What should I do about my boyfriend who recently cheated on me? We've been living together for the past couple of years, but I recently found out that he's been sexting a "friend" of mine. When I confronted him, he said it's my fault. Then he left me and our baby and is now staying with his dad. I guess that makes me a single mother. I feel so alone, hurt, and betrayed. What should I do?
What do you think you should do? It's critical that you take an honest look at your situation, weigh the relevant facts, and try to get some sense of what it all means. Your boyfriend has already left you, so you aren't in the position of deciding whether to stay with him or not. He has also twisted things around in his own mind to the point where he feels justified in blaming you for what has happened, and that's not a hopeful sign. Circumstances being what they are, you need to ask yourself whether it's worth the effort. That's a question that becomes even more pressing now that a baby has entered the picture. Is the man you've described to us really the kind of person you want playing the role of father in your child's life? We don't think so.
Our advice is to give serious thought about moving on from this relationship. Your boyfriend's actions suggest he's ill-equipped and uninterested in being a husband or a dad. If that's his choice, you need to let him walk away. After all, he's responsible for his own behavior. His actions are not your fault. You mustn't allow him to convince you that they are – not if you care about building a better life for yourself and your child. As we see it, this is your moment. This is the time to step out and learn what it means to stand up for yourself and your baby.
You're going to need help to do that, of course – all the help you can get. It's critical to understand that ending the relationship with your boyfriend should not release him from his financial obligations as a parent, and you would do well to legally secure that support. We also strongly recommend that you start looking around and reaching out for help wherever you can find it. Begin with your own family. Are your parents or siblings in a position to come alongside you in your time of need? If so, would they be willing to offer their assistance? Naturally, this will depend to a great extent upon the kind of relationship you have with them. You'll know best how to proceed in that regard.
If family isn't an option, we suggest you explore the possibility of accessing community resources. WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a federally funded and locally administered program that provides food for pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children through age five. State welfare services are another good source of potential assistance. So is your state or county Department of Health and Human Services. These agencies can help you with finances, housing, transportation, child daycare, and job training. And there's a good chance that you can qualify for most of this aid even while living with parents or family members. You may also find it worth your while to get in touch with a local chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), an organization that exists to "connect moms all over the world to a community of women in their own neighborhoods who meet together to laugh, cry, and embrace the journey of motherhood." You can find out more by visiting the MOPS home page. Finally, if you aren't already involved in a local church, we'd encourage you to find a good one in your area – a church that loves people and lives by the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. You'd be amazed at what a difference it can make to have the warm and loving support of a genuinely caring congregation of Christian people.
Once you've addressed your physical needs and those of your baby, we think it would be a good idea to engage the services of a trained counselor or therapist and begin working on the spiritual and psychological aspects of your situation. Find out who you are and what you want to do with your life. Do the self-care necessary to empower yourself as a woman. Strengthen your resolve. Beef up your self-esteem. If there are any negative personal issues in your past – issues that may have led you to become involved with someone like your boyfriend in the first place – make up your mind to deal with them now, before initiating any new relationships with men.
In connection with this last thought, even though living together before marriage seems appealing and practical for a number of reasons, research shows that couples who cohabitate frequently meet with experiences similar to your own, are generally less satisfied in their relationship, and are more likely to divorce if they do marry. Some of the resources below can provide you with more information and may be helpful as you move forward in this healing and growing process.
Here at Focus on the Family we have trained family therapists available to provide you with sound advice and practical assistance over the phone. Call us. Our staff can also refer you to reputable counselors working in your area.
Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS)
Red Flags in a Relationship