What Not To Say To Your Girlfriend When She Thinks She Might Be Pregnant

We’ve all been there. You’ve been enjoying a worry-free sex life with your partner. Life has been good. And then you look at the calendar and start frantically doing math like you’re Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind.”

And then it hits you. Your period is late and you may have been less than diligent with protection than you should have been. Even if you were diligent, there is a chance—albeit a tiny one, but a chance nonetheless—that you’re pregnant. You think of that story you heard from your friend about her friend’s cousin’s sister who had gotten knocked up even though she had an IUD and was using condoms. The panic sets in. You got to the bathroom to pee much more than you usually do and each time you pray to see blood on your underwear or on the toilet paper after wiping. Next comes the Googling.

“How late do you need to be before you start to be concerned about pregnancy?”

“How accurate are over the counter pregnancy tests?”

“Reasons a period can be late besides pregnancy.”

“Earliest pregnancy symptoms.”

You’re about to lose your damn mind.

Then a day late turns into two days late, then five days late, then a full week. All the pregnancy tests say there’s nothing baking in your uterus. But if everything was OK you would have gotten your period by now, right? RIGHT? It’s an awful cycle. And it gets worse with each passing day. Because stress causes your period to get delayed even more (which is something you learned from Google).It’s an awful situation. And sometimes the worst part of it—beyond the anxiety and the fear and the stomach aches where you think shit, is this morning sickness or did I just eat a bacon, egg, and cheese way too quickly?)—is your partner. There are no resources for men when these things happen. There’s no instruction manual for when your girlfriend is late. So here are the do’s and don’ts to pass along to the man in your life.

  1. Let her feel however she wants. And express those feelings however she wants. Just fucking do it.

Does your girlfriend want to take a pregnancy test every day her period is late even though the last four tests said she was in the clear? Did she read somewhere online that parsley tea helps induce menstruation so she’s started drinking five cups a day of something that tastes like lawn clippings? Does she want to take a day off of work because she can’t focus? All of these things sound a little insane, right? WRONG. Let her do these things and don’t give her any judgment for it. Let her buy the 38-pack of pregnancy tests from Costco and use every single one. Let her drink her voodoo tea. Let her call out of work. Don’t say a word.

  1. Don’t keep trying to assure her that she’s not pregnant.

You may think this will help calm her down. It won’t. In fact, conducting yourself in any way that implies that she needs to “calm down” or that you are capable of “calming her down” is annoying as shit and patronizing and just don’t. Instead, maybe tell her that—no matter what—it’s going to be OK. Assure her that you’re not going anywhere (now is not the time to ghost) and you two will figure it out regardless of the outcome. If you keep just saying “I’m sure you’re not pregnant” over and over again I guarantee you this will be her response:

And then she’ll probably go pee on another pregnancy test. Your opinion means nothing but your support actually means a lot.

  1. Only give your opinion if asked.

You’re a human with brains and something of an interest in the matter, so certainly, you’re bound to have your own ideas about what you’d like your girlfriend to do in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Of course you have an opinion, how could you not? But here’s the thing: if you want to share your opinion in an attempt to sway her, guess again. She’s very likely figured out what she would do in this exact situation long before you ever came into the picture. She’s known ever since the day she got her first period or had sex for the first time. You’re not changing her mind. Or, on the flip side, she might have NO idea what she would do if she were actually pregnant. In either case, you forcing in your opinion when it hasn’t been specifically requested will do nothing but contribute unhelpful noise to her already very busy brain. If she asks you for your opinion, give it, but only then. No exceptions. Give her nonintrusive support.

  1. Be calm.

Easier said than done, right? But bear in mind that this may not be your partner’s first scare. She may have been through this before and it could be bringing up past feelings for her in addition to her current ones. Even if you’re freaking out along with her, don’t show it. Be a voice of reason. Act like everything is going to be OK, even if you’re having a goddamn panic attack inside too.

  1. Recommit to safer sex.

Let’s say this scare eventually passes. You don’t want to be in this situation again, right? The only way to do that is to recommit to consistently using a reliable birth control method. So if you’ve slacked off on using condoms, or maybe it’s time to change methods to something more effective (like an IUD), now is the time to discuss your options so you can have a safer sex life with your partner going forward.