I suppose I should start by providing a definition of what an all-in guy is and does. It is a term I came up with at some point during all this post divorce mulling and thrashing around for a guy that puts a relationship first and does what it takes to make it work. Now that sounds like a very desirable thing doesn’t it? Most if not all marriage counselors would agree. But after one 5 year relationship after my divorce and several shorter ones I have come to accept that I would never have what it takes to be an all-in guy. Furthermore, it seems to me that a lot of all-in guys are either not very good humans with a number of them being narcissists or are just plain weak. I guess I better explain.
I was once an all-in guy. When I first got married right after college everything felt natural and easy. My money was now our money. We were leaving the family of our parents and forming a new relationship and family and that was the highest priority. When the kids came along they needed time and attention and care and vacations became family vacations. Almost all choices I made regarding career and homes and what we did were based on what was for the good of the family. Some of those choices later turned out to be wrong but I will leave that part for another time and another day. The really key point here is all of this felt natural. I was all-in!
Fast forward past the divorce to my first significant relationship. Yes, she most assuredly was a narcissist but she also seemed to have society and relationship counselors on her side. By God she wanted a guy that was all-in and I was going to be that guy come Hell or high water. Well I wasn’t that guy. Almost everything she wanted from me felt unnatural which put me in a state of constant inner turmoil.
First off she had to be my highest priority all the time. The only thing that felt natural to me was to shoot for some kind of balance between my relationship with my adult children and her. However most of my time would be spent with her but that was not good enough. For her it was not the division of time but a feeling she needed that when push came to shove she was more important.
Well, an all-in guy would have given her the feeling she wanted. It seems that the all-in guys I know very easily move from one relationship or marriage to the next. Given that most children, and particularly adult children of divorce, don’t readily warm up to the idea that they are now part of a new blended family it often means making choices that creates emotional distance and separation from the children. For me it generally made me feel terribly conflicted which, as you might expect, caused my Narcissistic ex girlfriend to get really angry. I sure could have used a little empathy and help working through those situations. However if she was capable of empathy she chose not to use it at those times and instead she said my choices I made to not put her needs first showed just how selfish I was.
Well of course there are other choices about such things as money and where to live and where to spend the holidays and how you treat the step children. The all-in guy basically can start fresh with each relationship. However, if you look in the wake of those all-in guys it doesn’t always look that pretty. In fact you can often see affairs and broken homes and unpaid child support and even stepchildren that were once part of a blended family that were easily discarded when all-in moved to his next relationship. So if a lot of those guys are behaving naturally then they weren’t of high character to begin with.
Of course there are the other all-in guys that are just plain weak. Okay time for a confession. I have always found it very difficult to put up with being controlled or excessively criticized or just plain dominated by a woman. I suppose I watched my Father go through enough of that to last more than one lifetime. And yes of course I was reliving my Father’s life and completing unfinished childhood business when I got into the relationship with my Narcissistic ex girlfriend but I didn’t know about all that stuff until after the relationship.
But anyway, I digress. The point of that is that during some of those choices I had to make to maintain balance I really tried to suggest compromises that I thought were reasonable. But what I think is reasonable is not what a Narcissist who wants all-in considers to be reasonable. So that meant I couldn’t do what was natural. Instead I would have had to use phrases with my children like this is what She told me to do or She should be my highest priority or I have to do this to keep the peace or She will get angry if I don’t do it this way. I did try it a few times but when I did I could almost feel myself shrinking.
So there you have it. I just don’t see me being all-in. People tell me that I was in an extreme situation and not all second relationships have to be like that. I don’t know. Whether it is me and some of my so called baggage or whether I just haven’t met the righr person it is all very confusing. What I do know is that if a woman tells me that she needs to be cherished or a priority I run for the hills. I wonder if I am overreacting. Could be I suppose. Currently I am sure more all-out than I am all-in!