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I don't know how to do relationships

Incarnate posted 9/22/2020 00:39 AM

So, I've been spending a lot of time with my girlfriend. Every night that I can slip away and spend time with her, I can. My ex has been staying home with he kids, and with two special needs kids, it is challenging and very stressful. Cohabitating is hard, y'all.

Tonight I was going to go to my GF's house. My ex got super upset and said that if my daughter had another hard night, she couldn't handle it and she'd call me. I decided that it would be better for everyone involved if I stayed home.

my girlfriend said that she felt like I was letting my ex have too much control over me and was upset that another woman mattered more than she did. That is not the case and I tried to explain that, but she was very upset and the conversation hinted that she couldn't do it anymore.

The conversation went thus;

Her: I donít want to be something you have to balance. You can focus on your kids and getting the ex situation handled.

Me: So, those words are part of what scares me. I feel like you're cutting me loose because I've done wrong.

Her: Yes, but you havenít done wrong you didnít make things fall apart with your ex but things are definitely not tidy and Iím nervous they wonít be for a very long time

Me: Yes, as in you are cutting me loose?

She didn't respond for half an hour, then said;

Her: I donít like how this went. I donít like that you finally told me your feelings in this conversation. I definitely donít like tonight

Me: I understand. I don't like this either.

Her: Ok. I guess goodnight then.

Me: I don't know what else to say. I want to make it better but I don't know how. I hope you sleep well. I wish I was there with you.

Her: Ok. Iíll sleep on it. I know Iím grumpy right now about it but I also want to think about things. I just donít know how realistic it is to think this is going to settle magically once you arenít living together. If she feels she has the upper hand I feel like she can still make things challenging for you living apart and I donít want to be in a mess

Me: I get it. I do think it will improve, and I can tell you why, but yes. Sleep on it. We can talk tomorrow. I have been seeing to (15yo autistic daughter), and I need to keep doing that.

And then nothing since. I have no idea if I am single again or if I screwed this up or what. I have never been anything but honest as to my situation. I care very deeply about this woman, and I told her so, but I also understand if I am too much of a mess.

I don't know what to do ir if I should have done anything differently or if she is just feeling jealous or if this is a red flag or if I'm just royally fucking this up.

AnnieOakley posted 9/22/2020 03:53 AM

Iím of the opinion that you and your STBX should establish a schedule for who has full parenting responsibilities to be shared/rotated each week. Especially since you are dealing with special needs.

It does not sound fair that you are ďslipping away every night that you canĒ. Is that twice a week or five nights? Somewhere in the middle?

And what is going to be expected when you are fully separated and moved out? 50/50 custody? Your GF has children as well, I canít imagine the children spend nights at each otherís house...so whatís the plan potentially?

My non negotiable is dating single/divorced only, but I realize you are well past that at this point.

Catwoman posted 9/22/2020 07:18 AM

Let me try and understand what is going on.

Are you divorced?

If you're divorced, why are you living together?

If you're not divorced, what is the timeline towards becoming divorced?

Do you have a parenting schedule? If not, why not? If you do, are you holding up your end of the parenting schedule?

Dating while living with a former partner is not easy for anyone to deal with, and I suspect that is where your girlfriend is coming from. Dating while not having a parenting schedule just adds an extra layer of complexity to an already complex problem.

My thoughts? Maybe get further down the road in terms of having separate households and a parenting schedule before trying to have a dating relationship with anyone.


twicefooled posted 9/22/2020 08:26 AM

This sounds like a really tough situation to navigate, and one where no one is "right" or "wrong", it just "is"

It's really hard to be torn between a love interest and your children - regardless if they are with your stbx or not.

I purposely didn't date for a long time, because I have 100% custody of my children and they were little at that time. I could maneuver care periodically but it didn't lend itself well to trying to establish a relationship with someone.

Ask yourself if you DO have good boundaries with your ex, or if your girlfriend is being sensitive. That being said, your girlfriend is allowed to feel that this isn't working for her.

Tough spot.

EvenKeel posted 9/22/2020 08:28 AM

I just donít know how realistic it is to think this is going to settle magically once you arenít living together.
This is a valid thought.
but things are definitely not tidy and Iím nervous they wonít be for a very long time

Is she right? Do you have a finalized timeline? Parenting plan? When will the households be separate, etc? It doesn't sound like you have a firm parenting plan while you are still living in the same house so she has no reason to believe it will be much different later.

If she feels she has the upper hand I feel like she can still make things challenging for you living apart and I donít want to be in a mess
Another valid concern. However, if you have special needs children and their household is feeling unsettled right now; that is where you need to focus.
It is hard enough to deal with/understand as adults, but for children it is magnified.
Now does your ex use your children to get to you? Only you know that answer.

Every night that I can slip away and spend time with her, I can.
Your GF is saying she does not feel like a priority but rather someone you 'squeeze in when you can' because that is what is going on.
Frankly - I don't see how you can give her anymore at this point. IHS sucks even when well structured. If your GF needs/wants more than you are able to give, then maybe it is just not the right time for that relationship.

I know that sucks but you have to feel torn in many places. That isn't fair to anyone involved.

My kiddos were 8 & 12 when we D. I had to make some firm decisions on my dating based on what time I was able to give to another person but I was ok with minimal dating during those years because that is how life was. I was very clear on what I could offer during that time of my life so if my partner needed more, they could more along.
I will tell you, you will blink and your children will be at a whole different stage and you will have more time for that part of your life.

ShatteredSakura posted 9/22/2020 10:37 AM

Tonight I was going to go to my GF's house. My ex got super upset and said that if my daughter had another hard night, she couldn't handle it and she'd call me. I decided that it would be better for everyone involved if I stayed home.

my girlfriend said that she felt like I was letting my ex have too much control over me and was upset that another woman mattered more than she did.†

Yeah, your daughter. It was the first thing that popped into my head reading that second paragraph. Perception is everything though.

newlife03 posted 9/22/2020 10:40 AM

You live together?

I don't see how you can date another woman while still living with your ex or stbx.

Putting your family first is something to be proud of, and I thank you for being the one who does.

Clear that path before starting on a new one, jmo.

[This message edited by newlife03 at 12:11 PM, September 22nd (Tuesday)]

DevastatedDee posted 9/22/2020 10:51 AM

Honestly, Incarnate, I'd hesitate to date someone in your situation and it isn't because you aren't a freakin' fantastic person. It would be too complicated for me. Dating someone who is living with the ex is something few people could handle. I know it seems outrageously unfair, but this just might not be the best time to date. Unfair because your XWW apparently thought dating behind your back while married was totally cool.

I seem to remember that you weren't intending on being in a serious relationship at this time. It turned serious on you, and I get that. It happens. Her concerns are valid, but she may also have unrealistic expecations of what dating you right now means. You have special needs children who will always come first and anyone you date needs to respect that. That understanding would probably be easier for her if you weren't living with your XWW. You do deserve happiness and a good relationship, but that might have to be put on hold until you're established in your new single life.

twicefooled posted 9/22/2020 11:04 AM

The fact that you wanted to stay available so that your DAUGHTER doesn't have a tough night makes you an amazing father. And the fact that your girlfriend thinks your EX means more to you is the wrong perception.

Minor children always come first. I've stopped dating guys because that didn't appear to be the case.

You are in a really tough spot.

HappyTree posted 9/22/2020 13:02 PM

Alright, I see loads of red flags all over your post.

Dating while still living with your ex is a very bad idea. I know Covid complicates things, but this is a very bad idea. You need time completely away from her so you can rediscover who you are. It looks to me like you haven't given yourself that time.

Your girlfriend thinks that you are choosing your ex over her. Something is really going on here. It could be that you are, it could be that your girlfriend doesn't understand your situation. But something is going on here.

Things are not tidy and your girlfriend knows that.

In a nutshell, here is what I think. I think your ex does have some control over you. Hopefully you can move out soon and truly move on.

I also don't think this is the best dating situation for you. Your current girlfriend doesn't understand that your children do come first. If you have a child with a disability, will your girlfriend really be able to help you out at all with your kids if the relationship goes further?

I don't think that you did anything wrong with this relationship, but it may not be the best fit for you right now. Or the two of you need to make this relationship more casual and less serious.

HalfTime2017 posted 9/22/2020 14:27 PM

Incarnate, if you want to make this work, I think a timeline for the GF of when you expect to move out would be workable.

I do agree with most others, in that its a challenging time for you to date, but not impossible. A couple of points.

- Any women you date should understand that your kids come first. The first thing I look for and address in a dating situation. Its made easier when the person you date have children as well, they will be on the same page on this, unless they're not, than you don't want to date a shitty parent anyway.

- I don't think you need to broadcast to your GF everything you WW is telling you about what you can or cannot do.... I'm not talking about keeping secrets, but if you need to stay home to take care of the kiddos, that is what it is. Its not b/c the WW needs me, or can't handle, its for the kids, and they come first. This kind of broadcasting drives women crazy. All the insecurities come to the surface even if it has nothing to do with them. Here is an example that just happened to me. Went shopping with my GF for some furniture, I had to run to the mens room, so gave her my CC to finalize the purchase. While I was away, the sales lady started asking her questions about us, about me, about my taste in furnishings..... My GF didn't think too much about it, but then during dinner with friends, one of her friends suggested that maybe the sales women may have had an interest in me, and thats why she was asking all these questions. Turns out it was probably right, but it turned my GFs mood all sour. Had nothing to do with me, and no instigation, but brings up jealousy and other issues. I wasn't even there, didn't say much except buy furniture, and she was right next to me the whole time.

- Your GF has a fair point. Although she jumped in, know full well you situation, but probably fell into limerence without thinking things thru. Now she's realizing that its going to be tough, dating a single dad, that is still living with his ex. She probably feels now that maybe it wasn't the best idea, but she's now in deep.

- Its not your fault. You have kids, GF and an exWW pulling you in different directions. All wants a piece of you. Guess what, its not changing. Going forward, you're going to have to learn to navigate this even once you move out on your own. Relationships require time suck. That is just what it is. And by time suck, I don't mean it sucks, just that it takes meaningful time and work, and you are going to have to learn to deal with it. Whether its your kids, or GF, people will want a piece of your time and attention. You will need to learn how to navigate this going forward. Its a must.

- Don't beat yourself up. If this doesn't work, its okay. It might have been a shitty day/week for your GF, she even said so herself. If things don't work out, no biggie man. This is a learning lesson. This is your first relationship after your D, and you will have many more. Give yourself and your GF the ability to see what can and cannot be worked with, and if in the end, it doesn't work out, its okay.

- Remember, whether its this GF or a Future GF, no one wants baby mamma drama. Thats why like Marz says, its best to cut them out, go NC, and deal with kids only. Which I know you're trying to do, but maybe this might spur you to get the hell out of there faster and start living apart if you really want to date. GFs don't want to hear about the ex, see them, or deal with them for the most part, unless of course they bring it up themselves . Double standard much???

[This message edited by HalfTime2017 at 2:34 PM, September 22nd (Tuesday)]

EllieKMAS posted 9/22/2020 14:40 PM

I'm sorry you're having a rough time right now. This year can just fuck. right. off.

I really think you owe it to yourself to learn how to be okay with being truly single. I know you have spoken at length about the loneliness and all, but tbh I don't think you have really been on your own much at all in your life. You married young, dealt with all your stbxww's crap, you have your kids.... so who are YOU? Who are you as a human separate from your xww and your children? I am a firm believer in learning the value in being alone and understanding the difference between alone and lonely.

IMHO, until you get well and truly separated and get your parenting plan in place and really have an idea of how much time you can dedicate to dating, it might not be a good time to complicate your life more. Just my 0.02.

newlife03 posted 9/22/2020 15:25 PM

This year can just fuck. right. off.


crazyblindsided posted 9/22/2020 16:08 PM

I agree with the other replies that it might not be the best time to be dating until you are separated/D.

Anyone new is going to have to understand that your daughter will always come first and that she has special needs that require your attention at times.

I am holding off on dating for a looooong time. Not only am I not ready for it (my own baggage is sky high and I have major trust issues), but there is no way I would let anyone dictate how much time I spend with my kiddos. It's just not worth it to me. Being with another person in a relationship is just not that important to me.

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 4:09 PM, September 22nd (Tuesday)]

Fablegirl posted 9/23/2020 20:04 PM

First, IHS is terrible. I did it for nearly a year and it was hell on everyone. I am so sorry you have to go through all this as clearly you did not choose it.
That said, I have to agree with everyone else that this is not doable.
Regardless of the outcome of your relationship, get a coparenting schedule and plan together with ex. My ex and I did coparenting counseling which I won't sell as a magic bullet, but it certainly established expectations. You can't be hanging around in case things go wrong -- that's part of married life.
Second, this is not about control but about parenting. You are still a parent. Your daughter's needs do come before the SO and it always should... so it's never going to be tidy because parenting never is.

Alonelyagain posted 9/24/2020 06:28 AM

I experienced the hell that is IHS. My XWW initiated the divorce proceedings in August 2017, the divorce was finalized in December 2018 and she finally moved out of the family home in February 2019. I joined OLD in February 2018 and in September 2018, I finally met a woman that I was attracted to and briefly started dating. During that time period, my then WW would run out of the house to see her AP as soon as I stepped foot in the house, leaving me with the three kids. I used this time to improve and deepen my relationship with my kids, but I had to cancel on my gf on several occasions. My gf was uncomfortable with my IHS and wanted to see me more often than I could manage, and she justifiably broke up with me by the end of September 2018. Fast forward to today, I have a well defined joint custody agreement and my kids are ok with me dating. I saw xgfís profile appear back on OLD in August 2020, and I reached out and explained what the situation was then and how it has changed, and weíve been dating again for about a month.

I echo what others have said, you need to finalize your custody arrangements and get separate living arrangements before dating. From October 2018-March 2019, I was seriously dating a different woman who was aware of my IHS status. In retrospect, I question why any woman would have seriously dated me while I was doing IHS. You may want to ask yourself the same question.

[This message edited by Alonelyagain at 9:11 AM, September 24th (Thursday)]

HalfTime2017 posted 9/28/2020 16:46 PM

Incarnate, what transpired with the GF? Were you guys able to patch things up and make a go of it?

Incarnate posted 9/29/2020 11:40 AM

Sorry, its been nuts on this end with the fires and work and peacekeeping. I can update more later, but yes, my girlfriend and I talked through it, communicated, and we are still very much together.

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