I want to break up, but what about her son?

1. Single parents, please weigh in on this.

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I've been in a relationship with a single mom for just over three years. During the first year, I never met her son because she was reticent about having anyone she was dating in her son's life (he was 6/7 at the time). After about a year, we slowly worked him into our life, and it kind of took off quickly. We have gone on countless trips during the last two years, I've taken them trick-or-treating, we've spent holidays together, etc.

The issue is that I really do not want to continue my relationship with her for reasons that have nothing to do with him. In fact, if this were a childless relationship, I probably would have broken up with her months ago. I've expressed this to her but she wants to continue. What is the best course of action? I'm extremely miserable with everything about us, but it kills me to be out of her son's life.

– Miserable

You should end it with this woman because that's what you want to do. Then you can talk to her about whether it's appropriate for you to remain in her child's life. There are many ways to handle this, depending on how she feels (it's up to her; she's the mom). My guess is that even if you get to see her son after the breakup, your role will be minimized. That's OK, even though it might hurt.

It's not good for this single mom to be with someone who'd rather be elsewhere. That means it's probably bad for her child, too. Kids can pick up on tension and and misery.

Please respect whatever choice she makes about access. If you both have concerns about how he'll take the news, you can reach out to a family therapist about how this kind of separation can work and how it's best communicated. The responsible choice here is to do the breakup right, not to avoid it altogether. This is going to end no matter what. The longer you wait, the more miserable everyone will be.

You can also consult a family therapist on your own. Professional guidance helps, and you don't need her buy-in to get it.

– Meredith

Readers? Have you gone through this? Can single parents talk about how this has worked and what you've learned?