After breakup and an abortion, how much time should we spend together?
February 24, 2017 9:35 AM   Subscribe

I was seeing a woman for six months last year, and then broke up with her in December. (Things were getting too serious too quickly, and I felt we were incompatible in several important ways.) I sent a long email explaining my reasons. I said I thought we shouldn't see each other anymore, for both our sakes. Eight days later, she took a pregnancy test (after a couple of days of feeling fluey) and found out she was pregnant. She let me know the same day.

We spent the month of January seeing each other frequently and talking a lot about whether she would have an abortion. I thought it would be best because she and I weren't compatible as partners and so wouldn't be as co-parents. She was hesitant; she seemed to want to keep the pregnancy specifically because it was mine, which I thought was a bad reason to keep it. (Neither of us are religious.)

She ultimately had the abortion. Now she is wanting to see a lot of me, up to and including having sex with me. I don't think this is a good idea. My reasons for breaking up with her still stand. Her argument is that she needs my company for comfort as she makes her way back toward normalcy after the abortion.

Will my spending time with her help her recover more quickly, or will it have the opposite effect by dragging out our breakup? How can I best do right by her at this point?

Thanks in advance for your compassion.

(Clarification: the pregnancy was unplanned on both our parts. Yes, we were stupid and careless, and yes, I can say for my part that I will be smarter and more careful in the future.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would (very gently and politely) insist on a clean break, and encourage her to talk to a therapist or close friend. You are not obligated to help her get over the break up. She is an adult, too.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2017 [41 favorites]


I'm assuming that you helped pay for the abortion and provided logistical assistance for it. If so, then, no, you don't owe her your company indefinitely after the event. You broke up. You dealt with the consequences of a joint decision that arose after the breakup, but it doesn't undo the breakup.
posted by praemunire at 9:40 AM on February 24, 2017 [16 favorites]


Everybody is allowed to feel however they feel about their abortion but...I don't think that spending time with you is necessary or automatically helpful, even if that is the conclusion she's come to at this point in time.

You are allowed to have your own boundaries, and your inclination to keep your distance is fine, just be kind while you are being firm.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:48 AM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


i'm not sure how popular this opinion will be, but tbh, i hope you paid for the entire abortion. not only was it *her* who has to endure the phsycial, mental and emotional labour of a traumatic* procedure, she will also be footing the bill for any associated therapy due to this trauma. men who decide to forego safer sex can't get off the hook with just "oh sorry, i'll try harder next time." no. do everything you can to make this a more equitable distribution of responsibility, now.

then move on with your clean break.

*with caveat that not everyone experiences abortion the same
posted by crawfo at 9:50 AM on February 24, 2017 [57 favorites]


Did you break up with her via email? Nah, dude. Come on. Not after six months.

But water under the bridge. You did what was right in the aftermath. You can safely cut ties and move on at this point.
posted by sockermom at 9:53 AM on February 24, 2017 [19 favorites]


This person can not process and move past the ending of the relationship and the abortion with you in their life. Nothing they think or say changes this fact.

It's clear this person wants to reconcile. You absolutely do not want this. Go no contact. Be kind, be very firm and consistent. Block on social media, create space for this person to process and move on.
posted by jbenben at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


I think the most compassionate thing you could do here is go out somewhere for coffee, or grab some coffee to go and sit at the park, and you can tell her that you feel regret for not handling the break-up well, for not being as responsible sexual partner as you should have been, for causing any pain (however unintentional). You can tell her that you wish her nothing but the best, that you think she's a lovely person and has many good qualities and have enjoyed getting to know her and spend time with her.

And then you can tell her that despite her many nice qualities you don't feel that you two make good romantic partners in either the short or long-term. That, for your own well-being and recovery, you need to move on and need to make a clean break. Let her know that you think it would be best to go no-contact for a while, so you can both get perspective and figure out how you move on without one another so closely intertwined in your lives.

Then, let her say what she needs to say. Take it, listen, affirm her right to feel what she feels while still asserting your rights to feel what you feel and have your needs. Then go your separate ways.

You could in 6-8 weeks send her a note to check on her to see how she's doing and let her know that you hope she is feeling better. Don't offer to meet with her, just let her know you care about her recovery. Or just leave things at that. You don't need to offer indefinite support here.
posted by brookeb at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2017 [49 favorites]


Regardless of how you handled the abortion, you are not the right person to help her move on. Gently remind her that you are broken up, that your feelings have not changed. Wish her well and drop contact.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:10 AM on February 24, 2017 [7 favorites]


I sent her a long email

after 6 months? Unless you thought she was going to flip out and make you unsafe in some way, that's pretty shitty. That made me kinda pissed at you. But this:

She ultimately had the abortion. Now she is wanting to see a lot of me, up to and including having sex with me. I don't think this is a good idea. My reasons for breaking up with her still stand. Her argument is that she needs my company for comfort as she makes her way back toward normalcy after the abortion.

Made me pissed off FOR you, because no, nope, NOPE, that is not ok. You don't want to be with her, full stop. She does not get to make an argument, of any kind, against that. She DEFINITELY does not get to be emotionally manipulative to get you to sleep with her. That is fucking gross and coercive no matter what the circumstances.

You were a coward about the break up, fine. But then you stepped up and handled the consequences of your relationship. You were there for her. Now it's done, and you no longer want to be in a relationship. You are never obligated to have sex with someone, and you are not obligated to continue this relationship, either. As others have mentioned, if she needs people to help her recover, that's what friends, family, and therapists are for. She doesn't need you for that. She wants you, and is saying she needs you.

The advice to apologize for your own shitty behavior and then gently but firmly assert your personal boundaries is good advice. Get out of this situation. It's over.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2017 [11 favorites]


Her argument is that she needs my company for comfort as she makes her way back toward normalcy after the abortion.

She knows best how she feels but the way you tell it, it sure sounds like she wants your company in part as consolation/compensation for you putting pressure on her to have an abortion because you thought she wanted a baby for wrong reasons. I don't blame her at all for whatever feelings she has now, but you almost certainly know that giving in and spending time with her after the way the pre-abortion discussions went would be an absolutely awful thing to do. the sooner she is able to be angry at you (without you there) the sooner she will feel better.

and I also trust you paid for the whole abortion. Paying for half of it only works if you also undergo half the d&c or take half the meds. You owe her that, plus a profound apology for whatever actions of yours put her in the situation to have a decision to make; you don't owe her companionship now or any further contact.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:59 AM on February 24, 2017 [6 favorites]


Please keep in mind that physically, she is experiencing a biological process that is possibly affecting her feelings. Her body was building pregnancy hormones, and they don't instantly dissolve when the abortion occurs. It sounds like this was a good, mutual decision you both made, but keep in mind she is the only one experiencing the physical and biological effects of it. Please just be really gentle and understanding of her. You're right that it's not a good idea to continue a relationship with her, but you can still be a friend to her. You probably owe her money, sincere apologies and a great deal of compassion.
posted by areaperson at 11:38 AM on February 24, 2017 [9 favorites]


Also STOP SLEEPING WITH HER.

yeah don't do that and do not justify it to yourself as a favor you're doing her to help her feel better. you can't have sex with someone for that. I can't tell if you've already "up to and including" slept with her or she just asked you to and you're considering it, but if you did, you're going to have to break up with her all over again and for real this time. and it's going to be deeply unpleasant for you but much more so for her.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


We spent the month of January seeing each other frequently and talking a lot about whether she would have an abortion.

This probably seemed like the conscientious and kind thing to do at the time, but I think it would be really understandable if she feels-- as queenofbithynia suggests-- you talked her into having the abortion. Since then, it sounds like you have been sending mixed messages about the relationship, and this whole thing is much harder and more complicated as a result. You can't take all of that back now, but I think you can apologize and, yes, break up definitively.
posted by BibiRose at 11:54 AM on February 24, 2017 [6 favorites]


She certainly needs company as she moves her way back to normal, but not necessarily your company-- and unless you want your company (especially if there are romantic overtones and double-especially if you're still sleeping together, which you need to STOP NOW) to become part of her new normal, you need to stop immediately. She can't move on to whatever her post-you life will be until you're not part of it anymore.
posted by Kpele at 12:25 PM on February 24, 2017


Break up with this woman. Absolutely do not sleep with her again. It is not doing her any good at this point to look to you for support. Be respectful, be firm and walk away, go no contact. This sounds like a situation where its possible she is emotionally manipulating you to keep you in her life. If she understands that you are no longer there no matter what, she will find the emotional support and healing she needs elsewhere. Right now, the two of you seeing each other is only going to make it worse. Remember how absolutely crappy this situation was for both of you the next time you are tempted to have unprotected sex!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:38 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, so, as someone who always tries my best to be nice, experience has taught me that being super duper nice and supportive as you leave does not work. It just drags things out and causes problems. It makes them keep hoping that you really love them, because you so obviously care about their welfare, more than anyone else ever has...yadda yadda.

Also, pregnancy is a mind altering state. It is normal for people to bond during pregnancy and spend a lot of time together. This process helps the kid's survival chances.

These hormones can affect not only the person who produces them, but also people around them.

I will suggest that this woman may feel that doing what you wanted -- getting the abortion -- is a path to winning you over/getting you back. She may also feel that you owe her, both for getting her pregnant and for "making" her get the abortion.

I have had two babies. I am not suggesting she is a bad person. But hormones are kind of one helluva drug, so to speak. And she is not yet over the grip of those changes.

You say you want out of this relationship, but you are doing all the wrong things to actually get out.

Don't be cruel or say anything ugly or whatever. Be considerate and respectful. But if you really want to be kind to this lady, don't be overly "nice" to her either. Let her know you two are broken up and now that the pregnancy is terminated, you have no further ties to each other and that was the entire point of wanting it terminated. So, you wish her well, but it is time to part ways.

And then stand firm on that without being nasty.
posted by Michele in California at 2:43 PM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


I got as far as "After breakup and an abortion, how much time should we spend together?" and thought "WOW I cannot imagine a situation where the answer is not ABSOLUTELY ZERO TIME WHATSOEVER," and nothing in your question did a thing to shift that opinion.

What exactly do you think the best case scenario is here? You guys magically sex your angst away and then part as friends? That is never ever how that works. Now imagine the worst case scenario: you guys are having sex. Suppose she gets pregnant again. It's not outside the realm of possibility.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:45 PM on February 24, 2017 [13 favorites]


now that the pregnancy is terminated, you have no further ties to each other and that was the entire point of wanting it terminated.

I'm not sure he can say this but also follow the advice to refrain from saying anything cruel and ugly. The above is as close to an unspeakable truth as I can imagine.

The worst-case scenario -- not necessarily the case but completely possible -- is that she did want a baby but wanted him more, and figured she'd be noble and not "trap" him into an ongoing relationship by continuing the pregnancy they both started. in hopes that this would purchase his goodwill and gratitude. It's enough of a cold slap from reality for her to become aware that there is no reward in this world for that kind of nobility and probably not in the next world, either; he doesn't have to help reality along quite that hard.

a woman in emotional distress is very likely to hear anything along those lines as I was only being nice to you the whole month of January to make absolutely sure you wouldn't have a baby out of spite, and now I can stop. I don't see how he can say anything but "I'm sorry for what I put you through, but everything I said when we broke up still stands."
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:14 PM on February 24, 2017 [12 favorites]


Now imagine the worst case scenario: you guys are having sex. Suppose she gets pregnant again. It's not outside the realm of possibility.

I was friends with a good Catholic boy whose girlfriend ended up pregnant because they skipped the condom once. He left for a week to arrange an apartment, etc, to do the right thing by her and their baby. Without telling him, she got an abortion in his absence. Once she realized what a stand up guy he was, she kept trying to get him to have sex with her without a condom. He learned from the doctor at her first OB appointment that she was not pregnant.

I met him years later. He was still incredibly bitter about the whole thing.

Don't keep seeing a woman you talked into an abortion and do not want a future with. You already have evidence that the two of you together as a couple are fertile. This is not always true.
posted by Michele in California at 9:23 AM on February 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


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