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Independence Day Part 2 - A year after the breakup

daphne_40x's picture

I watched the fire works tonight and was filled with joy and some other emotions that were a mix of wonder, sadness, and knowing that everything will be ok.  A year ago, I left my ex who had a toxic boundaryless relationship with his ex and kids.  He treated me like shit and for a while I let him.  Independence day will really mean the day I grew a pair and decided I wasn't going to tolerate being treated poorly anymore.  

After the denial passed, I realized that what 2 therapists told me was accurate.  My ex was a narcissist.  This would explain why many of his behaviors were similar to his ex, who was borderline comorbid with narcissism.  I truly dodged a bullet.

This year, I met a guy that I believe shares some very important values with me.  I was looking to date only men with children that were at least in college.  However, a friend introduced us and given some of the commonalities, I had to meet him.  He has 2 kids about to go to college, 1 who is younger.  He was separated and in the process of divorce.

I realized that given the challenges of going through a divorce that he was in no way ready to prioritize me so I broke up with him. We were waiting for the divorce to seal the deal and I won't lie, his consideration for my values set him apart from just about any other man I could meet.  But he hasn't cut the chord with his wife, and he's afraid to set boundaries until the divorce is finalized.  It could be finalized any day.  

When I broke up with him, I expected him to be selfish and dismissive and try to hold on even though his situation was hurting me.  There was an incident where his wife was going to drop off the youngest at his house out of the blue and I had to leave.  Also, he forgot my birthday.  After having been demoted to a second class citizen with my ex, I wasn't having it again.  The new guy and I met up after I took some space and he surprised me.  He agreed that I was right and that he wasn't in a place to be in a relationship right now.  He said that he didn't want to create long term damage and that he didn't want to screw this up.  So he let me go.  I think he was hurting a little but he did the right thing.  He didn't put his needs first.  He put my feelings first.  

I know that even after he gets divorced it may still not work out.  He may not be ready for a relationship.  He may want to sow his wild oats.  He may not want to set boundaries with his ex.  I have no illusions that I can change any of that either.  And now I have the self esteem to know that I won't tolerate a miserable situation again where I'm not prioritized and healthy boundaries aren't set.  

I'm thankful for the women and men here that have shared their experiences that helped me rebuild my self esteem and realize my expectations weren't unreasonable.  

I'm out's picture

And in the meantime my advice? Stick to your Only men with children of college age. It sounds like you've been through enough step hell, don't do it all again there are thousands of men out there Smile

Siemprematahari's picture

And now I have the self esteem to know that I won't tolerate a miserable situation again where I'm not prioritized and healthy boundaries aren't set.  

^^^^^^^^^^Here's to learning lessons and not repeating them. Cheers to seeing your value and that you deserve to be a priority in someone life. Wishing you the best in your future. I know it will be a happy one!


futurobrillante99's picture


Cheers to learning from our mistakes and exercising self-care and healthy boundaries!!


raindrop's picture

I’m also single now. After my breakup, I was adamant about NEVER dating a man with kids, no matter how old the kids were. But then I realized that most men my age did have kids in this area, and maybe I should be more open to it, but watch closely for red flags that I learned from my long term relationship with a man with kids. I started dating a man named Barry, a guy with one boy, divorced 2 years. He was great to me, but red flags starting popping up. Like, he and ex took their son trick or treating together on Halloween, and lots of picture exchanges between the both of them of their son. Same old, same old. I dumped him and now I will either remain single the rest of my life before I get involved with a man with kids. I am getting ready to move to Tampa and I just  joined and changed my preferences to find men who do not have kids, there are a massive amount of men my age range in Tampa without kids. Yay!!

daphne_40x's picture

Unfortunately, most of the guys who don't have kids around me aren't marriage material.  I'm of a certain age where most men who haven't married are usually have avoidant attchment style (commitmentphobes.)  :/   

BethAnne's picture

It sounds like you are moving forwards with your eyes wide open. Well done you definately deserve your independance (not that anyone doesn't). 

I think that it is normal for most people who do not have a hard break from a former partner to continue to have some tie-over, some level of enmeshment that if they move onto a new relationship quickly that can cause issues in the new relationship. This transition period seems to be exhasperated when kids are involved because of the increased contact between parents. They are used to doing things together as a team and it takes time for them to learn that they need to start doing things independantly of their ex. Unfortunately a divorce decree does not automatically change these habits and behaviors and it takes time and willingness to move on from one or both former partners to set up their lives independently.

What I am trying to say in a convoluted way is that the issues with his ex will not disapear with the divorce but if he is willing and aware that he now needs to parent and exist more independently from his ex he can change his habits. It will not necessarily be an easy transition though and that is where tensions and problems will come in from all parties. 

daphne_40x's picture

A piece of paper won't change enmeshment.  I'm not sure how enmeshed he really is, since the moment I started to sense it I told him it wasn't working for me.  He had mentioned before I said anything that he didn't think he could continue to be friends with her as she had become highly reactive and was hurting him.  He was going to treat it like a business relationship.  But I saw him giving in and assumed it was guilt.  He said it was fear.  If we make our way back to each other I'll pay attention.  He knows how I feel.  I won't be with someone who doesn't have boundaries with his ex and kids.  He doesn't appear to be willing to bend over backwards though, which my ex did.  He offered to introduce us because he wanted me to know that it's really over but I knew that wouldn't be wise given his pending divorce.  

daphne_40x's picture

I'm definitely making my way through dating a more slowly than before.  I do really like this guy and am open to seeing if he has his ducks in a row later.  He may be a unicorn of his own, and I don't want to lump him in with all other divorced men who don't get it.  I have learned to pay much closer attention to how I feel and asking myself if my needs are getting met.  When they aren't, it's time to talk about it or take action.  I think women have a hard time with this and find themselves extremely resentful and angry as a result.  I don't want to be angry anymore.  Life is short.  

I want to approach it in a zen way.  I.e. allow people to be who they are and watch how they behave.  I can't change people.  I can observe and note the pattern.  If my needs aren't being met I can let them know what I need but leave it entirely in that person's hands.  I don't do a lot of that early on because men will fake it for a while just to have someone, sadly.  If it looks viable I will start stating what I need.  If they don't or can't meet the needs, there's no point staying is there?  

I closed on a house today.  That, coupled with the 4th of July has been overwhelming.  It's a new beginning and the end of a difficult period of time that forced me to take stock, grow and learn healthier behaviors.  I couldn't just point my finger at my ex because I am responsible for my own mistakes in the relationship.  

I started coming here about 6-7 years ago and have been lurking and reading everyone's stories.  My initial reaction was abject fear.  I didn't want to end up in the position of the woman who tried her best to give the step kids and husband a good home only to be treated poorly by all, scape goated and repeatedly rejected.  I don't have the fear so much anymore.  I think I was afraid because I didn't think I had other options.  I know I have a lot of other options now.  I am dating and I look better than I have in the past few years because I am happy and eating better and exercising.  

Another reaction was the Pollyanna perspective, where I assumed that the truly resentful women who called their step kids names just resented the fact that their significant others had a history and kids with another woman.  I didn't want to be that woman.  I didn't understand that most were probably hurting from the rejection and being treated like an outsider.  Or maybe they got tired of feeling lonely and like a single person while in a house full of people.  I get it now.  No one likes feeling like a second class citizen and that's how I see step mothers being treated.  That's how I was treated.  

I'm grateful for this site and for my new perspective.  

Rags's picture

Engaging in a relationship where one of both of the new partners are relationship re-treds is risky.  I am well aware that my bride and I are fortunate that we have made our marriage work.   I was 4 years post divorce and she was about a year post initial breakup with the Spermidiot and was coming to the end of her tolerance for his on again off again engagment with her and their young child.

I applaud your clarity, maturity and confidence to remain focused on you and what you require in your next relationships.

Stay focused. Take care of you.

You will find the right equity life partner that fits, adds to your life, and that you can have lifes adventure with.

daphne_40x's picture

You must have really loved your wife to deal with her idiot ex.  But from what I remember, she cut the cord with him so you were on the same side.  This is what I think a lot of us have lacked with Disney Dads.  

I know it's risky.  There have been days since the breakup where I decide that this is really a breakup, not a break.  But I know that the story isn't over yet.  I'll know when I know.  It's not ideal, but I'm keeping my eyes and ears open. I'm dating others and it feels good to not feel anxiety over someone who isn't prioritizing me.  Maybe the distance will wake him up.  Maybe not.  But I'm moving forward one way or the other and enjoying my life right now.   

Rags's picture

I am glad that you are progressing your life and not stagnating with him.  I would advise you that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance so the odds of him improving in a durable manner are pretty much slim and non.

I hope that you find focus on  your life and do not keep getting sucked back in to his drama.

Enjoy your new life adventure.