Relationships. The thought of a new relationship was scary, creepy, awful, bad, and painful… notice a theme? This was a transition I thought I’d never go through again. DATING!? Ugh! A new relationship with a new person? Blah! Now I have to learn someone else’s crazy? I have to find someone who will put up with my crazy? This means I have to be nice to strangers again. Crap. Most importantly, what kind of relationship do I need?
Transition to: Reluctance:
I don’t need a relationship with ANYBODY, I thought. After a divorce, many people get right back into another relationship just because they think they should be in one. After spending over a third of their lives married, it’s what they know best. However, I was not in a hurry to get back out there. Everyone tells you their opinion though. “You need a girlfriend.” “You need to find someone.” Seems everyone knew more about what I needed than I did. At this point I am completely unsure of myself. Plus, as far as adult relationships go, I am not good at them. A healthy adult relationship…? Forget about it. I had a failed marriage, was barely talking to half my family, and there’s more than a few softball leagues out there that want me dead. What I “need” is to get my shit together before I get in another relationship with anybody. The only relationship I need right now is with my therapist.
Transition to: Reverse:
I need a relationship with my Ex. I owe that to the family, don’t I? We should do whatever we can to keep it together for the kids, right? A year of therapy has opened my eyes to many things. Maybe we can fix this. But, you can’t fix a broken marriage. You can reinvent it. It’s rare. It’s hard. We’re talking about breaking patterns that have been established for years. It’s tougher than breaking a bad habit–the real tough ones like smoking, drinking, watching porn. With those, it’s totally up to you. If you quit, that’s it. Cigarettes don’t chase you down a hallway. Liquor doesn’t force itself on you. Porn doesn’t just pop up in front of you–unless, you’ve been to so many website you’ve become a gold member and you get a direct IM from a porn star who knows you by name because you’ve been automatically added to a response list whenever you watch her videos over and over and over again –ahem, from what I’ve been told. With a marriage, it takes two people to do anything. You can make whatever decision you want, but if your partner isn’t on the same page, forget about it. Unfortunately, this was the case with my marriage.
It took me a long time to get over my ex, maybe two years. There’s a difference between doing the best you can to fix things because of the kids, and simply staying together because of the kids. The first is a noble effort to do what’s right for the family. The second is painful and uncomfortable for everyone, especially the kids. They are way smarter than you think. They know what’s going on. They are also learning to be adults by watching you. If your marriage is broken, and you spend the next twenty years miserable in a loveless relationship with someone you can’t stand, guess what? You’re daughter is gonna marry a schmuck. Enjoy the reunions, interventions with the grandkids, and don’t hold any unmarked packages for the in-laws.
Transition to: Reaching Out
I need a relationship with someone new. It’s time. I’m getting back out there. What’s the best way? I’ve been married 15 years. Internet dating? Why not? It’s like shopping on E-Bay but for a person. You can search through pics and bios, and the best part is that you know it’s about dating. It’s a “dating” site, after all. It’s the only reason anyone is on that site, right? RIGHT? Why else would you be there?
I was always honest with my profile. Part of that was stating I was separated before the divorce was final. Many women won’t even talk to a guy who’s separated on those sites. They’re usually looking for one thing. (It’s ridiculously harder for a woman to find the right guy on those sites–so I’ve heard from female friends who tell me that all the guys just want to get laid, and from male friends who tell me how easy it is to get laid). However, I never had a problem talking to a woman who was separated. I met quite a few women on-line who, like me, had kids, were in a bad relationships, unhappy, and/or sometimes depressed. The internet gave us a chance to talk about it all. However, after a thousand text messages, e-mails and phone calls I realized people define “separated” differently. Some are “I moved out. The divorce will be final in two weeks.” Others are, “He’s home with the kids, I’m not,” and still others. “He moved out. We’re re-evaluating things.”
Many people I met were in that last scenario. Internet dating, connecting on-line had become less of a place to meet people and more of a place for people in shitty relationships to try and get the attention they no longer get. It’s more support group therapy than dating. Looking back on it, that’s not a bad thing. Ending a marriage is a big decision. Our society has gotten to the point where we just accept divorce without even really trying to make it work. It’s a hard time for everyone. There was no dating or “hooking up,” it was mainly talking about how our lives had turned south and what we were going to do. The talk/conversation and connections I made helped me get through that time. I’d like to think that worked both ways. I don’t know. I no longer talk to any of those women. I know a couple of them went back to their husbands. Which is great. That’s what “separation” should be,a time to re-think it all. “Do we give it another chance or not?” I’m happy for all of them. I hope they are all happier than when I talked to them.
So much for internet dating.
Transition to: – Replacement:
I need a relationship similar the the one I had, I thought. I had gotten so used to being a family man; Volleyball games, PTA, volunteering, that I thought I could step right in to another relationship. I’m a good guy. Great father. I have a lot to offer. There has to be a single mom out there who would appreciate that. Maybe, I can still have a family. Here’s the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls. I didn’t want to replace my kids, just add to them. My kids could play with her kids. We would be one big happy!! Wouldn’t we? Like the Brady Bunch?
Is it right to do the “new” family thing with the kids? You’re basically forcing them into it. Remember, their lives have been turned upside down too, and none of this is their fault. One minute Mom and Dad aren’t getting along, the next, Mom is throwing Dad’s stuff in the dumpster, setting it on fire and dating the nieghbor.
I didn’t know for sure if I wanted to be in a relationship with anyone. However, I did know the worst thing to do to my kids right now was to introduce someone else into their lives and have that fall apart. My kids or “her” kids. People get selfish during divorce. They forget the kids. They’ve already had enough crap dumped on them. I’m not dumping more.
Transition to: Really Bad Judgement
I need a relationship with everybody, I thought. Wait a minute, what am I doing even thinking about a relationship with one person. After 15 years of marriage, I’M FREE!!! No one to answer to? I’M BANGING EVERYONE! Mid-life crisis time…It’s time for a lot of drinking, a lot of partying! Hell, I was single and back on the road. Hello LADIES! I was the cool divorced comic, and everybody knew it. At the time, I thought I was living the life. I thought I was the man!
I was pathetic.
Don’t get me wrong, there were quite a few great times during this stage. There were times when this life was all I thought it would be. But something was missing. I was unhappy, trying to fill the void with sex. Strings of one night stands, hook ups, getting drunk, acting like an idiot, hitting on people I just met, people I knew for years. It was really all about sex. Sometimes, there was great sex. Mostly, it was ackward sex, uninteresting sex, empty sex, or worse: bad sex.
You think “Any sex is great sex!” Really? Here’s an idea, after a bad day at work why don’t you meet me at this bad restaurant I know. We can grab a bad steak, drink some bad Cabernet, get bad service, have a bad conversation, maybe take a walk through a bad neighborhood. Afterwards we’ll take a bad ride back to my, find a bad parking spot, go up to my bad apartment, have bad sex, get a bad nights sleep, and get up have a bad breakfast that gives you a bad stomachache? Sound intriguing? No? F%$k you bad sex.
Transition To: Review
I need a relationship? Okay, WTF am I doing? Seriously,what am I doing,I thought. One night stands, bad decisions, short relationships, internet dating, Tinder, Porn, strippers. I have covered pretty much every base trying to find happiness again. What is making this so hard?
Transition To: Relax
The pain, emptiness, and void comes from chasing what I thought I “had” or think I “need” to be happy. Believing I needed to find something, ANYTHING to be happy is a choice I’m making. I’ve spent my whole life believing I needed to be in a good, loving, adult relationship to be happy, when I actually need to be happy to be in a good, loving, adult relationship. Bottom line is, I need a relationship with myself.
I travel for work every week. I see my kids at least once a month. If they call, I drop everything and talk to them on the spot. Honestly, I’m not available for a relationship right now. I can’t give myself to someone and that wouldn’t be fair to them. Anyone I see or date knows that. If they want more and I can’t give it, we go our seperate ways. Sometimes we even stay really close friends. Either way, I don’t need the validation of another to feel good about myself. I accept who I am.
Will I live the rest of my life like this? I don’t know. Am I OK with being single? Yes. Yes I am. Will I ever get married again? I don’t know. I really don’t. Will I ever have kids again? I’m not sure. I am not 100% sure. Am I beating the “answer your own question technique” into the ground more than Dan Patrick? I believe I am.
I’ve learned that it’s possible to be single, happy and have healthy adult relationships. You just have to be honest about what makes you happy, honest with yourself and those around you. Honesty really is the best policy. It helps avoid drama, tension, miscommunication..
…and bad sex.
To learn more about Lenny Schmidt, including his upcoming shows, visit him at his website HERE.