I am seeking your advice about my boyfriend and his babymother. The other night they were both in a car together arguing at a gas station while I was trying to reach him for about an hour. Is this appropriate behaviour after he agreed that he would not be alone with her? According to him, he noticed that her headlight was not working and he decided to fix it for her, assuring me that it was for the safety of his child. That's how they ended up at the gas station together. I don't know if I am overthinking this, but could this be shady behaviour?
There is always the potential conflict involving the guy, his babymother, and his girlfriend/wife. The onus is on the man in the middle to manage the situation that he has found himself in.
So your boyfriend claims that he offered help to his child's mother, who had some problems with her car. His motivation was the safety of the child, which sounds like a reasonable justification for providing the technical assistance. Are you saying that he should not have been helpful in an extraordinary moment like that? As you know, malfunctioning headlights on a vehicle at night can be inviting an accident, worse with a child on board.
It is always important that the man in the middle establish and maintain boundaries between himself and the babymother. You indicated that he agreed not to be alone with her, but technically a gas station would not be considered a private setting.
Are you overreacting? Maybe – but the real question is, do you trust your boyfriend? If you have reason to believe that he is still connecting with the babymother beyond matters related to the child, then you may well be reacting rather than overreacting. It's odd, though, that you tried making contact with him during the time he claimed he was fixing the headlight but he never responded.
The man in the middle must make a conscious effort to maintain the trust of his partner by being honest and upfront. In your case, it would have made sense for him to call you and advise you that he would have been delayed and to say what he was doing.
The fear he probably had, if his story was true, is that you would have objected to him carrying out his act of helpfulness, as you may have believed that he was doing this to get close to her.
In my view, both of you need to have a conversation about your concerns. He needs to assure you that his interaction with the babymother is above board, and that he is exercising his responsibility as a good father to the child.
In the meanwhile, try not to be suspicious, and don't become distracted by external factors. Focus on building the relationship, and bear in mind that the man in the middle that you have chosen must reach out to the babymother in the interest of the child. There will be many occasions in the future when they will have to interact. That's a given; it's just that the whole process must be transparent.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail email@example.com.