Tell my ex I'm pregnant by him?

Originally Published: March 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: November 13, 2009
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Dear Alice,

I wonder if you can help me. I went out with a guy for four weeks and I lost my virginity to him — I really did think that he was special. As we both have our final examinations fast approaching, he said that he no longer wanted to see me anymore. I can harden myself to that fact, but I have just recently discovered that I am pregnant by him and this complicates the issue tremendously for the following reasons: 1. no money, no job yet. 2. no fondness for kids 3. I don't want him to find out as he will assume that I got pregnant simply to "trap" him.

On top of that, I see him daily on campus and I am almost so close to telling him as a way of hurting him (he has a new woman now). Does pregnancy entail madness? I am really very confused. Do I tell him? I am not sure if I have any feelings other than hatred for him now.

Yours,
Feeling used, abused and swollen

Dear Feeling used, abused and swollen,

All of your feelings are very normal and realistic. You've gone through some significant life events in the past few weeks. Having sex for the first time, ending a serious relationship, and finding out you're pregnant are no small potatoes, so it's understandable that your emotions are running high. After taking time to think things through, you may want to tell your ex you're pregnant or just keep the news to yourself — the decision is up to you. Similarly, there are a several options for your pregnancy (abortion, adoption, and parenting) and you can decide which choice is right for you. Don't hesitate to ask a friend, family member, or counselor to help you sort through these important decisions.

It sounds like your relationship with your ex did not end on the best terms, so it makes sense that you feel conflicted about whether or not to tell him about your pregnancy. To help you decide when and if you want to let him know, it might be helpful to reflect on your own feelings about the pregnancy and his potential reactions. For example, do you want his input about how to move forward with your pregnancy, or do you want to make up your own mind about abortion, adoption, or parenting? Do you think he would want to know that you're pregnant, no matter the outcome, or would he prefer to stay in the dark? Taking into account both of your feelings may help you decide how much information to disclose. You may decide that your pregnancy is a personal issue that you don't want to share with your ex, and that's completely fine. Perhaps you imagine that telling him will leave both of you worse off, and it's better to keep your distance.

After pondering a bit, you may feel ready to tell him about your pregnancy. As you mentioned, it's possible that he will think you got pregnant on purpose as a means to keep your relationship going, or he may surprise you by feeling happy, worried, or disinterested. There's no way to predict how he will react, but playing out different scenarios may help you prepare to disclose your news. What would be the best possible reaction from your ex? The worst? The most likely? Next, think about how you'd like to share the news with him. Do you want to meet in person and get his feedback, or would you feel more comfortable talking to him on the phone or writing a letter? When you talk, you may want to explain how you want him to be involved with the pregnancy. For example, you might want to ask him to visit a health clinic with you to learn more about pregnancy options, or you may want to tell him that you want space and don't expect him to be involved.

Whether or not you tell your ex that you're pregnant, you may want to talk to a friend or family member first. Another confidant can help you walk through your choices, and support whatever decisions you make. You may also want to consider visiting a professional counselor or therapist. S/he may help you put things in perspective so you can weigh your options about whom to tell when and how to move forward with your pregnancy. For more information and advice about all your pregnancy options, take a look at Signs of early pregnancy and abortion info in the Go Ask Alice! Sexual Health archive.

If you're a student at Columbia, you can make an appointment at Counseling and Psychological Services by calling x4-2878. If you want to talk about your health during pregnancy or discuss your pregnancy options, you can also make an appointment with a clinician at Primary Care Medical Services (PCMS) by calling x4-2284 or visiting Open Communicator. Off-campus, Planned Parenthood is a great resource for women who want information about pregnancy options including abortion, adoption, and parenting.

Alice