Telling the ex

How much is an ex entitled to know about your life after you’ve split up?

Should you share significant information about yourself with the person you once cared most about in the world?

Would you tell your ex that you are expecting another man’s baby?

 

These are the questions that have been running through my mind ever since the arrival of baby B seemed more likely than a dream.

I have no frame of reference for this decision.

I spent a very long time with my ex – almost all my adult life – and everyone assumed we would have children. But we didn’t. It was probably one of the things that drove us apart. During our relationship, I was diagnosed with multiple problems that affected fertility. Endometriosis being the most severe. Our inability to deal with the implications of that was extremely damaging to our relationship and we split up a few years later.

When I met my partner T, we both knew we wanted to have children. As adoptees, it’s a huge thing to think that you might have a biological relative. I still can’t believe that in theory there are maybe 10, 11 more weeks before I am a mother. It seems absolutely mind-boggling. I still worry that it may not happen, that we will have another loss. That’s how pregnancy after loss differs from “normal” pregnancy. You never forget the fear.

I wonder if I owe it to my former partner to tell him. My reasons for thinking this are twofold: Firstly, I still care about him. Not in the way that I want to be with him – in fact, it seems foreign to me that we ever were together. But I suspect in some way that the information would hurt him, and I wonder if hearing it from me would be more or less hurtful. Secondly, I know that he will find out anyway. We share many of the same friends. We are blocked on social media (and anyway I have asked for a social media blackout) but it’s almost impossible for someone not to say something carelessly.

Is a relationship something that imprints upon some part of you? I believe we all carry those imprints from previous relationships, romantic or not. And I wonder how much they contribute to our ability to move on and develop new, healthier relationships. I know I took so many of the lessons from my relationship with my ex that allowed me to forge a stronger, healthier relationship with T. And I took the scars, too.

It has been a long time since we separated. A lifetime almost, even though it’s taken years for us to resolve the technicalities. I have been with T for longer than my ex and I were married, but a fraction of the time we were together. I know that now we’re no longer married, I owe him nothing in law.

But do I owe him anything morally?

NaBloPoMo November 2016

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45 comments

  1. jonsie13

    I understand how you feel here. Yet, I have no advice. I think every relationship is so different. Only you know what might be best for the two of you. Personally, I wish I could have told my ex that I was having my first baby. I did not for 2 main reasons. 1 – we no longer have any contact at all. None. So, it would have been awkward to get in touch for only that reason. And 2- my husband would have been upset about it. Primarily because we have had no contact for so long, why would I want to contact him with something so personal? I doubt this helps you in any way.But – I do understand how you’re feeling.

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    • Nara

      Thanks! We are in very sporadic contact, but only for very transactional reasons, and not to chat or anything like that. He blocked me on FB years ago. I just wonder if he will hear from someone else as we’ve seen from my recent experience that people tend to blab! I don’t know whether I should tell him. Erring on the side of not, but maybe I’m just being cowardly!

      Like

  2. RJ

    Fascinating post and something I have thought about as well. I have an ex that I lived with when I was younger and we always talked about getting married and having kids. (I also think about how he would have handled RPL, assuming that would have happened to us if we stayed together). We haven’t spoken in 4 or so years now, he knows I was dating my now husband but does not know (at least through me) that we are married and now that we have a baby. I do not have social media and we know a lot of the same college people but do not run in the same circles (we had the same major). But I cared deeply for him and I thought about how I would tell him and if I should tell him. Ultimately, I decided not to for two reasons. First, it would be awkward to get in touch just for that conversation (as you mentioned). But mostly because I thought about if I would want him to tell me he was having a baby. The answer there is a definite no, and a no that I didn’t even have to think about. I think I prefer to not know anything about his life now. I would be fine hearing it from others but I just don’t want to open that door up at all. But every relationship is different and we all know our circumstances best! Good luck in whatever you decide. This is a tough one!

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    • Nara

      My ex was really upset when we split and has given me the impression for the past few years that he regrets it and still wishes we could have worked it out. He was very angry with me at first, but we are on civil terms although we only communicate rather transactionally to sort out costs and things.

      On your way of thinking, I don’t know if I wouldn’t want to know. I think I would. And really only to know he’s happy. I absolutely have no desire ever to go back, but I wish he would meet someone and be happy.

      My fear is he finds out from someone else and it really upsets him. T and I have discussed telling him, not in any depth but he knows I’m thinking about it. T doesn’t have an equivalent long term relationship to tell, but I would understand if he wanted to tell an ex.

      I suppose in a way I feel guilty about hurting him / leaving him / other things that went wrong with our relationship and I want to make it easier for him. But I’m not sure if telling him would make it easier or worse.

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  3. My Perfect Breakdown

    Oh gosh, I have no idea what the right approach is!! Part of me thinks that giving him a heads up would be compassionate. Part of me wonders if he already knows so telling him now would be a moot point. Part of me also thinks that telling him would just be awkward.
    I have no idea what to tel you, but I do hope you do whatever makes the most sense to you and T (and dog too).

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    • Nara

      Yes, that is my reasoning! He’s very emotionally fragile and I don’t want to contribute to that any more than I already have. I don’t even know if he’d want me to tell him or not.

      Not sure about awkwardness. Another couple I knew split up and the guy had a baby with someone else. He did give his ex the heads up. I don’t know how she took it as she defriended me when they split up, as she said we had to pick sides! Part of me thinks it’s just courtesy to let the ex know, but part thinks it might cause more harm than good.

      T being T, he will be fine either way! Of course it doesn’t really affect the ex. But equally I don’t want some upsetting message from him further down the line. But maybe that’s just me being selfish.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. whymeivf

    Hmmmm an interesting one. It sounds like your situation is different to any I’ve been in. Personally I think it is best to let things lye, you guys aren’t together anymore and why go digging up old history? Are you married with T? If so what did you do in that situation? If you guys are in contact occasionally, then perhaps there might be a ‘right time’ to tell him. If an ex told me out of the blue that they were getting married / having a baby etc I’d feel a bit like they were saying ‘look how I’ve moved on without you’, but conversely at the same time the act of telling me would also mean that they still cared about what I thought and still think about me…. dunno it is a tough one! As you say, if you have mutual friends he probably knows already anyway! …. also if you tried for kids with your ex, then I would also probably let him know you had IVF so the news does not make him concerned about his own fertility. …. good luck let us know what you decide!

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    • Nara

      T and I aren’t married. Also, not that many of our mutual friends know as I haven’t told many people. Although it will get out eventually.
      I’m erring on the side of not telling him as I think it would upset him. I do wonder though, probably because in a similar situation with a couple I know, he told his ex about it. Hmm.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. 30yr old nothing

    Oh, that’s a toughie. If it were me, I would probably tell, only because you’re still in contact. You mentioned feeling guilty for leaving and I can relate to that guilt and that would make me want to tell so as not to hurt him anymore than I already have. That being said (and I don’t mean for this to be flippant) but I’ll be very happy for you once you can sever ties with him and let go of that guilt. My ex who I felt guilty about for years recently tried to add me on fb and a few years ago I would have accepted so that I wouldn’t hurt his feelings but now I was all too happy to say ‘no thank you’.
    Good luck with your decision though. If you don’t tell and he finds out from someone else, at least you won’t have to be there 🙂

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    • Nara

      Thank you! I think a lot of it is stemming from the guilt I feel about how it ended. But then I wonder if it would actually help. I think he’ll be upset either way. I might tell a third party and see what they say.

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  6. EmilyMaine

    I guess only you can answer that. Each situation is unique. I personally didn’t inform any of my exes. And my previous serious boyfriend before Eric actually had a baby a couple of months before mine and I found out it was on its way because his sister PMd me to tell me which I think was kinda nice of her. She knew I’d like to know and she probably thought it was nicer than having it just appear. It didn’t bother me so much to find out but that might have been as I’d just found out I was pregnant with Monkey. Timing is everything… Maybe you could get a mutual friend who you think is quite caring to share the news with him? That might be a nice way around it. I don’t think you owe it to him to call him and let him know unless you regularly speak to each other. Totally up to you though. Only you can know what is right for your situation. 🙂

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    • Nara

      See this is kinda how I feel the ex and I probably are. Maybe I should mention it to his sibling or a mutual friend and they can decide to say something or not. Although that then feels I’m putting a burden on them. 😑

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    • Nara

      We don’t speak on the phone – he does text me and I respond, and he emails me. He’s a bit up and down TBH and I worry about him which is why I worry about how he’d react if he found out from a third party. But equally I don’t really want to do all the feelings about worrying whether the baby will get here safely etc so maybe I won’t say anything…

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  7. anotherivfjourneyblog

    There is nothing you can do to make him feel better no matter who he hears the news from. Perhaps its better to hear it from someone other than you because he will have a chance to let it sink in and process. My opinion is to leave the past in the past and try to focus on the present.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Yeah I can see why people would think that. I’m not focusing on the past as such. I’m very much focused on the present. I just don’t want the past to come up and bite me on the arse (British expression!) as it might do if he finds out without having been told.

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  8. RC

    Only you know the right answer to this, but if it was me I would probably get a mutual friend to pass it on. That way he can feel what he feels without having to worry about saving face. And if his reaction is less than stellar, then you don’t have to see it (which will ultimately lead to you both being upset).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Erin

    What a tough dilemma! Do what is best for yourself, although I know you’re thinking of your ex and his feelings. If it helps you feel less anxiety, then tell him. If you’re getting too worked up just thinking about telling him, then don’t. It’s all about you and your baby at this point.

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    • Nara

      Yeah, good point. I’m not overly worked up but am wondering. I suppose it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie, but also I’m (probably selfishly) worried about the messages he might send me if he finds out from an uncontrolled source.

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  10. Arwen

    Tricky! I too have a significant ex. I have never imparted any information about my life since our angry parting (we divorced amicably but, long story short, he tried to get a church annulment to appease his new Catholic future wife, I got MAD AS SHIT at him and we’ve never been in contact since so…!) although I assume he knows I remarried as I used to still be Facebook friends with one of his little sisters (not anymore since I also discovered through her that he was not only remarried less than two years out from my leaving him but then later I saw he was also having a baby – he was somewhat awful with my infertility). That made me so sad. But then I wouldn’t have wanted to hear from him either!
    Like the others have said you’re not responsible for managing his feelings anymore, but doesn’t stop you caring. Only you can know, but perhaps a mutual friend who could pass it on kindly would be the kindest option? X

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    • Nara

      Similar situation with us I think!! It’s strange. I’m thinking I may message his sibling. We don’t really talk any more but we were really close and out of the blue his sibling messaged me a while back to say they hoped I was okay, still thought of me etc.

      It is less straightforward than it probably sounds. He has a lot of problems and so I really want to try and make him the least upset that he will probably be. And (selfishly probably) I want to avoid getting nasty texts / emails later down the line. Well I don’t mean he would purposely write something nasty but he tends to pour his heart out and then I’m stuck with all these feelings and don’t know how to reply.

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  11. Courtney

    I’m not going to read the comments because I want to be frank and unswayed. 😊 Telling him really sounds like you’re be doing it for you, and not for him. I know that there are some decent reasons to tell him, but at the end of the day, he may not want to hear it at all, and probably not from you.

    We’ve dealt with something like this in Brian’s past and I insisted that he reach out to the ex. He refused. (He owed her an apology for something he did long before he met me.). It took over a year for me to understand why he refused – he’d be doing it for him, and telling her something she may not even know, could hurt her and reopen wounds. I finally got it and 9 years later, I’m still glad he didn’t listen to me.

    That said, I’m the one who wants to be 100% transparent so I’d be struggling too, if I were you!

    Like

    • Nara

      Ha. I know I can depend on you for openness!! 😂
      I can see it both ways. Thing is I don’t want to open old wounds but I do think as we share a lot of our friendship groups (or second degree friendships as a lot took sides when we split), he will inevitably find out at some point. And I actually think finding out in a controlled manner is better than an uncontrolled manner, as we saw with C (the friend I didn’t want to know who got told by a person who the first person had told). It all gets a bit mashed if it’s not controlled I think. But then at least you’re somewhat removed from the fallout. I guess either way, at some point I’m going to get a message from him I don’t want to deal with. Which really does not fill me with glee. He won’t write anything nasty I don’t think, but he tends to write very emotional stuff and I don’t really want that. I almost feel if I get it out of the way before B is here then at least I won’t be expecting it later. But I don’t know. Maybe I won’t do anything!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Amy M.

    I don’t feel like you owe your ex any explanations. I was married once before and we don’t have contact at all, but I was also engaged before and we are still friends on Facebook. We don’t keep in touch regularly or anything, but we do occasionally interact on there. It never even crossed my mind to have a specific conversation with him either about our TTC stuff, or the pregnancy. He’s not a main part of my life anymore. Though we were together for years and went through a LOT together, it’s no more his business than it is any of my other friends. Maybe I’m wrong there, but that’s my take on it.

    Like

    • Nara

      Yeah, I think that makes sense for you and your ex. We are not friends on FB and it’s still quite strained, although civil. He is likely to get emotional about it and probably send me an emotional message. I guess I’d really rather not deal with it unexpectedly so at least if I know he’s been told then I don’t had to worry about getting a random message. But maybe that’s me being selfish.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. thegreatpuddingclubhunt

    Yes, this is a tough one! Personally I think that it is best that you don’t tell him, unless you are ever in contact and he asks how you are doing etc, then you shouldn’t avoid it! You don’t owe him anything, but I don’t think lying would be good because after all, at some point in the future he will know that you have a son. Just don’t go out of your way to tell him!!!! What does T think you should do?

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    • Nara

      We are in contact. Mainly transactionally (dealing with stuff re the house). Very civil. Although occasionally he sends me very emotional messages. I really am not wanting to wallow in it. I just don’t want some out of the blue message further down the line that will upset me.

      T is easy either way. He knows we are in touch but also I have moved on. I feel sympathy towards my ex and bad about how it ended so I don’t want to make it harder for him. But equally don’t want to make it harder for me if he starts sending me emotional messages.

      Like

  14. Mrs T

    Your question and the comments are fascinating. I have one significant ex. We were not married and have no contact and no significant mutual friends. I made the mistake of looking him up on social media a few years ago and discovered an ultrasound photo and it was a huge blow. I’ve never looked again. I presume he’s looked at me too, and I do wonder what he thinks about my family situation, as his racism was one of the factors I cited when I broke it off (after tolerating it way too long, admittedly).

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    • Nara

      Oh wow! I could never go out with a racist! It’s strange to think of the people we previously went out with, isn’t it? I am erring towards not telling him, but still undecided on whether to tell his sibling or a mutual friend. Maybe I just leave it to chance… eek.

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      • Mrs T

        He was one of those “but I have black friends and am a good person!” racists who accidentally let things slip when you get to know him better. No excuses though, I put up with it for too long.

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