Advice: My girlfriend had an abortion

Last updated 05:00 10/01/2013

They were in no position to raise a child, but he is still reeling from her decision to have an abortion. What should he do?

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I have had a bad experience with my girlfriend choosing to abort her pregnancy. I would do anything to please this girl but our relationship is now really stressful. I love her so much, but everything is going wrong.

My girlfriend and I have been together for nearly 17 months. She is new to New Zealand and comes from a very traditional family with conservative views. I am much more pragmatic and would like to consider myself socially progressive. We are both 19 - I am a student and she works full-time.

We were very serious and looked forward to a future together. But our relationship changed about seven weeks ago when she found out she was pregnant. She was very paranoid about getting pregnant, but she considered contraception to be my responsibility (and I was always very careful).

I had a long hard think about what to do, but I decided to man up. I knew I had to support her no matter her decision. I was surprised when she wanted an abortion as it was against her religious beliefs but she could not bear the thought of bringing the shame of a child outside of wedlock on her family. I am pro-choice but I was actually happy when I found out she was pregnant. I wanted to be a father, however I knew that neither of us were in a position to raise a child.

I dropped out of uni to support her through this tough time as I thought she would be dependent on me for emotional support. I organised everything and tried to limit her stress. During the operation I was there the whole time, holding her hand and trying my best to comfort her.

Since then, we have not talked about it and hardly seen each other. She never calls me, only texts, and says she is too busy at work to see me. I have become very depressed as a result.  I feel huge waves of guilt and regret about the abortion and I am beginning to hate her for doing this. This feeling is exacerbated by my feelings that I gave up my uni for the semester to help her and now she tosses me aside.

I just want to have what we had back. Should I call the relationship off? She doesn't make the effort anymore and if I am by myself I can deal with the abortion and come to terms with it. Or should I hope we can work through things together like we should have done? I don't want this relationship to end but I don't want to hurt any more.

Desperate

What a tough situation to be facing.  It is not easy to reach out for help with the kinds of issues you are dealing with, and I would strongly urge you to get a professional counsellor to help you.  You are struggling with a lot of grief right now - grief for the loss of your child, and grief for the loss of connection with your girlfriend. 

Abortion is no small matter and people will deal with it in different ways and at different times. For you and your girlfriend, like many others, there are strong social and cultural views that can also make it very difficult to reach out for help or even name what has occurred. Even when you are very clear it is the right decision, there is an impact emotionally and you are right about needing time and support to come to terms with it for yourself. It is hard when those we love are unable to provide the support we are asking for, and you are also struggling with wanting something from your girlfriend she is unable to give you at this time.

Your girlfriend will be working through it in her own way.  It is impossible to second guess what she is thinking or feeling, but her actions are making it clear she is wanting to let you know you matter to her but is also wanting to focus on her new work and all that means to her. Like you, she deserves some space and time to deal with herself, her work and her family without pressure and blame.

From what your describe, it is possible the relationship is already coming to an end in terms of you being together and it may be time to acknowledge that while you had something very special, it is now time to close that chapter before the resentment and hurt takes over.  I would encourage you to recognise that while the abortion will have played a part in the relationship potentially ending, you were already identifying many cultural, values and lifestyle issues which would make a long-term relationship very difficult. 

If there is a future together, you will still need to take some time and space to look after yourself and get some other support so you both have time to come to terms with what has happened in the last few months.

There is something very precious about loving someone and being loved, and that is a gift you can treasure for life even if the relationship does end.

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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