Breaking up/co-parenting with a difficult person
July 7, 2014 6:53 AM Subscribe
I've decided to end my relationship with my boyfriend/fiance of nearly 6 years. We have a 3 year old. I've realized I would rather be single/co-parenting than have my child see such an unhappy relationship. My boyfriend is regularly verbally/emotionally abusive to me in front of our child, and has a history of being emotionally withdrawn. For the purpose of this question please assume that we are definitely breaking up and that there is no other option for me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm seeing a psychologist and they have suggested my boyfriend has some narcissistic traits and that breaking up/negotiating custody will likely be difficult because it will hurt his ego, and that I should try to give him the impression the break-up is his idea and not make my concerns clear at the beginning/let him lead the way (lest he use my desires/values to control and punish me). I am at a loss over how to do this because he has made it clear he doesn't want to break up, he's said we'll be ruining our child's life if we don't stay together. What strategic things can I do to prepare myself, our child, and my boyfriend for this break-up/physical separation, in light of his possibly narcissistic/selfish/controlling bent? I've considered telling him that I've signed a lease (after I actually have), and that we have 60 days to figure out how this will work between us, and that I promise not to tell his family/anyone who knows him/us about our relationship difficulties beyond that we're simply incompatible and sad things aren't working out, and let him decide when he wants to tell them and our greater circles of friends. More details after the jump re: my finances and desires for what the future might look like.
Before getting the advice to let my boyfriend lead this process I attempted to broach the topic of breaking up/living separately with him a few times in the last 6 months and he has made it clear he does not want to break up and is willing to put on a front to make sure we can get our child to and from his daytime caregivers and while we get our finances in order (I make a decent salary that is larger than his, we are still paying off some credit card debt but it's almost gone, all of our excess funds for the last year have gone to debt repayment and we have no savings). I make enough that I could cover the rent of our current apartment, or find a similar or slightly cheaper one on my own. I would be happy to stay where we're living currently (great location, great neighbours, great landlord) but we're both on the lease and I don't think my boyfriend will move out if I want to stay.
I'm comfortable with my boyfriend co-parenting and do not want to separate them, but would like primary physical custody or would like my child to be able to sleep in the same bed every night (this is my idealistic wish, not something I expect to get). Although I can't really stand my boyfriend at this point I would be fine with him say coming over after dinner most weeknights to hang out with our child, I don't want to make him disappear, I just don't want to be enmeshed with him/obligated to sleep with him anymore. I am doubtful my boyfriend would actually be willing to parent our child half the time on his own but if he wanted to I'm sure we'd all adjust, again I have no interest in separating my child from his father but I'm doubtful my boyfriend can hack it without moving back in with his parents (who babysit 3 days a week while we work). We have no major shared things of value other than a used car and are common-law in Ontario. I'm willing to leave nearly everything but my clothes and sign a lease on another apartment, but I don't know how to do this without blindsiding him.
Please hivemind, how can I do this properly?