Dear DSO: “I feel like I need a wife.”
I read your book (Now What? A Guide for Men Starting Over in Life After Infidelity, Breakup and Divorce) and I totally agree that I’m one of those guys that feels like he needs a wife to feel normal. I was totally in love with my wife for the 14 years we were together. I gave her everything. I supported her. I paid for her to go back to school and get her degree. She was my best friend and I was hers. We had two great kids. We did everything together. Then I found out she was fooling around with her ex-boyfriend that she had in highschool. They got back together when she went back home to Texas for a family reunion. All that time we had meant nothing to her. She treated me like garbage. That all went down about three years ago. Our divorce was fair and we share custody of the kids. I don’t have to pay child support or anything like that since she has a good job now.
I’ve been online dating for two years. I realize I’m totally the Provider that you talk about. I pay for lots of dinners and dates and I don’t have one longterm girlfriend yet. The second girl I dated after divorce seemed to be perfect. We had a lot in common and both fell in love pretty quick. She ghosted me after three months and I saw that she was dating somebody else. That felt like my divorce all over again.
I don’t know how to not fall in love right away. I’ve had sex with one woman in three years. I don’t know how to be the Lover you talk about. You make it sound easy but for me it’s not. I’m not made to screw around with lots of women and just not care if I don’t get a longterm girlfriend or wife again. The only reason I’m dating is to get another relationship and to settle down and have a normal life again. I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with that but at the same time I see that it’s not what works today with Tinder and online dating. You have to be one of the guys who doesn’t care or you will just get your heart broken and pay for a lot of dates.
This is an incredibly common sentiment. You are absolutely conditioned to believe that the end goal of a longterm relationship or marriage is a MUST HAVE for a complete life. Because of this mindset, you project a very NEEDY vibe to the world around you… and you get the predictable results (nothing). You’re right, maybe dating isn’t for you right now. With your current mindset, you will just dig a deeper and deeper hole that you won’t be able to escape from.
Take a timeout. Forget women. Forget relationships. It’s time to rebuild. Just like I said in the book. You’re a PROVIDER because you tell yourself you are. You then take that mentality out into the dating world and… lo and behold… the women you encounter all treat you like a Provider. They use you and discard you. You’re a quick and easy meal and shoulder to cry on. You’re not a sexy diversion or a real long-term romantic partner candidate.
Sorry to be blunt… but what the hell did you expect?
If I walk into the lion exhibit at a zoo with a hundred pounds of raw meat attached to my body, I have no room to complain about being eaten alive. It’s all my fault. Sure, I can complain that the lions should know better than to eat a man. After all, the human zookeepers take care of them and treat them well and make sure they’re healthy… so why on Earth would they eat a guy just because he’s covered in raw meat?
Same for you. Sure, you read my book and read my posts and see what lies ahead for the Provider in the modern day dating game… but you decide to play that game anyway because, hey, you’re just not cut out to be anything else.
Sorry to be blunt again… but that’s just complete bullshit.
These self-limiting behavior patterns are just going to leave you sexless, depressed, or worse… with a complete nutjob of a woman who has zero attraction to you but needs you for the resources you so gladly hand over. You will end up with your wife all over again. You do not want that. Even if you think for a moment that you do, YOU DO NOT WANT THAT.
You’re using your Provider title as a crutch. Every time you get that hint of social anxiety and fear about doing something different, you just say, “Welp… I guess I am a Provider after all!” Then you get mad at the Provider results. Then you go back to being Provider. Then you get angry about more Provider results. The cycle continues…
You can be whatever the hell you want to be in this life. That doesn’t mean changing your ways will be simple and you will feel great 24/7. Changing your line of thinking may take a good deal of work and it may feel like crap for a while. That’s ok. That’s called living life. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as you have learned. The problem is that your current line of thinking is resulting in misery and continued misery into the foreseeable future. On the other hand, a big change in thinking and a lot of hard work will result, in the long run, in a much higher chance of personal fulfillment and happiness… but also inevitable short-term misery.
Take a timeout. Dating is not an option for you right now. Read the book again. Read it again. And again. Let in sink in. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it will. Talk to guys in your shoes. Join the private Facebook group. You need to live what you learn. Don’t just take what’s there, ingest it, get pissed off, and then do nothing productive with it. That’s like shooting 1,000 jump shots a day, but never playing a game of basketball.
What you’re describing in your email is, in part, called being “vulnerable”. If you want to be in any kind of meaningful relationship with another person, it will require vulnerability. You DO want to be an unselfish loving person to your partner, but at the same time, you want to build a framework of strength that can successfully put up boundaries, recognize when things go south, and be able to endure hardship when it smacks you upside the face.
Heartbreak happens. You learn to live with the loss like any other. You move on to the next chapter. Such is life.
Good luck, my friend.