No Emotional Connection
I'm a 37-year-old female who has been in two seven-year relationships and have two kids, ages 7 and 12. I recently broke up with a longtime friend with whom I was together for the last two years. He was recently divorced from his wife and has four kids. For some reason he was never emotionally connected to me; he would always seem irritated, constantly argue with his ex about his kids, and she would always use the kids against him, I suggested that he get visitation, but he never proceeded. When he would get upset with her, it would kind of put a dark cloud over our relationship. I decided that I couldn't compete with the ex anymore. Was that right on my part? How come it's so hard for me to find a loving, dedicated and god fearing man; everyone I've dealt with has always cheated in some form of way.
You've discovered that it's impossible to be in a relationship with someone who really is tied to a relationship with someone else. You may have lived with your friend and although that looks like a relationship and smells like a relationship, it isn't automatically a relationship unless you establish an emotional bond. In fact, without an emotional connection it's just room and board—a nice comfortable place to sleep and pick up mail. What all your relationships seem to have in common is that you expect and demand so little of a partner—and that is what you wind up getting. The way you establish a real emotional connection with someone is by sharing your inner worlds, confiding your hopes, dreams and disappointments, and supporting each other's goals. It has to work two ways; it's not a relationship unless it's fully mutual. You communicate lovingly and in your own way that you expect something in return for your emotional support. You would have been much better off if you had told Mr. Friend very early on that you love being with him but as long as he is so deeply involved with his (now-ex) wife it would be best if he lived on his own, and he should call you when he is really free. That at least sets up reasonable expectations, and it could have given him an incentive to get his emotional life in order and make some equitable arrangement with his ex. If not, at least you would have known where you stood—and walked away with your self-respect intact. Each failed relationship is devastating not only because you lose a partner but because you wind up feeling debased. Until you let a potential partner lovingly know that he has his part to hold up in a relationship, you're just going to keep on repeating the pattern of disrespecting yourself with some new guy. Use the feeling of having been cheated—and you were, but mostly by yourself—as an incentive to treat yourself better in future relationships.