First off, if you left your partner because you were in an unhealthy relationship, you are my hero. It takes Wonder Woman strength to stand
up for your well-being and get out of a relationship that isn’t good for you, especially when faced with impending parenthood — a journey that makes many yearn for a partner. But as you probably know, being partner-free can be better than having a toxic relationship.
If you broke romantic ties with your partner because you realized the two of you are better friends than lovers, kudos to you, too. It’s really easy to convince ourselves to stay with someone we don’t want to be romantically involved with if they’re a good person and friend. By beginning to create a new structure for your relationship now, the two of you can hope to have a solid system and healthy dynamic by the time baby arrives.
And now for one of the trickiest types of separations: If you were left by someone you still want to be with, this split might be one of the most painful things you’ve ever experienced. Being abandoned by the person you probably thought would stay by your side no matter what can feel like an insurmountable betrayal. And if cheating was a factor, you can heap another pile of pain into the mix.
Regardless of the nature of the separation, you’re likely navigating a maelstrom of confusion, loss, and maybe anger and fear. The last thing you need to worry about is how others will react to the news. But whether we like it or not, reactions will come. Hopefully, your people will under- stand and do nothing but offer comfort and support. But some might have a hard time accepting your situation, making your life even harder.
Oh, mama. You’re dealing with so much. I wish I could wrap you in my arms and make sure you get all the love and support you deserve. I hope I will have the privilege of doing that someday, but for now, here’s a strategy for moving through this super tricky time in a way that nourishes your mental and emotional health.
What to do
Build your support system. Think of the people who will understand your situation and won’t do that thing where their face gets really judgy when you tell them about your new relationship status. Find these people, and ask them straight up if they’d be willing to be one of your rocks. If they agree, make a plan together for how they can support you during pregnancy and early motherhood. Be really specific with your needs, so they can be really specific about how they can help.
During this vulnerable period I also recommend scheduling regular times to connect with these support people. When we’re struggling and in pain, it’s all too easy to hide and not reach out. So it’s important to prepare for this by scheduling regular check-ins. If you and your sister, for example, plan for her to come over every Wednesday evening to talk, and for her to call you every morning to boost your morale, it’s going to be a lot harder to resist support.
Once you’ve set up this solid support network, you’ll likely feel braver and more assured in your decision to leave your partner, or more secure in the single status that was thrust on you. Now, with confidence and enhanced calm fueling your creativity, write a loose script for what you’ll say to acquaintances when they ask about your baby’s father. Then, think about what you’ll tell close friends and family members — likely you’ll offer them a more extensive breakdown of what happened. If you fear they’ll urge you to question your decision, or to try to get your partner to take you back, add an addendum to your script where you lovingly tell them you’ll request their advice if you want it. To fortify your nerves for the family-and-close- friends conversations, bring along someone from your support system who can back you up, or get you out if anyone is hurtful.