Ill try to make this as short as possible. Searching for some advice.
Together with my boyfriend of 5 years. He is 15 years older than I am. He has 2 children from previous marriage. Kids are 12 & 13 now. Mother of the children is not in the picture.
He is a full-time dad, provider, business owner and athlete. His kids are professional boxers and train 2 x a day, 6 days a week. He is the driver, doctor, father and mother, friend and everything in between for his amazing boys.
We have met through a professional setting and quickly started dating. It's been hard in the beginning as I had to understand that I wouldn't be much time and attention from him as his children needed him most to "soften" the pain/shock from their parents divorce. Yes, this included many upsetting situations, having to put my needs and priorities always at the end of the list, changing plans on me always last min, short visits, no alone time more than a few hours. Good thing is that I too am a workaholic so the lack of attention and time was bearable, simply because I didn't have much time on my end as well.
1st year was rough, ups and downs. Breakups and makeups. However, his amazing family qualities made me decide to stick it through hoping there would be some light at the end of the tunnel in this relationship. I fell in love with how loyal he was to his boys and how hardworking he is in all other aspects of his life. During this time, I had the butterflies in my tummy. I had the weak knees and bubbly happiness. The chemistry was intense.
Years 2-3.5, was me getting to know the kids and slowly letting the kids understand that Dad is seeing another woman seriously. (We didn't kiss or hug in front of them for some time because he wanted to slowly get them used to us being a thing.) We would go on "family" vacations to beautiful places around the world. It was always just us 4 four. The kids grew closer and closer to me. Its been challenging, mostly because It was always about the kids and never about me. Literally, Never. I felt unloved... but it was just me being selfish and aggravated trying to get to know him as a Father and not a boyfriend. (Today the kids and I have a strong, healthy, understanding bond and they wish for a little sister and brother. So, that's good).
Last 1.5 years have been interesting:
When Covid started, my boyfriend lost his businesses. Obviously in addition to all that was going on in the world life drastically changed for everyone. He had to find ways to put food on the table, train the kids to keep them in form (Gyms were closed, so he had to pull some strings with neighbors allowing them to use their backyards and garages as a gym). He lent money from me, friends and family to support the kids, himself etc. all while trying to get back on his feet. (He even learned how to cook! ha!) I would visit a few times a week for a couple of hours.
At this time, I had to make the decision to move to another state because my parents needed my help with work. Overnight I packed my things and left.
He didn't want me to leave but I really had no choice. Through out all of this, we have always been in touch. (Thanks to Facetime, Whatsapp etc. We would speak 4-6 times a day). The kids and I also stayed in touch often.
6 months ago, he got back on his feet. Paid off all his debt to me, to friends and family. He travels to visit me every 2 weeks, sometimes alone (for 2-3 days) sometimes with the kids for longer time periods. I would come and visit him. Hopefully, if finances allow he plans to make the move to me in a few months. He has already arranged trainers and gyms for the kids. He has tried to get me pregnant a few times. But I demanded that he stop before he officially moves. He understood.
Keep in mind, we never lived together. Maybe for short periods up to 2 weeks. Which doesn't really count.
I find myself questioning if I love him. I know I respect him tremendously and thank god that he's in my life because I have learned so much from him and thanks to him have had the chance to meet amazing people and travel to exotic beautiful places..... but the butterflies are gone. There are no romantic gestures. There is just sex when he visits. It's great, but it just the act. Yes, he tells me he loves me everyday and wants a family with me. He tells me I'm beautiful when I've gained weight, or look like a mess etc... He's grateful that I treat his kids as if they are my own, I cook for them, clean after them, treat them, take care of them when they are in pain or feeling low. I do everything for them. Including give ALL of my energy to them. The scary part is, I find myself feeling some kind of way after they go back home. I find myself feeling free, relieved and at peace. Why am I feeling this way? I'm confused. Is this normal? I'm having trouble connecting with how I feel for him and deciding if I really want to be the 24/7 workaholic at home AND at work.... without much in return for ME, just me.
The other side of me is angry. I think to myself, is it that he found a young, successful girl, who loves his kids, is family oriented, takes care of all of them while he does the bare minimum to keep me afloat and emotionally involved so I don't leave?
Some side info in case this is important:
He does not support me financially. He is rough around the edges (verbally), the kids can be too. But they are not abusive towards me. He is always up and about, not really a home body. He doesn't enjoy spending time at home watching a movie or just relaxing. (I do!) He does pay for food and dinner when we are together. He's my best friend and always makes time for me when I need him most. As do I.
Thanks in advance and I'm sorry for being all over the place.