Ask Troppo’s Love Gods: three-cornered contest

Last week’s Love Gods column was sadly blighted by the fact that our supplicant middle-aged lawyer  was a distinctly unsympathetic character.  This week it’s different.  Our plaintive female client is in a terrible pickle, albeit one involving a husbandly type presciently diagnosed last week by Dr Troppo.

Samantha Brett has fallen down on the job this week, however, and failed to post her weekly reader’s question.  Perhaps she’s still shagged out by the excesses of Valentine’s Day.  But never fear.  I’ve resorted to pillaging Kate de Brito’s Ask Bossy “blog” at Rupert’s place instead.  I assume she’s related to that moron Sam de Brito who conducts a “blog” at SMH, so she obviously knows a lot about forebearance if nothing else. 

Anyway, here’s this week’s reader’s letter (let’s call her Narelle):

I have been with my boyfriend for six months. A year ago he had a one night stand (with a condom). The girl got pregnant and kept the baby. He insisted that they take a DNA test, and it came out that he is the father of the baby. This woman is 23 years old, lives at home with her parents, has no job, is not going to school, never got her drivers license, does not have a car, or a bank account. She is very illogical and irrational, and he hates her (as do I).

He is being responsible and giving her money for the baby as well as spending time with his now 6 month old son. He still has to tell his own family about this (since he just found out 2 weeks ago). He is very stressed out, but determined to do the right thing. The babys mother is ok with his friends and family meeting the baby, but not I. I feel she is doing this just out of jealousy. She voiced her anger that he continued to date other women while she was pregnant, yet she was a one night stand!!!! Why wouldnt he date other women? He told her that too.

We love each other, and our relationship is great. We are really happy with each other. He really wants me to meet his son. He was saying that he will try to have me meet the son without her knowing, but I dont want to be hidden!!!! I feel angered by the fact that his friends and family will meet the baby before I will. I know she is just being spiteful. she sais she doesnt want the baby getting attached to me and being sad when we break up. I feel it is presumptuous of her to assume we will break up, and i dont think a 6 month old baby can get attached like that.

I want him to stand up to her, for me. I am so mad that she is trying to push me out of this.  What if when he brings her by to meet the family, I will be there, but he doesnt tell her until she gets there? What is she gonna do? I know she wont keep him from the baby, I know she probably wont even say anything. She never tells him anything when they are together with the baby, but as soon as he leaves she texts him about how shes mad over one thing or another, or she feels this, or she needs that. He does not pick up her phone calls, yet when they do speak on the phone, she is just as unconfrontational as she is in person. What should I do? Should I tell him how I feel? Should I wait and see what happens. I dont want this to be the reason we break up. I want to be ok with the whole situations, if Im not I owe it to him and myself to break up with him.

Also, when I meet the baby I want to love it because its his, not hate it because its hers. Please help me! My boyfriend is 24, I am 21. We really love each other, and I think the relationship has great long term potential, but this situations can make it or break it. 

Our Love Gods’ advice is over the fold, and you’re welcome to help too, in the comment box. 


The old reasonable and fair-minded Jen retired last week when her advice was passed over by his lordship.

‘Too late?’ she cried. ‘Too late?’ as she threw down the dishcloth. ‘That’s the last time I try to move beyond the housewifely boundaries and into the intellectual rough and tumble of the Tropposphere. If you want me I’ll be the one making apple pies in the sunshine’.

Lucky for Parish, the evil older sister (also called Jen) is waiting in the wings, behind the scullery door, to brandish her cruel response – while ‘the good Jen’ bakes her pies.

Advice to you, the spineless and contemptible,

Stop wailing! And be happy. You were in love for 6 months. He is telling you crap. Only you would believe, ‘Oh by the way one day (I mean one night stand) a year ago I was wearing a condom and now I have a baby’. Yeah right.  He is not what you are after. You are still young, and take heart, because most young people are quite attractive so you will probably find someone else if you look around and if you are not too fussy (and I suspect you aren’t). You need to be looking for someone who can reciprocate your desire for a conventional relationship.

In addition, it seems to have escaped your attention. This is not your baby. You can’t have it.  At 21 you won’t want it anyway, so stop moaning about how it is a part of him. The baby is a person in its own right. Do we have a name or gender here at all? Or perhaps you didn’t realise in all your careworn angst that babies come in two flavours.  And where do you get off on the ‘this is true love for sure’ stakes? A little six months and you are on for the whole future. Most of us wait at least 7 months before we start dusting off the glory box. Yes you make me sick. I have to vomit. I have a glob of independence stuck in my throat. Perhaps you’d like some?



It seems to me young lass that the problem youre experiencing is an indirect problem created as a result of the problem your boyfriend is experiencing.  So if we fix your boyfriends problem, then weve also fixed yours.  Hows that sound?  Like the sort of plan a much older and wiser person would come up with I bet!

Now the first thing I would do when faced with a situation like the one experienced by your boyfriend is to ask myself how Mick Jagger would deal with it.  Mr. Jagger has had lots of one night stands and lots of progeny as a result.  So youd be hard pressed to find a better case study.  If youre in any doubt about this, or you dont know who Mick Jagger is, then simply type Jagger model Jerry Hall furious into Google, and see for yourself

Youll find that Mr. Jaggers response, almost invariably, is to throw money at the problem. And that is the remedy Im recommending to you today.

If for example your boyfriend were to put the mother of his child up in a harbourside apartment not far from where you live, and he hired a nanny to look after the child every day, whilst the mother went shopping,  then things could be arranged so that that the nanny bought the child over to your place where you could get to know the little tot.  This would also allow you and your boyfriend plenty of time to get to know each other even better.  Obviously though that can only happen when youre not on holiday in the Riviera, so youd need to weigh up how much getting to know you time you want to spend with the baby against the time you need to spend getting a tan or having your bikini line waxed.

I cant advise you on those sort of quandaries Im afraid, but on the whole Id say your situation is not looking too bad.  So cheer up now, and start thinking about the right way to impart this information to your boyfriend so that he thinks that its his idea.  The male ego can be a fragile one.


Dear 21 year old,

Love God is always ready to assist those in distress, but as he is also not wont to intefere where he is not wanted, that usually requires a distress call. 

We have no record of a distress call from your end of cyberspace in the past twelve months.

However, as luck would have it (but we don’t speak of luck in loud voices around here), only this morning, the Chief Communications Manager asked me to investigate some annoying white noise emanating from your end of the world in more recent weeks.

Having investigated I find myself once again, beating my head against the wall.  Our beacon guidance signal has been clear, but the receptors are faulty from your end. And now you are wailing like a stranded whale on a beach.

Far be it from me to now also beat my nose to a pulp on the keyboard.

So let me put it succintly: your boyfriend doesn’t love you.

Again: he doesn’t love you.

One more time: he doesn’t love you.

Don’t try to pretend otherwise: he doesn’t love you.

Don’t try to justify him: he doesn’t love you.

Do not project your self-loathing and insecurity on to the other woman: he doesn’t love you.

Is this message getting through to you?  He doesn’t love you.

Once more with feeling: he doesn’t love you.

He doesn’t love you. Copy that?

saint in a straitjacket
A/g Signals Officer
3rd Division
Internecine Intervention Battalions
Love God Heaven

Dr. Troppo

Dear Ms X,

Your letter interests me. You’ll need to excuse me while I discuss this with my readers. My receptionist will show you to the waiting room. I think there is an old Woman’s Day with an unfinished crossword under the coffee table.

Ms X’s letter reminds me of a client I had some years ago. Ms F had a brief liaison with a married man (Mr G) that resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. On a number of occasions Ms F attempted to meet with Mr G to discuss their future relationship. But somehow her efforts were always misunderstood. On one occasion she cooked Mr G’s family a rabbit stew and on another she tried to help by picking up Mr G’s daughter from school and buying her an ice cream. But despite these friendly gestures, Mr G’s wife responded in an illogical and irrational manner.

By the time Ms F came to see me she was very distressed. Mr G refused to take responsibility for his part in the relationship and tried to convince his wife that Ms F was mentally unstable. Unfortunately Ms F abruptly stopped coming see me so I’m unsure how the matter was resolved.

In Ms X’s letter we again see a man who is unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of his behaviour. On learning that he had fathered a child, he demanded a paternity test. This is hardly the behaviour of man who is determined to “do the right thing.” Instead it is a hostile gesture designed to insult and harass the mother of his child — a young woman who is clearly vulnerable and powerless. Ms X tells us that the young mother “lives at home with her parents, has no job, is not going to school, never got her drivers license, does not have a car, or a bank account”. No wonder she is looking for some understanding and support.

Ms X also tells us a number of things that seem rather dubious. If Ms X is to be believed then the pregnancy lasted only six months. Could it be that the boyfriend’s last sexual contact with the young woman was 12 months ago but that the baby was conceived on another earlier occasion? And could it be that the boyfriend wasn’t always as careful as he claims to have been? And if he only found out that he was the father two weeks ago does this actually mean that results of the DNA test arrived two weeks ago? Could it be that he knew about the pregnancy much earlier — perhaps while he “he continued to date other women”?

In any case , if we leave Ms X any longer she’s in danger of finishing the crossword. Let’s call her in.

Ms X, thank you for being so patient.

You clearly feel that you are engaged in a competition with this young woman and you do not intend to let her win. She has decided to keep you away from her baby and you want to force her to back down. You intend to show her who has the upper hand. The young man belongs to you and you will not allow her to control him.

While you say that the relationship has great long term potential, I’m not convinced that you believe this. If you were truly committed to staying with your young man and you felt that he was committed to staying with you, then would you worry about meeting the baby straight away? If your boyfriend continued to have regular contact the mother would eventually relent and you would meet the child. It would be almost impossible to prevent this from happening.

But because you are unsure about your relationship you are anxious to have victory over your rival now. You don’t want to break up over this issue is because that would mean she was right.

To cope with this situation you need to understand your own emotions. Even you are aware that your boyfriend is not blameless. He slept with a woman he did not respect, he resisted accepting responsibility for his actions by insisting on a paternity test, and is only now coming to terms with his obligations. Despite this, you want to believe that he is an innocent victim — a decent man who has fallen into the clutches of a stupid and malicious woman.

By casting your boyfriend as a blameless victim you have put yourself in an emotional trap. However much it angers and frustrates you, you feel that you cannot complain about his ongoing relationship with the other woman. He cannot live up to the role you have cast him in unless he does the right thing by his child. You are dealing with this by projecting your anger and frustration on to the mother of his child. Clearly, he wants to believe that she has trapped him and you want to let him believe this.

Rather than the two of you ganging up on a single, jobless, careless woman with a new baby, you should talk to each other about how you feel. You need to tell your boyfriend how his actions have affected you. Perhaps you can love him even if he is not the hero you pretend that he is. And perhaps he can love you, even if he knows you resent having to share him with another woman and her family.

That is all I can offer I’m afraid. Oh… and please leave the magazine in the waiting room when you leave.  

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Pavlov's Cat
16 years ago

He is telling you crap.


16 years ago

What a tangled web you, your boyfriend, and your boyfriend’s former lover are weaving. Its all gonna end in tears, lest you try being less deceitful, less jealous and less manipulative. You can play host to the negative ‘what ifs’ till the cows come home with this one, and it will only ever lead to your own misery. Reign in your imagination a little and deal with the realities, such as, your boyfriend is a twat. I’d suggest you find a more straightforward alliance.

Bingo Bango Boingo
Bingo Bango Boingo
16 years ago

“On learning that he had fathered a child, he demanded a paternity test…it is a hostile gesture designed to insult and harass the mother of his child a young woman who is clearly vulnerable and powerless.”

What rot. He had not learnt he had fathered a child, he had learnt that the mother thinks that he fathered a child. A paternity test in these circumstances is really about a young man searching for a way to extricate himself from a situation which he has created but which he finds intolerable. It is a selfish and self-centred act, but it’s also an act of desperation to which the mother is incidental (although she is clearly integral to the situation as a whole). There is no need to divine malicious intent here, save for the purpose of demonising stupid men when they ought to be pitied.