Let me warn you, this is going to be a complicated question. Well it’s complicated to me at least. I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about 4 years. If you were to ask me 2 weeks ago, I would have said we were for sure going to get married. We bought a house together and everything. However 2 weeks ago while he was on a guys trip with his best friends, I checked the mail and saw a letter addressed to him marked urgent. Or maybe it said important notice. It said something. Anyway, I was naturally concerned, so I opened the letter to see if there was something I could take care of for him while he was enjoying his vacation. Reading the letter, I was stunned to learn it was a notice for a missed child support payment. I read that notice from top to bottom to make sure it was actually for my boyfriend and it was. I wanted to call him right then and there to ask him what was up, because he never told me he had a child. But my best friend told me to wait until he got home and confront him, so I did.
As soon as he walked through the door, I started asking questions trying to get answers. I thought maybe he had cheated on me with a woman or something in the time we’ve been together. I’m not sure if I should be thankful for it or not, but he told me his kid is 9 years old. He promised me he never cheated on me. So when I asked why he never told me he had a child and why I’ve never seen her, he told me he doesn’t see her that often because he doesn’t have a good relationship with her mother.
I’m just so hurt by all this. I don’t know what to do here? I love him so much and have envisioned a future with this man, but now I don’t know if I can trust him. Then there’s the fact his relationship with his daughter is not the best. He swears he talks to her at least once a week and has never missed a child support payment before now, but the fact he doesn’t see her bothers me. We’ve lived together for over a year, and that child has yet to be in our house. Apparently, she only lives about 5 hours away.
Long story short, what should I do? What would you do if you were in my shoes?
Dazed and Confused
Dear Dazed and Confused,
Thanks for writing to me. Allow me to begin my response by saying how sorry I am to hear about your dilemma. When a couple feels they are on the pathway to marriage, the last thing they want to face is a major hurdle. And unfortunately for you, the kind of news you stumbled upon presents one heck of a major hurdle.
As I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I can’t ever tell someone when enough is enough for them. I won’t ever tell a person to leave his relationship, unless there is some verbal or physical abuse going on. With that said, you asked me what I would do in your shoes, so I’m going to tell you. But again, this is not me telling you to leave or stay.
If I were in your shoes, I’d honestly have to take a break. I’d need to take a step back to gain perspective on how I proceed going forward in the relationship, should I choose to do that. Not telling me you have a child after four years of dating and a mortgage, is a huge slap in my face. It tells me that my mate didn’t respect me enough to be fully open with me about his life. I would also wonder about what else he could be hiding from me that I should probably know. For example, does he have a current husband? Or an ex-wife? Or heck, another child? Oh yeah, I’d have to crash a friend’s house, or ask my boyfriend to leave for a little bit so I could think.
Now personally, I’m not an insecure person. However, given the situation you described, I can’t say that I wouldn’t be slightly insecure trying to continue in a relationship with a person that lied, and simply apologized for lying or just for getting caught. An apology wouldn’t be enough, because he’s now broken our trust. My mate and I would have to endure some serious couples therapy to get down to the bottom of why he felt compelled to shield me from his identity as “father.” Until I hear an honest explanation from him as to why he didn’t share he had a child, and reassurance that he will keep it 100 with me going forward, he wouldn’t be able to hold my hand, let alone call me his beau, bae, or man.
Oh, and let me not forget about his lack luster presence in his daughter’s life. Hypothetically, I would be side eyeing my boyfriend often for slacking on his parental duties. Fertilizing an egg may make you a father, and paying your child support may make you a law abiding citizen, but in no way do these things make you a real man or parent. And I know you said he calls his child weekly, but the fact he doesn’t visit her or she visit him, would be a huge red flag for me. A five hour trip in the grand scheme of things is nothing when it comes to visiting your child. Heck, there are folks in these streets that will travel that distance or further just to go to a Beyoncé concert or Pride events up and down the east coast. Barring any court orders in place, there is no excuse for him not to have face-to-face interaction with his daughter. NONE. (I won’t labor the point anymore, but absentee fathers are a bit of a sore spot for me).
With all of that said, if I were in your shoes I’d have a lot to think about and would take my time doing it. This is a big obstacle to overcome and should be treated as such. Like I said, my boyfriend and I would have to put in some work with a counselor to even attempt to save our relationship. Plus, he would have to show he can step up to the plate and be a man when it comes to his daughter. I want kids one day, and I don’t necessarily want to co-parent with some with an already rocky parenting past.
Suggestions going forward.
- Seek the support of your friends and family during this time, but don’t let them pressure you into making a decision. Regardless of whether you want to leave or stay, let that be a decision that you yourself make. And while I shared with you how I would handle the situation if I were in your shoes; again, your relationship is your call.
- If you decide to stay with your boyfriend, I strongly recommend some sort of counseling for you both. It could help assure a healthier and more open dynamic between you two going forward.
- Should you stay with him, don’t press him to meet his child right away. He has some work to do in fixing his father-daughter relationship, and his relationship with the girl’s mother.
As always nothing but love,