Breakups can be messy, highly emotional events. There may be a lot of residual love, grief, anger, or even hatred between the couple who has decided that staying together simply won’t work. You expect that ending it will mean that you’ll never have to be in each other’s lives at all if you don’t want to be.
But then your cycle is late. And you start having nausea and vomiting. And your breasts hurt. After you’ve done the mental math, you decide to take a pregnancy test, then another for good measure. It’s confirmed: You’re pregnant with your ex’s baby.
This can be a pretty significant stressor, even without the changing hormones, physical symptoms, and big feelings about what motherhood means to you. Heck, even the decision to tell your ex about the baby can be a big deal. But don’t worry, we’re here to help, here are a few tips for having such a conversation:
5 Steps to tell your ex-boyfriend you’re pregnant:
1. Assess the Situation:
Take a step back and consider why your ex is your ex. Was it simply bad timing? Were you two different people with different desires? Or maybe, your ex is a fundamentally unsafe and dangerous person. Every situation is unique and varied.
There is an idea that fathers “have a right to know” that they have gotten someone pregnant. This is a nice sentiment but it ignores the reality of the situation. There are any number of possible outcomes, even if you think your ex is a generally decent person. Your ex might not provide for your child. Your ex may use the child as leverage. Be safe and think about if you want to involve yourself and your future child with this person for the rest of your lives.
Having a child is a personal choice. If you do not want to have a baby, you do not have to. However, the more people you involve in making that decision, the more opinions and feelings you have to weigh. Consider the fact you are the only person carrying the fetus and might be the only person parenting that child for a considerable amount of time.
2. Know What You Want:
If you decide that you’re going to have the baby, reflect on what you’d like your life to look like with the child. Where will you live? How will you care for the child? Who is your support team? Do you want the baby’s father involved in its life? And, critically, do you want to be in a relationship with the baby’s father? If you’d rather not keep the line of communication open with your ex but are involving him in your child’s life, what will your communication look like?
By answering these questions ahead of time, you’ll be better prepared for a lot of the big questions that may arise when you speak with your ex.
3. Have a Plan for the Conversation:
Decide ahead of time what you’d like to address during your first conversation with your ex about the baby. You may want to take the time to only speak about your pregnancy and your plan for it, or you may want to give your ex another chance for the sake of this child and let him know about your grand plan to get back together. Either way, know what you want to say.
Because this conversation is so significant and can be highly emotional, be sure to make arrangements accordingly. Don’t try to cram the conversation into someone’s lunch break or send the message over text. Try to have enough time and space for both parties to assess their feelings and process what the future might hold.
If your first attempts at reaching out to your ex are not going well, you may be asked to provide evidence that you are pregnant. He may also ask for proof that it is his child, which you would be unable to provide until later in the pregnancy. It is your personal choice if you want to indulge these requests, which might also provide a better picture of what kind of co-parent your ex might be.
4. Be Direct:
During your conversation, be clear about what you’re hoping to get out of it. If you’re only telling your ex about the baby as a formality, with no expectations that he’ll take on the role of “dad,” tell him that. If you want to try to repair your relationship and be a traditional nuclear family, tell him. Clear, transparent, and honest communication keeps the conversation fair.
You may feel tempted to share this news with your ex in a cutesy, silly way, especially if you know that he had plans for being a dad. On the other hand, you may feel tempted to throw the ultrasound in his face. Try to take a more measured, mature approach. You can celebrate at any time, but the tensions might be running high during this first conversation. Try to discuss it as a matter of business.
5. Prepare for the Worst:
Unfortunately, not all ex-partners are going to be receptive to hearing that you are pregnant. You may dream that this baby will be the thing that restores your relationship, but it might not turn out that way. Be prepared for the possibility that your ex may want nothing to do with you or the child.
Alternatively, your worst-case scenario might be that your ex wants to get back together and force you to marry him for the baby’s sake. If this is not what you want, do not do it. Stand your ground as much as you need to, as it’ll be good practice for when you’re parenting. The baby does not have to keep you tied to a life that you don’t want.
You should also be prepared for what could happen after the conversation. Your ex might be your biggest cheerleader until the day the baby comes when he’s nowhere to be found. He might take the conversation well but become angry afterward. Your ex is a person too, with all the complexities and emotions that come with facing parenthood. He may not rise to the occasion like you would hope.
Having a baby is a big deal. Set yourself up for success by considering all the factors that will play a role in your baby’s life, including their father’s involvement. By planning ahead and finding the best way to fit your ex into his child’s life, you can ensure smoother sailing in the future.