My girlfriend is pregnant
February 8, 2018 7:27 AM   Subscribe

What would you do if your open relationship got real, real fast?

I got a girl pregnant after knowing her for 2 months. She wants to keep the baby and I am (was?) fully supportive of her. I'm well off and have the means to take of her and the baby.

I know that it's probably a phase where I go through some denial but there are some serious issues here that I need to ruminate on. We are not in love. We weren't even in a relationship. We hardly know each other... All of these things I think I can look past, and work on for the better. However, the circumstances leading up to this point are giving me pause (that idiom does not quite grasp the gravity of this situation).

In the course of three months that I've know her, there are about 6 different people she may have slept with (one was a girl and including her and myself, there are two other guys that I definitely know of). Granted she's been staying with me, so I'm kind of her main relationship and those others were just one night stands and slightly more casual than our relationship, with the exception of her ex, who she ceased contact with. On a side note, this should be a text book case against open relationships.

She's three weeks pregnant -- and the other two guys that I know she slept with occurred about a month and a half, to two months ago. But this is one of the crutches that I'm hung up on. Two weeks ago, she went to meet one of her old high school teachers, explicitly just to have sex with him. She told me this because we really weren't even dating. She told me that it never ended up happening. She told me that that's kind of her fetish -- doing what is inappropriate. Which then made me think about this one guy who used to be her boss and she said she really wanted to fuck him, and another time she lied to me about hanging out with another one of her bosses, and how that would fit her inappropriate fetish.

And that is only one of many paranoid lines of thought I've had about this girl. Some are petty, but some are serious. Like this teacher that she's fucking -- she's slept with him at least a few times before -- she told me that his wife has that condition where sex is permanently painful and that's why he cheats on her. Then I thought well maybe he can't have kids and she's just using me to father a kid for this guy who may or may not even be able to have kids and that's why she wants to move back to her home town where this guy lives (really she just wants to move closer to her mom, which would make sense that her moms house is close to the high school she went to) yada yada yada... sorry.

She says she wants a real relationship with me and I would like that too. I think more than likely it is my kid, but there's a chance that it's not? Can I even trust this girl with a real relationship? Am I going to really move across states and upend my life (granted I kind of hate my life where I live now) for this girl I barely know? Is there even a right answer to any of this?
posted by jiblets to Human Relations (53 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The right answer is - you have a responsibility to ensure the child you fathered is well taken care of and your custodial duties are in place. That's clear - whether that means moving to be closer to the child or supporting from afar, it can look like a lot of different things.

I would nope right the fuck out of everything else here, because what I see is less an open relationship (built on trust and mutual consent of the rules) and more a space where one person is fucking anyone they want with or without your consent or knowledge. It puts your safety and sanity at significant risk.
posted by notorious medium at 7:33 AM on February 8, 2018 [22 favorites]

I don't know about the rest of this situation, but I think your first step is a paternity test, which can usually be done at 8 weeks. That will determine whether your choice here is voluntarily or legally obligatory.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:36 AM on February 8, 2018 [102 favorites]

Oh, and for reasons above, I might challenge paternity on this one to make sure you're not being taken advantage of. You have at least one time you were lied to in a very short relationship which would make me want external confirmation of your responsibilities.
posted by notorious medium at 7:38 AM on February 8, 2018 [12 favorites]

I wouldn't even consider a relationship with this woman until paternity was established and then I'd still think long and hard about it. She likes to do what is inappropriate!?! Doesn't sound like a sustainable relationship at all. Cue the cheating. Ugh
posted by poppunkcat at 7:42 AM on February 8, 2018 [22 favorites]

In no particular order, you need to get a lawyer, a paternity test, and a therapist. Not to pursue any specific outcome, but to ensure you understand your options. (Like, the lawyer in particular does not have to be adversarial, but assuming this is your child, you'll want to understand your various options for support, access, custody, etc. "Move in with her" or "marry her" are not your only options!) And definitely you need to hash out with a therapist what is going on here before you pick up move and throw your life overboard.

This isn't a healthy dynamic, and you need to separate the issue of the relationship from the issue of the child. If the child is yours, you have responsibilities towards him or her. That's entirely separate from the relationship with the mother, and you should consider those issues separately, not leap into a problematic relationship because you have a child together.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:43 AM on February 8, 2018 [53 favorites]

Oh wow. Ok. So.

This is not someone you want to be in a romantic relationship with. She's not someone you want to be in any sort of relationship with, but that's too bad, because you're stuck with her, assuming the baby is yours. (And you should not assume the baby is yours. I'm not even sure you should assume she actually is pregnant, unless you actually saw her take the pregnancy test.) Your first step is to break up with her. Do it nicely and respectfully, and affirm your commitment to co-parent, pending the outcome of a paternity test. I would also consult a lawyer. Assuming that she has the baby and that it's yours, you're going to want to have an agreement in place about custody, child support, etc.

And then you should start thinking about what kind of parent you want to be. Being a good parent is going to involve maintaining a respectful relationship with the mother of your child, but the point of that relationship is to be a good parent. You definitely don't want to date this person.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:44 AM on February 8, 2018 [24 favorites]

Coparenting is as real as a relationship gets - 18+ years of sharing responsibility for the same human being. I would focus on that, drop the rest.

You need a paternity test (it's a blood test during pregnancy) and then a family lawyer. Focus 100% on the parenting piece.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:44 AM on February 8, 2018 [13 favorites]

These numbers don't add up to me based on my knowledge of how conception works. Maybe this woman is incredibly in tune with her body and cycles but...

Pregnancies are dated from one's last menstrual period. Ovulation occurs 2 weeks after the period - about half way through the cycle. That is the time that once can conceive. (It is actually a fairly small window of time.)

Some pregnancy tests can show results about a week after conception up to right before one's period is due but two or three weeks after conception is more typical.

Pregnancy symptoms tend to not show up until 4 weeks pregnant.

And people don't tend to go to the doctor until 6-8 weeks pregnant. Like the doctor won't even see you yet.

So, her claim of being 3 weeks pregnant make me question this. She probably wouldn't be experiencing symptoms yet, most importantly she wouldn't have missed her period yet. So why did she take the test? How does she know she is 3 weeks along?


I feel like a jerk here but if I were involved in trying to figure out who the father of this baby was, I'd really want more information about her cycle.
posted by k8t at 7:45 AM on February 8, 2018 [96 favorites]

Definitely find out, conclusively, whether it's your child. If it is, you're legally obligated to support it. Love is voluntary, but you will find it incredibly rewarding, in spite of the trouble (which sounds like it will include moving). But it really doesn't sound like you need to do that from within the framework of a relationship between you and the mother. Be supportive and friendly, fulfil your duties and assert your rights with regard to the child, but don't marry someone you're not in love with, and probably not even suited for.
posted by ubiquity at 7:45 AM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

By 3 weeks pregnant I am assuming she means 3 weeks from conception, correct? It's not technically how things are measured, she'd be 5 weeks pregnant not 3, but if you are sure she's had a positive test then that's probably what it is. (I was absolutely having symptoms by 4 weeks, btw, so that's not necessarily a red flag at all. If she knew she'd been unsafe she could also conceivably have tested at 3 weeks, most tests will detect a pregnancy that early).

Which. Well. Are you sure she's had a positive pregnancy test? If she is pregnant you DEFINITELY need to establish paternity before deciding anything but I do urge you to make sure this is not just drama! from someone who voluntarily admits to having a fetish for "doing what is inappropriate".
posted by lydhre at 7:58 AM on February 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

Also if you haven't already, stop sleeping with her, or if she's not pregnant, she will be. The fact that you're "well off" is a big red flag that she might be trapping you. You're well-off, responsible and nice enough to take care of her and any kids, and you don't seem to really mind if she sleeps around with whoever she wants to. I hate to say it, but some women will take advantage of you.
posted by The otter lady at 7:59 AM on February 8, 2018 [27 favorites]

Came to say what k8t said - timeing seems really soon. My immediate thoughts are 1) she found out she was pregnant, and then worked to clear her schedule of other men, and then say "Wow, guess what I just learned." 2) she's not actually pregnant, but hey, how inappropriate is it to tell someone that you're seeing in an open relationship that you're pregnant and watch the mental games play out in their head.

Having a co-parenting relationship with someone who has a strong thing for doing "inappropriate" stuff sounds like a bad thing to be tied up in. Trying to have a deeper relationship than just co-parenting is something that you should run screaming from unless that's also your thing.
posted by nobeagle at 8:05 AM on February 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

We are not in love. We weren't even in a relationship. We hardly know each other...

There's an answer to one of your questions. You need to either slow this "relationship" waaaay down or end it entirely. It's time for this woman to move out of your house and for you two to put some significant space between you. Stop sleeping with her. Stop going on dates that could lead to sleeping together. This needs to become a platonic relationship immediately.

Then you two need to spend some time actually getting to know one another. What are your values, your hopes for the future, your approach to handling money, sharing emotional labor, views on parenting. You shouldn't start making plans to move to another state without knowing these things about a potential partner. Maybe you'll discover you two are actually meant for each other (doubtful in my opinion), but at the very least you need to understand these things if you're going to co-parent a child.

And definitely get that paternity test.
posted by brookeb at 8:06 AM on February 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think a first time parent might describe 5 weeks pregnant (ie, 3 weeks after conception, which is roughly 2 weeks after the start of the last menstrual period which is when doctors and everyone use to calculate "X weeks pregnant") as 3 weeks pregnant. She would have just learned, or learned maybe 1 week to 10 days ago.
posted by slidell at 8:09 AM on February 8, 2018

I'm a bit confused about the pregnancy timing. In an unrelated incident I had to take her to the ER. They wanted to do x-rays and asked if there's a chance she might be pregnant. Doctor came in the room and said she's three weeks. Like I said -- it's most likey my kid, but the paternity test is a definite.

Thank you everyone who has responded so far. This has been really enlightening. I kind of wrote this in a haze when I got up from a night of tossing and turning and I apologize for any lack of clarity.
posted by jiblets at 8:34 AM on February 8, 2018

So everything else aside (let's assume it's a few months from now and paternity has been established): you don't have to be in a relationship with this woman to be supportive or to be a good father to a child. You don't have to speed up the seriousness of your romantic relationship or marry her tomorrow. In fact, since if you have a child together your lives will be linked, it's in everyone's best interest to do things that won't lead to drama and upset.

It's more important, I think, that you think about what kind of father you want to be instead of what kind of romantic partner. And for that you have a bunch of months (again, assuming you've established paternity) to make decisions. For example, if you're going to move, move for the baby, not for the woman.
posted by brainmouse at 8:35 AM on February 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Aw, hell no!

1. Paternity test and no more sleeping with her.
2. She sounds kind of manic to me. We are all special snowflakes but running around trying to rack up inappropriate “flings” seems not an adult, stable thing to do.
3. She is living with you? How did that come to be in such a short term? Seems again “inappropriate” and strange.
4. What do you want in a life partner or girlfriend? Is she that?

Once you have confirmed that you are the father, you can work on whether she is partner potential. Go talk to a lawyer.
posted by amanda at 8:40 AM on February 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I completely agree with all the sentiments about being a good father before being a partner, and the like. Also, I never said anything about marrying this girl -- I actually don't believe in marriage. The kid will be my first priority.

I've already come to conclusion that I'm okay with all the things that make her crazy (for lack of a better term) -- you have to remember this is one sided and I haven't told you anything about myself.

To be clear, she stated that she wants to in a strictly monogamous relationship now. How do I broach the subject of trust and paranoid insecurities that I've mentioned before, if I were to try and make this work?
posted by jiblets at 8:48 AM on February 8, 2018

It's probably not your kid. She's potentially not even pregnant, so DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT have unprotected sex with her.

The smart decision here is to get a lawyer, and then have the lawyer let her know that you do not want a relationship, that you will be pursuing custody, and that all further communications with you need to go through the lawyer. You should then cut contact with her and make sure that you are NEVER alone with her ever again.

I give it a more than 50% chance that when you do that, the pregnancy will disappear. If it doesn't, you can be less of a hardass about contact etc. But you need to start from a position in which she gets nothing from you for creating this particular drama.

You are not going to do this because you are totally snowed by this person's constant crisis and neediness, but this is the smart thing to do.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:51 AM on February 8, 2018 [9 favorites]

To be clear, she stated that she wants to in a strictly monogamous relationship now. How do I broach the subject of trust and paranoid insecurities that I've mentioned before, if I were to try and make this work?

...oh, now she wants to be monogamous. Look, you need to stop listening to what she is saying and start getting back in touch with reality. There is no reality in which you transition to a happy monogamous nuclear family. You are in for 18+ years of you and your kid being tortured by her instability. That's about it.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:54 AM on February 8, 2018 [12 favorites]

Paternity test for sure.

And then...there's a lot of focus here on this woman's "drama" and what a menace she is, but, as far as I can tell, OP, you've been very open to having this drama in your life. She hasn't exactly hidden her behavior from you. You've just run into one of the consequences of doing so. Once the current situation is a little calmer, you should see a therapist about getting your own inner life more stabilized. Either you've been awfully naive/passive or you're the kind of guy who likes to take up with broken women because they are open to being used in certain ways. Neither is a recipe for happiness. With a kid on the way, you're going to need to be able to build sounder relationships.
posted by praemunire at 9:03 AM on February 8, 2018 [16 favorites]

Oy. Ok, let’s assume that there’s a kid, and that this kid is yours. Kids need stable parents in your life. Will being in a romantic relationship with this woman lead to more or less stability? All signs point to less. Far better to have a child grow up with amicable co-parents than relationship drama.

No to the monogamous relationship. No to cohabitation. Yes to lawyer and therapist.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:09 AM on February 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've already come to conclusion that I'm okay with all the things that make her crazy (for lack of a better term) -- you have to remember this is one sided and I haven't told you anything about myself.

Ok, so let's hear a little more about you. Why? Because the AskMe community's overarching goal vis-a-vis this question is ensuring your well-being and that of this child, should it turn out to be your offspring. Right now it's looking like your combination of wealth and naivety, along with your tolerance for drama, is putting you in jeopardy.
posted by carmicha at 9:12 AM on February 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

My cousin, who is a handful, let's say, got pregnant by a guy she had been casually seeing for about 2 months. They tried living together, they tried having a monogamous relationship, etc, before the baby was born. They continued attempting to have a coupled relationship after the baby was born. They even tried being married for a few months.

It was ALL a nightmare. They are two people who maybe shouldn't be married to anyone, certainly not at that point in their lives, and definitely not to each other.

You know who suffered? Their kid. Because now instead of having two parents who parent him, he's got two parents who can't even be in the same room with each other, who hate each other, who both have their own problems but are fighting over him to address personal grudges with each other from opposite sides of the country. It's a fucking mess. It's one thing for adults to do it to each other, but there's a now FIVE year old kid who has only known disgruntled idiots for parents. He's not going to have an easy life.

I strongly urge you to follow the advice of the people saying NOT to pursue a coupled relationship with this woman right now, but to take practical steps to address 1) paternity, 2) legal concerns, rights, and responsibilities, and 3) get into therapy for yourself to help manage this large life change.

It's not about you and it's not about this woman and it's not about the two of you in any kind of paired off scenario. There's a potential small human involved who's going to have to deal with the fallout.
posted by phunniemee at 9:20 AM on February 8, 2018 [31 favorites]

Thanks for the updates. When the ER doctor said she is 3 weeks pregnant, they were calculating it based on her answer to the question "What was the first day of your last menstrual period?" that the nurse or other intake person certainly asked her (women are always asked this question at medical appointments). I know that when I was in a stage of my life where I wasn't really paying attention to my cycles that I was pretty bad at remember when that day was, so I'd give a rough estimate. It is possible that she gave a rough estimate too, and as a result the calculation of how far along she is might be off.

But regardless, you do want to get a paternity test done when it is possible.

For now, start getting your own priorities in order. Assure her that you will be a supportive father, pending paternity being established. (Since you're both aware that there were other partners, this isn't as offensive as it would be if you were in a monogamous relationships.) Be very careful to not make promises, especially financial ones, until you know the law.
Meet with a family law attorney (quietly?) to learn about how co-parenting without being married (or even being in a romantic relationship) works in your state. This can really vary. If you are the biological father though, it is likely that you will have some financial responsibilities at the bare minimum.
Do not kick her out of your home until you speak with an attorney. While it isn't a great idea to be living with someone you've known for 3 months, asking her to leave might have legal implications down the line.

The question of a romantic relationship is separate from the parenting one. Is it typically easier to co-parent with someone you're in a romantic relationship with? Absolutely - because parenting is hard and trying on couples, even if they are deeply in love with each other. It is possible to do though.
Is it easier to co-parent with someone that you're married to? Yes (and I say this as someone who co-parents with someone whom I was not married to) because there are tons of various legal protections for people that are married. But it is also fine to co-parent without being married - but it is also very smart to find out how best to do that legally.

But can two people develop a romantic relationship with each other when a child is on the way? It might be harder because the pregnancy would impact the decisions. It would be tough to break up with someone 8 months pregnant. Also pregnant people aren't in their best emotional or physical condition (often) and it would be a tough time to dedicate energy to developing a relationship. And does it sound to me, from your description, that this woman is an A+++ potential romantic partner? Not really because you've already been really concerned about her trustworthiness. But you're the best judge here.

As far as co-parenting, there are so many ways to do this - and again, speak to a lawyer to find out what the law says in your state (IANAL). In most states, parents have a co-parenting agreement that is legally filed and outlines the expectations about the co-parenting of the child. Some states require people to go to a class/training as a part of these filings.
Within these co-parenting documents, co-parenting is financial, emotional/love based, but also legal. For example, both parents have to be in agreement about a circumcision, both parents have to be physically present to get the child a passport, both parents need to sign off on all sorts of school forms.
At a minimum you could financially contribute to the child but have no legal relationship with them - like there would be paperwork that states that one parent is not the legal guardian of the child and when the single parent goes in line for the child's passport they present that piece of paper saying that the other parent isn't legal guardian. In some ways this is easier for people in such situations because they're not having to regularly contact the other parent to get them to sign or do things or to make basic decisions like enrolling the child in a daycare. People in such situations can still have an emotional/love role in the child's life but they don't have a say in various legal decisions.
Beyond that, the relationship models are vast. Some people have some residential time with the child. Some people don't.
Some people have agreements about how far co-parents can move from each other or staying within a particular school district. Some people have agreements about introducing children to new dating partners or having a dating partner spend the night when the child is in the home.

What I'm trying to get across here is that the co-parenting relationship is quite complicated (legally, financially, emotionally) and that you should really find out what it is all about before making decisions related to this woman and that child. This will be a 19 year relationship at the absolutely minimum - both with the child and with this woman.
posted by k8t at 9:20 AM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

To be clear, she stated that she wants to in a strictly monogamous relationship now

Even before you posted this, I was going to post: it's possible that this will change what she likes and wants. Very little changes your life like having kids. I think you could take things day by day for awhile.
posted by slidell at 9:28 AM on February 8, 2018

Just to add the the wise voices here saying DO NOT under any circumstances have any non condom using sex with her. She may be sounding you out to see how you react to the idea of a child, prior to actually being pregnant. And if she definitely is pregnant then ask for a paternity test in the light of her other partners. You are doing nothing wrong in protecting yourself.
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 9:39 AM on February 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

She says she wants a real relationship with me and I would like that too.

You say you "barely know her", yet call her your girlfriend in the title and put this statement in the body. Can you clarify what type of relationship you would like to have with her?
posted by bearette at 9:50 AM on February 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you get lucky and the paternity test shows it isn't yours, I'd cut this toxic mess out of your life. You might want to go get an STD workup, too.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:27 AM on February 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

When the ER doctor said she is 3 weeks pregnant, they were calculating it based on her answer to the question "What was the first day of your last menstrual period?" that the nurse or other intake person certainly asked her

Good spot, and it makes me feel even stronger about the possibility that there is no pregnancy. The doctor's assertion could have come only from her responses to this question and the other question women always get asked: "Is there any chance you're pregnant right now?" If she's said yes to both and led the medical staff to believe she's pregnant (how inappropriate!) they may have just been passing on what she said to them, perhaps even assuming you knew already. It doesn't sound like a pregnancy test was administered, or that you saw test results. So determining whether it's real is first thing on the agenda, and in your shoes I'd want to be present for the test or have it medically verified and supervised by a medical staff I have no reason not to trust. Well, after stopping sleeping with her and moving her out of your house.

Usually, I rage with feminist anger whenever I hear of an unexpected pregnancy and someone's first response is "make sure it's yours!" But in this case, it's red flags all the way down. You're hanging out with a manipulator, and in that environment, your first and best friend is facts. Facts you can see and verify yourself.

The other shitty move in this playbook is, if the possibility of pregnancy is challenged, is to hear there's been a sudden miscarriage. Shitty because it's real that something like 1 out of 4 early pregnancies end in miscarriage. If there is news of a miscarriage, it may never be possible to know if the pregnancy was ever real. But in that case it won't matter for the long term questions.
posted by Miko at 10:28 AM on February 8, 2018 [25 favorites]

I think the real issue here is that you don't know her. Everyone is making a lot of assumptions about her and her character which all may well be true, but they might not be. All we know is that you've been in what sounds like a casual relationship with someone who likes sex with lots of people and that she's not completely honest with you about her sex life. You don't know each other, though, and while I am the total honesty poster child even I can recognize that in this circumstance most people would understand or even make excuses for someone not volunteering everything about themselves, sexual or otherwise.

If she hadn't gotten pregnant, what did you expect to happen with this relationship? Her wanting to be exclusive with you now reads to me that she wants a stable relationship with the parent of her child. But lots of other people have pointed out that she just might be trying to take advantage of you. We don't know and you don't know, because you don't know her. In your shoes I would:

-Get a paternity test
-Want to understand why she wants to raise this child
-Be clear on why she wants a monogamous relationship now--but I probably wouldn't be able to trust what she says, because I don't know her
-Decide what I wanted out of this situation long-term
-At this point I'd probably decide that I simply don't know her well enough to make any big decisions focused on her
-But if I did decide to continue a relationship with her, I'd insist on couples counselling for the sake of getting to know her better and dealing with the paranoia and putting us both on the same page
-I would not move at this point

There is a very real possibility that after being monogamous with you, she'll want to sleep with other people anyway or will want to open the relationship back up after the kid is born. Nothing has changed with either of you or the relationship. Nothing about you two or your relationship with each other has motivated her to change the nature the your relationship. What's changed is that she's gotten pregnant. What she's asking for now sounds kind of crazy. Maybe she really doesn't like her life and this seems like a plausible escape plan for her, I don't know, but it looks like she needs you to take care of her and her baby. Being pregnant and giving birth is also really going to cut down on her opportunities to have casual sex as it is so yeah, you're right to be suspicious. If you must proceed, proceed with caution.
posted by Polychrome at 10:34 AM on February 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

I don't know about the rest of this situation, but I think your first step is a paternity test, which can usually be done at 8 weeks. That will determine whether your choice here is voluntarily or legally obligatory.

I agree with this, not because you will necessarily make the choice not to help support this child if it turns out to be someone else's, but because it being mandatory to the point that you lose your drivers license if you don't pay is pretty fucked up when it isn't your kid and given some friends' experiences trying to get that sort of thing resolved I have little faith that it ever will if the birth certificate ends up having your name on it.

Were the consequences not such that many people lose their jobs over them, it would be a different story..

(Don't get me wrong, in the grand scheme there are way more deadbeat dads who refuse to pay for their offspring's care than women misidentifying the father, but it does sometimes happen)
posted by wierdo at 10:55 AM on February 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Don't try to turn this into a relationship because you're going to have a child with her. Co-parenting, yes. A reason for a committed relationship, no. That'd turn into a nightmare, fast.

Expect a paternity test - that should just be a given, due to the situation. Make sure custody, visitation, and support are all confirmed through the legal system, to protect both you AND the child. And then co-parent. Do what is necessary to provide for the child, not to support her. Don't be a meal ticket/sugar daddy.

And given her history, don't be all that surprised if she ends up leaving the child with you more and more. If you end up with concerns for the child's safety while in her care, you can and should seek greater custody.
posted by stormyteal at 10:58 AM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

The most common ways of determining paternity in utero carry risks of miscarriage. Unless you want to pay out of pocket for the new expensive blood test, you'll likely be waiting for the birth before paternity is sussed out. Also I'm really not sure why after you made clear the doctor confirmed the pregnancy that people are still saying she's lying about being pregnant. A doctor isn't just going to say that.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:02 AM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

She likely had blood drawn or a urine sample. It's not weird to test for pregnancy at the ER. The dating was based on when she said her last period was. This isn't weird at all.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:12 AM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Anyway, about your relationship with her and the probable child. Be a dad first, get through the pregnancy, (with paternity worked out, obviously) be co-parents for 6mos-1yr and then decide the relationship stuff. If you want to move, move but maybe consider not living together.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:14 AM on February 8, 2018

The question of IF she is pregnant is different than if it's yours. She is pregnant. You know that because a doctor told you. Of course you should get a paternity test. I don't see a single person in this thread disagreeing with that.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:24 AM on February 8, 2018

Firstly, it's pretty obvious you don't have a lot of respect for this woman. I'm not sure how you came to live together, but that's clearly not working well for you. She is pregnant, and this child is potentially yours. I would recommend that rather than working on building a relationship you aren't sure will work that you work on being decent humans to each other. Meanwhile, have a plan for if this kid is yours, and start working on what happens if it isn't.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 11:30 AM on February 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

In the course of three months that I've know her, there are about 6 different people she may have slept with (one was a girl and including her and myself, there are two other guys that I definitely know of). Granted she's been staying with me, so I'm kind of her main relationship and those others were just one night stands and slightly more casual than our relationship, with the exception of her ex, who she ceased contact with. On a side note, this should be a text book case against open relationships.

Well, no. The text book case against an open relationship with her is that she has apparently lied to you, not that she had sex with other people. That's kind of the point of an open relationship. Apart from that, I don't know anything about this young woman. And neither do you. As you wrote:

We are not in love. We weren't even in a relationship. We hardly know each other.

I am an open-relationship, sex-positive kind of gal and the bashing this woman is getting for enjoying sex with a variety of different people is alarming to me. Is she manipulative? Nobody knows yet. Should you continue as her boyfriend? Probably not.

You can always become romantic later, if you both want to and it feels right. You can always become monogamous later, if you both want to and it feels right. You can always move across the county in the future, if you both want that and it feels right. What you may not be able to do later is negotiate a sane co-parenting agreement.

If this child turns out to be yours and you have not worked out a co-parenting agreement in advance, you may find yourself being held hostage by the mom and unable to live your life the way you want to (in a good, positive parenting way, I mean) because the mom has very fixed ideas that are vastly different from your very fixed ideas. (This is a common thing, including among married parents.)

Like what if she is anti-vaccine? Or has a chronic physical or mental illness that needs to be factored into her ability to co-parent? Or laterbecomes angry and resentful because you end up in a relationship, open or not, with another woman and she still pines to be your one and only?

Shit happens. Getting her knocked up, if that is the case, is just Part 1 of shit happens. As others have said, it's time to go find an attorney who specialises in co-parenting agreements (and family law) to help you create a solid, legal basis for future co-parenting if the child is yours. Then later, if it turns out she is truly your flavour of crazy, have at it. Just make sure you've got some guardrails in place to protect both you and your child.

This assumes that you are a thoughtful and considerate person, of course. If not, please, please, please figure out how to become one in service to any child you might have. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 11:32 AM on February 8, 2018 [25 favorites]

On one hand, you understood that it was casual sex, on the other hand, you disapprove of her desire to have multiple casual sexual relationships and consider it a "textbook case against open relationships." On the other other hand, you say that you want a serious romantic relationship with her now that she's pregnant, even though you don't believe in marriage, don't know her that well, and have "paranoid insecurities" as well as more conventional concerns about trusting her. On the other other other hand, her stated desire to have a monogamous relationship with you now may be something she's feeling as a reaction to the pregnancy news, but not something that she is really ready to do in practice for the long term.

Also I'm confused about the geographical situation -- she is staying with you, but also you would have to upend your life and move across states to be with her?

Look, you two cannot realistically make a decision about your future as a couple right now. 1) Get a paternity test, 2) Establish what kind of support you will provide for the baby if it's yours, and then 3) Take tiny baby steps to talk about what kind of relationship you may want to have, preferably with a therapist who is kink/polya-friendly.
posted by desuetude at 12:06 PM on February 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

> I am an open-relationship, sex-positive kind of gal and the bashing this woman is getting for enjoying sex with a variety of different people is alarming to me. Is she manipulative? Nobody knows yet. Should you continue as her boyfriend? Probably not.

Also, ALL OF THIS and for the rest of Bella Donna's comment.
posted by desuetude at 12:09 PM on February 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

There's nothing wrong with enjoying sex with a number of people. I think the red flag is where she stated that doing inappropriate things is kind of her fetish. That suggests someone who might have some issues with boundaries and adult behavior in general.

And I know people have different opinions about the ethics of this, but I personally find it pretty cruel to sleep with a married man whose wife's health issues prevent her from having sex without pain, especially to do it just for the sake of being edgy or something.

So yeah, having sex with lots of people is cool (better if you're not lying to them). But the two things listed above make me think this woman may have trouble treating others with empathy and respect, and may tend to see other people as a means to an end, and that's not a great person to co-parent with, or to have as a mother, honestly.

So OP - as you're considering your commitment to this child. If it is your child. We don't know her, I don't know her, maybe she's actually very kind and loving and will be a great mother. But if she does end up being a shitty parent, it's going to be on you to pick up the slack and mitigate that damage as much as possible. That will also mean watching your child experience pain that there's nothing you can really do to solve. And always, always being there even if you and the mom secretly hate each other, and putting it aside, because your kid will need you.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 12:14 PM on February 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

Yeah, I’ve had numerous urine tests to rule out pregnancy at the doctor’s office or ER if treatment or diagnostics might harm said hypothetical pregnancy, like x-rays or antibiotics. That is absolutely normal and I’m boggled that people find it hard to believe. Per the OP’s update the question is not whether she’s pregnant but a) who the father is and b) what the OP should do about this relationship with pregnancy in the mix.
posted by lydhre at 12:33 PM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

The puzzling thing about the OP's clarification is that three weeks is almost impossibly early for a pregnancy to be detected. "Weeks" in pregnancy, is counted from the last menstrual period -- two weeks before fertilization. The second sperm hits egg, you're two weeks or so pregnant. Three weeks, then is only seven days after fertilization, which is, at least according to this rando website I found googling, but it fits with what I remember, before even a blood test for hCG would show up positive.

People tell stories in confused ways, but what the OP said -- that a doctor came into a room and said that she was three weeks pregnant -- probably didn't happen exactly the way the OP's words made it sound.
posted by LizardBreath at 12:40 PM on February 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

[Folks, there's a lot in this question that's not super clear and I need y'all to focus on answering the stuff you feel like you can answer to the extent that it hasn't been done upthread already and leave it at that. Going back and forth with each other about your contrasting interpretations of the question isn't really what Ask is for and there's been more than enough already in here.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:46 PM on February 8, 2018

I've already come to conclusion that I'm okay with all the things that make her crazy (for lack of a better term) -- you have to remember this is one sided and I haven't told you anything about myself.

Without putting too fine a point on it, one of the things about "crazy" (your word, not mine) is that it doesn't always stay the same. I am dating a guy who went through a very very similar situation (except he was sure the kid was his) and had a very messy and complicated life with his son's mother who had mental health issues that got worse and not better. And his son has mental health issues and his ex has basically fucked off leaving him as a single parent to a grown man he loves very much but who is also quite high maintenance. Its not something we talk about often, but if he had it to do over again? He probably would have done much of the same things EXCEPT letting his son's mother talk him into having a (bad) relationship with her while she never quite figured out what she wanted and he supported her. Do what you feel like you should, but be aware that there are many many options available to you at this juncture that will narrow severely based on some of the choices you make.
posted by jessamyn at 1:37 PM on February 8, 2018 [12 favorites]

Sure, paternity test is not a bad idea. Let's presume you are the father of this fetus. You have accepted that you will have financial responsibility - good. Now you need to accept that you have a responsibility to be a good father to the child. But the relationship you need to be really committed to is with the child you'll have. Start reading about how to be a good Dad. Read up on nutrition, child development, infancy, pregnancy. Buy her maternity clothes when it's time. Make sure she has good nutrition. (If she has little money, WIC is a great program in the US, and includes nutrition education.) Start saving for college or therapy or both.

In terms of your relationship with her, take it easy, spend time together doing stuff that isn't only sex. Read about relationships, maybe get therapy. You and she are going to have a baby and you will have a relationship of some sort for the period of the pregnancy plus at least 18 years. Learning to communicate well, listening, learning to manage your emotions, listening, being considerate, listening, are all skills you can work on. Do fun stuff together relating to her interests as well as yours. You don't just decide to have a relationship; you build one. People learn and change and grow. Who she really is or can be may blossom, or not. Help her be her best self, encourage her when she helps you be your best self.

Once the baby is born, she will need a lot of help. Infants are very high maintenance, so plan to be around to cook, clean, run errands, change diapers, go to doctor's appts., and spend time with the baby. I hope things go well for you.

My son and his ex- learned about the pregnancy in the ER because they asked if she could be pregnant when they planned to do an xray. She wasn't very far along. Due date is calculated by last menstrual cycle, but ultrasound estimates fetal age.
posted by theora55 at 2:39 PM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh yikes! I hate to sound like an asshole, but if this is your kid, (paternity test right away!) you need a lawyer, because there may come a day when you have to (for the good of your child) take full custody into your own hands.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:07 PM on February 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Step one: re-confirm that she wants to keep the baby. Make it clear that you do not know if a relationship between you two will work out, so she doesn't see greater possibility of that as an incentive to continue the pregnancy. She is also in a big scary situation right now and may not have had a chance to think things through when she said she wanted to keep it.

Step two: if she does decide to keep the baby, get a paternity test at eight weeks. Knowing sooner is worth the money for the blood test, and it's also important information for her to have: she might make different choices if it's not your baby.

Step three: if it is your baby, then start thinking about how you want to handle the situation. Do you see the potential for a serious long-term relationship with her? If not, would you prefer to be an actively involved parent or would you rather just provide financial support?

Step four: if you want to co-parent, think about what that would look like if your relationship doesn't work out, and discuss it with her. You said that co-parenting would mean moving; presumably her support system is somewhere else? Discuss with her where you both will live, how finances will work, etc.

Step five: obtain a lawyer to get advice for how best to support the decisions made in #4 legally.
posted by metasarah at 3:14 PM on February 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

You have got good advice above, for the most part. I won't repeat it all.

What I would add is: inquire of yourself how you got here. What are you doing? You present yourself as a passive guy - you've got money, you are ambiguous and contradictory about whether you even know much about her or feel feelings about her. You say you got her pregnant, but (in asking internet strangers about what to do about it, and suggesting yourself that there are paternity questions) you don't mention any talk about birth control.

All of that is fine for you, as long as it's just you. Maybe you are a passive chaos-acceptant person.

But now there is a baby on the way. If that baby ends up being born and if you are the bio dad, you have the responsibility not to be a passive chaos-acceptant person. So I don't know what it would mean for you to make good decisions about this. But IF i am reading this situation correctly, you have not been a decision-making, well-communicating, person. Put LOTS AND LOTS OF EFFORT into that if you are gonna be responsible for a baby.
posted by sheldman at 5:51 PM on February 8, 2018 [20 favorites]

To be clear, she stated that she wants to in a strictly monogamous relationship now. How do I broach the subject of trust and paranoid insecurities that I've mentioned before, if I were to try and make this work?

You don't broach anything, you say No to her offer, because it clearly isn't what you want, despite sleeping with her, living with her, and describing yourself as her main relationship in the same breath as saying there's no relationship. You have contempt for her sexual habits despite participating in them, and many people here very pleased to share that contempt with no pushback from you; it is unethical in a very black-and-white way to pretend you're interested in partnering with someone just because you want access to their baby.

if for some reason you like cohabitating with her and want to live together so you can start parenting together, go ahead and do that as long as you understand you won't be able to just kick her out in a year or two when it turns out to have been a bad choice, because laws.

get a paternity test once the baby's born. don't be a dick about it, just be reasonable and ask. It will not be good for your child to pretend to love its mother when you barely know her, or to maintain any kind of relationship other than co-parenting. Being a co-parent with this woman will not, and should not, give you special rights to be "paranoid" about who she chooses to fuck. If she takes on up to half the parenting duties, an extra that many women do kindly volunteer to do even after doing all the work of childbearing, she will probably be too tired to fuck around so much for a while, anyway.

seriously, a monogamous relationship with her is obviously a bad choice and if you make it, it will be your own choice that you cannot blame on her. say no. a father, like a mother, has to have perspective.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:27 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Okay, so alternate universe time.

You go to the ER and the doctor comes into the room and says... your problem is fixed you can go home now.

She turns to you and says, I've had a revelation. I want to be monogamous with you.

Your response is? __________________

Look, when you have a child things do change. You will want to provide that child with security and stability. But security and stability come when adults make considered, thoughtful decisions. Because making decisions that look like the right ones, but aren't a) true or b) sustainable result in LESS stability, not more.

You don't want your child growing up where that child's model of a relationship is two people who don't love each other pretending they do.

So slow down, don't promise anything other than to support the child and work together on that. There is no hurry. You can say to this woman "I can't promise you a monogamous relationship right now, we're not love, this is all happening very quickly...when I do promise that I want it not to just be that I'm not sleeping with other people but that I am in a relationship with you."

If she doesn't react well to that, then it's already not a partnership because she is not listening to you.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:24 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Get a paternity test. Use birth control in all casual relationships. Tell her you can't go on any longer with her without those things.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:31 PM on February 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

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