Woman questions relationship

I am a confused and stressed-out 28-year-old pregnant woman. I have been with my boyfriend for almost a year.

Dear Annie: I am a confused and stressed-out 28-year-old pregnant woman. I have been with my boyfriend for almost a year.

Although we have an awesome relationship, since my pregnancy, he hasn’t told me he loves me or even insinuated that he does.

“Ryan” has a seven-year-old daughter with another woman, and their relationship isn’t very good.

A month ago, he called her house to talk to his kid and his ex answered and made a comment that she “will always love him.”

I have two children from a previous relationship and understand her feelings, but what bothered me is that after that conversation, Ryan acted nervous. It really bugged me.

I worry that Ryan still loves her. I don’t know if I should stay. Would it be better for me to walk out, hoping it will help him decide how he truly feels?

I don’t want to add stress to my pregnancy, but it’s hard to keep the thoughts away. — Confused and Pregnant in Michigan

Dear Michigan: We think Ryan is afraid of the responsibility of babies and that’s why he has trouble staying with women who have them.

Your pregnancy makes him feel trapped, and the seductive enticements of his ex, with a seven-year-old, seem to offer an easier path.

You can’t force Ryan to love you, but walking out lets him off the hook. Tell him you’ve noticed he seems less invested in the relationship, and that although you understand he is a bit skittish, you expect him to live up to his responsibilities as a father. That includes financial support and regular contact with his child, whether he lives with you or not.

Dear Annie: My 21-year-old daughter, “Tess,” recently moved to another state to live with her boyfriend. We think he is around 50.

My birthday dinner is coming up, and Tess called to say she was bringing her beau so he could meet us for the first time.

Annie, I don’t want to meet him at what is supposed to be a nice, relaxing birthday dinner. I called and asked Tess if they could come on a different weekend instead. She called her other siblings, crying, claiming I was being unfair, that I was alienating her boyfriend and that if she couldn’t bring him, she wouldn’t be at the dinner, either.

I realize I don’t have to like the partners my children choose. Tess knows how we feel about the age difference, but she won’t discuss it. Am I wrong? — Frustrated Mom

Dear Frustrated: This isn’t a right or wrong issue. Of course you are entitled to have the birthday dinner you want without having to deal with Tess’ new boyfriend.

But this is the man she is living with, and you risk losing her if you refuse to be more flexible.

When children select inappropriate partners, it is often out of rebellion. Don’t make yourself the enemy, forcing Tess to stand by her man.

Instead, welcome him and remove that incentive. It also wouldn’t hurt to get to know the person Tess loves so much, and that should be sooner rather than later.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Hurting Parent,” who thinks his 12-year-old son is behaving poorly. Any 12-year-old who passes by an overflowing garbage can is perfectly normal. It is the parents who worry me.

They admit they are “very strict” and insist their son write a letter about his behaviour.

They should lighten up and realize what a wonderful child they have. — Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Ojai, Calif.

Dear Ojai: They know their son is wonderful, but they have never raised a teenager and any change in behaviour or attitude is alarming to them.

They are not alone in this. While their methods may be more strict than most, they sound like caring, loving parents and we wouldn’t be too harsh with them.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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