heartbreak of breaking up with a true love very well. But LW, here’s some stuff. I have a lot of friends my age and I can’t think of a single one who would say that it’s better to stay in a bad relationship than to break free. After a certain age it takes a lot of self reflection to change one’s bad traits – don’t expect someone who can’t dig deep to do that. You’re young! Take a deep breath, do some self care, get back out there and experiment until you find the real deal. But above all, you must respect yourself. No one else will take care of you the way you will. The hurt does pass, and it’s likely that one day you’ll look back and thank your lucky eight ball that you dodged that bullet.

    You might be worried that Sophie will win, but what will she win? An emotionally immature boyfriend who won’t be there for her when she really needs him? That’s a prize I’d rather lose. The concern about the impending heartbreak is a real one, and if the Captain has time maybe she can link to some of the letters she’s answered about how to fill your time so that you don’t think about it so much. She has given some really good advice on that subject. If she does’t have time I’d like to suggest you browse her archives for it. And above all, definitely take her advice on ghosting them on social media. It’ll take a lot of resolve, but you will get over it so much faster without having to see the instagram of their insta cart supplies bubbling away in their insta pot (Love It!). Keep busy, look forward, and take care of yourself.

    One last thing. It’s possible he’s feckless, or just dim witted, or just emotionally constipated. But it’s also possible that he likes the drama that is created when he plays two ladies off one another. That, my dear, is a recipe for true heartbreak, and if you think it’s possible, you might consider texting him four words: “we’re broken up now”.

    • Not that it matters at all, but I’d put a reasonable bet on nothing happening between the boyfriend and Sophie once LW is out of the picture.
      In the most generous possible reading, Sophie and Boyfriend really are just friends and this is just the way their friendship is and LW being there or not makes no difference.
      In an uncharitable reading of Sophie, she’s the kind of person who wants what she can’t have and/or enjoys being at the heart of some good good drama, hence her weird behavior around LW. Either way, she loses interest in being flirty once that relationship ends.
      If Sophie really has changed her mind about Boyfriend and wants his attention, then we can safely assume that Boyfriend enjoys her attention and maybe even gets a bit of a kick out of “punishing” her a little for rejecting him in the past. No more LW means no more way to pull her strings in this respect.
      Either way, the winner is pretty clearly LW for getting clear of this whole mess.

    • MsMildew said:

      I walked away from someone I was very much in love with in a somewhat different situation- we were already broken up and I walked away rather than play the Pick Me dance for one second. It hurt, but it hurt a LOT less than sitting around pining for something I couldn’t have. And it was for sure the right decision- long story short: BULLET DODGED.
      I won’t lie, I had fallen HARD, and even with zero contact, it took a long time for those feelings to fade. But fade they did, eventually, and I was much happier in the end.

  44. WMM said:

    I was a couple years older than you when I started dating my now husband. When his ex came sniffing around, he made it clear to her and me that he chose me. When ‘the one that crushed on him after he had gotten over his crush on her’ was hanging around a lot in our pre-exclusive, not-sure-where-this-is-going stage, he made it clear to me and all our friends that right then, while not exclusive, he was interested in me, even though he had had a crush on her some years ago. Don’t settle for someone who isn’t clearly interested in being with you.

    A relationship-healthy person will not make you wonder if he’s keeping others on the hook when you’re already saying “I Love You”. Dating others is fine when you’re both open about dating others. Relationship-healthy people don’t make you wonder where you are.

  45. dudedodger said:

    Oh, LW, I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, a death in the family, and a careless partner. That’s a lot at all at once and I’m rooting for you.

    Back when I was 24, I had a boyfriend that broke trust with his version of a Sophie. Just like you we were six months in, exclusive, said the “I love yous”, and I had his ex being blatantly disrespectful to my face and bf wasn’t stepping in to regulate boundaries. Well, the inevitable happened and he cheated on me with his Sophie and it sucked big time and I almost broke up with him, but I ended up giving him one last chance. He worked really effing hard through the breach(es) of violations and trust he inflicted. He did everything I asked and demonstrated with his actions and words that he wanted to fix what he nearly ruined. We eventually got married and I’m really happy. That said…

    I’m not sure a round of healing and going forward will be best for YOU in your particular situation. The reason I think this is that your bf is showing a pattern in nearly all areas of your relationship. It would be one thing if it was ONLY Sophie being flirty and ONLY your bf enjoying the flirts if he consistently demonstrated empathy, respect, and support towards you. Not that the Sophie-ness is irrelevant (quite the opposite), but it’s a single problem for you to consider. What we have here is a Gordion Knot of all the problems tangled together – the ghosting during tough times, the flippant disregard for your reasonable request for privacy (this one makes me extra furious on your behalf!!), the subterfuge surrounding his almost-never-was. I just don’t see him putting in the work to be a good partner to you. Maybe seven years down the line he will have grown and become a better person and wince inwardly when he remembers how he conducted himself in your relationship. Maybe not, but you don’t have to waste your time waiting for him to be decent one day maybe in the future. You deserve the whole package in a partner.

    I used to be a clinic escort so, Captain, please remove this section if you feel this portion of my comment is derailing:

    I wanted to suggest you pick someone to accompany you to or pick you up from the doctor’s office. Not your bf. Someone 100% trustworthy who’s unwaveringly pro-choice, who loves you fiercely and will fetch you anything you want and do whatever you ask (including leave now please so I may nap as The Good Place plays in the background). If you don’t feel you need a support person, it’s fine to do any medical procedure by yourself. I only suggest this because it can a.) be a lovely act of self-care and b.) it’s nice to remind yourself that you have a Team You who is always waiting in the wings. Best of luck, LW!

    • Jers said:

      Yes to not bringing a person, but inquire ahead because they gave me Valium before my abortion (apparently that was std then?) and I couldn’t drive. So check ahead, and best of luck to you LW.

    • Mimi Me said:

      100% in agreement to the last paragraph. I had a friend who asked me to go with her when she had an abortion. All I did was make her comfortable for the day – fetched tea, blankets, and books mostly. It was over 20 years ago so no napping during The Good Place, but we did watch Full Metal Jacket that day. We hadn’t realized it was as dark a movie as it was. o_O

  46. farfalla said:

    He’s showing you who is, and at a very early stage in the relationship. It’ll hurt to dump him, but it’ll be easier now than later. Dump and block, OP, dump and block. Arrange nice things for yourself. I hope the abortion goes OK; take care of yourself, yes?

    Hugs if wanted.

    • farfalla said:

      And I really should have ended by saying: I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • I quite want a meme now of those penguins from Madagascar but instead of saying “smile and wave, boys” it’s “Dump ’em and Block!”. Such a nice empowering little mantra!

  47. anonymous said:

    I agree with everyone that you are absolutely correct not to trust him: he is not trustworthy. I don’t know what you value about this relationship, but clearly he doesn’t value YOU as a person.

    He won’t support you when you’re grieving, he won’t keep your confidences, and he won’t respect you enough to shut down the drama/flirting.

    The first two are things you’d expect from a platonic close friend, and if he can’t manage those absolute basics, this isn’t much of a relationship. I mean, who wants a partner who disappears when they need support? Yes, there are plenty of dudes who “don’t do feels” but why date one? And who wants a partner who can’t be trusted not to gossip about private matters? Even if you don’t mind having a partner who can’t be told anything you don’t want the world to know, the nature of an intimate relationship means he will participate in things you don’t need everyone to hear about.

    Many decades ago, I dated someone who couldn’t keep quiet about our bedroom matters OR my mental health to his friends… even though we were all students/cast members of the same improv teacher. (That’s how we met.) One of his friends decided this was amazingly good comedy material and developed a routine that was so degrading to women with mental health diagnoses that it would need trigger warnings on this site and so I will leave it at that.

    Don’t date anyone who can’t be trusted to respect your privacy. It should be obvious that an unwanted pregnancy is something you’d want to keep private, even if you hadn’t spelled it out, so he has terrible judgment.

    • This 1000%

      I had a boyfriend tell 2 of his friends that I had been molested as a very young child and raped as a teenager. As in he said, “She is angry and crazy because she is taking out anger at other people’s crimes on me.”
      He disclosed my traumas to these friends of his that I hardly knew. He did this in order to make himself seem like a better person, and as a way of gaining sympathy and attention. He totally betrayed my trust for the most selfish of reasons. I didn’t break up with him right away because I thought I was being too sensitive. But I wasn’t too sensitive. He was a massive festering pile of crap. And all the anger I was taking out on him? Was actually anger and disgust and disillusionment with boyfriend’s crap behavior.

      OP, your guy told other people something about you that is private and emotionally fraught. Something you did not give him permission to share. Something that has a non-zero chance of making you a target of discrimination and abuse. This would be reason enough to break up with him. Added to all the rest of his crap? Just thinking of you in this situation is making my shoulders come up around my ears. I really want for you to have an awesome Team You to show you all the support and consideration you need right now. Your guy sounds like he is definitely not on Team You. I am so sorry you are dealing with all of this. Jedi hugs.

  48. --E said:

    Oh, dear LW, he supposedly told Sophie that he wants more in a relationship than what she was offering, but he’s very definitely not living up to that with you. Nowhere in any of this do I see him putting you and your needs first. Or even second. Or considering them at all, except when he’s called out on his lack of consideration.

    You’re 23. You have barely begun your adult life. Please don’t make the error of wasting any of your precious youth with someone who isn’t looking out for you. Boyfriend is showing you who he is: someone who doesn’t actually want a serious relationship. He is completely failing Serious Relationship 101. Utter minimum for Serious Relationship is you show up for deaths in the family. Like, that is easy, it is unambiguous, there is a Societal Script to tell him what he has to do at funerals or whatnot. And yet he can’t even do that.

    As for the whole Sophie thing…my guess is he somehow enjoys that Sophie is flirting with him. Perhaps he truly has no interest in her, but he still likes that she likes him. And rather than respect how uncomfortable the whole thing makes you feel, he would rather still have Sophie doing her thing at him.

    Cut him free. Free yourself. I promise you will find someone better. A good boyfriend wants to spend time with you, cares what you think, shares your interests, and focuses attention on YOU. A good boyfriend would be icked out and/or annoyed by Sophie’s obvious nonsense.

    Let Sophie have him. If she wants a boyfriend with a proven track record of being fickle, that’ll be her problem, not yours.

  49. Persia said:

    Dear LW, if you haven’t already, please, please, please get tested for STI’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if your boyfriend was cheating on you with Sophie and lying about it.

    • Apari said:

      Or that he may have something from a previous relationship and not been super motivated to have gotten any checkups before starting a relationship with you to make sure he’s not carrying anything. Who knows, but it’s probably worth checking for peace of mind when you have the chance.

  50. BigDogLittleCat said:

    LW, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with all this at once. Please take care of yourself.

    The most important thing (for me) that the Captain said about BF is: He apologizes, but he doesn’t learn.

    Whether his failure to learn is because he can’t or he won’t is irrelevant. What matters is that he doesn’t.
    Whether his doing what you asked him not to do is because he forgot or he thought it didn’t matter is irrelevant. What matters is that he did something you explicitly asked him to not do.
    It doesn’t matter if he’s simply immature, rather than malevolent. He’s hurting you and he’s not stopping.

    Even if they are truly loving and well-meaning, people like that will damage you.
    It doesn’t matter how sincere the apologies and the promises to do better, it doesn’t matter how sorry they are, or how horrified they are that they hurt you. If they won’t learn, they’ll keep doing it and keep hurting you. The cycle of hurt-apology-promise-hurt-apology-promise-hurt-apology-promise, is already wearing on you, and based on his recent behavior, it’s not going to get any better anytime soon.

    You have very good reasons to not trust him. You cannot make him trustworthy. Only he can do that, and until he learns to value your feelings and improves his behavior, you know he’s not even going to try.

  51. rhythla said:

    I found out that my ex-boyfriend was going over to his recent ex-girlfriend’s house to “watch movies” back when we first dated. The reddest flag there was that I found out a month or two after we started dating and I only found out because he couldn’t give me a good answer for where he was going one day. (I don’t remember his answer except that it was “off,” so I asked a few questions then bam!) He totally brushed it off and said “nothing happened,” and we hadn’t had the exclusivity talk yet, so… I told him in no uncertain terms that he obviously couldn’t do that anymore if he wanted to date me. He agreed and it stopped (I think).

    I wish I had just dumped him then.

    The first time we broke up, he was immediately back in her bed. (Now I wonder if they ever really stopped.) I let it go because during our break, I had been with someone new too.

    But the rules-lawyering, telling me what I wanted to hear but doing what he wanted anyway, arguing that he told me enough of the truth, etc. behavior never stopped. I vividly remember one argument where I actually had to explain to him that the reason I wasn’t having sex with him anymore was because he was constantly mean to me and mean behavior for some reason didn’t inspire me to feel sexy! His reply? “I could go to the bar right now and talk to any girl that way and she’d come home with me.” I told him to go for it and gtfo, and by that point he realized he screwed up and apologized, but we never recovered from that massive breach of trust (and more than a few other issues that we could unpack from that).

    I finally dumped him after 6 years. He was “surprised,” despite it being the third time I dumped him.

    Value yourself, LW. You deserve so much better than him. Thank him for showing you his true self so soon and move on.

  52. Amy said:

    OP, I don’t think he’s that into you.

    He’s continuing to flirt with Sophie. He ignored you in moments of crisis where you really needed some support. He forgets about your needs and wishes, even when you’ve made a real point of discussing them straightforwardly with him. In short, he likes having you around just fine when it’s easy, but as soon as as it’s inconvenient or involves going out of his way, he bails. That’s not the behavior of someone who’s really into you and is interested in making you a priority in their life.

    I don’t think it really matters if he’s got feelings for Sophie or not; regardless, he doesn’t have strong enough feelings to prioritize you in his life. You deserve better than that. There are people out there who will treat you better than that. I hope you dump this guy and go find one that likes you more.

  53. Ugh this boyfriend. I remember so vividly what it’s like to love someone who has you continually on edge for the next damn time they’re going to let you down. You keep telling him how not to hurt you. It’s not rocket science. You’re not asking for the moon on a stick. AND YET.

    The love can be real and the relationship can still turn out to be more pain than it’s worth. What he’s showing you is that any time your desires clash, he’ll prioritise his comfort over yours. He wanted to talk about your pregnancy with his friends, he knew you didn’t want him to, but his comfort meant more than yours in that moment. He maybe doesn’t know what to say in the face of your bereavement, and it all feels sad and crappy, so rather than stepping up and making an effort anyway, he’ll just keep a low profile until it’s over. Cancelling his birthday party is a grand gesture, but you know what it doesn’t entail? Having an uncomfortable conversation with Sophie where he uninvites her and explains why. I’m sure he does want to see the best in people, because that’s much more comfortable than the alternative where he has to actually deal with their bad behaviour.

    You deserve someone who understands that it’s a privilege to be trusted with the tough bits of their partner’s life. Not someone who knows the right thing to say but finds it all too much effort when put into practice.

    • threejane said:

      “Cancelling his birthday party is a grand gesture, but you know what it doesn’t entail? Having an uncomfortable conversation with Sophie where he uninvites her and explains why. ”

      Ouch. This spells it out so clearly. He’d rather cancel the entire event that talk to Sophie and explain that she can’t come because current actual girlfriend is uncomfortable having her around.

  54. I’m about to quote from the movie The Holiday, so I apologize deeply to myself and the world, but… “you deserve to the star of your own movie, not the supporting actress.” That is, you wrote several paragraphs about your relationship, and it was all about Sophie. The only part where you “star,” you wrote as an aside to the main point (the funeral and pregnancy). And that stuff is way more important than some drama queen on the sidelines of your relationship. If Sophie didn’t exist you’d still be writing a painful letter about how your bf wasn’t there for you during a difficult time and avoided all opportunities to support you. But with all this Sophie drama it’s like you are being distracted from even concentrate on the parts of the relationship that don’t involve her. I firmly believe the bf is enthusiastically participating in this Sophie drama, but even if it is just an innocent matter of a different “lifestyle,” his lifestyle is keeping you from focusing on your own needs apart from anyone else. That doesn’t seem to be good for you. It sucks, I’m really sorry.

    • Cassandra said:

      “If Sophie didn’t exist you’d still be writing a painful letter about how your bf wasn’t there for you during a difficult time and avoided all opportunities to support you. But with all this Sophie drama it’s like you are being distracted from even concentrate on the parts of the relationship that don’t involve her. I firmly believe the bf is enthusiastically participating in this Sophie drama, but even if it is just an innocent matter of a different “lifestyle,” his lifestyle is keeping you from focusing on your own needs apart from anyone else. That doesn’t seem to be good for you.”

      Just repeating for emphasis. I agree so hard.

    • Renita said:

      Yes yes all of this.

  55. Sending you love and hugs as you kick this douchebag to the curb. Bring someone who is firmly on Team You with you to your abortion appointment if you can, if you don’t have someone on Team You you can count on, ask the clinic if they can refer you to a Doula (a professional member of Team You). I am nearly thirty years past where you are right now, and I don’t regret dumping him or getting the abortion one little bit. I’ve now got a husband who respects me and my boundaries and a 17-year-old son who wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had an abortion way back when. I’m raising him to have good boundaries and to respect the boundaries of others

  56. Guesty said:

    I honestly think that sometimes it’s more difficult break up with a careless, disappointing partner than it is to dump someone because the did something mean.

    If this guy ever thought that Sophie’s actions were harmless, then he’s a very dim bulb. The only reason that I can think of that he would let his gf be treated so poorly is that he likes the attention enough that the costs are worth it to him. Be very wary of people who get their self esteem boosts in this way because it can lead of a lot of really bad behavior.

    I disagree with the Captain, however, that the ex and Sophie will get together after the LW breaks up with him. I think that there’s a 99% chance that Sophie’s behavior is the result of her getting her ego stroked by being able to treat the LW like she has. It’s flattering to her that this guy will let her insult his gf to her face. When he’s actually been single, though, she’s had no real interest in him… and I think it will go back to that once the LW is out of the picture. This isn’t real affection.

    I, too, had a partner respond very poorly to the death of a grandparent. At the time, I had way too much sympathy for his “discomfort” with emotions and way too much understanding for his “lack of experience” in providing emotional support. Straight up, this is a red flag. Regardless of the reasons why, this guy isn’t going to be the type of partner that you want him to be. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

  57. Sarah said:

    Hi LW,

    I just want to touch on the abortion part, because it seems like this is a good and important choice you’re making for yourself. Please make sure you have a Team You that you trust (sadly, this does not include your BF) to drop you off/pick you up/stay and hold your hand the whole time and that will make the day what you need it to be. When my old roommate had hers (which was right at the end of a relationship, so the guy was not in the picture for the procedure) we made it a whole day for her. Rented her favourite movies, ordered in from our favourite restaurant, and treated it as a general “Be Kind to Roommate Day”. You have a LOT on your plate without this and nobody knows how you will feel (my roommate expected a lot of complicated emotions and instead it was just a relief and we had lots of silly fun time together that we hadn’t had in a while): Maybe you’ll want to be alone, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll be sad, maybe you won’t. But whether or not you decide to stay with your boyfriend, he cannot be trusted to keep sensitive information to himself, so I do not trust that he would not get a call inviting him to something more fun on that same day (probably by Sophie) and decide to do that instead of be there for you.

    All that to say that this plan would go very well if paired with a break up – which, frankly, I am hardcore with our dear Captain about. It’s already a day you’ll have to block off to be home, you can make it whatever you want and use it to handle whatever feelings you have.

    I am so, so sorry that you are dealing with all of this at once, you have all the empathy and Jedi hugs you want from my little corner of the internet.

  58. sophylou said:

    I was reading this and thinking that there likely isn’t a good way to rebuild trust in *this* relationship since it seems like your boyfriend’s actions are showing him to be not especially trustworthy. Possibly, not trusting him is not “pessimistic” but actually a signal that you do know what it feels like to trust someone… and this ain’t it.

    (Also, the meat of your letter is in your aside about the funeral and pregnancy — Sophie, while problematic, may actually be a red herring).

    Staying in a relationship like this seems like a good way to teach yourself that people can’t be trusted (I am saying this from long, long, looong experience, and also from having the novel experience right now of realizing that oh, hey, a particular person in my life is… probably actually trustworthy because he keeps behaving in trustworthy ways at key moments! Wow! This is so alien!) You deserve trustworthy, but you also deserve to know what “trusting someone who can actually be trusted” feels like.

  59. Noemie said:

    OP, forget about Sophie for a moment. Sophie didn’t get you pregnant and didn’t hide from you when she was told about the pregnancy. Sophie didn’t disappear on you when you needed support after your grandmother died. Sophie didn’t betray your trust and discuss your pregnancy with others when she had been told to keep it confidential. The real issue here is that your boyfriend has shown you over and over again that he is completely untrustworthy.
    People show us who they really are when bad things happen. You went through two serious crises, the death of a loved one and an unwanted pregnancy and your boyfriend let you down, offered no support and ignored your wishes. If you stay with this man, you will get more of the same. Save yourself OP, you deserve better!

    • CommanderBanana said:

      Yeah, Sophie’s a symptom, not a disease. There will always be another Sophie for this guy.

    • Kaos said:

      This. Sophie is being kind of a stereotype but she hasn’t really done anything “wrong” (she made no promises/commitments or implied loyalty to OP) other than the joke and be annoying. That the boyfriend didn’t shut this shit down day one is the problem. That boyfriend went radio silent over her grandmother and the pregnancy is the problem. That the boyfriend blabbed to his friends is the problem. Wait…I’m seeing a pattern here…the boyfriend is the problem.

      • CommanderBanana said:

        And honestly? This letter exhausted me and I’m not even one of the people involved. This guy sounds like a LOT of work. Do you want to do this much work 6 months in? I say no. When a relationship feels like the spice mines of Kessel, I think it’s time to move on.

        • Kaos said:

          TBH I wouldn’t do this much work for six years of a relationship. Not that I never would have…ah wild, reckless, inexperienced youth…but these days, alllll the nope.

      • CommanderBanana said:

        Also – ALSO – their ‘past’ is one date and one almost-hookup? And that’s causing this much drama now? No. Just no.

        • MsMildew said:

          +1000000 to every post in this thread

        • TO_Ont said:

          I don’t think it’s actually their past that’s the problem in this particular case, it’s their present.

          In the present, she flirts hard with him and he doesn’t do a thing to discourage her, she is openly rude to his girlfriend… And he does nothing to discourage either behaviour and keeps hanging around with her and inviting her to things.

          Those would be problems enough without any ‘history’.

          It’s not just reasonable for the LW to not want to be around her, it’s strange that her boyfriend doesn’t feel the same way (someone who is openly unpleasant to someone he supposedly cares about?).

  60. AthenaC said:

    Hi, OP! Lots of wisdom here, so I hope that it can be helpful in the long term.

    Your experience sounds a very similar to a pattern I had with my ex-husband:

    1) He would do something he knew I didn’t like
    2) He would apologize and say he would do something different in the future
    3) He would do a thing that was not EXACTLY the same thing as before, but was very closely related to #1 and unacceptable for the same reasons as #1. But this was “soooo different” according to him so OF COURSE he didn’t know this thing would bother me!

    I am greatly GREATLY oversimplifying my situation, but what I think you might find helpful is – I got to a point where I saw two choices in front of me:

    1) I could decide to deliberately open my heart and trust him some more.
    2) I could decide that I had enough and that I was done.

    I went with option 2, for a couple reasons: 1) I knew that if I trusted him again and he violated that trust, it would actually destroy me; 2) I was in college with 2 kids (a toddler and a baby), and I had a responsibility to them to keep myself together. Don’t get me wrong, I ALMOST went with option #1 because we had been best friends for years, so we had a lot of great history between us. Also, I had grown up with the idea that divorce is Evil(TM) and up until that point I had been doing my darnedest to sacrifice myself to what I thought was the Greater Good of marriage. But what got me out was not that it was unfair to me, but that it was unfair to my kids.

    I think you’re in a similar situation where it might be hard to see clearly on your own how much this pattern harms you. This is NOT a veiled “you should keep your baby” thing – it just so happened that in MY situation, having my kids gave me clarity that I could not have had otherwise. Hopefully for you, all of us here can give you that clarity.

    Good luck!

  61. You are only 23 years old. You can find a decent person, a person who actually respects you and cares about you, as this twit does not. You have plenty of time. Maybe you will even find a responsible adult to be with instead of a selfish child. Kick him to curb.

  62. ell. said:

    “there is a kind of cluelessness and clumsiness that is indistinguishable from malice”
    Thank you, Captain.

    “Whenever there is a situation where he could choose to respect your wishes, he…forgets…what they are?…He apologizes, but he doesn’t learn.”
    LW, I’ve been married to that for a long time. Omg, run away now.

    • Roxy said:

      Yes, bingo! “there is a kind of cluelessness and clumsiness that is indistinguishable from malice”

      Oh wow, chills. Captain Awkward chills. The best kind. So good.

      This is why I follow this site. This is why I read these columns. For gems like this right here.

      From personal experience as well, the cluelessness and clumsiness that is indistinguishable from malice is MORE exhausting than actual malice.

      Because each time you have to spend your precious life energy on a Deciphering Mission trying once again to determine (a) whether they Meant It, (b) whether they would own up to it if they did Mean It, and (c) to what extent they might have Meant It.

      It’s. Fucking. Exhausting! Like, just be malicious to me already. Alright. Please?

      Give it to me straight. Tell me what you really think. Don’t pussy foot around like some jackass.

      If you think I’m a worthless waste of your bedspace whom you just keep around to fuck, then be real with yourself. Own up to it, and say it.

      I mean, you’re wrong and you’re a fool, but be adult enough to put on your adult shorts and be straightforwardly malicious.

      Have the courage of your convictions. Stop. Wasting. My. Time!

      That’s where clueless and clumsiness makes me go. Boom, straight to that line of questioning. After having learned the hard way several times over not to put up with it. At all. This either shocks the passive agressive into useful, determinative honestly. Or makes the truly clueless finally fully aware.

      In the end, this kind of cluelessness and clumsiness excuses nothing. Because in many ways it’s worse than actual malice.

  63. Tim Tam Girl said:

    When I was right around your age, LW, I burned a few years on someone who was a bit like this. Mine was fundamentally decent and not actively hurtful, but also utterly and consistently failed to meet the bare minimum requirements of Supportive Adult Partner, in many of the same ways that you outlined above. It was… not good for me, but I stuck it out because my relationships up to that point had been with people who were jerks and I figured that all I needed was someone who wasn’t a jerk. Too easy, right?

    Well, I set the bar so. low. that I ended up functionally gaslighting myself into believing that I was unreasonable by wanting a partner who would make actual efforts on my behalf: Not A Jerk should be enough; asking for more was selfish and it’s not like I’m so great myself so what right did I have? Clearly my expectations were still too high and they were what needed fixing.

    [all of the eye rolls.]

    You, LW, deserve a partner who is responsible and respectful and demonstrates those things in ways that are meaningful to you. Who remembers what hurts you so it doesn’t happen again. Who acknowledges your feelings and is supportive of you even when it’s inconvenient for him because it is important to him to do that, because you are important to him.

    I think there is better for you in the world, LW. I think being without this boyfriend may be hard and lonely for a while, but I think you’ll be surprised how much of a relief it is to not have your trust being regularly and repeatedly broken, how much energy you have to care for yourself when you aren’t having to make up for all of the not-caring-for-you that your boyfriend is doing.

    I’m sorry for your loss and the many challenges facing you right now. Jedi Hugs if you want them. ❤️

  64. LW, fair warning, your boyfriend reminds me of one of my brothers.

    …This is not a recommendation. This is an advisement that I’ve seen this behavior before, especially the “tell you whatever you want to hear at the moment, then go right back to doing whatever they wanted in the first place.”

    About the only thing that got through to that guy was the cops hauling him home at 3 AM. And even then he only stopped the dumpster-diving because it wasn’t “fun” anymore.

    Maybe in 5 or 10 years he’ll grow out of it. Maybe. But here and now? He’s having too much fun being him to recognize oh look, other people have the right to be respected and listened to.

    The Captain’s got good advice. Me personally, I’d say chalk this one up to experience, go grab a tub of deep dark chocolate ice cream, and move on.

  65. Clorinda said:

    You can’t fix what you didn’t break, OP. He broke the trust, not you. And at this point, after everything you’ve gone through, he might not be able to fix it either.
    Good news: your BS detector is well-calibrated. You knew things were weird between him and Sophie, and you were right. Keep on trusting yourself.

    • JMegan said:

      This is a really good point! LW, your BS detector is working just fine, and don’t let your boyfriend or anyone else tell you otherwise. (Including yourself, if that’s something you might do!) Your instincts about him are 100% correct.

      This is important for two reasons. One, because they’ll help you do whatever you need with regards to this boyfriend. And two, they’ll help you recognize this kind of BS if it pops up again in the future. Next time you’re dating a guy and he has a best friend who is a Sophie, you can say to yourself “Aha! I’ve been in this situation before, it didn’t lead anywhere good!” Then you can Nope right out of there before you’ve invested six months of your life, and hopefully before he has the chance to bail on you during times of emotional upheaval.

      You’re doing all the right things here, LW, and these instincts will serve you well in the future.

    • Sandrilene fa Toren said:

      Honestly, I think it’s a question of just not able but also willing. Dude has already proven himself the type to cheerily nod along and then drop his end of the couch. LW would end up doing all the work while he made superficial concessions and then nothing would actually get better.

    • Msmildew said:

      “You can’t fix what you didn’t break, OP. He broke the trust, not you.”

      Worth repeating.

  66. Sophie's Chosen said:

    I can vouch for how EXTREMELY TRYING Sophie-behaviour is. I had a Sophie when I was your age, down to the refusal to make eye contact for me in spite of her spending hours in my sharehouse: she eventually escalated to drunkenly seeking solace about her feelings of abandonment re: my then-partner dating me, WITH ME, tearfully unloading on me about it in the waning hours of a party.

    But the Captain is eternally correct: you have a boyfriend problem, not a Sophie problem. My then-partner’s inability to deal with this without splashing it all over me was a grim and accurate vision of things to come. And once you extricate yourself from the situation, Sophie becomes a fun story: this I can vouch for.

  67. Hi LW!

    I’m the LW from letter #547. In your case, you could imagine that I’m writing to you from the future telling you how much better things are going to be some time from now, once this boyfriend is firmly in your past.

    Not that there is an optimal timeframe for such events — but, six months is wayyyy too short a time to have multiple breaches of trust from a feckless lover, a scheming romantic competitor who’s involving you non-consensually in her petty intrigues with your boyfriend, a death in the family, and an unhappy pregnancy.

    I want to be clear about how much harder your boyfriend is making your life at the moment. I also want to be clear about how much of his behaviour (not inviting Sophie to events as promised, wearing a condom, texting you back in response to news about your pregnancy, sending you some kind words after your grandmother’s passing, just being a mensch in general) is 100% within his control. He is letting you down.

    Grief is hard enough on its own without an unwanted pregnancy, and being ghosted by your partner when you try to tell them about it. Even if you were 100% fine and the only source of stress or conflict in your life was coming from this relationship… it’s still enough stress and conflict to DTMFA.

    My Darth boyfriend in letter #547 was a similar brand of ‘careless’ (/callous) that the Captain described. It felt at the time like he didn’t DO bad things directly to me… it’s just that bad things continually happened around him that hurt or distressed me, and he was weirdly unmoved, or was temporarily ‘moved’ after I spent a lot of energy finding the right words to say how I’d been affected, but then after all that, nothing seemed to really shift.

    As the Captain said – he said the exact right things at the time and then nothing real would change. I’m hammering this point because I think it can be such a headfuck. You’re a nice, loving person, and you are thinking, ‘I told the person I love that X was a problem for me, they said they could see that and that X would change, but X keeps happening… what do…!?’. It’s such a confusing proposition if you are in a relationship and trying to communicate and work together in good faith. His behaviour shows that your boyfriend is not working with you in good faith. As per the Captain’s advice to me many years ago: it shouldn’t be this hard.

    I second the Captain’s assurance that the love and pain will pass, and you will heal in time. I remember breaking up with my Darth after reading the Captain’s reply, lying in bed recovering from being sick from the STI he gave me and the treatment that I reacted to, and just crying and feeling totally heartbroken and full of despair, that I would never feel this passionately about anyone ever again. I did the breakup thing even though I didn’t really see how I would be OK after losing that guy. Love / infatuation / limerence is incredibly weird and can mean that you are inclined to give your partner the benefit of the doubt and keep trying to mend things. Please don’t, with this guy. Your ‘work at it’ instincts are admirable and will serve you so well in future, healthier relationships.

    I had an awful relationship after I broke up with Darth Vader boyfriend (…I fell right in with another Darth Vader who was part of the same friendship group? IDK). But after a few years went by, I started dating a lovely person. To be honest we don’t have the same emotional intensity that I was so afraid of losing with Darth Vader Boyfriend the First. There’s no roller-coasters. What I do have is someone who is completely in my corner, whom I trust (when I ask myself mentally ‘Do I trust this person?’ my thought is ‘Well, yes of course, duh’ whereas with Darth it was always ‘I love you but I don’t trust you’), who takes great care of me, who wants to know what I need, who makes room for me, who cares about the little bits of my day as well as the big parts of my life/dreams/goals, who makes my days easier and more fun, someone who I can and do batten down the hatches with in life’s storms but someone who does not generate their own bloody weather system wreaking cyclonic havoc in my life. (This weather metaphor has gone too far) The times where my current partner and I have had issues, we figure out what went wrong, apologise, commit to do better (especially when all the behaviour is well within our control), and then actually DO better. It’s a completely different paradigm, being in this relationship compared to my previous unhealthy one(s).

    Please take great care of your precious self, emotionally, sexually, physically, mentally, health-wise, food-wise, sleep-wise, in all the ways in the next few months and years. (And actually, forever – because you are your most important friend and ally and advocate in life – but especially in the aftermath of being with someone who has been careless with you – it’s time to re-set by being very careful of and caring to yourself). Also, please get a full STI workup if you haven’t already?

    • papillon said:

      LW 547: Great to read an update from you (I remember that letter) and that you are with a much better partner now (minus the roller-coasters). I wish you the very best!

      Current LW, I have nothing to add to the excellent advice. You’ve got a good eye for what’s going wrong, correctly see it as problems the BF caused – rather than blaming yourself – and clearly communicate your needs. If your current BF cannot do his part after this many coaching sessions, it’s unlikely he’ll suddenly change. Find someone who respects and supports you in both words and actions.
      Also, I’m very sorry for your loss, as well as having to deal with the disappointment that your BF turned out not to be the person you thought he was at the same time.

    • Michaela said:

      Holy shit, LW#547 I am SO GLAD to hear you are thriving in this year of our Flying Spaghetti Monster 2019. I was just thinking about your letter the other day.

  68. Jennifer Sessions said:

    I wish watching Sophie so blatantly rip off the Mansfield Park and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before mean girl playbook was more amusing for you, LW, but having a bf not back you up in the face of it is bullshit.

    • So I’m not the only one who thought of the Mansfield Park play when they were filming that movie at the party! And Edmund and Mr. Crawford (the suave one) so perfectly illustrate the two possibilities of a man who can be fought over: either he can be fought over and won because he really isn’t the brightest person (Edmund, and all men on soap operas) or because he is 100% into the drama (Mr. Crawford). Gotta say, Edmund was my least favorite Austin love interest.

      • Kts89 said:

        I also thought of this book while reading the letter/response and agree that Edmund was a super uninspiring love interest. Throughout the whole book I just wanted Fanny to be like, “you know what, all of you suck and treat me like crap. Edmund just treats me slightly better but still pretty crappy, so I’m outta here.” I wish she has shut him down like she shut down Mr. Crawford.

  69. Kaitlyn said:

    Just because someone has said that they love you means that they’ll back it up with actions. This dude? He might feel good with the words in his mouth, but when it comes to actually do the work of loving you – hard conversations with exes/near-misses! showing up for loss! showing up for pregnancy! keeping your secrets! – he’s not doing it. He’s not doing it! And it’s so hard to walk away when we want to believe that the words have meaning, that the actions will someday materialize. But he has shown you who he is when his back is against the wall, and you deserve so, so much better. Let this person be a memory, and do your healing, and you might end up with someone who can love you in both words and actions.

    • Lurker in the Light said:

      Yes, exactly! Love is an action. Loving is prioritizing you. Loving is looking out for your needs.

    • ell. said:

      This is such a good comment. Once upon a time I believed that if someone said, “I love you,” well, they did! and would certainly act like it! And if they weren’t acting like it yet, they just needed to be clued in to something, or given some time, or supported through a difficult circumstance. So I put the emphasis on improving my communication skills, patience, or trust in order to build the relationship. Which felt nice, of course, because it gave me hope. I felt generous, willing to work hard, and accepting of life’s realities, which seemed virtuous and mature. UGH.

    • Love is about all the changes you make
      and not just three small words.
      ~Frank Turner

      Listen to Frank here.

  70. Angela said:

    LW, I hope it helps to know that a lot of people are wishing all good and right things for you.

    Whatever your decision is, I want to share something a very wise friend has said: “I don’t want to” is a perfectly valid reason. People can (and will) argue if they get justifications and excuses, but it’s a lot harder for them to try to argue that you really do want to.

  71. like an angry apple tree said:

    >>I think there are people who thrive on this kind of thing and I wish them well in life but holy shit do I wish I had learned to spot them earlier than I did>>

    Saaaaaame. And I am only a pants-on-at-all-times type friend on the periphery of a group like that. Nonstop boundaryless drama is such an acquired taste.

  72. kateosaurus said:

    Also chiming in: I had an abortion in 2010 after finding out I was pregnant at an IUD-insertion appointment. My partner and I were also at the six month mark, but his reaction was so different: he took a day off work, he went with me to and from the clinic, he stocked his fridge with my favorite food and gatorade, and was as communicative / supportive / great in the few days between my finding out and the procedure. I don’t have a single regret, it’s one of the best healthcare decisions I’ve every made, all the Jedi hugs to you and n’thing the recommendation to have someone from Team You go with you, especially if it’ll be surgical. Agree with the Cap on the relationship side, as always: is this how you want to spend the next six months? Year? Two years? With someone who’s fecklessness is indistinguishable from malice? My condolences on your grandmother, you deserve better.

  73. Elizabeth Daniel said:

    The more I think about this, the more I am convinced that this guy is incredibly immature. Incredibly.

    I get that he is flattered by Sophie’s attention and it’s gotta be a nice ego boost. But to allow that in front of a woman you’re dating? Immature asshole move there.

    Ditching his girlfriend when she’s had life take a dump on her is also just immature and selfish. It’s probably not malicious but it’s not that caring or concerning.

    Unless he’s lived under a rock, he knows that there is a LOT of opposition to abortion. Why the fuck would he tell his friends (plural!) about your pregnancy when you’ve made plans to terminate it? That’s a rather large breach of trust. He’s too immature to be in any sort of relationship with an adult.

    And finally, remember this. Lack of malice doesn’t count for all that much in intimate relationships. Sometimes the most painful thing you can face is knowing that your intimate partner doesn’t really give a fuck about you.

    And when you’re asking yourself how to restore trust in someone yet that someone is not working with you on ways to earn your trust again, that’s not a workable situation. Either you have to willfully blind to his careless behavior or you have to stay in a relationship where you don’t trust your partner.

  74. Clarry said:

    The question you didn’t ask: How do I break up with him without letting it seem like Sophie’s plot worked, like she won, and I’m going home licking my wounds?

    Answer: You think of all the ways he’s faulty that have nothing to do with Sophie, nothing to do with the way he’s treated you, and you don’t spell these things out, you kind of insinuate them.

    Let’s say your list of ways he’s faulty involve things like he didn’t do as well in school as you did, he’s not as well read, or he doesn’t like his work very much. When you first break up with him, you just say it isn’t working. If he wants a reason, you demur a few times, then sort of hint that you’re looking for someone a little more intelligent with more prospects for advancing in a career. But it could be anything. It could be hoping to meet someone who’s a better dancer or shares your love of Irish folk music.

    • “I’m looking for someone who’s not as, I don’t know, feckless?”

    • ashrea said:

      For the breakup: “If I’m going to be in a long term relationship with someone, I need more … chemistry, you know?”

      And then, if/when you see the two of them together in person, and Sophie inevitably tries to gloat, you can smilingly tell her you’re glad they’re together, because they “obviously have a lot of chemistry. We just didn’t have that, you know?” If she tries to corner you to gloat in private, you can say this and add “It was like kissing a brick wall!”

      If she ties to gloat over social media, you respond with…radio silence. Because you never even see her message/post/picture. Because you’ve blocked them both.

      My inner mean girl is coming out in your defense because your bfs behavior makes my blood boil. Be kind and gentle with yourself LW, you will find so much better in this life. When the relationship is right, love is shockingly, breathtakingly easy.

      I once fully believed that “relationships take work.” I now know that all that relational work the world blabs about does not apply to the basic love/respect/boundaries stuff in the beginning of a relationship. The work of a [very] long term relationship has to do with prioritizing it over years, across jobs and kids and dependent care and sickness and tragedy and all the other things life throws at you than can tempt you to take the other person for granted (and even then, the relational work may be the work of figuring out how to part ways after a long time together. And it really can’t be just one person “working” on it.)

  75. Elise said:

    LW you ask how to “rebuild trust” in your relationship.

    And then you detail a story where your distrust and doubts Pre-dated your “are we girlfriend/boyfriend” conversation by two full days.

    I don’t doubt your relationship has had fun times and that you love this man. I believe you!!

    But I wanted to point out that despite all the fun and feelings and sex and everything else that makes you want to be with this dude… what this relationship has *never had* is trust. You can’t rebuild something that was never there. You’re trying to patch a hole in this fence and make a strong boundary but actually all you’re doing is holding a bunch of wood and wire in the middle of a field.

    • NapkinThief said:

      This is a very important point. LW I’m sure there are some good reasons why part of you is holding onto this guy, but you can’t singlehandedly produce trust between yourself and an untrustworthy person, nor should you try to.

  76. Jiu Jiu said:

    Hey LW! I absolutely agree that things are hinky. I wanted to share my non-hinky friends-with-exes stories so that you have something to compare your partner’s behavior to. My husband and I are still good friends with each of our exes.

    In my case, out of respect to my relationship, any “complicated” exes would first get a VERY stern talking to, and if it continued being “complicated” I would stop being around them or chatting with them. There’s a huge difference in my mind between an ex who is now a friend and an ex who still holds out hope you’ll be together. One has two neutral parties. The other is…complicated, and not okay.

    For me it’s not just about exes, but about any potential weird situation between me and a dude who is not my husband (I’m straight). I had a Very Clear Conversation with a mutual friend. “Hey, if you’re wondering why I’m acting uncomfortable around you it’s because I’m uncomfortable. I am not okay with men who are not my husband flirting with me.” Thankfully it cleared everything up and we are cool now. When I did get a crush on a guy, I talked to my husband about it, and I made the decision that Crush and I would never be alone, never have text conversations or friend each other on social media. It’s too easy to make a mistake if you’re putting yourself in a situation where that CAN occur. I try to head ALL those off at the pass.

    Husband and I have had numerous conversations about feelings. What would feel weird regarding us + exes, concerns, etc, and we respect and listen to it and share the weirdness. What transparency looks like to me: no hiding. Having conversations that I’d be comfortable with my partner hearing/seeing. (please note secrecy is VERY different from privacy, and I’m NOT talking about privacy in this case)

    Like the Captain said, it’s about transparency. Other Gal is transparent, your partner is intentionally not. For me, the issue would NOT be the other gal with the past. It is about your partner enabling her behavior and NOT quashing it. The relationship is less of an issue than him being okay with behavior that threatens your relationship.

    Maybe he really just doesn’t get it, and if that’s the case, dude is not a good fit for you. Husband and I decided a long time ago that our exes are important enough friends in our lives that we needed partners who were actually okay with those relationships. We were a good fit in that way.

    I’m curious about why the request not to share with his friends. Mostly I’m someone who needs to process things with other people to sort out my feelings, and I don’t know that I could handle not sharing important, life-changing news with a friend to sort out how I feel about it. On the other hand, they might be goobers who share All The Things on social media, so maybe you don’t feel like they’re “safe” people?

  77. LW, you’ve already made your decision, and you probably know that.

    You made the decision, whether you acknowledged it or not, when it came to the pregnancy. This one really is a make-or-break thing for many relationships – how people behave around unexpected pregnancies really does determine how and where a relationship is going to go. You’ve made decisions which are sensible, and which deal with the situation you’re in and the partner you have. He basically avoided the whole thing, except to use it as brag material with his mates. So the situation is you’re in incompatible life areas at present: you’re a grown up; he’s not ready for the responsibility of a grown-up relationship yet (if ever).

    You’ve given him three chances to be trustworthy: the first time was with the boundary issues around Sophie (where he demonstrated he doesn’t have your back); the second time was with the death of your grandmother (where he also demonstrated he doesn’t have your back); and the third time was with the unplanned pregnancy (where he demonstrated he doesn’t have your back again). Once might have been happen-stance, twice might have been coincidence, but what you have here is a pattern of behaviour. This guy doesn’t have your back, and he won’t have your back, and it doesn’t matter how damn good he is in bed, or how damn good a provider he might be, you are ALWAYS essentially going to be on your own in this relationship if you stick with him.

    You could replace him with my standard foursome (body pillow to cuddle, electric blanket to keep the bed warm, back scratcher to get that tricky bit between the shoulder blades, and a vibrator for orgasms) and to be honest, you’d see an improvement in your life.

    My condolences for your losses (your grandma, your pregnancy, and your dreams about this boyfriend). But I think you’re a person who is strong enough to come through all of them with head held high and colours flying bravely, provided you don’t have him as a millstone around your neck.

    • Lapis Lazuli said:

      I noticed his radio silence during her Geandma’s death and the news that she was pregnant.

      I was worried because he sounds like a man who will either force OP to do all the child rearing (while he goes out to party), or he would avoid child rearing altogether and high tail it, refusing to even pay for child support.

      You do not want a man like this in your life if you want kids, because he will just be another kid you have to raise.

  78. Renee said:

    I have been the feckless partner before, and I agree with the Captain’s recommendations. I was not a worthy partner back then.
    Once I’d learned to apologise *and* improve my behaviours, yes but that was still some years away.

    Throw him back.

  79. Jers said:

    LW: i’m so sorry about your grandma. And the pregnancy. You’re getting really hit a lot right now. LW it sounds like the Cap has nailed it. Your description of your bf’s behavior reeks of pretended cluelessness. This guy wanted Sophie, Sophie rejected him. Then he moved on to you, after rejection by Sophie. Now Sophie clearly wants to have his attention, and boy does she have it. He’s being pretty unfair to you, but did you the favor of being surprisingly, if partially, honest about Sophie. He behaves like a guy who’s gotten stuck with 2nd prize but still is yearning for 1st. Are you 2nd prize? Oh hell no!!! You are the grand prize LW, and you deserve a man who thinks so. Full stop.
    Aside from Sophie, let’s pretend that never happened. Your grandma passes away and his response is to be absent? Is that how YOU treat people YOU love? Do you see yourself with this guy in 5 yrs, when something else awful happens? When you tell him you’re pregnant, and he gets super silent, because maybe he’s petrified about ‘what is she going to do?’ I mean, I get the feeling of fear when you’re pregnant, and the holy cow what do i do now. And if i were a man (i’m a cis/het woman), I’d maybe feel a little nervous, since the growing cells aren’t in my body and therefore not in my control. BUT he could have stepped up and said so. Hey i’m Nervous. Hey i’m Not ready to be a dad. So many things to be said. Or, hey i bet this is really scary for you, and how awful for it to happen right when your grandma passed! He could have just freakin’ driven there to hug you. Instead he goes silent.
    When I got an abortion years ago, we found out in the same room and i said immediately, i don’t want a child. He said he agreed. So at least i got to escape the hell that is what you went through, and the abortion was uncomplicated and i do not regret it.
    Your hormones are also going to play a little havoc here, because of the pregnancy, and it might make things a little harder for you temporarily. Be so kind to yourself LW.
    Please realize you deserve a man who will SHOW UP to your life when you need him. When your loved ones die, this theoretical man will call, send flowers, show up physically, and/or ask you what you need. If you have a pregnancy scare in future, this man will say i love you baby, i’m So sorry, i know we didn’t plan this. And then he’ll participate in a convo about what to do next, whatever that is. And he’ll respect your decision. I just don’t think your current bf is that guy. Honestly I think he’s proven himself not a keeper by his actions outside the realm of Sophie. And at the same time, that whole Sophie thing is enough of a dealbreaker in its own right.
    You deserve better and it’s not fair and I’m so sorry. Jedi hugs if you want them.

  80. fiverx313 said:

    “You could of course pretend that everything you experienced didn’t happen the way it did, you could try your best to create a fictional dreamworld where you let him start over from scratch, like a snow globe that you can shake and reset, shake and reset, one you clasp with increasingly white knuckles as you keep hoping that he’ll rise the occasion for fucking once in his life.”

    you are always reminding me of my failed first marriage in the most poetic ways

  81. Fleet said:

    I dated somebody for a while who I didn’t trust. We were together around 7-8 months. It was around the 5 month mark that I started to properly lose trust in him.

    I was very much in love with him. However, it’s possible that how *strongly* I fell for him had to do with projecting what I wanted to see on to him. He said all the right things. And he was probably sincere in the moments he said them. But I read too much into it. I saw those parts that were what I wanted, and instead of seeing them as small parts of a vast incomplete picture, I projected the rest of the picture. It’s not like I didn’t know this guy. We were becoming good friends before we started dating! But I still didn’t know a lot about him, such as how he is around somebody who he feels vulnerable with, how he behaves when he’s afraid that somebody will leave him, and how he behaves when he’s no longer smitten with somebody and considering their feelings is inconvenient.

    When I first saw a sign of him being untrustworthy, I explained it away in my head without questioning it. I was still in the stage of feeling that everything is a dream. After a couple more questionable things, I noticed him lie to somebody else, using me as an excuse. I asked him about it and he brushed it off. Eventually, I had a moment where I realized that there were problem behaviours that realistically would not get addressed, but I didn’t want to believe it. In fact, I remember *choosing* to believe that there were no red flags, because I wasn’t ready to let go of the reality where I’d met this fantastic person who was perfect for me. I don’t think that was a wise decision, although it didn’t have any really disastrous results for me, fortunately.

    In order to believe that he was perfect, I did have to talk to him about the problem behaviours (not just “creative truth telling,” but also a alot unwillingness to extend energy on my behalf, after the initial infatuation wore off). And repeated conversations showed that he was more interested in doing whatever the heck he wanted and talking his way out of it, than being trustworthy and accountable as a partner. I did have to own up to myself what was happening, but I still wasn’t able to let him go once I realized it. Even though I’d lost the false belief that I’d found this “perfect” person, I still hadn’t switched over to the belief that there was no way this person would do right by me, or be capable of living up to my expectations of a romantic partner. It took time for that transition to occur. (Maybe a couple of months.) It was like sitting in a bath that’s tepid and feeling it get cold. I didn’t push myself to break up right away, but I just let myself see things as they were. I didn’t break up, but when stuff happened, I let myself see the behaviour for what is was. (Unwillingness to take responsibility. A certain selfishness.) I also stopped calling out his behaviour, which sounds contradictory, but actually it was great because we stopped having those round about conversations where I left feeling that “well, he’s *technically* acknowledged my point, so that means there’s hope.” Instead I could just see him as he was, without feeling obligated to coach him into being more thoughtful and caring. At some point, I found that whatever attachment I’d had was just gone, and it was really easy to just break up with him.

    My point in sharing all this is that it *is* absolutely difficult to break up with somebody when you have strong feelings. But it is also easier when you acknowledge bad behaviour for what it is, and acknowledge that you deserve somebody who’s considerate. It’s a basic level of consideration to not hang out with somebody who’s intentionally rude and disrespectful to your girlfriend. Also, remember that it’s not you responsibility to teach him how to be considerate. You’ve told him once that hanging around his sort of ex feels awkward to you. It’s very understandable. You shouldn’t have to explain it again. If you have multiple conversations where you’re repeating the same thing, you’ve got to assume that he’s not going to change his behaviour.

    Your goal isn’t to build trust. Your goal is to evaluate how trustworthy he is.Trust is something that has to be inspired by trustworthy behaviour. You cannot manufacture it from thin air. Don’t make excuses for him. And don’t sell yourself short on what you deserve.

  82. thevickilists said:

    When I was 23, my grandfather died and the person I was with at the time did the absolute opposite of show up for me. I will never forget the hollow feeling in my chest or how cold it made me. I will also never forget how I buried it, and gave them a free pass. In the most generous light: that partner of mine was a mess, they were young, too. In the worst light? Well, it took many years to get over what I think the worst/true light was about that person. There were a lot of bad things between me and them. The death was just a clarifying moment that I chose to bury. About two years later, I finally broke it all off—it all finally made sense to me. I finally let that tiny voice inside me get loud enough.

    You’ve had so many difficult things happen to you, my dear. I think they’re all throwing into sharp relief that this guy doesn’t deserve you. Don’t bury the truth. You are worth a lot more than this foolishness.

  83. thevickilists said:

    When I was 23, my grandfather died and the person I was with at the time did the absolute opposite of show up for me. I will never forget the hollow feeling in my chest or how cold it made me. I will also never forget how I buried it, and gave them a free pass. In the most generous light: that partner of mine was a mess, they were young, too. In the worst light? Well, it took many years to get over what I think the worst/true light was about that person. There were a lot of bad things between me and them. The death was just a clarifying moment that I chose to bury. About two years later, I finally broke it all off—it all finally made sense to me. I finally let that tiny voice inside me get loud enough.

    You’ve had so many difficult things happen to you, my dear. I think they’re all throwing into sharp relief that this guy doesn’t deserve you. Don’t bury the truth. You are worth a lot more than this foolishness.

  84. Aliecat said:

    Gentle Letter Writer – I’m so sorry this wet blanket didn’t turn out to be the supportive partner you had hoped he would be. I think you should cut him loose because he has definitely “shown his ass” to you and will not be a supportive partner during life’s difficulties. I see you forever making excuses for him during those times when your needs aren’t being met, and I’m certain you don’t want to do that. I hope that your procedure goes well and that you surround yourself with people who are truly interested in your well being.

  85. The Captain is more tactful than I am.

    Staying with this guy is heartache that won’t wait long to happen. Rebuilding trust is both on him and futile because he IS selfish and ISN’T a grown-up.

    I am glad that you are confident about what to do about the pregnancy, and I wish you all the very best wishes, and send you tender Jedi Hugs.

    Crabby Old Broad strongly suggests throwing this fish back. ( I also strongly suspect that Sophie will lose interest as soon as she isn’t able to publicly poach and get a pass on it.)

  86. Zelda said:

    [misinformation redacted by moderator]

    Hi, I’m Zelda, I cannot follow basic directions and I like to use any opportunity to spread misinformation!

    If you’d like to make a donation to to the National Network of Abortion Funds in Zelda’s honor here is the link. Abortion Funds help pregnant people who cannot afford abortions get the medical care they need, whereas comments yelling at Zelda are just more comments that will need deleted. 🙂

    P.S. Your friendly moderator sometimes sleeps and does other human things that don’t involve staring at the internet. Your patience is appreciated. Here’s that donation link again!
    [/moderator]

    • If you want to know why New York’s new law is both humane and insufficient, I recommend Jia Tolentino’s piece in the New Yorker.

      If you want to use a thread about a specific grieving person’s abortion to try to convince the many folks here who owe our lives as we know them to an abortion to change our views, maybe reconsider those priorities?

    • Eli said:

      Someone didn’t read what the Captain wrote. Or read it but chose to ignore it anyway. This is not the place for discussing reproductive rights, however much in the right you may believe yourself to be.

    • Actual Australian said:

      It takes a truly heartless person to read this letter and decide to make it all about your views on abortion. A young woman made the brave choice to ask for help and you repay her by making it the “all about me and my opinions” show.
      And no, I won’t look at your link or article or video. I’ll focus on letting the LW know that there are people who support her and her choices and that her body is not public property where everyone gets a say.

    • Oh yeah sure, pregnant people like, totally cheerfully carry pregnancies to the 24th week or later and then decide to get an abortion on a whim. That’s definitely how that works. Also the earth is flat, the moon landing was faked, and vaccines cause autism, which is waaaay worse than children dying of completely preventable diseases.

    • MusicWithRocksInIt said:

      You are why we can’t have nice things. Like comments sections on tricky letters.

    • Darcy Pennell said:

      NNAF is a great organization. Thank you, moderator, for posting a link to them. Many states also have abortion funds that operate on a shoe string budget and could really use help! I did a stint answering the phones for my state’s abortion fund. It was tough work, there was so much need and the fund only had enough money to help a small fraction of the callers. Now that I have a better job I give them a monthly donation.

  87. Mir said:

    LW, you seem to have really strong self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and my guess is that if you love this guy, it means he really does have some great qualities. Obviously in your letter we’re hearing mostly about the problems, and when you read all these people advising you to leave him, you may be tempted to think, “but wait, what about all those good things!? these people only know one side of it” and you might be tempted to make excuses for him, or to convince yourself his good qualities cancel out the bad….

    BUT! I am here to tell you, in the way I wish I could travel back in time and tell my younger self, that someone can be a good, intelligent, funny, fascinating and lovable person and still not be a good choice for a partner for you. Someone can be an amazing person and still let you down over and over again, draining the joy from your life and replacing it with disappointment and sighs and frowns. He does not have to be a villain for you to leave him. If he is a good guy who you truly love, but who just isn’t capable of delivering what you need and want (which I think is true) that’s all the reason you need to move on and keep looking.

    His faults seem mostly to be faults of omission, rather than faults of actively doing bad stuff. Passive faults. He tells you he hears your needs, then forgets to change his behavior. He fails to set boundaries with Sophie, sitting idly by while she insults you and trolls you with pictures of her snuggling up to him. He neglects to tell you stuff about his past with Sophie that most people would consider relevant, until you directly ask. He doesn’t notice stuff you need or want. He fails to text you at times when reasonable people would text someone they love. He fails to support you through grief or unwanted pregnancy. The one thing I consider an active bad action is telling his friends when he said he wouldn’t.

    When people’s faults are “not doing stuff” rather than “doing mean stuff” it can be tempting to feel like they didn’t do anything that bad. He’s not cruel or abusive, doesn’t criticize you, etc. Surely he can change if you just do lots of extra work and explain things over and over and be patient and forgive and wait a few months or years until he gets it…….WAIT, NO! That is a huge terrible trap. That is the trap that tells people that as long as their partner isn’t doing anything bad enough, they’re supposed to stay. But the real question you need to ask is: is this person doing good enough? Is this person actively looking out for my needs without me having to make a case for why they’re important? Does this person look for ways to support and delight me? Does this person, on their own motivation, try to learn what I need and what makes me happy, and then do it, because my happiness is a priority for them?

    He is probably lovable as hell. But he is not that guy who’s actively seeking your happiness, watching for your needs, and looking for ways to support you when you need it. I don’t think he’s necessarily in a place in his life where he is capable of being that guy right now.

    You deserve a relationship that doesn’t find itself at the “rebuilding trust” stage after only 6 months.

  88. KC24 said:

    Urgh….I could have written this exact letter at a similar age (minus the abortion). My ex had a clique of three female friends and I was just never comfortable around them…on the rare occasions I actually spent time with him + them (he was good at “compartmentalizing”). Anyway, he was spending more and more time with them and then I was suddenly brought into the fold and assured I’d really like this one in particular, Emma.

    Anyway, obviously the whole thing fell apart within a matter of months, I broke up with him (he pushed me away enough to make me have the be the person to do the breaking up so he could play the victim afterwards) and low and behold, he and Emma were living happily together not so many weeks later.

    Definitely break up with him. Definitely distance/remove yourself from social media afterwards cos he and Sophie are gonna be allllll over it, very much TOGETHER in a matter of weeks? Days? Who knows.

    Good on you for making difficult but necassay decisions. Stay strong.

  89. Jade said:

    I’m a bit surprised I didn’t see it mentioned before, but how is the abortion being paid for? Is boyfriend paying or at least contributing, are you in a place where insurance actually covers it? Depending on your finances/ interest you might also consider an abortion doula…I also second Persia, please get STI testing.
    Lastly, stay strong- jedi hugs.

  90. Indie said:

    Trust is not something you HAVE to do in a relationship, it’s a reflex like laughter. If he aint funny you can’t fake the laugh and if he’s thoughtless you can’t manufacture trust in that.

    I don’t think he’s evil, but he isn’t screaming ‘potential’. He is too busy being the star of his own rom com where he is pulled between two lovers. Even if nothing ever happens with Sophie, he is more in love with that storyline, that image, than you.

    That’s not what long lasting love looks like, (even if you ‘win’ consider the prize) and it’s not even fun in the short term. So have a few more conversations about what you want, but he will just blandly agree. He needs you to remain in the plot after all.

    I hope you learn that it is fine to be jealous! You’ve been feeling jealous and you haven’t been controlling or punishing in response. Jealousy can be a very personal; a very quiet, warning signal.

    • That is a good point. Feeling jealous isn’t intrinsically bad. It can be a good signal that something is off, or that you need something you’re not getting. It’s behaviors related to jealousy — controlling or violent behaviors — that are bad.

  91. Actual Australian said:

    Just wanted to send Jedi Hugs to LW, it sounds like an awful few weeks. With the boyfriend, it’s a rubbish situation to be in so I understand why you might not want to break up with him tomorrow. In times like this where you have so much going on it may be the case that you don’t want to change another thing in your life by breaking up. But as the Captain said, don’t waste your precious time on someone who doesn’t respect or appreciate you in all your amazingness. Put you first because it doesn’t seem like he will.
    One last thing – ignore anyone who wants to make you feel that your body and your reproductive choices are up for public debate. Those decisions are between you, your body and the medical practitioner that you trust.

  92. Hey Anonnynonny said:

    Oh LW. Gentle hugs if you want them.

    Your partner is probably thrilled to have two ladies fighting for his attentions and that’s a big part of why he hasn’t told Sophie to hit the road and why he never will.

    My condolences on the loss of your grandmother and best wishes for your upcoming procedure. I think you wrote in to CA because you know that the thing to do is dump this feckless, untrustworthy guy, but with the loss of your grandma and the stress of an unwanted pregnancy you didn’t have the mental bandwidth to make another big decision and maybe you felt you needed someone outside of yourself’s permission to say that the trust in him is gone and can’t come back. He didn’t even respect your wishes about the pregnancy.

    I am pregnant with a wanted baby and it’s a huge deal. I imagine being pregnant when you don’t want to be is all kinds of huge deals and stressful and uncomfortable and weird stuff happening to your body when you’d much rather it not, thank you very much. I am personally raging that this situation that he knew you wanted to keep private and personal is more public now because he blabbed to two friends. And they are likely to gossip with other friends.

    These are not Your People. Please gather your good friends close and let them take care of you, and cut this guy loose to live in his fantasy neverneverland where he’s a hot commodity being battled over by the ladies. You will grieve, you will heal, and you’ll have an amazing life and meet a man (or multiple men!) who are worthy of you and don’t sit back and dream of foxy boxing matches over their favours.

  93. Anonbunny said:

    “I didn’t say anything to my partner at the time because we just started dating two months prior (and I didn’t want to come off as jealous/possessive/controlling)”

    LW, some thought for future relationships:
    – Your partner’s friends are a part of them and their lives, and while it’s fine not to get on with them, accepting their role in your partner’s life is also part of accepting your partner into your life. You’re never going to get on with all of his friends and they won’t get on with you (whoever your partner is). That doesn’t mean that you and his friends don’t do the bare minimum of polite and friendly when you spend time together.
    – Who your partner’s friends are is a crucial question in deciding if the above applies. I get not wanting to be jealous/possessive/controlling, and I get that saying to your partner “Are you sure about this friend?” is not always going to be a good look. But someone who is behaving this way is NOT his friend. A friend will always respect the relationship – that doesn’t stop them being interested, because hey, attraction. There is a world of difference between “I really like you, what are the boundaries on your relationship? Ok, I’ll make sure I stick to those no matter what” and the “friend” who goes “I really like you, what do you mean the boundaries on your relationship mean you can’t give me what I want? That’s stupid, ugh your partner is so controlling, they just don’t want you to have friends at all, you should totally be with me instead”. The first is a friend, they want you to be happy in your relationship. The second is not a friend, and so you can talk to your partner about dropping/limiting contact for the sake of your relationship.

    One final note:
    “Anyways he apologized, and went so far as to cancel his birthday party (which I thought was a bit drastic, but OK it’s his decision).”
    Yeah, run away from this person. Like, really. RUN. His reaction to you setting a boundary is a massive overreaction that was completely uncalled for, and which he can now always bring up to blame you? (If he hasn’t already, I’ll lay you any money that if you tried to raise Sophie issues again, you’d get some riff on “But you even made me cancel my birthday party just to stop me seeing my friends, you’re so controlling!”) It stops you from trying to set boundaries – because every time you do, you have to balance wanting your boundary to be respected v the amount of trouble he’ll cause and blame he’ll throw at you.

  94. ladybear said:

    ‘Feckless’ is good, but for this kind of casual-to-the-point-of-cruel emotional carelessness I’d go with ‘fuckwit’.

    LW, he didn’t stand up for you before you asked him to. He didn’t stand up for you after you asked him to. He didn’t offer help or support when a tough thing happened in your life that didn’t involve him, and he didn’t offer help or support when a tough thing happened that did involve him. Your bare minimum ask that he not make the pregnancy situation harder for you by spreading it around was still too much for him.

    Some people have been saying that the pregnancy was his situation to share with people too – maybe, maybe not. LW, it is your medical information, and Ring Theory (tldr: support the person at the centre of a crisis and vent your shit somewhere they don’t have to deal with it) suggests that if he absolutely had to share it, he could have the decency to do so in a way that would remain confidential and not get back to you and make this harder. But he didn’t, because that would have required him to consider your feelings.

    At this stage would you even believe an attempt to regain your trust? He may want to, may be sincere and apologetic, but would you find it credible from someone who has consistently acted like it just doesn’t occur to him to *try* to be good to you?

  95. ashbet said:

    I’m someone who needs anyone I date to be okay with me being friends with exes, because we tend to stay good friends (and my late ex-husband and I were close friends from my teens to when he passed away in my early 40s.)

    HOWEVER — this guy sucks. There’s a difference between “exes who are friends, with appropriate and trustworthy boundaries on their behavior,” and someone who actively encourages an “ex” to blatantly flirt in front of a partner who’s uncomfortable with it, to aggressively set up suggestive situations and confront their partner with photos, AND to ignore the partner’s clearly-stated boundary about not wanting to spend social occasions with this specific “ex.”

    (I’m putting “ex” in scare quotes, because Sophie isn’t acting like someone whose relationship is comfortably over — she clearly wants to move in on the LW’s boyfriend, and is making her intentions clear… and he’s doing nothing to stop it.)

    LW, even though you and I have different boundaries about friend-exes, I agree that you’re right to be uncomfortable with this situation, that you are being treated disrespectfully, and that your boyfriend is not abiding by the boundaries that you asked for and he agreed to.

    I’m sorry about the loss of your grandmother, I hope that you have good emotional support during/after your procedure, and I hope that you can get out of this relationship and move on to a place where the people in your life feel safe and trustworthy, and that they have your best interests at heart.

    • Persia said:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if LW’s boyfriend was getting off (maybe even literally) over the thought of Sophie and LW fighting for his attention, because he is SOOOO HAAAWWT.

      #thisfuckingguy

  96. This can totally be a loving and supportive relationship (mine was for six years), but a partner like this (I’ve found), is someone who will always make you feel like you’re not quite enough and that any time (or all the time) they are seeking out people who will give them a little extra attention or affection, another person to either make them feel valued or desired, or just an opportunity to sort-of-but-not-really indulge in an intriguing, sexy what-if. Mine was always upfront about where he was, what he was doing, who he was with, and how he felt, and he was always faithful. But it didn’t stop me from feeling jealous and edgy and not-good-enough, and his honesty and upfrontness meant that I always felt like I was being paranoid or jealous, which meant that the “Sophie” was the only good person to aim my ire at.

    Sophie’s not doing this tango alone. Don’t get to where I did, where he comes home and tells you they hung out as friends topless together drinking mimosas that morning, because they’re just really close friends who are comfortable with their bodies, and it’s your repressed Catholic baggage that’s making you jealous and paranoid here.

    • Blech! What does “being comfortable with their bodies” always mean topless/naked?

  97. Kaos said:

    “…she made a rude joke about me…”
    This, today when I am decidedly not 23 years old would have been the end of it for me. Add to that the metric ton of other BS, and the captain is spot on telling you to break up.

    I won’t patronize you saying that you are “only 23′ or “young” or any of that, but I will say that the odds are in favor of you having decades upon decades to live the rest of your life and you shouldn’t waste a second more of it on this guy, or others of his ilk. That’s something took me way too long to learn.

    He may turn out to be a decent guy (the word “feckless” was in my head reading through your narrative as well…) but it won’t likely happen for a long time. You deserve someone who is going to treat you like you matter more than everyone else…like you and your needs come before Sophie et al.

  98. Oh, LW, I’m so sorry you’re going through all this bullshit all at once. It’s really not fair and I hope you have a great team you looking out for you.

    You know what the saddest part of this whole thing is for me? That I firmly believe this is your boyfriend *on his best behaviour*. It’s only been 6 months, I believe you’re both still in the infatuation period where your shiny new datefriend can do no wrong and where you would move mountains just to see them smile. Except, his idea of moving mountains is “can’t be bothered to express sympathy about the loss of your grandmother or your unwanted pregnancy, can’t keep your private medical info to himself (no it’s not his information to share, if he needs support he can leave your details out of it and also maybe think for 5 seconds about why a woman might not want just anybody knowing that she is getting/got an abortion).” If that’s love, it’s a good fucking thing he doesn’t hate you.

    You deserve better, LW! You’re not a bad girlfriend if you decide this particular guy is far, far too much work. It’s sad to learn that about someone you’re really excited about, and you’re allowed to be sad about the good times even when somebody turns out to be a thoughtless asshole *at best*.

    Another very sad thing: boyfriend (I really hope he becomes ex-boyfriend soon) still looks like a complete jackass even when you ignore all the drama with Sophie. To be clear, I think she’s being a jerk too, even if you and boyfriend were openly polyamorous and she knew that, it would still be tacky as fuck for her to flirt with your partner directly in front of you and it would still be shitty of him not to shut that down immediately. That said, I think the real problem is a boyfriend problem, not a Sophie problem. If boyfriend wasn’t enjoying her attention so much, she would just be a mildly annoying blip far in the distance, visible only in the rearview mirror. Boyfriend has shown you who he is, it’s not pessimistic to believe him.

  99. I think OP buried the lede a bit here. The Sophie stuff is super problematic, sure, but the guy’s reaction to the pregnancy and telling his friends when you asked him not to is a huge huge issue. The telling is particularly bad, imo because not being able to control information on a pregnancy/abortion opens you up to harassment or attempts at coercion.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Sophie stuff is bad enough I would be really skeptical of this guy. But the disregarding your wishes on the pregnancy information? Run. Your partner can’t be trusted with something that important. You shouldn’t be with someone you can’t rely on in a tough situation.

  100. Elektra said:

    Oh, LW, I am sorry. A death in the family, an unwanted pregnancy, and these multiple trust violations – that is a lot to deal with at the same time.

    Saddle up that Nopetopus and ride it on out of there, dear LW. His behaviour with Sophie would already be enough reason to dump him. But his behaviour about the pregnancy is a staggering betrayal of trust and privacy. He has shown you what he’s like as your partner, and frankly, it’s not good enough.

  101. hhhhhh said:

    I find it sad that you feel you have to audition for Not Crazy Girlfriend when your boundaries/wants are totally normal (It’s a really common thing where women feel like they have to whittle away their needs and make themselves smaller to be Cool Girlfriend and it sucks). He literally let her bully you infront of him, he’s a fucking coward. He won’t ‘win’ if you leave him and he hooks up with Sophie because she’ll just be taking on a guy that pulls that kind of shit against their significant other into their life. The birthday cancelling also reads like it was a ploy to try and make you feel bad for asserting a boundary.

    • blackbird said:

      Seconding all of that. I tried to be the Cool Girlfriend for way too much time, and do you know what you get for that? Even more bullshit to deal with.

  102. GG said:

    Jedi hugs LW.

    Remember this guy has choices. And Sophie has choices. And her choices don’t come out of nowhere.

    I’ve had history with guys and I have had history of being very obvious with my affections. But I can catch a hint and guys who didn’t like me that way made sure to dissuade me. There are ways to turn down affection that are kind and face saving, and obvious and brutal back ups. This guy could have employed any of them. He didn’t, which means that this situation is one he created and is comfortable with.

    You deserve more. Dump him.

  103. E said:

    Hi LW, I created an account here (long time reader) to comment on your question.

    I’m in my early 40ies and a woman, and it pains me to admit that I behaved almost exactly like your boyfriend did throughout my 20ies, with several partners. I know I hurt a few people badly.

    I wasn’t malicious. But I was inconsiderate, self-centered, and a toxic combo of conceit + bad inferiority complex. Truly, I now despise this side of who I was then, and feel deeply sorry for the partners I hurt.

    I did change (hopefully for the better) over time. It involved a long hard look at myself, good supporting friends who somehow tolerated me, and psychotherapy.

    But what I most wanted to tell you is this :
    Retrospectively, I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t have changed if a few partners I genuinely liked (I don’t use the word *love* here, because I didn’t truly love them) hadn’t broken up with me, and figuratively put my nose in my shit. Once didn’t suffice. I had to smell the shit several times. Therefore, I 100% support the Captain’s advice to you. You deserve better. It’s not your job to fix your boyfriend nor the relationship. Move on, and allow yourself to be happy.

    As a side note, I’m certain than none of these partners could have “fixed” me or the relationship. No amount of abnegation and sacrifice would have done it. One partner, a great kind generous person who genuinely loved me, did try. Over several years. It just spurred my selfishness and self-centeredness on. And it was a horrible experience for this person. Don’t do it to yourself.

    Last side note, all these partners moved on to eventually find much better partners than the person I was then. And ultimately, in my 30ies, so did I.

  104. Reed said:

    My very dear LW, I am so so sorry you’re going through all this hard and stressful and grieving stuff. Many Jedi hugs if you want them.

    I’m afraid I was thinking ‘oh dear Lord this sounds exhausting, it’s only 6 months in, it should be FUN at this point, just dump him already’ when I was only reading about the Sophie shenanigans. BEFORE I got to how unhelpful and unsupportive he was being while you were grieving for your grandmother and all the stress and logistics of dealing with her death and funeral, and then while you were dealing with an unwanted pregnancy on top of that.

    I also had a partner who did the whole ‘oh, you mean this behaviour is upsetting you? Of course I won’t do it again. Oh, did I do it again?’ dance, coupled with the ‘You really need my comfort and support so I will sidle away and ignore that’ dance and I would doubt myself and my explaining abilities and re-explain and re-set the boundaries (always a tiny bit more into my own territory, note, so ‘don’t do that’ became ‘please warn me if you’re going to do that’ became ‘please don’t sulk at me if I’m upset you did that’ became ‘OK, I guess you do that a lot’). It’s not worth it. It’s so very not worth it. Please just dump him, please spend all that energy you’re spilling into dealing with him on looking after your very precious and deserving self.

    • This one here said:

      Actual conversation with my long-ago ex-husband:

      LAX: Could I get you to do me a favor?
      Me: It depends on what the favor is. What do you need?
      LAX: (Put-upon sigh) Could I get you to iron my shirt?
      Me: Yes. Please just ask directly for whatever it is. It saves us from having conversations like this.
      LAX: OK.

      THE NEXT DAY
      LAX: Could I get you to do me a favor?

      When we broke up, even though we’d had a *lengthy* conversation several months prior about what I was tired of putting up with, he acted totally blindsided. He did reference that conversation, saying “I didn’t realize your were talking about breaking up!” Well, I was talking about things I wasn’t going to tolerate anymore, and he kept doing them, so, I guess I was.

  105. Silke said:

    LW, Sophie is a sympton, not the condition. She’s the itchy red rash to his psoriasis. Let them go and scratch each other somewhere else.
    If you leave him after being through all that you have, after writing such a sad catalogue of behaviour to CA, she’s not ‘winning’. You being aware enough to see this all happening and taking steps to improve your life is the win. A relationship takes hard work, but in the good ones you get to see positive results, too.
    Sending you best wishes to manage the things in your life, and Jedi hugs if you want them.

  106. Elder Grantaire (LW 1101) said:

    I think it can be harder to let go of people who (it seems) are not being actively malicious. LW, I don’t doubt that your boyfriend loves you. He may genuinely believe that he wants to do right by you. It’s just…he has proven over and over again that his actual ability to follow through on that is between negligible and non-existent.

    When he apologises to you, he probably means it. Maybe he goes into each of these situations believing that he’s going to stick up for you, be there for you or do the right thing. But either he has the attention span of a butterfly or he just has no self-will whatsoever, and he can’t resist the girl who is sexily rubbing his ego or the impulse to avoid whatever difficult thing he doesn’t want to deal with.

    Like, he looked at the extremely limited emotional effort it would have taken to type and send the words ‘I’m so sorry about your grandma, I love you and I’m thinking of you’, and he was like, ‘oh I’d like to but nooo, too haaard, what’s this over here, A Distraction!’ He probably thinks that he genuinely cares about your feelings, and who knows, maybe he does, but he has consistently demonstrated that he is either unwilling or unable to do a single thing to follow through on that that is even the tiniest bit uncomfortable for him or not the most fun and tempting thing he could be doing right that second.

    I am not for one moment suggesting that either your grandmother’s death or your unplanned pregnancy were fortuitous, but they have given you a very clear view of how your boyfriend reacts to difficult, painful situations. The portrait that they paint is not one of a man who is going to be there for you throughout life’s travails.

    Maybe he could change, but, I don’t know, you’ve already talked to him about this so many times, he’s had so many opportunities to improve, and he’s already dropped the ball so many times that it doesn’t seem like he’s really putting much effort at all into holding onto the ball. Maybe if you poured the next thirty years into gently coaxing and begging and long, exhausting conversations filled with apologies that don’t actually cause any change in behaviour, maybe he would get better, but I don’t think you should have to go through that just to inch closer to a partner who does the bare minimum of what a partner should do, which is support you and listen to your wishes and respect your boundaries.

    It has only been *six months* and this dude has already forced you to do so much emotional work on top of all the other shit you’re dealing with. There are a lot of shitty dudes in the world but there are also dudes who will actually support you without having to be coaxed through it like he’s a small child learning about emotional responsibility for the very first time. You deserve that, in fact you deserve a whole lot more than that because that is the bare fucking minimum of being a human adult in a relationship, and this dude is falling so far short of that line that it is a dot to him.

    Maybe he does love you, but his love is not enough, and also, ‘love’ as a pleasant emotion on its own, when not backed up by any actual actions, is basically worthless. Love is an *action*. He may love you, but his *actions* are not loving.

    • Planegirl said:

      “He probably thinks that he genuinely cares about your feelings, and who knows, maybe he does, but he has consistently demonstrated that he is either unwilling or unable to do a single thing to follow through on that that is even the tiniest bit uncomfortable for him or not the most fun and tempting thing he could be doing right that second.”
      I seem to remember M. Scott Peck making this point in “The Road Less Travelled” – he said something about people who will tearfully tell anyone who listens about how much they love their partner/spouse/child, but who don’t actually *do loving things* to support and care for those supposed “loved ones”.
      As you say, ElderGrantaire, love when not backed up by actions is basically worthless.

    • “Maybe if you poured the next thirty years into gently coaxing and begging and long, exhausting conversations filled with apologies that don’t actually cause any change in behaviour, maybe he would get better, but I don’t think you should have to go through that just to inch closer to a partner who does the bare minimum of what a partner should do, which is support you and listen to your wishes and respect your boundaries.”

      Nope. It doesn’t get better.

  107. I have one ex about whom I have sort of complicated feelings but a) we are not enmeshed in each others’ social lives and b) I would roll over and die of mortification before I did anything that might even be interpreted as flirtatious with him while he had a girlfriend. I’m not saying I’m not a jerk, but I’m not *that big* a jerk.

    LW, you are really into this guy but he is really into attention, from you and Sophie. And the problem here is him, no matter how tempting it might be to blame her–if he had any integrity he’d shut her down and put some distance between them.

    As CA said, it’s not a win if the prize is somebody who doesn’t respect you. Let this tool go and find somebody who is as into you as you are into him.

  108. scrapworks said:

    LW, I came very close to dating someone exactly like this. Very fun, very charismatic, and usually full of the right words. Luckily, before things ever went too far, a few things happened that were red flags in the vein that you’re describing. He had lots of other female “friends” who he had no problem being flirty and touchy with him in front of me. There were lots of smirks and meaningful glances exchanged. Sometimes he would admit that he and one of these “friends” had dated. One, he said he had never dated one girl, then later casually revealed that they had hooked up “once or twice”. There was a lot of this behavior – nothing overtly bad, and yet I could never really pin down who he was (and who he actually wanted to be dating). So I started pulling away and dating men who were much more straightforward. I think if you follow the Captain’s advice, you’ll realize how absolutely exhausting this guy is, and life will be much easier and more pleasant without this dude and his questionable actions draining all your time and energy.

  109. Temporarily Anonymous Flower said:

    Oh LW, this letter resonated with something deep and painful in me. My situation was very different, but the broadest of strokes were the same. These two lines from the Captain nearly brought me to tears because they hit me square in the what-I-could-not-put-into-words:
    “He apologizes, but he doesn’t learn. He handles conflict by telling you what you want to hear in the moment and then doing exactly what he said he wouldn’t do.”
    and
    “He’s the one who would have to do the work, he’s the one who would have to continually demonstrate growth and trustworthiness and learning. ”

    I have been cheated on in the past. My partner initially kept it a secret, but within a matter of weeks, the guilt became too much and he confessed everything, begging me to give him another chance and not to dump him. The main reason I stayed, the thing that made me say, “I think we can rebuild our trust, so let’s give this a try”, is that my partner had a proven track record of learning from his mistakes and really going the extra mile to change his behaviour going forward, to the point where *I* felt inspired to be a better person. Anyone can learn to say the right things and make soothing noises in the immediate aftermath of a screwup, but if the remorse is not genuine, the cracks will eventually show. There may be mis-steps along the way, but your boyfriend should be really *trying* to put your needs first, at a time when he needs to demonstrate that he values your privacy and boundaries, and he has… rather severely dropped the ball.

    Now, this is where my own bias creeps in, because our equivalent of Sophie treated me like garbage and my boyfriend like an object and so he wanted nothing to do with her after that, but my initial reaction to “he invited her to his party and *then* invited me* was to breathe fire like a vengeful dragon. Add that to blabbing about your pregnancy, and… uh… I’m with the Captain, really. He is either careless to the point of extreme or doesn’t *want* to put in the work to rebuild trust.

  110. remi said:

    LW, you aren’t alone. I’ve found myself in relationships that followed a similar beat to what you’ve described. I’m not going to tell you to break up with your partner, because I know I didn’t listen to that advice myself until I was good and ready to check out. I am, however, going to ask you to consider a few things.

    I realize that your partner must be a pretty amazing person – despite everything that has happened, after all, you fell in love with him and want to keep this relationship working. You can see the good things that you haven’t shared here, and the good must outweigh the bad in your eyes, since you want to fix what’s broken. But your partner is the only one who can fix anything here, by working very hard on changing their behavior. And in my experience, personal change is really hard and a lot of people don’t want to or are incapable of doing it, for whatever reason. You can’t plan your life around the person your partner might be. You have to work with who they are. So who your partner is now, in addition to being the otherwise great person that you fell in love with, is someone who will not be there when you are grieving, when you are having medical issues, when you are asking for them to respect you. They are someone who will make other people in their lives a priority over you, and they will do what they want even if they know it will hurt you.

    Assuming your partner doesn’t change, can you be happy dealing with all of that? How long can you make it work? You are six months in now, and this is the part of the relationship when you’re both supposedly showing your best faces. What about a year or two down the line, if Sophie and your partner are still dancing their weird dance, or you need someone by your side through another loss or medical issue? Is everything that is great about your partner going to be worth asking a family member or friend to go to a funeral or support you through a surgery because you can’t trust your partner to be there?

    I’m not telling you to break up right now, because that decision has to come from you. But I am asking you to consider all aspects of your partner’s personality, not just the good and lovable parts, and consider how they will affect your life. It’s worth asking yourself how much time you are willing to invest in someone who isn’t supporting you in the ways you need to be supported, and if the life and partnership you want is compatible with your current relationship.

    • Anna said:

      Ah, this resonated so much with me. I’m currently grieving a very emotionally and verbally abusive relationship, and I feel just as you described it. So thank you for reminding me that breaking up with him, even though it destroyed me, was for the best.

  111. CommanderBanana said:

    Just reading about the interactions between hopefully-soon-to-be-ex-BF and Sophie makes me puke a little in my mouth.

  112. Oh boy letter writer. I am so sorry your boyfriend sucks ass. I don’t have too much to say about Sophie or anything, we’ve all been there and had that boyfriend we can’t trust.

    But. I had an abortion and the guy involved was super untrustworthy. I asked him not to tell anyone, and then he decided to tell people. I was…. devestated. It felt like my story to tell, and I only wanted it known to people who I felt like telling. The thought of him telling the story of *my* abortion that he did not drive me to, pay for, or participate in any way in… Ugh. I knew he’d use it on girls as a way to bond by framing it as though he was this poor sad guy who had this bad experience. It was just not something I could stand.

    So. I told him it was a mistake and I never actually had an abortion, and that I just lied to make him feel bad. I probably looked a little crazy, but it helped me to take back control of the story. Now he can’t tell anyone I had an abortion, because he doesn’t know that I did.

    Anyway, please know we are all rooting for you, and that this guy seems to really suck. I hope you can break up and find some people who will support you during the loss of your grandparent and unwanted pregnancy.

    • rectilinearpropagation said:

      The LW is 100% justified in doing the same thing.

      LW, feel free to come up with whatever story you’re comfortable telling if you think it would be preferable to the “My girlfriend is pregnant and having an abortion” story your boyfriend told his friends (and they’re telling lord knows who else). They are entitled to know anything about this and if the only way to make them “unknow” it is to replace it with a fib, so be it.

      Normally, people would warn about telling lies because then you have to worry about keeping it straight but since you never plan to talk about this with them ever, you shouldn’t have that problem. Hopefully when you break things off with him you won’t even have to see his friends again. If you do, just refuse to discuss it: “I told ex-boyfriend not to tell anyone about that. I’m sure you understand that I don’t wish to discuss it, especially since you aren’t supposed to know anything about it.”

  113. Anne said:

    There have been a couple of letters in which the dude is clearly either consciously or unconsciously excited by the idea of two women vying for his attentions, and with varying degrees of intention has been encouraging it. Looks like that’s what’s happening to me. I’m sorry, LW, this guy is especially immature.

  114. Easter said:

    Hi LW. This letter resonates so much with me. When I was 25, I had a two year long relationship with someone pretty similar to your BF. The red flags were all there, as Captain Awkward articulated so well (and a thank you to you, Captain, for articulating what I haven’t been able to for a dozen years!). I spent the entire relationship trying to “rebuild the trust” and a whole ton of time thinking there was something wrong with ME that I couldn’t trust this person (my parents divorce, my previous relationships, just something inherently defective about me, etc.) My then-GF exploited my insecurities, first subtly (unconsciously?) and eventually directly. She spent the entire relationship gas lighting me in some form or another – again, I like to think it started unconsciously (she was big on telling me – and everyone – exactly what I wanted to hear in the moment, even if she had no way to follow through) but eventually intentionally and directly. All that to say – it’s taken me 12 years, a subsequent failed relationship, and therapy (both with a therapist and so much time talking with friends and family) to recover from that relationship. LW, I think you know the answer to your question. I think you know that you *can’t* rebuild trust in this relationship, that his person – whether maliciously or not – is not trustworthy. How does the saying go? “Advice is what you ask for when you already know the answer”?I can’t go back and tell 25 year old me to take the hit of ending the relationship, that it would be the better option in the long run. And I’m not saying I regret the relationship – I learned a lot about myself and I’m better because of it. But I hope that you listen to what I think your gut is telling you and GTFO of this relationship – you deserve so, so much better.

  115. Vicki said:

    I think you can’t, because i think the actual question in this case would have to be “how do we build 9not “rebuild”) trust in our relationship? And you’re starting from a situation of actual distrust, for real reasons, not from neutral (as with someone you’d just met) or with trusting them for non-rational reasons, things that are positive but not directly related to being trustworthy (you like their accent, or they look like your favorite cousin, or share your taste in music…)

    So, yeah, I agree with the Captain and lots of commenters, what you should do is break up with this guy, soon, in the way that does you the least harm–don’t try to hurt him, but don’t hurt or twist yourself in an attempt to make it easy for him. Something like “I’m breaking up with you because this isn’t working” not “it isn’t you, it’s me,” because it is about what he did, and failed to do.

  116. Honestly maybe because I am old and cranky but I would have just given a pithy Dan Savage DTMFA response.

    Only two possible motivations for the BF to behave as he does:

    1. He doesn’t WANT Sophie but his ego/immaturity needs her to want him for the ego boost, and he will never pick you over the needs of his ego

    2. He does want Sophie either as a backup plan or as a cheating partner in a consensual nonmonogamy situation, and he will never other than grudgingly pick you over his chance to hit that in the future

    Even if Sophie were out of the picture, your BF’s response to the loss in your family and the pregnancy indicate he’s not on Team You. He only wants you when you light and fun and a Cool Girl, not the real stuff that comes from a whole person.

    So sorry LW but you deserve better and I hope you find it in the future.

    • Oops nonconsenual nonmonogamy! Typo

      • MsM said:

        I mean, he could be hoping for that, too.

  117. Thinking back to some old CA posts that feature Jane Austen references and photos, I feel like there is a missed opportunity here for Mansfield Park pics. Like, oooooohhhhhh just putting on a PLAY for FUN, god, Fanny, why are you so stuck up, this is totally above board and normal and not because certain folks want to rub against eachother in their plausible deniability costumes?

    • Beth said:

      I LOVE the expression “plausible deniability costumes”.

      LW, you deserve better. Dump the dude, mourn your losses, breathe deeply, move on. You have me cheering for you in my corner of the internet.

    • goddessoftransitory said:

      There’s a reason Mansfield Park is my favorite Austen, and this is it. It’s amazing to what lengths people will go to set up elaborate scenarios in order to Stand Real Close, especially since it’s so completely obvious what they’re doing. So much more so than just sneaking out the window at night to hook up!

  118. Mel said:

    The advice I read once is that if you’re dating someone who makes you feel crazy, you should step away.
    It doesn’t even have to mean they are a bad person- just that you don’t feel good dating them.

    I think that goes double for if you’re dating someone you don’t feel like you can trust.

    I have no idea why, but young Me would try SO hard to make relationships work, even if the guy made me feel crazy or horribly insecure – and the guys I was dating were absolute gentlemen compared to what you described.

    But still, nothing good was going to happen from trying to make those relationships work and you can’t expect anything good from making this one work.

    I kind of never expected to find a guy who was everything I wanted and needed, but I kept failing because I wasn’t paying attention to all the warning signs that a guy was bad news (for me at least).

  119. Lapis Lazuli said:

    I could ubderstand the boyfriend not stepping up at the first incident.

    But my god, he should have realized her birthday bash was conpletely intended to get him and her to do the pantless tango.

    “i don’t ubderstand why you want to film this scene. We are no longer dating.”
    “Sophie, I am dating OP and I want to be wxclusive with her. If you cannot respect that or her, then we will have to part ways.”
    “Why did you send this selfie to OP?”

    He lets her disrespect you and he lets other people know your personal life. My guess is that he told his dude friends as some sort of “locker room brag fest” at your expense.

    He is a manchild that needs some growing up to do, and you are not his mom.

  120. LAUREN said:

    LW, Captain Awkward’s advice is solid and I’ll echo what others have already said and say that your BF has shown you what kind of person he is when there’s a crisis or a stressful situation. Stress is part of life and relationships and he hasn’t shown you that he’s aware enough of his own mistakes that he’s willing to apologize and fix it.

    As an outsider looking in, you’re doing all of the emotional labor in this relationship. You’re the one writing for advice about how to build trust and potentially repair the damage done and what has he done? He’s ignored you during an unplanned pregnancy, ignored your needs, and flirted with a ‘friend’ specifically after you told him how uncomfortable it made you. He said the words but he hasn’t put in any of the actual emotional labor.

    Find someone who is willing to share that with you and not assign it to you.

  121. randomcheeses said:

    LW, just for some perspective, a number of years ago my brother told me that his wife (at that time his girlfriend) was having an abortion and he told me because he needed to talk to somebody about how he was feeling about it.

    Here’s the thing though: He told only me, in a private conversation at my home. Plus at the time, he and my sister in law were living in another town a good two hours drive away from me. I was not then acquainted with anyone in my sister-in-laws social circle and I had only met her a couple of times. Even if I did talk about it to other people (which I did not) the chance of me accidentally blabbing about it to someone who might know her was extremely slim. Also, he asked her if it was okay to tell me and waited for a yes before saying anything.

    Your guy is not even showing half the basic respect you deserve right now.

  122. blackbird said:

    Thanks for the warning, very much appreciated.

    • blackbird said:

      Ugh, why did this show up as its own comment? That was meant as a reply to Saskia upthread.

      • Saskia said:

        You’re very welcome, glad you saw it.

  123. Kate Brender said:

    No specific advice from me, beyond seconding what the good Captain already said. I just wish to share a story from when I was 23:

    A boyfriend I’d been dating for Way Too Long decided it was really important that he win a cute little toy he thought I’d like from one of those claw machines at a fair. I told him that was sweet, but I didn’t particularly need it, and I’d rather spend time talking with him or going on rides. Nonetheless, he persisted. He pumped quarter after quarter into that machine, and kept failing to win the thing. I, being 23 and fairly bad at using my words and asserting myself at the time, stopped arguing after a while, and started giving him my own quarters. Later on I would run *multiple* trips to the change machine to get *more* quarters from the dollars that were coming out of *my* pocket to lend him. As he continued to not win the toy, he got more and more frustrated, and he started banging on the machine and swearing at it while families with young children hustled past side-eyeing us.

    He eventually did win that toy, and gave it to me as promised. I believe he thought that giving me the toy made it all worthwhile. He probably thought he was being chivalrous and cute by using his own effort to get me a thing I’d like. But whenever I looked at it, all I could remember was the miserable 90 minutes and nearly $20 that I spent getting it, and all I could think of was how I’d *told* him what my wants were, and he’d ignored them, thinking that his own assessment of my wants was more important/accurate. I broke up with him shortly after that, and my friend and I ritualistically burned the little blue stuffed bunny.

  124. Heuristic Chick said:

    I have dated this guy. A lot, actually. I am dating Very Much NOT This Guy now, and it is night and day difference.

    When you feel empowered to say, “hey, X interaction felt sort of hinky to me, what’s going on with that?” and THEN YOU ARE TREATED AS REASONABLE? Gah. What an absolute gift.

  125. Hi LW. I am so sorry about all the shit you are dealing with.

    Your guy sounds like a charming millstone around your neck. He is lovely, I am sure. He is probably lots of fun to be with when he wants to be. The thing is, no matter how pretty and charming and seemingly enjoyable that millstone is, it is still dragging you under water and drowning you in the muck of his personal millpond.

    I don’t really know of a way to build trust in your guy again. My own experiences with millstone men in my past all ended with me breaking up with them way too long after I probably should have. This guy doesn’t sound like a trustworthy or reliable partner for you. Gossiping about you to his friends is not something a safe, loving, caring partner should do. The whole Sophie situation seems really hurtful to you. Seems like your guy was trying to gaslight you about that. Not bothering to respond when faced with a death in your family or an unintended pregnancy was just shitty behavior on his part.

    I’m sorry. This all just sucks. Please take care of yourself, and gather kind, supportive and trustworthy people around you. Jedi hugs if you want them.

  126. sorcyress said:

    So, about a year and a half ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of seven years. He was a different kind of Exhausting from your boy, but here is a thing I noticed reading your letter and Cap’s response and these comments:

    Every time I read a cap thread about shitty partners, for years, I was seeing my partner in them. Even when it was a different kind! And now I am not –I am genuinely looking for my other partners in here, and not seeing them reflected and that is so very gratifying and lovely.

    Please do yourself the gift of no longer reading advice columns and flinching because that sounds like your boyfriend but he’s not “bad enough” to break up with. Just break up. Focus on friendships and partnerships where you can feel safe. It’s an amazing difference and I highly recommend it.

    • The only reason LW — or anyone — needs to break up with someone is “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore.”

      (Agreeing with your point, not arguing, because I’m afraid that’ll be unclear.)

      • BigDogLittleCat said:

        Musing on a tangent: It was a major turning point in my life when I realized that pretty much everything anyone does [or does not do] is “because they [don’t] want to.”
        Why someone does or doesn’t want to can be their life story, or because they don’t want to face perceived repercussions if they choose the alternative, or really anything or nothing, valid or invalid, but the decision to act or not is based on what they want/don’t want.

        It’s amazing how quickly people shut up their pestering why-why-why when you tell them “Because I want to.”

  127. Kaos said:

    LW…put it into a different scenario for a minute.

    You are the manager at Job. You have an employee who keeps doing a thing. You tell him to stop doing Thing, including how important it is that he does it differently. He keeps promising to change but never does. How long until you fire him?

  128. TinLizi said:

    Romantic partners should be like Tupperware. So, one day as I was packing my lunch, I was trying to very carefully make sure that my Tupperware of soup wouldn’t tip even the slightest, because I was afraid it was going leak. Then, I realized, that if I had to constantly monitor the Tupperware to make sure it wouldn’t spill, what was the point of having it. I’d be better off tossing it and getting a new one that worked. That’s how relationships work, if you have to constantly monitor your partner to make sure they won’t cheat or break your trust, why bother? They’re not a good partner and you’re better off without them.

  129. Anna Condon said:

    Letter Writer,

    I am so, so sorry for what you are experiencing right now.

    While I can’t speak to the other aspects of your letter, I have a full years worth of “he continually seeks the company of someone who aggressively flirts with him and who blatantly tries to squeeze you out of the picture” behind me.

    Please believe me when I say GET OUT NOW. Abandon ship. Dump him before you become any more attached than you are right now.

    Story Time

    My ex-fiance showed up for me in so many countless ways for five years before we got engaged. Going into our engagement I could never have imagined that he would ever do anything to hurt me, and I never once thought he would cheat or push boundaries with other women. I had five years of history of perfection — and when one “childhood friend” showed up on the scene he turned into a completely different person.

    She came back to town in January last year, and because my fiancé and I had a good history of communication I knew that he had had a crush on her for much of their middle/high school years. I also knew she had always treated him as a fall-out-boy, someone to be the emotional crutch but never a serious love interest. But, when she saw how happy we were together and how successful he had become I could literally see it in her eyes. She wanted him and I was in the way.

    I’m not sure whether my fiancé always had boundary issues and I just hadn’t uncovered them yet, or if he only had them with her. But after 10 months of having the same conversations, I realized that he was never going to respect my needs. His desire to keep this relationship (I won’t call it a friendship, he started dating her after we officially broke the engagement but were still trying to make it work) trumped my need to have him maintain appropriate boundaries.

    Some examples of the boundaries he routinely “forgot” to keep:
    “you can be friends but because she openly flirts with you in front of me I would prefer if you didn’t hang out with her alone”
    “please let me know if she will be at an event so I’m not blindsided by people sending me snapchats of you together”
    “no feelings talk about her recent breakup with her partner of five years”
    “don’t ever lie to me about seeing her”
    “she is not allowed to sleep over at your house”

    (that last one was a stipulation right after she showed back up in his life; she spent the night at his house while I wasn’t there and tried to have the “so why didn’t we ever date?” conversation)

    The thing is, he knew that I thought everything this girl did was inappropriate. He knew that I was literally having panic attacks because of it. He agreed to a specific set of boundaries around the relationship. But then he conveniently “forgot” to enforce them. Eventually, that escalated to outright lying to me because it was easier than having to apologize every time I found out he’d pushed the boundaries.

    End Story Time

    Trust is hard enough to repair when you have someone who is cognizant and respectful of your feelings. For someone who inadvertently/willfully ignores you feelings/needs there is no hope.

    Dear LW, he’s putting his desires/needs before yours. Please move on to someone who will be there for you during the hard times.

  130. Ben said:

    Most men in their early 20s are very immature. He may or may not become mature at some point in his life, but it is very unlikely there is anything you can say to him to make that happen. I would advise you accept him for who he is, or dump him and move on.

    • LW lists the boyfriend as 26, so more like mid-late twenties, at this point.

    • Persia said:

      Some things should never be accepted. I was extremely immature in my early twenties, and I never was as awful as LW’s boyfriend. She should not have to put up with this guy for another second.

  131. Shifrah said:

    Test.

    • Shifrah said:

      LW – People have given you good advice about not bringing your boyfriend to a surgical abortion, or having him support you during a medical abortion. It’s possible that he will present himself as a candidate nonetheless and that you will have Feelings about including him.

      Please don’t. Even if he’s full of excellent intentions, and even if he could fulfill them, an abortion is not the time to be hashing out your expectations and feelings about your partner. You will be upset and conflicted about him no matter how well he’s actually behaving at that moment. In fact, if he’s behaving very well you might be even MORE upset and conflicted about him.

      So please, whether you intend to work on the relationship or not, whether you intend to have a big breakup conversation or not, please please table all that stuff until you have safely had your abortion with the support of someone with whom you FEEL safe. Your boyfriend is not that person.

  132. DameB said:

    Love is work, but ‘trying to repair trust that someone else broke’ is the wrong kind of work. Hugs if you want them.

  133. DeltaDelta said:

    I read the first incident and thought Sophie’s behavior was rubbish. Boyfriend obviously can’t control other people’s actions and behaviors, so other than using his own behavior not to react to hers, there’s not a lot Boyfriend can do. Then I read that Boyfriend kept inviting LW to gatherings thrown by Sophie – and it occurred to me this would have been a great time for them both to talk about this. LW owns the fact she should have mentioned something sooner, like, “dude, what’s with Sophie?” would probably have worked. And to be fair, it seems like Boyfriend could/should have said that he and Sophie once had a little bit of a thing. If he wanted to see other people at Sophie’s parties, or he wants to be her friend, or whatever was causing him to keep asking LW to go to these things, he should have said so. Boyfriend going radio silent during some hard stuff – not cool at all.

    It seems like Boyfriend maybe isn’t all that into LW. Or that he is but he also still likes Sophie. Or that he wants to keep Sophie as a possible backup. Or that he likes Sophie’s attention and doesn’t seem to care that this is having a negative impact on LW. Or that he’s recklessly clueless and is going to do this same thing to Sophie.

    It’s unfortunate, but it seems like this isn’t a good match.

  134. Reformed Sophie said:

    LW–I was a Sophie once, for quite a long time, I’m ashamed to admit. I don’t think I actually wanted to get together with my friend, but I didn’t like his GF (that she is a Darth Vader GF doesn’t make what I did okay) and his longing looks did wonders for my ego during a prolonged single period on my part. Eventually, his GF got fed up, issued an ultimatum, and his behavior during that time made me realize he was being super shitty to *both* of us and I’m embarrassed I participated in those shenanigans for so long.

    I am writing to say this because it took me realizing that he was being an asshole to a woman I really dislike to fully recognize he was also being an asshole to me. Maybe that perspective will be useful to you as well? Sophie doesn’t deserve your sympathy, obviously, but what your BF is doing ultimately amounts to is: feeding his ego at the expense of *two* people he is supposed to care a a lot about. That’s super shitty and was, for me, clarifying to realize since I have a hard time getting mad at people on my own behalf.

    tldr: The Captain is right. Break up with this guy.

  135. Oy, vey! My condolences regarding your grandmother, and regarding the pregnancy. This guy likes the attention he gets from Sophie, and he’s not going to give that up. I’m so sorry.

  136. Another Armchair Anthropologist said:

    Hi, LW. It’s taken me a bit to read through all the comments to get to the reply box—and I second, third, fourth, and infinity join the rest of the Awkwardeers (That’s a term, right? I’m not normally a big commenter)—in 1) giving you my condolences, 2) having had past relationships that mirror your experience, and 3)hoping you have a Team You to accompany you to your appointment. I hope you can also feel how strongly everyone who’s posted above is already on Team You—a virtual Team You, but a Team You all the same.

    There are a few pieces of advice that I haven’t seen above that I’ve received/learned-the-hard-way I’d like to share with you. I hope they help.

    1) From my father, on struggling to get out of a similar relationship (that had some bonus alcoholism, gaslighting, and emotional abuse) around your age: “He’s not going to change for you. He’ll change for the next person.”

    We’ve established that your BF is just not in the same place as you emotionally or compassionately (see: all the comments above). Breaking up with someone you love is difficult to do, and it’s easy to fall back into a relationship with them after because it’s comfortable, because you miss them, because despite everything wrong there are Reasons to keep trying anyway.

    2) Coming off of that, it took me years to realize finding the right partner for you involves finding someone who already shares at least 82.65% of your values on life, respect, death, compassion, cooperation… basically everything that goes into a relationship. You don’t have to match entirely (it’s very unlikely anyone ever does), but the point of a relationship isn’t to educate or parent your partner to a level where they treat you as a fully valued individual they treat with warm consideration. When people say relationships take work, we tend to think of it as a struggle. A relationship is something you should enjoy, something you shouldn’t fear. When you find the right person, you will feel more like you—like you can breathe easily, not like you have to hide your opinions or carry a constant knot in your chest.

    3) From probably not the most likely source, but I like to reinterpret it: “Be brave! Be strong! Be bold!”
    Okay, that’s from “Macbeth” and the rest of the quote is witch shenanigans messing with Macbeth’s head, but ignore all that and it becomes a battle cry. Face the world and all its challenges bravely! strongly! boldly! Be on your own Team You.

    4) It’s okay to not Be the Duck*. Feel your feelings. Don’t bottle them up. If you’re not already seeing a therapist/think you can afford one, there are a few ways to find access, such as looking for pro-bono nonprofits in your state/region; if you’re still in school, seeing if there are counselors available; or if your work has extended employee benefits. When I left my aforementioned ex, I was likely enough to get ten (free for me) sessions with a therapist through my employer.

    I’m suggesting seeing someone outside of all of this not for any one of the issues you mentioned in your letter, but because you’ve had so much thrown at you at once. Something else to consider: you’re also not the only one going through grief right now—your family is, too. You should absolutely talk with your family (if you and they are so inclined), share memories of your grandmother, give each other hugs… but they understandingly might not be able to be there for you as much as you need. You do not have to deal with the full burden of your world spinning wildly out of control on your own. As part of your own self-care, allow them the space they need without losing yourself. This is a time for unencumbered love.

    So, be brave, be strong, be bold. You’re not alone.

    *Be the Duck = to let something (usually an insult or a hurt) roll off you like water rolls off a duck

  137. Dear LW:

    Ignoring his behavior and just looking at the way you wrote this letter, you wrote it as an indictment of him. This letter was basically laying out all the evidence of the ways this guy was making your life worse. And the subtext to a letter that is 99% “this guy is bad and here’s why you should think he is bad” is “Have I put in enough work so I can quit working at this relationship and dump him?”

    I just want to remind you that there is no minimum requirement of suffering or rationalization of sweat equity for dumping someone.

    The only reason you need to dump someone is that you want to be with them less than you want to NOT be with them.

    And this letter is chock full of “I do not want to be with this guy” and has two little sprinkles of “I want to be with this guy.”

    I mean, maybe you are a lawyer or a philosopher and everything you write comes out sounding like a legal filing or a persuasive monograph, but, even if so, the side you chose to argue was “Can i get away from him already?”

    Yes. Yes, you can. You can always dump someone because you don’t want to date them anymore.

  138. LW, I am sorry you’re going through this. Based on your letter I think, at this point, you write yourself a thank-you note for realizing only 6 months in that you’re giving yourself the gift of freedom from this dude. Best wishes for strength & peace in the coming days, and Jedi Hugs from afar, if you want them.

    Captain, I needed this, and will be quoting you far and wide to my gals over wine this evening: “I’ll also tell you that you are too precious and lovely, you are worth far too much for me to advise you to bet any more of your irreplaceable time on someone who has been so careless with you.” Thank you.

  139. When you’ve known someone for years, and they’re behaving badly, you know whether that’s normal for them or not, and if it’s not normal you can Work On The Relationship with the confidence that your partner is a decent person and you have a relationship worth working on. (I mean, everyone has SOME bad behavior, and some bad behavior isn’t worth forgiving, but I’m talking about the sort of bad behavior that’s not a one-off dealbreaker but is a dealbreaker if it keeps happening.) When you’ve known someone for six months and you’re seeing bad behavior, especially bad behavior in several different areas and bad behavior that doesn’t get fixed after one direct conversation, that probably is normal for them and you probably don’t have a relationship worth fixing.

  140. Been There said:

    LW, I was in a similar situation when I was 23 and I hope I can provide some perspective. Back then, I was in a relationship with a 26yo guy who I thought I loved, who had a Sophie, and I got accidentally pregnant (though I had a miscarriage before I could get an abortion) when I went to Europe to visit him while he was studying abroad. He ghosted me, and then he accused me of making everything up and making “too big a deal” out of it. “I think you’re taking things too seriously,” he said to me, like I was a child, when I was crying because I’d just had a miscarriage and was dealing with that + hormonal fluctuations. The whole thing was very messy and it took way too long to get that guy out of my life, because NONE OF THIS STUFF WAS A BIG DEAL TO HIM. Because the truth of the matter was he didn’t care about me that much, and I didn’t want to admit that to myself at the time. It took way too long to remove him from my life, because he really liked having ladies fawn over him (and for a while said whatever he could to keep me around), and I didn’t want to believe he was as terrible as his actions demonstrated.

    BUT HE WAS THAT TERRIBLE and unfortunately so is your boyfriend. You are going through some really hard stuff right now and your boyfriend is supposed to be your teammate through that. ALL of his actions here indicate someone who doesn’t care about you in the same meaningful way that you care about him. And that sucks. It should be a big deal to your significant other that your grandmother passed away, even if he didn’t know her. And it should DEFINITELY be a big deal to him that you got accidentally pregnant. He’s half responsible for that! This dude is not worth the time you are putting into him. Dump him and take care of yourself. I know it sucks, and it’s really hard. I’ve been there. I’m 35 now and I’m here to tell you that IT GETS WAY BETTER!! Be kind to yourself, and I hope you find a dude worthy of your attentions in the future. Hugs xx

  141. coffeepenguin said:

    Dear LW,

    one thing that really stood out for me from your letter is how much you have already rationalized his abhorrent behaviour. To the point where you write things like “he let a stranger insult me to my face”, “disappeared when my grandmother died” and literally “ignored me when I told him I was pregnant” (you can’t imagine just how livid this alone makes me on your behalf) and yet you are trying to make this letter seem as if the biggest problem was the whole Sophie incident, which, coincidentally, you are also trying to give yourself the fault for (“Surely it is MY problem that I can’t deal with my partner’s ex, and not the fact that he is behaving extremely inappropriately with regards to an ex love interest in the first place.”). Dear LW, when your boyfriend is so consistently fucking up it is not your job to sit him down time and again and try and teach him how to be a minimally decent human being while simultaneously swallowing all your hurt and putting all your own needs on the back burner. HE is the one destroying all the trust in your relationship and yet YOU are writing the Captain a letter to try and rebuild it while your boyfriend is doing what, exactly? Continuing to ignore all of your needs and boundaries? Dear LW, I know your affection and love for him are genuine, but in my honest opinion, he isn’t worth even an ounce of it. I am SO angry on your behalf, and I really hope that you will be able to let yourself feel that anger too (and then dump him. definitely dump him).

  142. Anna said:

    LW, I’m sorry you’re going through this and that you’ve had to dealt with your boyfriend’s behavior. You don’t deserve any of this, but I understand why you’ve tried to fix things with no avail. I’m supporting you as all of the other commentators and I agree that you should dump him and RUN.

    However, I also know that you won’t do it until you’re ready. That’s why I’m invoking the Sheelzebub principle: If things stayed exactly like they are, would you stay another month? 6 months? One year? How long would you stay? And if you decide to stay, what would you do? Give it a hard thought, but please think about what you want, what you need, and what you hope for your future (plans, family, friends, job, health etc.). If the idea of having your boyfriend around for the future scares you, drains you, makes you feel exhausted, then your mind and heart already know the answer. You just need to come to terms with it.

    Sending you warm jedi hugs if you want them.

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