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Stuck and confused... need advice. 5 years in.


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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. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Five years is good enough to know if someone is right for you. If something is amiss, cut your losses and set each other free. Don't hang on like that hoping that his situation will change or the age gap closes or that he miraculously has more time to devote to you. His kids will always come first. 

I wondered about the mother and how the kids would see both parents if he moved to be closer to you and your parents. How far is the distance? 

If you say he does the bare minimum to keep you "afloat and emotionally involved", how so? What can he do more that would help you feel differently?

Edited by Rose Mosse
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The mother lives in another country. She speaks to them once a week by phone. She is not involved in their life. 

3 hour flight, from their home to me. 

Because he is SO involved with the kids and believe me I am more than understanding and accepting of all his time that goes into raising these kids. But its never really me and him anymore. If he visits me, we go out with his friends. If he visit me with the kids, we are always doing fun kid activities. 

As a woman, he doesn't show me attention. Except once, he flew out to see me for 1 night for my birthday that was nice. All other birthdays, he didn't spend them with me. Except once for 2 hours. 

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Thanks for the background. Whatever you feel you deserve, is what you deserve. People usually have a very good sense deep down what matches with them as I think you do too. 

You may have outgrown this relationship. The longer you stay the more resentment builds. If you mention you want more involvement, use tangible examples. You mentioned birthdays. Why has he missed your birthdays? Does the date coincide with his boys' events or something else? 

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50 minutes ago, _Diasies said:

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.

There you have your answer, OP, exactly in your own words.  Nothing scary about it. Relief and peace are never scary. 

You can do a lot better. You deserve peace and contentment. Life is so short OP. Don't waste another day on this utterly futile "relationship". 

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Posted (edited)
Quote

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 think feeling that peace, contentment and relief after a partner's kids go home (meaning back to the mom's house especially), is totally normal for stepmoms.  You're ok 🙂 that's just a normal feeling because when they're in the picture, you really do come behind them, and that's hard.

That's partly why marriages with stepkids end in divorce more, because of how dang hard it is to make it work.

But you have to decide what is right for you.  They're almost adults!  Only 5-6 more years and they'll be in college or out in the working world.  

So you have to think about what you want, if he's able to spend more time with you other than just sex.  If he's not, then obviously you have your answer there.

Edited by maritalbliss86
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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, _Diasies said:

He's my best friend and always makes time for me when I need him most.

He is nothing of the kind, OP.  And never was. A relationship is a two-way street, and this wasn't it.

The best that can be said is that you were very useful to him. 

Edited by LaHermes
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Posted (edited)

Maybe, he is no longer attractive, as he is becoming emotionally available.  I think that you choose this relationship, as this guy was unable to  commit.   It sounds like you have a lot of trust issues and are afraid of allowing someone in. 

Most would never have accepted this scenario if they truly wanted a relationship.  Deal with your trust issues.

Edited by Hollyj
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Other things to think about are...

1) Do you want to have your own kids?  This man sounds like he's already been through all of that, he really may not want more.

2) Can he do other things with you to build and grow the relationship?  Would you see actual results if he tried?

3) Can you wait for 5-6 years until his kids are adults?

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2 minutes ago, Hollyj said:

Most would never have accepted this scenario if they truly wanted a relationship.

No truer word, Holly.  Perhaps OP that is what you have to look at. Why you entered this "relationship". 

My advice stands. Life is short, and valuable. Don't waste any more of it. 

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3 minutes ago, maritalbliss86 said:

Do you want to have your own kids?  This man sounds like he's already been through all of that, he really may not want more

Thank you for your time.

Yes, I do. At least 2. So does he. I don't mind waiting 5-6 years. 

 

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5 minutes ago, Hollyj said:

 

Most would never have accepted this scenario if they truly wanted a relationship.

1 minute ago, LaHermes said:

No truer word, Holly.  Perhaps OP that is what you have to look at. Why you entered this "relationship". 

My advice stands. Life is short, and valuable. Don't waste any more of it. 

I really wouldn't go that far. I've known couples who have been in long-distance relationships for 3-5 years, and now they're happily married, so what works for some, doesn't work for others and so on. Just because "most would never have accepted this," doesn't mean it hasn't worked for OP. Her relationship being different than most doesn't make it less meaningful.

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13 minutes ago, _Diasies said:

Once, it was his friends Hanukkah party. 

Another time it was him having to go to training with the kids. 

 

And do you mind me asking how you both celebrated your birthday instead? Perhaps a different date/another week? before or after the other events? Did he acknowledge it at all? 

If you can wait the 5-6 years and think this man is for you then keep working on figuring out more tangible ways that it can improve. You'll clarify with yourself whether those things are feasible or workable and you'll probably get rid of those uneasy feelings. 

Not something to ignore and simply keep passing through the years on. 

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Just now, _Diasies said:

Thank you for your time.

Yes, I do. At least 2. So does he. I don't mind waiting 5-6 years. 

 

Is he against remarriage?  Has he talked about commitment at all with you (just wondering)?

Maybe try to have a talk about whether or not he'd be able to balance everything if you had babies now.

His kids sound like they take a lot out of him with their training... and you mentioned he's an athlete, too?  

Training 2x, 6 days a week is setting them up to be professional athletes... I get it, that takes a lot of time and attention, but would he also have time for the new kids?  That's what you'd need to find out.

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1 minute ago, Rose Mosse said:

And do you mind me asking how you both celebrated your birthday instead? Perhaps a different date/another week? before or after the other events? Did he acknowledge it at all? 

Yep, we celebrated either the day after for dinner or something. He would give a gift always. Once when money was tight, he gave a rose. That was meaningful and better than any gift. 

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3 minutes ago, NotsexyandIknowit said:

I really wouldn't go that far. I've known couples who have been in long-distance relationships for 3-5 years, and now they're happily married, so what works for some, doesn't work for others and so on. Just because "most would never have accepted this," doesn't mean it hasn't worked for OP. Her relationship being different than most doesn't make it less meaningful.

This has nothing to do with distance.  It is about how he did not  incorporate her into his life.   Apples and oranges.  

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1 minute ago, maritalbliss86 said:

Is he against remarriage?  Has he talked about commitment at all with you (just wondering)?

Maybe try to have a talk about whether or not he'd be able to balance everything if you had babies now.

His kids sound like they take a lot out of him with their training... and you mentioned he's an athlete, too?  

Training 2x, 6 days a week is setting them up to be professional athletes... I get it, that takes a lot of time and attention, but would he also have time for the new kids?  That's what you'd need to find out.

All good points. Yes, we've spoken about marriage.  Living together is enough for the both of us. The name change and all isn't necessary for us. (My parents of 33 year were never married, living happily.) 

That's the hard part, he says he'll make time. But I just cant imagine how... he hardly has time for me. Not to mention and little baby or 2. 

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1 minute ago, Hollyj said:

This has nothing to do with distance.  It is about how he did not  incorporate her into his life.   Apples and oranges.  

Yes, I get that, which is why I said "what works for some, doesn't work for others." Obviously the arrangement OP had with her SO worked for her for the past 5 years, so she accepted the scenario even if others wouldn't. 

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1 minute ago, _Diasies said:

he says he'll make time. But I just cant imagine how... he hardly has time for me.

Again, OP, you are answering your own concerns.  You know the answer full well. Listen to your own inner voice.

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2 minutes ago, NotsexyandIknowit said:

Yes, I get that, which is why I said "what works for some, doesn't work for others." Obviously the arrangement OP had with her SO worked for her for the past 5 years, so she accepted the scenario even if others wouldn't. 

This is why I am saying she is emotionally unavailable.  Accepting a relationship which is 95/5 is not acceptable, unless you are unable to allow someone into your life.   It is safe.

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, _Diasies said:

That's the hard part, he says he'll make time. But I just cant imagine how... he hardly has time for me. Not to mention and little baby or 2. 

So you can set a timeframe like 6 months to a year from now, to see if he's able to make some reasonable changes that wouldn't interfere too much with his kids.  

Talking it out together and seeing what he can reasonably do each month would be an option.  You can write out the goals together, just keep it simple. 

And then you see if he's able to make those changes for that time period (the 6 months or a year).

Otherwise, if he really can't make the time (or meet what you decide on together in that time frame of 6 months to a year), you probably need to cut it off.

And wait to get pregnant until you're absolutely certain he's committed and able to meet your emotional needs.

Edited by maritalbliss86
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