Today's question: I am pregnant. My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 years. I recently graduated college and moved into a new city to be with him while he also finishes his degree. We both moved into an expensive apartment, we adopted a dog, and at this point I’m unemployed looking for a job. I love my boyfriend more than anything, and I wish under different circumstances I didn't feel this way. How do I tell him I want an abortion?
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This is almost always a tough conversation. A lot of people have such intense feelings and judgments around abortion that it can stir up a lot when it becomes personal.
The first thing I can suggest is that you might want to get a few resources for the two of you. I’m a really big fan of Exhale, one of the few only abortion hotlines that doesn’t take an anti-abortion stance. The hotline counselors are available to talk to women and their significant others (about 10 percent of their callers are male) about their feelings and experiences. Even if you know that your decision is 100 percent right for you, there can still be some difficult emotions and Exhale is a good place to get support. They also have some great resources on their site.
You might also want to consider whether you want to ask your boyfriend for his input or whether you’ve decided what you want to do and you’re telling him. That’ll affect what you tell him and how. While the decision to terminate the pregnancy is ultimately yours, some women do ask for their partners’ opinions. I’m also wondering whether you have a sense of your boyfriend’s attitudes towards abortion, since you’ve been together for a while. It could also be worth thinking about whether the issue is that you don’t want to have a baby with your boyfriend right now or that you don’t want to have a baby with him at all. Whether you tell him about that or not is up to you, but having some clarity around that will help you figure out what you want to tell him and how.
Wherever you fall on that, odds are that the best way to tell him is to do it in as calm and relaxed way as possible. You may feel some tension or anxiety, either about having an abortion or telling him, but the calmer you are when you bring it up, the easier it’ll be for him to hear. I’d also suggest telling him straight up. The more indirect you are, the more likely it is that he’ll have a harder time with it. Fortunately, it sounds like you two have a really solid relationship, which will make a big difference.
Lastly, he might say that he’s fine with it and still have difficult feelings about it. You both need the space to deal with your emotions, positive or negative. It’s really common for men to depend on their girlfriends or wives for emotional support and you just moved to a new city, so you might not have much of a network yet. If the two of you are each other’s main support, that’s probably going to put a strain on your relationship, especially if you’re having conflicting feelings. The hotline I mentioned, a therapist or a support group can be a big help.
My best wishes to you both.