By: Mary Targia Almonte
When we have a child with someone, most of the time us YUMs plan to be with him forever as a family. This can make it extremely difficult to make the decision to walk away. In some cases, good things come to an end, as happens often in life. In other cases, bad things continue due to neglect or fear. I had to make the decision to leave almost a decade ago, when my daughter was just shy of her first birthday, due to a number of reasons on the list that I’m about to share (more details coming to a post near you shortly!). If it provides you any solace, it was the best decision that I ever made: fast-forward to the present day and I am happily married with another child, and I truly believe that I dodged a lot of emotional damage for both myself and my daughter by being able to recognize the following signs and acting quickly as soon as I did. I find that it is by far much healthier to go about focusing on your kids and finding the relationship that works for you that gives you what you need, than to apathetically cling to something that isn’t fulfilling. Life is too short, and you and your kids deserve better.
Yes, I said it – sometimes leaving their father is the best thing that you can do for your kids. In most cases, we are the nucleus of the household, the primary caregivers, and the glue that holds it all together. In other words, if mama isn’t happy, the children ultimately won’t be either. So, without further delay, here are twelve signs that you should start coming up with your exit plan:
1. You find yourself doing EVERYTHING/ He doesn’t contribute
It’s been said that “A good woman can do it all, but a good man won’t let her”, and I can’t stand behind that quote enough. Many women accept the fact that domestic and child-rearing duties traditionally fall under the mother’s realm of responsibility; however it is no longer our mother’s time when women didn’t have equal opportunities to go out into the world and earn money for their families. If your partner is not acting as just that, a PARTNER, then it may be time to kick him to the curb.
2. You can’t trust him
I hate to sound corny and cliché, but trust is the cornerstone of any relationship. If you don’t feel that you can trust your BD, it will never work out. You will always be suspicious, never be able to make plans and feel confident about them, and the effects will trickle down to your children in their ability to trust and feel secure. Who wants that?
3. He is unreliable
Speaking of making plans and partnership, if he wakes up one morning and decides that he doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, meanwhile he was supposed to drop off the kids at school and you are forced to make yourself late for work to compensate for his flakiness – that is unacceptable. If you have to call up your friends to pick up your daughter/son from school meanwhile he is hanging with his boys on the corner – don’t put up with it. If you have to rely on people outside of him in order to get your kids cared for and go to work because you can’t rely upon him, then Houston, we have a problem.
4. Your relationship status is undeclared
Back in high school, you might have had a relationship that you agreed to “keep on the low” and all of your friends did, too. Once you have a child together, if you are still in a relationship, there is no reason why your Baby Daddy won’t publicly claim you as his woman and you and your kid(s) as his family. If this isn’t happening, it might be because you aren’t…
5. You have to lie to friends and family members about your situation with him
The Spice Girls were on to something when they sang “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends…” Ok, I’m not saying that your BD has to “get with your friends” or that all of your friends are going to like him – let’s face it, we all have that tragically single friend that will never like any of our boyfriends, and so-called friends that are haters in disguise (future post on that coming soon) – but if everyone hates him and you find yourself isolated from your circle when he is around, there is something more to the story. It goes without saying that usually when you have to lie to those who only have your best interests at heart, you are probably doing something that you shouldn’t be doing. If you find yourself in this situation, you should really take a step back and analyze just what it is that you fear hearing from your loved ones and if it’s a valid reason to re-assess the relationship.
6. You have to lie to yourself about your situation with him
We have all been there. You have a friend or acquaintance that does some shady stuff, but they are super cool, so you gloss over the shadiness and make excuses as to why they do what they do and you should continue a relationship with them. When you find yourself doing this with your BD, however, it’s time to sit down and face the truth about Mr. Loverman. If you find yourself compromising your values and settling for less than your standards, you are selling yourself and your kids short of the best life that you all can possibly have.
7. He doesn’t have a job or ambition
Perpetually unemployed Tommy from the show “Martin” was cool to have as a friend, but he wouldn’t cut it as your man. Now, I know that this can get fuzzy and there are certain grey areas, particularly with the Stay At Home Dad gig growing in popularity, so if this works for you and your man helps out in other ways (especially if it saves you the cost of daycare or an after-school program), then maybe you can keep him. Naturally, this doesn’t apply if your boo is between jobs and going through a temporary rough patch. However, bums who don’t contribute in any way, shape or form need not apply (refer to #1). Often these “bum” BDs are working on their next get-rich quick scheme – in this case, I suggest putting in place a timeline and a list of corresponding goals that must be achieved in order for you to continue supporting their pipe dreams. Sadly, in most cases, they won’t pass the test.
8. You find yourself comparing him to other men
No one is perfect, but your subconscious is a powerful thing. If you constantly find yourself thinking “why can’t he be like so and so’s man” or Tom, Dick, and Harry around the corner – you might need to consider finding a guy that has the qualities that you are coveting.
9. You want to change him
Some good friends of mine who were in pre-marital counseling prior to their impending wedding many years ago gave me some very good advice that stuck with me – when in a relationship you have to commit to the person that you are with, not the person that you want them to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s as our job as partners (and the Superwomen that we are) to encourage our Baby Daddy to excel from a professional, social, and spiritual (if applicable) level, however there are limits to the extent of transformation that one can expect. For example, if your BD doesn’t believe in marriage and you’ve been dreaming of walking down the aisle in a white gown since you were a little girl, then your BD may not be the groom in your vision.
10. He is abusive
This one is a no-brainer but must be included on the list nonetheless. Physical abuse – both towards yourself and/ or your kids should NEVER be tolerated. However, it is important to take into account that abuse goes beyond him putting his hands on you. Verbal abuse is becoming more and more common these days ,and includes his calling you names, using words to shame you or put you down, yelling and cursing at you, intimidating and/ or threatening you, blaming you for his actions and behavior, dismissing your feelings, and manipulating your actions. If any of these things occur – leave. Your personal safety and mental well-being are far more important, and critical for you to do your job as a mother. Having your kids witness this behavior (and potentially accept/repeat this when they become adults) can be far more damaging than raising them in a one-parent household.
11. He cheats
As previously stated, no one is perfect. However, cheating is the ultimate form of disrespect, untrustworthiness and just plain old scumbag behavior. I personally have a zero tolerance policy for this. From my standpoint, it will be hard if not impossible to build trust back up and revert back to the relationship that you had pre-incident, although I have heard of success stories contrary to my theory. However, if you have gone through an incident of this with Baby Daddy in the past and he has the nerve to pull a repeat performance, it’s time to give him the axe.
12. You are not happy, and he doesn’t care
One of the major unspoken signs of love is that your happiness is reliant upon the other person’s. If you express and display unhappiness in your relationship and your partner selfishly continues the same behavior without regard to your feelings, you might need to go seek happiness elsewhere, or alone with your kids.
How did you know that it was time to ditch your BD? Please share!
Co-founder Mary Targia Almonte is a digital Ad Operations Manager by day and a chauffeur, chef, maid, event planner, homework-checker, entertainer, diaper-changer, and snot-wiper to her two kids and husband in her hometown of Staten Island, NY. Follow her on Twitter @MaryTheYUMama.