Dear Em & Lo: Should I Stay with a Cheat for My Newborn Baby?

Dear Em & Lo,

I am engaged to the father of my child. Since I met him, it has been one problem after another. He has brought debt into my life; there is a rumor that goes around that he is sleeping with my co-workers; I just found out that any time he goes on a trip, he sleeps around; and he is still in communication with his ex-girfriend, though he claims he has not spoken to the girl for a long time. What surprises me is that he lies so much. I would love to break the engagement, but am feeling sorry for my six-months-old baby. I am confused — I have tried to forgive, but I can never trust him again. Will things work out?

— Love Wears Blinders

Dear L.W.B.,

Oh, we hate the hard ones!

If we were a Magic Eight Ball, we would answer your question, “Will things work out?” with the succinct: “Outlook not so good,” or “My sources say no,” or “Don’t count on it.” Actually, screw that — the Magic Eight Ball is not nearly blunt enough. Here’s our short answer: Get out now.

This is based on the assumption that he is cheating on you during trips, that you are absolutely not okay with an open relationship, and that his good points do not outweigh his money problems or his chronic lying. You said it yourself: You would love to break the engagement. There’s your answer.

We know your head must be foggy in a newborn haze — caring for a six-month-old baby is more than enough for one woman to handle with a supportive partner. But add in the lying, the cheating, the philandering, and the debt, and it’s no wonder you’re unable to think straight.

Will things work out? Maybe not in the exact way you’d like them to, but they’ll work out for you and your baby if you’re proactive about insisting on certain standards for your lives. You need to sit down with your partner and confirm that all of this is, in fact, true. Assuming it is, call off the wedding (at least for now) and explain clearly what you want and need out of a relationship and a partnership. Tell him that he needs to meet these needs and earn back your trust before you can even consider getting re-engaged — and if he trips up again, you’re out of there for good. (His relationship needs may include being able to get a little somethin somethin on the side, in which case: case closed.)

Of course, if you know deep down in your heart that he won’t change, then move out and move on now.

We feel terrible for your six-month-old baby, and we feel terrible for you, too, but you both deserve better. This is no environment in which to raise a child. You do not need to stay with this guy for the sake of your baby. You are a strong woman — you’ve made it this far, after all! Turn to friends, turn to family, turn to people who you can trust. Those are the kind of people you and your child need in your life right now.

Be strong, and know that, in this case, doing what’s best for you is doing what’s best for your baby.

We’ve got your back,

Em & Lo



  1. First, you deserve better.

    Second, build up your self-esteem so that you really “believe” that you deserve better.

    Third, leave him. He will not change, he will not be a better partner. You and your baby deserve something better than this loser.

  2. Talk to a lawyer!!! You have a newborn. Regardless of his money problems, you need to make sure that he is living up to his obligations toward your child. If you do not have the resources to hire a lawyer on your own, contact the local bar association in your community and see if there is a legal services provider who can assist.

  3. Reading your question, I couldn’t help but translate it as, “I’m looking at a turd. Can I polish it?” Given that, and the responses of the other posters, I still wouldn’t be surprised if you had fairly strong impulses to stay with this guy. These things happen, and I won’t condemn you if you feel this way.

    My hope is that you’ll try as best as you can to fight it off. If you hadn’t had your child, this guy would’ve eventually fallen by the wayside, right? I think that scenario should inform your decision right now. He’s still the father of your child, but doesn’t need to be a big part of YOUR life.

  4. I pretty much agree with everyone on the lying and cheating. You don’t want a partner to whom lies and deceit come naturally.

    … so about the debt thing. Debt!? If you marry him, his debts become your problem big-time. Also, alimony laws work both ways. If you out-earn him, and assume responsibility for supporting him, and pay his debts while you’re married, you can expect more of the same if you end up getting divorced. I’ve seen it happen.

  5. You need to get out for yourself and your baby but you also need to get out for women everywhere.

    Too often women stay in relationships with lying cheaters and then other men see that they can have a family while they they are irresponsible. The only way to make fewer men treat women this way is for women to not let them into your lives or into your bed. Open relationships and FWB situations are fine as long as that is what both parties want but men who are lying cheaters need to die as lonely old men who have been shunned their whole lives.

  6. I’d say that if your prospective partner is deceiving you, repeatedly unfaithful, has “brought debt into your life,” and “lies so much,” he’s not much of a partner. Your statements of “I would love to break the engagement” and “I can never trust him again” make me think that you have already made your decision to not marry this guy and that your letter is looking for support and validation.

    Here’s my (hopefully) supportive and validating response – you will both feel better yourself and be able to give your child more of what they need by leaving.

    I’d strongly consider how this happened while being kind yet honest with yourself. If there were warning signs before you got pregnant or this guy is part of a pattern of your being with dysfunctional men, a good therapist should be able to help you figure out what you could have done differently. That’s not meant as a criticism. If you are consciously or subconsciously making choices where you end up getting hurt, then you have the power to see why that happens and then choose differently to end up in a healthy and supportive relationship with someone who loves you. I say this as a divorced man who has spent some time going through therapy to find out why I ignored the warning signs before I married my now ex-wife so I don’t make the same mistakes. It’s been very empowering for me and has given me hope. Just don’t beat yourself up.

    My best wishes to you and your child.

  7. I agree that it sounds like this relationship won’t last unless something significantly changes. And even if it does, what kind of model is it for your child? The relationship we see between our parents (our our parent and a significant other) growing up often model the kinds of relationships we seek out or inadvertently emulate as adults. And it really sucks to be a kid in a house with two parents who have a seriously troubled relationship. Kids pick up on these things, and they pick up on them far earlier than most parents think. I spent a lot of years living in a house with two parents who didn’t love each other. The best thing they could have done for my emotional health was divorce sooner, rather than stick it out in a relationship that was broken beyond repair.

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