Thursday, January 17, 2013

Real Talk With Rachel: Bridging an Infinite Gap

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I am a woman in my mid-twenties and I am in a serious relationship. My boyfriend and I practice safe sex, but somehow I still managed to get pregnant. We were totally devastated. My boyfriend wanted to keep it, but I am just not ready to have a child. Even though he promised that we would share the responsibilities I just knew that it wouldn’t work out like that.

Even though I love him I just couldn’t do it.

He came with me to get an abortion and claimed to support me but things have not been the same since. He is moody and says that he is grieving our child. I think he is angry with me for having the abortion but he won’t talk to me about it.

Can we get through this? I thought we could but he has totally closed himself off from me and now I feel so lost and alone.

No Baby, No Boyfriend

Dear No Baby, No Boyfriend,

Did you know that more than one in three women* in the United States will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old? This isn’t to minimize your suffering or the uniqueness of your situation, but just to let you know that you aren’t alone. This burden of womanhood -- the capacity to create life -- puts all of us ladyfolk in strange situations. But I am so sorry that your unintended pregnancy has another unintended consequence: a wedge placed firmly between you and your boyfriend.

I am glad your boyfriend supported your choice. It seems like he tried his very hardest to be there for you -- in the lead-up to the procedure through the waiting room. But can you blame him that he is in mourning? It’s confusing that perhaps there could have been a baby but now there isn’t. He may have imagined the two of you cruising Cleveland Park with a stroller and a smiling child. This possibility has been taken from him, at least for now.

That doesn’t make you evil, of course. But the baby was there and now it’s gone, so what is he going to do? We can’t help the way we feel at first, even as we try to temper our emotions. The fact that he tells you he is grieving “your child” means that he is thinking of a gurgling, giggling baby. He is not thinking about what the two of you actually had -- which was very much not a baby. It is useless to draw these distinctions with him right now, but please remember them for your own well-being.

What concerns me isn’t that he is sad. That is natural. It is that he seems to be blaming you for his sadness. Just as you need to be there for him as he tries to tackle these complex emotions, he needs to remember that you too are going through something. By making you the villain, he might find clarity in the murkiness of his confusion. But he’s also so lost in the murkiness he is forgetting that you are his ally and his love, not his enemy.

Remind him of that. He needs reminding.

Will you get through this? I don’t know. Have you dealt with death before? When a loved one dies, the best thing you can do is just plain be there. Sometimes that means listening, sometimes it means sitting with him as he watches TV. But he needs to be there for you, too. You are also in this murkiness. The two of you can walk together, slowly but surely, away from the murkiness that threatens to envelop you and your relationship, or he can choose to walk by himself.

Either way, I suggest that you contact the organization Exhale, Call the talkline for after-abortion support. Try and get your boyfriend to do the same. Maybe he’s afraid that if he talks to you, he’ll say something hurtful. But he needs to start talking to someone.

Know that all relationships face challenges. We can’t always agree with the people we love or want to tackle issues in the same way. However, the way we deal with these differences and bridge these gaps separates the couples from the exes.

As you fret over your boyfriend and your relationship, make sure you’re taking care of yourself, too. Every day, intentionally do at least one thing simply because it makes you happy. Savor that feeling. Over time, it will shine into more of you.

I wish you all the best, No Baby, No Boyfriend. People without babies and boyfriends can find that there is much more to love. But I hope that your boyfriend sees that what he loves has been standing in front of him all along.

All the best,

*That statistic comes from here:


Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel via or via or at advice @ 

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