Parenting Relationship

Am I wrong for this?

Hi Wendi,

So I’ll try to keep this short and to the point. I was 32 when I met my ex, who was 37 and a single mother. I thought that I’d be open minded about dating her and it went very well. She is the person that I have melded with the best. She was and I think still is the person for me but I can’t get over her situation which is the choices that she made that are with her forever. Her daughter was like 5 years old and the father was this total a@%hole who always makes trouble for her. She married the guy and had a baby with him because, as she put it, she had “baby fever” and she knew that she shouldn’t have done it, but she did and she regrets the decision but not her daughter and I don’t blame her for that because her daughter didn’t ask to be born into that.

Anyway, I thought I could be open-minded but every time I was with them and her daughter would call me “daddy” I would cringe and tell her that I wasn’t her father. I was immediately put into “family man” category without ever knowing what it’s like to be with someone and go through all the motions of getting pregnant or actually sharing the birth with someone. The only thing about the situation that kept me there for as long as I did was her, because outside of  having her crazy ex drop off her daughter at our apartment weekly and never letting her out of the car until the cops show up, she was perfect.

I left her after we have been together a few years because I felt that I deserved a fresh start with someone. That I deserve to have a blank slate with someone.

I came from a family where no one has ever gone to school or anything and I became a surgeon.  I worked hard to get ahead in life. I’m the first one to go to college or anything in my family and I am the first generation in this country as well. My mom is Colombian and my dad is Argentinean.  I feel that I deserve better than to pick up the pieces of a broken home and poor choices, but I feel like I messed up because I miss her so much.

Was I wrong in leaving that situation? For trying to use my reason over my emotions? It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Do I have a problem not being able to accept her situation or seeing her choices as bad choices that she has made?

We all make bad choices but should we put up with the bad choices that someone else has made that they can’t get away from? I just want to stop thinking about this already and have some peace of mind.

Thank you for all of your work and the help you give others through here and the Thursday segment on TMS. Keep being awesome.


Hi E –

I have 2 theories on this.  The first is that your background and pride might have led you to this decision and not your heart.  That or, theory number two, she isn’t as perfect as you say she is and unconsciously you needed a way out.   Let’s tackle my first theory first.

You have worked hard to get where you are today.  You are a first generation American.  You have done the whole boot-strapping thing and made it to doctor status and might feel like as a reward, you deserve all the good stuff that comes from hard work, including a clean start with someone.  Sure, who wouldn’t.  Everyone deserves that actually, but it’s not possible for most people these days.   As we get married later and later in life, it means we’ll all have a bit more baggage than we do at 20 and so do our partners.   The choice might boil down to which person’s baggage you are willing to take on or not.   It’s absolutely a fair decision not to choose her baggage.  It doesn’t make you selfish or a bad person, it just means you aren’t willing to take it on.  Being honest with yourself about it is important.  It does mean you’ll still have all the pain and hurt from a break up with someone you loved.   That’s normal.   Doubt and pain happen when it is the right decision and when it is the wrong one – unfortunately.  It’s called grief.

Which leads to my second theory which I’ll start with a question.  Do you really love her?  Of course, you would miss someone who is perfect.  In fact, I don’t think you would leave someone who is perfect, who’s “only” flaw is a crazy ex who creates drama.  Maybe that drama has taken it’s toll and it’s killed some of the connection you feel for her.   What I would challenge you to do is go deeper and ask yourself what ELSE was not okay for you in the relationship.  There are people who stay together through much tougher things than this.  Dig a little and see what else is under there.   As you dig for your a deeper relationship diagnosis, I predict it will provide some balm for your heart ache.

Best of luck to you.