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Dear Mary: I only went back to girlfriend because she became pregnant​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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I find myself in a predicament. I am a man in my early 40s. Last year I met a lady through a popular dating app. After a few weeks of being with her, I noticed that she could be quite controlling and I made at least two attempts to end the relationship. A week after I finally did put an end to it, she contacted me stating she was pregnant.

While we were together I did bring up the topic of contraception, but she said that she was not able to get pregnant due to issues with her ovaries. She has a teenage child from a previous relationship.

I was caught on the hop, as it were, and decided that the right thing to do in regard to the child was to move in with her. I feel very trapped now as I don't have any real feelings for her, and as I mentioned above, I find her very controlling, particularly around money. She makes statements such as "your money is my money".

Also, I feel I have to jump through a lot of hoops if I want to spend time with my own family or friends. Her mood changes if I want to engage in hobbies such as playing the odd game of five-a-side football with friends. I find she tends to embarrass me when we are out in public. Her treatment of waiting staff and shop assistants leaves a lot to be desired, and she has already clashed with members of my family.

She is from a different ethnic background to me and I believe some of our values are quite different. She puts massive emphasis on education and achievement and I worry that this will lead to further conflict with regard to the rearing of our child in the future.

I know it's possible to co-parent while not actually living with my partner but I find that she leans on me an awful lot for support, even in dealing with her own child. As she is heavily pregnant now, I am doing a lot of the housework and other chores as well as working full-time.

I do not want to shirk my responsibility in regard to my child but am unsure if I can continue in the situation that I find myself in. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Mary replies: This is a sad story because you would not be together now were it not for the fact that your almost-ex-girlfriend told you that she was pregnant. This despite her having told you that she was not able to become pregnant. Perhaps she has polycystic ovarian syndrome, which makes getting pregnant difficult, but not impossible.

Given the fact that she already had a child, you should have questioned her further rather than simply accepting the fact that she couldn't get pregnant.

It certainly sounds like this relationship is not working for you. But the baby is almost due by now so you should put off all thoughts of leaving and continue to do what you are doing - supporting your girlfriend in the latter stages of her pregnancy.

You will have to be prepared for the fact that once your baby is born, your whole world will change. To begin with, you will probably fall completely in love with this tiny bundle who is totally dependent on others in order to survive. Because of this, you will discover emotions that you didn't know you were capable of prior to the birth.

You do not say if your lady has any family support. I hope that she does because immediately post-childbirth is quite difficult for any woman: hormones are constantly changing and she may be very emotional. She has been through all of this once before so she knows what to expect, but you don't. So any family support on her side would be very welcome.

As always, we have to look at what is in the child's best interests. If the parents are constantly bickering and having disagreements, then that is not a good atmosphere for the child.

You seem to think it is a problem that your girlfriend puts a lot of emphasis on education, but surely that is a good thing?

It may well be that you are not compatible and that in the long run you will break up. I suggest that you stay with her for at least the first six months, because in that way you will have bonded with your child and will have observed close up the very beginning of their life, which is an incredible privilege and you will treasure the memories.

At that point, you can consider your options, but from what you say, I think your mind is pretty much made up.

You and she will forever be linked because you are parents to the child, and even if you are not in each other's daily lives, you will have to meet from time to time because of co-parenting and financial issues related to rearing your child.

I presume you will want to take an active part in parenting your child, so it is best if you have a fairly good working relationship with the mother.

So try to keep things amicable while you are still together so that if you do decide to go, it will be at least civil. Your lady knows that you wanted to leave previously so it will not be too much of a shock if you leave at some time in the future.

You can contact Mary O'Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie Alternatively, write to Mary O'Conor, c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence.

Mary O'Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately

Sunday Independent