[Two Pronged] I'm a single mom. How and when should I tell the guy I'm dating?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
I have a love child, a beautiful girl called “Sarah.” She is 7 years old.
I was at a party last June, when my girl friend introduced me to her cousin, “Ralph.” He asked me out, I accepted, and the evening with him was one where we both had fun. Since then, we have been going out every weekend.
All was going well until his cousin (my girl friend) called me. She was fuming. She accused me of keeping the truth about Sarah from him. She accused me of trying to ensnare her cousin and tell him about Sarah only when he was too much in love with me to back out. She threatened to tell her cousin the truth if I did not do so.
Dr. Holmes, Mr. Baer, I was shocked. That thought never crossed my mind.
It has only been 8 weeks since I met him. I like him and admit I even thought about what kind of father he might be for Sarah, but I would never try to trap a man like that.
I have no problem letting him know I have a daughter. But I worry that now he will think I opened up just because she threatened me.
What can I do?
Thank you for your email.
One of the better ways to establish a new relationship is via the deliberate mutual exchange of information i.e. a process of self disclosure. The speed and depth of this obviously varies from couple to couple, depending on the characters of those involved but also the speed of development of the other aspects of the relationship.
In theory, disclosure is balanced and proportionate and gradually deepens as more trust is established. In practice, life is not quite so tidy but the principles of the process still apply, however loosely.
In the normal course of events, you and Ralph would eventually reach the point where you tell him about Sarah. This would be at the time of your choice, which doesn’t mean that it would necessarily be the optimal time, but at least you would be doing your best to ensure that the revelation does not derail your relationship.
In your case however, control over the process has been compromised by the unsolicited intervention of your friend. Her reasons are unclear but at least at first sight suggest that she values the bonds of her kinship with Ralph more highly than those of her friendship with you, a friendship which may well perish as a result of her attempt to manipulate your relationship with her cousin and blackmail you into following a course of action dictated by her concerns rather than your best interests.
There are a number of options open to you now.
You can try to convince your friend not to interfere but there is no certainty of success. Much will depend on the reason you have withheld the information about Sarah from Ralph until now, a reason you have chosen not to reveal to us.
Alternatively, you can just accept the inevitable – after all you will have to tell him some time – and broach the subject with Ralph, but perhaps be prepared to explain why this major feature of your life has not been mentioned before.
Unfortunately, the worst case scenario is that your relationships with your friend and with Ralph perish. However, you will still of course have your beautiful girl which is the most important thing.
Best of luck,
Thank you very much for your letter. I also wish to thank Mr. Baer who answered your letter in a psychologically astute and measured manner. That will, I hope, allow me to be candid about Ralph’s cousin. Drop her.
She comes across as not very nice (to put it mildly) and it is best you follow the advice given by the poem "Desiderata".
“Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.”
I am not usually this harsh about people. But this woman was no “k” (karapatan i.e., has no right) to be demanding. All she did was introduce you to a man you could have easily met on your own at the same party.
Not only has she accused you of being cunning and manipulative, she has also threatened you. There is no way back from behavior like that, and the sooner you cut the imaginary tie she thinks she has with you, the better.
If your relationship with Ralph suffers because of your relationship with his cousin, then so be it. If he is not clever enough to see her true character he, too, is not worth spending time with.
I sure as hell hope he is smart enough though. You seem to like him and, in fact, see a distinct possibility of something deeper than a friendship with him.
Good luck and all the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.