After 3 long term (7+ years) relationships that ended in my partner being unfaithful to me I realized that I am just a completely lost person. I am the type of guy that puts everything on hold for his woman and now that I have been cheated on again I realized that in the course of the past 8 years all I have done day in and day out is try to make her happy, work, and raise kids. I have ZERO hobbies or interests, I have no friends male or female. I work alone and don’t know what to do! I have tried Facebook and dating sites. I have tried bars and clubs. I was never socially awkward by any means but I want a meaningful connection with people and realize that I know nothing about nothing. I literally don’t know what to say or do. I have spent so long doing what will make someone else happy that I don’t know what I like. I find myself trying new things and in the middle of doing them I am just doing what others say I should do or helping them with what they want to do. It’s hard for me to explain and I know trying new things and putting myself out there is key but I just can’t seem to get out of my own way! Does anyone else have this problem? Is there something wrong with me? I don’t like to be alone. I don’t like “me” time. I just want to find someone to share conversations with and laugh with but I just don’t know how to make it happen. Anyways I’m a 34 year old White male looking for answers.
Assuming you're still waiting, I've some questions:
1. Did you actively put everything on hold or could it have been that there wasn't any room spare?
2. 'Try to'? Did making her happy happen to require constant hard work, then?
3. Did you used to have hobbies and interests prior to this last relationship (or the first)?
4. Ditto friends?
Facebook? Fakebook, more like.
Dating sites? Emotional hospitals, more like.
No luck in either of those? Ya don't say. I wouldn't take it personally, if I were you. You can't hurry love and you certainly can't MAKE it happen. It happens TO you. When you're ripe and ready. Which doesn't include, you still in traction in Intensive Care (the emotional variety). Why on earth WOULD you be ready to 'attract'? Don't you know you're grieving? And who wouldn't be after all of that?
You do know all of this, deep down, which is WHY you go on to state that you're so alienated from yourself you no longer remember what you like (or no longer can like what you used to).
You've got the right idea about what to do/what things to try. But what you've got wrong is THE TIMING.
You're not ready yet because you haven't finished grieving. That simple. And again - why would you, given that you were thrice run over and then back again by a 10 tonne truck.
Are you always this impatient and hard on yourself?
Who (singular or plural) taught you to do that, then?
For example: it's NOT hard for you to explain yourself because you just did and it was highly articulate and comprehensible.
There is ONE thing 'wrong' with you, though. And it's this:
"I don’t like to be alone. I don’t like “me” time."
If you don't like your own company (yet) then you're going to be unconsciously, in myriad ways, 'signalling' that. The other persons tend to believe you and act (or this case, fail), accordingly. Solution: Put that loneliness to proper (incredible) use by letting it play out to the very end. Given enough being forced to sit through your boredom and loneliness, that's when your imagination will kick in and you'll start pottering and getting creative, trying things you've never tried before and (coo - magic!) suddenly finding yourself thoroughly engaged and entertained. Until then, it's - go through the labour pains (to the birth of New You).
I'm *not* on drugs - this is actually what's going on and how it works.
And, yes - to answer your question - everyone does. Certainly everyone that's stuck fast in bed in the emotional hospital ward after having been squished by however much Narcissistic two-timing/cheating barstools.
Will that do for starters?
I see a lot of the normal, natural fears in your response.
For example, your children will eventually be utterly fine again if that's what you signal they'll ultimately be, because they naturally take their cues from you, especially when lacking any experiential frame of reference of their own, such as this 'adult affairs' case... which I know how hard it is to do when you've your own grieving and recovery to try to get through.
Saying that, there is another half to that recipe, which is (and this REALLY builds your strength and widens your comfort zone!) allowing your kids to share their emotions with you, to *their* satisfaction - and vice-versa to whichever age-appropriately sensitive and censored extent - all the while presenting a pragmatic attitude akin to saying a reassuring, 'That's better, I needed that', if ever you can't help but cry in front of them. Think of yourself as the dad *and* mum-figure when in your care. So feel free to be open and to empathise with them because the more important fact is that they see you take it largely in your stride and not panic, despite it hurting keenly at this point. (There are useful self-help and advice books on the topic, which you might want to have a surf for.)
You're alright, you see - long-term, I mean. Another romantic partner *you can get* (eventually), whereas, your kids cannot get a new mum and dad unit. So you must help them express their own sense of devastation out of their systems and their struggles to adapt to the new status quo.
This is how to role-model future good self-therapy and a golden coping aid (never bottling up bad feelings) so that they can endure and get over virtually anything bad that happens in their own adult lifetimes. Mainly for never panicking if/when bad times hit.
"I’ve spent so long planning my life with her, growing old with her. Now it’s just over. "
Yup. It's a killer, isn't it? Understand, however, that if every single human being were suitably HEALTHY, meaning both romantic partners functional, then lifelong longevity might moreover be the truism that Nature intended. Only, not every human is. Or we pick out of circumstantial needs that don't belong in the relationship selection process, needs which can too easily become met and become obsolete, taking a considerable portion of desire of the relationship with them. Hence "You Are Here".
The reason I suspect your partners were unhealthy is because of too much research, lately, showing that on the whole, the cheaters and adulterers of this world are the Narcissists. (I'll paste in some links in a min.)
But do not, whatever you do, make the common mistake of viewing the whole episode as (bar your kids) a complete waste of time because it most certainly was not. It's precisely these kinds of distressing life struggles that build your mental muscles (happy times being merely rest periods between psychological growth spurts), while teaching you so much during a Crunch Time such as this about your deeply intrinsic self and your emotional world as has you coming out of that whole wash a far superior version with many more life tools (including qualities) in your toolbelt. Think Chrysallis and Butterly - the greater the struggle out of it, the stronger the wings and the higher, longer and smoother the flights for the rest of its life. Traumas really do make you a better person - IF you've that 'turning Lemons into Lemonade' determination... which you obviously do for having had the urge to go out and damn well get what you need: some assistance (coming on here).
I can already tell you'll ultimately be anywhere between okay and happy, therefore, just because of that giant action. That and the fact that we are because we have to be. But it will on-off hurt (and itch madly) while said giant wound heals, and through that, lessons in savvy-ness learned. Meantime, having legitimate carte blanche to feel sorry for yourself - as well as be angry and outraged - is vital to the process. 'Better out than in'.
Re child support: Despite this attitude got started by your narcissistic personality disorderds - who then go round infecting everyone else as they whinge about it - you paying 40% of your income toward Child Maintenance is not meant as a punishment. Au contraire. It's an wholly appropriate recognition of your most important right and privilege as their one-and-only Father aka Hunter-Provider, plus an inarguable message to those kids-into-adults of unconditional father-child love *of the healthy, true Grown-Up* variety... (after all, even idiots can love you, eh). So let's turn it round and consider how you'd be feeling right now had the judge given that job to some other bloke - like your ex's next boyfriend!
But it is natural for normal, healthy newly-divorced to feel like this too, if only for a while.
Re losing time: What generally tends to happen when slightly starved or under-nourished humans get a plate of tasty food put in front of them? Yup, they stuff their faces, really pack it in, to make up for lost time. Furthermore, it's up to you, if, say, unable to tuck them in every night like you used to, to create NEW AND BETTER special rituals, whereby you've no need to miss the old and obsolete ones. You were always going to say goodbye to those routines at SOME point, anyway, what with kids always constantly developing and changing.
If you handle this right, make custody Quality Time, you'll end up far closer to those kids than you would have otherwise. This is one of the plus points of divorce (in fact, there are many more to be had if one cares to sit and really think about it and plays one's cards right).
Tip: ensure you maintain usual firm discipline as it makes them feel safe, is one change less to deal with, avoids them thinking something serious must still be up because dad's not his usual self (another common error), and facilitates more genuine bonding.
Truth is, you've got your new set of Pros and Cons and so has the ex-missus. Just different joys or hassles.
Emerging with what seems to be the better or worse deal is not the issue (nor real) anyway. The issue is that SOMETHING about these women distracted you from all the signs and little clues that daring to, being CAPABLE of committing adultery was within their shoddy remit, meaning, "You Are Here". So now your brain's been badly shaken - traumatised - and you're (common again) trying to pin bog-standard, over-simplistic labels onto the sensations cocktail, as if that could somehow fast-forward the need to feel this way towards Done & Dusted. Trust me, even if you'd come out with full custody and (somehow) richer than when you'd gone in, you would STILL feel as miserable as you do now. There's no escaping the horrid sensations of the grieving and rapid re-adapting process no matter HOW you arrange the furniture. In your case you've simply become unwired from the Matrix and will need TIME (featuring repetition of new habits, etc.) to acclimatise and adapt to the new interim lifestyle, get comfy with it, then use it as your springboard to your intended next level (Narc-free).
Before then, you're going to on-off intermittently experience feeling periods of feeling bad .........then shorter-lived, less painful episodes....into less and less still.... then - *gone*! (at which point you'll look at her and feel anywhere between nothing or distinctly turned-off). But there's no avoiding the interim - which *is* far more painful than your normal, healthy relationship break-ups - unless one is stupid enough to want to REALLY string the agony out for far, far longer and/or shelve it for a full-force return next year or the next, or whichever *severely* inconvenient date.
So - recap: you, for whatever reason(s) that you should research or wait to realise, picked badly/failed to reject during the test-drive, ended up with a lemon, which led to a crash replete with injuries featuring pain waves/contractions. It's childbirth, Jim, just not as we know it (or ever thought we could!). Only, what emerges at the end isn't a baby, it's, as I say, a stronger, wiser, more emotionally intelligent, more capable, all-round more deep, impressive and attractive You. No pain, no gain.
It feels bad because it's *meant* to (pain is a warning that something is wrong AND of a growth spurt), and the only Because is that one. So just endure and persevere, putting one foot in front of the other until the pain abates and you start being capable of enjoying yourself again. Which you will.
PAY that 40% gladly. If, say, the ex missus wants to spend any of it on herself - that's Her funeral. Kids are not stupid. They'll note it all, whether consciously at the time or not (and what goes around, comes around). It'll dawn on them one day soon, though. What matters is their being safe in the knowledge as young adults that you always, consistently did YOUR duty.
Don't, whatever you do, grab a replacement warm body (another common mistake and healing delayer come pain exacerbator). The truth is, when you forget to remember that romantic relationships even feature in normal life will be the signal you're ready for the next. People are supposed to GROW on each other. And the longer that takes, like laying a solid foundation, layer-by-layer, the longer the relationship is likely to last. That's not to say that chemistry shouldn't feature; it should. But, with all things in life, it's about DEGREES (too little: bad; too much: bad). So fall in-love with your kids meanwhile. Due to the fact they're genuine, trustworthy and safe, this relationship is powerfully healing - mutually for both parties. Salvation through your kids, it's called. It's in the Top 5 methods for speeding up your healing without cutting any corners and having to go back and do it over. Don't let ANY toxic people near you, if do-able.
As for your ending up dying alone: I'd like to see you try?! And that's just in the romantic sense, because, with the better-grade bonding with your kids on the menu - already that's TWO (or is it 3?) adults at your bedside, regardless. So flush that fear down the loo where it belongs.
Now to directly speeding up your kids' recovery. I highly recommend for bedtime reading (whenever they do stay over), the much-acclaimed 'It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear', plus the entire Dr Seuss collection (which you should gain huge benefit from, too).
Finally - hobby. New one for you: finding out what was wrong with those women (and meeting other victim-targets along the way - in the Comment sections or forums like this one...other, genuinely nice, caring people...you can be as negative as you like, when it hits, with co-victims, they obviously automatically get it). Start with these:
And note 'shallow relationships'. They can't bond further than '6 months' worth' or thereabouts, if that. That's HOW they can bring themselves to cheat where you never would or could have, in case you were wondering. So, perversely - if the symptoms of the NPD wife chime with you - you're entirely correct (leaving aside your adoring kids) about not being worth anything to anyone. Because the 'anyones' are the natives of LaLa Land (the fact you've had three in a row, that it's a pattern of yours - a Narc Target-Victim pattern - is what goes some way to proving that). The solution is to get OUT of that cult (psychological) compound. Where the normals are. They haven't been hiding, it's that you've been incarcerated thus almost wholly kept away from them and their stomping grounds (- sense?).
Feeling worthless - and putting it like you did - you see, is another, GIANT symptom of the target-victim of an overly Narcissist or actual Narcissistic Personality Disordered individual, so it's not just about what they did, it's also how you present. As you can now appreciate, there is nothing wrong NOR UNLOVABLE about you if the beholders are normal and healthy (or getting there), bar your not having had a clue - nor the MEANS to - that you'd been hanging out with the wrong types all this time! And that wasn't even your fault, being as how you would have been conned into the cage like every other target.
Don't get me wrong - sometimes women cheat because they're the victim, and far more helpless than their male victim counterparts (e.g. given no access to any money), so tend to 'grab a human taxi-cab out of there'. But if you're attracting (or failing to repel) women apt to cheat on you *three times on the trot* then that is the mindset of someone who's been PRIMED and LEFT primed for the next Narc (be it only since their dating career began *or* because there was toxicity in their immediate and/or extended family growing up, etc.) and the next and next..., whereupon you yell ENOUGH, NEVER AGAIN! and really deeply mean it.
You just need to stay away from those types (or the equivalent of keeping things purely kid-biz with the ex missuses), and adjust and heal...long enough to cease finding them acceptable...tolerable... forgiveable... worth giving another and another chance to... busting a gut (while they sit on their a*ses letting you do everything as per) to try to make the relationship at least halfway happy again, eeet-cetera. Plus long enough that because you no longer behave as primed, they find YOU not worth pursuing (ta-daa - hurrah!).
Just have that surf and at least eliminate it from the enquiry so that you know exactly what's on and has been on your plate, and how best to tailor helping your kids through it too.
So then, assuming my suspicion's correct... How is it you reached dating age, convinced that certain bad behaviours were somehow normal thus forgiveable, overlook-able, minimise-able, forgettable, etc., and that you were "Less Than", until such time, however many years later, as the 'marriage' inevitably reached its natural terminus called *crash*? What I'm saying is, to have failed to have dumped someone capable of cheating (considering it belongs to a wider attitude that spills out all over the shop, merely in smaller or subtler quantums), again, you must have come to the first 'marriage' already PRIMED. So I reiterate: who was it that never behaved right/appropriately with you, growing up? Identifying them will act like a key to freedom (because they were the source).
Don't get me wrong - being really keen to have a happy marriage is not a bad or unhealthy thing. But it is with Narcissists. Because it's their main point of leverage and how they incarcerate you (before later rudely booting you out). You'll soon see it's called, using your strengths against you. I call it, Right Qualities (Yours), WRONG RECIPIENT.
The happy news is this: HAD the women you'd selected/accepted been healthy, everything you did and virtually every way you behaved WOULD HAVE BROUGHT SUCCESS.
See the difference now? Realise you're not some sort of unloveable failure now? You could have been the greatest, dishiest man on the planet and you'd STILL have ended up treated that way and left in shreds!
If you *didn't* come pre-primed then the only other conclusion is that these women were *very* Narcissistic (i.e. Sociopathic) and crafty, and managed to manipulate you into artificial - but nonetheless affecting - co-dependency (again, common) of a level that negated the need for prior, toxic family priming in your earlier years.
Which do you think?
Anyway, back to what I said up there (which you might read on your surfs): if you fail to heal for long enough and thoroughly enough, following the first, then come in Threes they do tend to do. So the other, really happy news is, you are *not* lost. Au contraire - it took the third to wake you up and have you ready to ensure you never, ever, EVER present as a tasty morsel to a morally insane, mealy-minded, spoiled-baby eejit of the secretly-five-years-old-still-and-seething variety. Three-in-a-row is usually a guaranteed catalyst to healing for-good.
Tip, going forwards: Know that the greatest and most painful thing that keeps you emotionally hooked with these unhealthy types is pursuing your need to call her/them to account. Because of their particular brand of bad programming, it's impossible thus futile. Only, one doesn't tend to know that or else easily accept that. And why would they. IT'S INSANE! We're not programmed to operate via back-to-front rules and realities - like breaking giant taboos - nor easily accept it. So you'll just have to keep reminding yourself (until it takes), that admitting culpability is not on their menu, and meanwhile do as much reading up on the subject of Cluster Bs (malignant NPDs, Sociopaths, Psychopaths) as you can. Knowledge...i.e. understanding... is power (as well as a healing facilitator and accelerator)...and you could probably do with a sense of that right now.
Sorry if that was all over the shop - I'm super-busy right now (just your luck ). But available if you have more questions or need to talk it all through. And by the way: you're not the first male victim here and nor will you be the last. This is not victimhood of bullying using physical strength or superiority. It's because they're "not right in the head". So it's, "was under-the-radar tricked into dating then marrying a very secret mad person (morally so) and, um, ...the relationship didn't really go very well, nor end well.... I'm not sure why, really".
Think tasty-looking cream cake laced with Salmonella.