Hello and thank you for your question:
There were a few questions that came to mind when I read your letter. The first thing I considered was that many relationships go through a major adjustment period somewhere around 12 to 18 months. The freshness or “honeymoon” period has worn off and people are starting to see a little more clearly. This is the stage when people start moving from the infatuation part to either leaving the relationship or working pretty hard to have it develop into a mature, loving, longterm thing.
My question is this: what is the longest relationship your girlfriend has ever been in? Were any of them deep, lasting loves, or did they end around 1 to 2 years? Since your girlfriend is only 22, my guess is that she hasn’t had many relationships that were allowed to develop into a deep, lasting love. These require maturity and commitment, and 22 is still a bit young for either.
Second, no matter where you go, or who you go with, you will always be a “divorced man” with a child and baggage. And, we’re talking a child whom you love. Nothing should come between the two of you. Ever. You have a responsibility to your son, but you are also acting responsibly toward the mother of your son. Out of respect, you are helping her make the transition, and that is the honorable and good thing to do. Why would a person who loves you ask you to dump what is morally and ethically important to you?
I would agree that it may have sounded a little harsh to tell her that “it is what it is” and there may have been a better way to put it, but you have been honest with her, haven’t you? At least it sounds like you haven’t tried to hide things, including things that may be painful for her to hear.
You are in a tough spot. Even though you may apologize, you can’t abandon your son and ex, and you love your girlfriend. It seems as though there may be a need to seek out a therapist who can help you two sort out these things. Ask your girlfriend if she would be willing to go to couples therapy. If she’s not, you then have your answer about the relationship.
If she is willing to try counseling, then you have a green light for making things work out. You can find a therapist in your area by going to Find A Therapist. I can tell you though, there is no short answer unless you are willing to bail on your son. And that would be terribly sad for everyone involved. If you did that, you may sadly discover that your ex and your son are not the real problem for your girlfriend.
I hope this helps,
Dr. Diana Walcutt