FULL TRANSCRIPT – SEASON 3, EPISODE 9
Jessica: Welcome back to another edition of the Divorce etc… podcast. We’re super psyched today to have on Rob Roseman, the founder of WTF Divorce. And in case you can’t put that together, it’s What the Fuck Divorce. It is a great community, and he has content resources for divorce. Honestly, it’s a place you’re going to get the real male perspective on divorce. We’ve already spoken to Rob as guests on his podcast, which was a great experience. We knew we had to have him back to talk about his own experience with divorce. Today, he’s also going to shatter some of the myths that exist out there and some of the stigmas that we as women don’t even know, that guys are going through when they get divorced. We know how hard it is for us, and we want to peel back the layers and find out what guys are really thinking about all of it. Thank you so much for being with us today, Rob.
Rob: Thank you, Jessica and T.H. I love what you guys are doing. You guys inspire me every day. There’s so much content out there. If we can help aggregate it and make it easier for people to find it, then we’re helping a lot of people out.
T.H.: Yeah, just so you know, I go to Rob’s site also to laugh a little bit about my divorce. He has a lot of great humor there with some strong messages behind it. But it really does start with a laugh. We share Rob’s stuff at exEXPERTS on Instagram all the time. You’ll find him on our site, even if you’re not on his account at the time. But we really do want to add more male voices here, and Rob has his own personal experience. Why don’t you just give us a quick recap of your own personal situation of what you want to share and how many kids you have? Then let’s get into some of these myths so that women understand it’s not just one sided.
Rob: Yeah, and like you said, if you can’t laugh about it, you’re going to be crying a lot.
T.H.: Crying all day long.
T.H.: None of us are about that, by the way.
Rob: Yeah, I have kind of a unique background. I’m a former trader, and then Las Vegas poker poker pro. I got married in Vegas, not to a Vegas woman, but we had just a normal regular marriage, three kids. We moved to the Atlanta area for her career. I kind of retired as a poker pro and was helping out a lot at home, starting to become an entrepreneur. Like a lot of marriages, when there are big changes, two years later, we decided pretty much together that we were going to get a divorce. Our kids at the time were seven, five, and two. It was literally maybe the first two weeks of the pandemic starting.
Rob: I even looked at her and I was like, “Is this the worst idea ever? What are we doing?” And I think maybe because there’s so much going on, you can’t even isolate it. We just said let’s power through. We had a pretty amicable divorce, even though as you know, even an amicable divorce when you’re dealing with lawyers and living in the same house as your soon-to-be ex, there’s a lot of walking down the hallway and sleeping in the other room. Uncomfortable, but came out of it okay. But what I realized after you sign those papers, you’re just getting started. There’s almost that adrenaline where you’re like, “I did it. I’m free!” And you have a week high where you’re in your new place. I moved out and I was just like–
Jessica: What the fuck?
Rob: –oh my gosh, what the fuck? Exactly, I mean, I had to learn about co-parenting. As a guy, I’m sure we’ll talk about, I used the dating apps to feel better about myself, pretty much within two weeks, which I knew wasn’t the smartest thing. But I just realized I had no idea what I was doing and I couldn’t really find where I could look for help. But I ended up stumbling upon on Instagram of all places, and then Clubhouse. Men talking about divorce, like Daniel Herrold, would join a lot of their dating and divorce rooms. For me, it was like therapy, hearing other guys and women talk about divorce, which I just had no–the numbers are what, 50/50? I can literally count on hands and feet one person that I knew that was divorced, and nobody else could relate to it. So I thought, man, not everybody’s on Instagram or TikTok or exEXPERTS. I have a background in marketing, what if I could help bring it all together, package it, make it easier for people to find help and connect with experts? Because I was learning from it, I thought other people could benefit too.
Jessica: You’re right. I mean that’s exactly the impetus and why we started exEXPERTS. And the community that we’ve been growing, we’ve been really lucky. The feedback has been great. The response has been great. It really is so important for people to be able to feel they can hear voices that understand where they’ve been and know where they’re going and it’s all relatable to all of us – the good, the bad, the ugly. But like T.H. said, we definitely want to get into a lot of the myths about divorce and things that we’ve learned along the way in terms of how women handle divorce and how we transition and where we get stuck, where for some reason, in our heads, we think like, “Oh, this isn’t an issue for guys. They’ve moved on. They’re already dating. They’re over it. This kind of stuff doesn’t bother them.” T.H., what are you thinking?
T.H.: So to that point, I mean, you’re talking about finding a place to talk to other people. I mean, women have no problem talking to somebody. Some women just talk too much, to be honest. Let’s just call a spade a spade. No not you, but there are women that will air all the laundry and then create laundry that doesn’t even exist, like just ride the whole drama wave. So it’s important that everybody hears what Rob just said, that he didn’t have a space where he felt safe to be heard and talk about his divorce. That’s something that definitely men are different in terms of a difference between men and women. That initial spot, I think James Bastian also said the same thing, the guys want to talk about sports and going out and who’s the hot chick you’ve got on your dating app. And you know what? My family just completely turned upside down. You don’t want to know about that? What about your friends, were they people that you could talk to about it? Or were you feeling they just don’t get it, and I and I need another place to go?
Rob: Yeah, like you said, they do just want the highlight reel. They’re like, “Let’s see your dating apps. Can we just look over your shoulder?” But yeah, I mean, I was also in a new town, so I had limited friends. My friends were my kids’ parents’ friends and neighborhood friends, which those could be like your C and D list acquaintances, especially when you extricate yourself from the marriage. But yeah, I still struggle with it. I mean, I think women do as well. But like you said, there’s just this normalcy around “I’m going to talk about stuff. You’re going to listen.” Guys, we get uncomfortable sharing. In their defense, guys don’t really know what to say either. “Hey, I’m here for you if you ever need anything,” and maybe that’s the extent of it, or “Let’s talk about something else,” or I’m sure a lot of guys friends bash their ex, which doesn’t really feel good either. It’s extremely, extremely isolating. I think men aren’t used to that. Because I think we live in this cocoon of our marriage and just think, “Oh, this will be fine. This is the way it is forever.” As you know, women initiate so many more of the divorces. But I think guys are blindsided and are just like, “What the fuck am I supposed to do now?”
T.H.: I know you have a thought, but I’m going to lose it if I don’t ask really quickly. I’m just saying, if you were to go to the bar after separation or whatever, and I saw you out with your friends, a wrong move, but I’m just thinking, my initial thing would be like, “Oh, my God, he’s already fine. He’s out at a bar. He’s hanging out. He’s watching sports. Look at him, he’s off doing whatever,” which I’m sure people think and is not fair. I just also want to put light on that too.
Rob: Jessica, you had a thought?
T.H.: Okay, Jess, now you can talk.
Jessica: Well, I was going to say, even listening to you, and listen, we’ve spoken to guys who have a similar sentiment that you are talking about. It would be nice for guys in some context to be able to sit down and have a deeper conversation with men about divorce and the implications of divorce and navigating and getting through it. But there is still a part of me, and I think that it’s probably the same for a lot of people listening; the myth is you guys are like the minority. Most guys probably don’t really want to talk about it. Only a small minority of guys are in touch with themselves enough and actually want to be able to do that. Now that you have founded WTF Divorce, what is the feedback that you’re getting from other men? If you had to put a statistic on it in terms of what percentage of guys you think really would want to be able to talk about it after divorce, versus the ones who just have to compartmentalize and they wouldn’t mind being around friends, but they don’t really want to talk about it, and they just want to watch the game?
Rob: Right. And to your point, a lot of those guys that you think don’t need it, they need it. They’re struggling deeply. I was just thinking the other day, the reason why men get married so quick is because they’re like “I’ve got to lock this down. It’s overwhelming. I can’t take care of these kids. I can’t handle being alone.” Women tend to do that better. But yeah, I think a lot of guys have those thoughts, but we don’t vocalize them because there’s no real sounding board. I have great friends, but if you haven’t been through divorce, you just don’t really know how to talk about it. I liken it to if you haven’t had kids and I’m complaining about my kids, that guy doesn’t want to hear it.
T.H.: Right, we use that analogy all the time.
Jessica: All the time.
Rob: Yeah. So who do you have? You have your friends, who really want to support you, but they don’t know what to say. Your family, who I’m learning more and more they have their own feelings, and they’re not always the best people to–I think I talked to you about that on the podcast, that they might not be your best people. So who do you have? You have usually like, “Alright, I’m just going to start dating” and “Good luck with that”. That comes with its own high wire act. So I think there are a lot of guys craving this, but we need to put it out there and–
T.H.: Normalize it. It has to be normalized.
Rob: Yeah, just talking about it is important.
Jessica: For anyone listening, a man in their life tells them that they’re getting divorced, or they find out that a guy, maybe it’s a college friend, maybe it’s a colleague at work, whatever the case may be, someone in the neighborhood, they hear that someone’s getting divorced. As a guy, how do you want people to respond? T.H. and I talk all the time about the fact that people are like, “Oh, my God, I’m so sorry.” And it’s like, you know what? You don’t need to tell me you’re sorry. Because a lot of the times, people are glad they’re getting divorced and they’re getting out of a bad marriage. But from a male perspective, what would be the top two or three things, or pieces of advice you could give someone to say to a guy that tells them that they’re getting divorced?
Rob: Yeah. Another part of that is your friends are usually not going to come to you. Maybe at first, like at the very beginning, but that’s another problem. Now it falls on us to initiate. “Hey, Greg, you want to go have a beer sometime?” “Oh, you’re busy with your kids?” I’ll maybe ask one more time, and after that, guess what? I’m feeling needy. Now I’m like, I don’t want to do this. So yeah, it’s a tricky thing. I mean, it’s why I think it’s very important for divorced men and women to find other divorced men and women, because there’s just that relatability, that tribalness. Then you have to be careful too, like you talked about. There are plenty of people that just want to vomit all over their stories. That’s not healthy for you either. So it’s very hard. I think what you really want is just somebody to check in without really expectations. “Hey, I just want to see how you’re doing.” “Hey, I’m going out Wednesday. Do you want to join me for a drink or something like that?” Put an offer out there like, “Hey, anything I can do for you?” Because we’ve talked about it, we don’t really like accepting help. So yeah, I’d say just try to put it on your calendar, hey, I’m going to check in with somebody. Maybe the next time I’m going out, at least put it out there. And if they say no, don’t take it personally. Just try to do it again. That’s a hard thing I still struggle with. Sometimes I’ll look at my texts, and you see this in dating, it’s a red flag, but like, when you get the blue message of you, the blue, the blue, and nothing on the other side, and you’re like, oh my God, this is disgusting. But if I do that to a friend, I’m like, “Ugh, I’m going to stop messaging him.” Or you get into that narrative in your head, “F this guy, he just bailed. He’s doing his own thing.” As you know, everybody’s in their own world thinking about themselves. But it’s very a slippery slope for I think divorced men in particular, where they can get themselves into a lot of trouble because they no longer have their wife, even if it was a shitty marriage. Their friendships have just completely fragmented. You’ve got to find people, and you’ve got to get creative and get uncomfortable to do it.
T.H.: So I know, just for the two of us in particular, I never felt it wasn’t safe to talk about my divorce. I mean, first of all, everybody knew about the drama. So if anybody’s listened to our very first episode, you’ll understand why exEXPERTS was created. You don’t even know the half of the drama, but you’ll know enough to know there was a lot. But I didn’t have a problem speaking to my friends about it. What do you think it is about talking to other men that’s unsafe, because the only thing that would be unsafe for me speaking to another woman is someone who’s a gossiper, and even the men who are the gossipers? But for other men, “Hey, John, are you around? I’d love to just have someone to talk to about it,” even if they don’t understand, what makes it unsafe to talk to a guy? What’s your red flag? What could happen if you opened up to a friend?
Rob: That’s a good question. I mean, I think in general, we don’t like to just dump on people. And they don’t know what to say.
T.H.: But why is it dumping if he’s your friend? See, the differences are coming out. I’m just saying for the audience. And also, for you, this is a friend. This is your friend John, who’s not been divorced. You want to have a talk about how you’re feeling. So you’re already reserved and nervous because of how they’re going to feel, as opposed to how they’re going to help you feel better.
Jessica: But I think part of it is that guys in general don’t talk about their feelings, even when they are both divorced, or even when they are both going through something similar. I think it goes back to–
T.H.: Wait, let him answer the question.
Jessica: I know, but hold on a minute, because I feel it still goes back to the baby analogy that you and I were talking about. It’s not that I can’t talk to friends who don’t have a baby about my new baby, but they don’t want to hear all the details about my new baby the same way that someone who has a baby wants to hear.
T.H.: So you’re not getting enough out of the conversation because they haven’t been through it?
Rob: Yeah, I think it’s kind of one sided. And if I hit the ball to you three times, thank you for being on the conversation with me, but after that it’s kind of unsatisfying, and I’m like, “Alright, let’s change the subject. How about the Dolphin game yesterday?” I mean, it’s nobody’s fault. I think, like you said, guys just aren’t necessarily wired and we don’t have much practice having those conversations. I’m sure this is something similar if a spouse or somebody dies, where people don’t know what to say to that person.
T.H.: They don’t know what to say. It’s uncomfortable.
Rob: “I’m sorry.” Then there’s the whole thing like, is it a reflection on “Well, my marriage is kind of mediocre or shitty too. Is this something I should be thinking about?” That’s another conversation. You’ve talked about where women–
Jessica: People think it’s contagious.
Rob: Yeah, I mean, it’s not necessarily contagious, but it makes sense that it’s probably not all good at your house either. “Go talk to Rob, and he’s going to tell you.” I’d be kind of nervous if my husband, who I’m not great with, is finding out. To be honest, our neighbor across the street was a divorced mom with three kids. We’d look across the window sometimes and we’re like, hmm, seems like a pretty good setup. She’s got half the week off. She’s going out. I think it wasn’t contagious, but it gives context to–I mean, I go to my old neighborhood, and it’s like they’re in this bubble. Ignorance is bliss. So when you pop that bubble and you see that there is this other life out there that, hey, in divorce, as we know, is a great opportunity as well.
Rob: It’s painful in the short term, for sure. But a lot of people that are 50 and married, they’re not getting that chance to reinvent themselves.
Jessica: Tell us a little bit about some of the myths, specifically when you are through the divorce and you’re in that moving forward stage and all the things that go into starting to date again. We always have the conversation of who pays for the first date? I think that women have a lot of expectations about what dating should look like and that kind of thing. Women want to know, what is the guy side of dating after divorce? Are you going into it thinking anything with regards to age range up or down? Are you going into it thinking she needs to have a job and be financially secure? Or I want a woman that I can take care of? Are you thinking like, it doesn’t even matter if she offers to ever pay for a date, because the second I let her pay, she’s never going out with me again, so I better pay for it all? We want to hear all that stuff.
Rob: Yeah. Let me tell you, nobody knows how to date. When you’re getting divorced, you haven’t dated probably in 20 years. Just because we’re guys–first of all, women, it’s a problem, I’m sure, but I’m sure your dating app bank is much more full. Women are probably getting 10 to one messages that guys are. So guys are casting a narrow net. Here’s what I’m looking for, then guess what? They realize that’s not really out there. She’s a unicorn. So then they’re going wide. Then I’m talking to somebody whose kids are in college and they’re like, “How old are you?” I had the dates where they’re like, “How many kids do you have?” I was like, “Three.” “How old are your kids?” “Seven, five, and two,” and we both start laughing.
T.H.: Bye bye!
Jessica: Yeah, not going to happen.
Rob: So yeah, again, I think people have this vision unless you’re divorced dating, that it’s just fun, you’re meeting new people. Daniel says have fun, make friends, and it sounds good, but you just hit that wall where you’re just like, I am done. This is not as fun as I thought. And it’s part of the process. But yeah, and I’ve even had times where I’d go on a few dates, and in the beginning, I was going to dinner and it would be a nice restaurant. I’d be like, “Holy shit, I don’t even want to talk to these people again. I’m out $400. This is not sustainable.”
T.H.: We talked about that at our last event called “To Date or Not to Date”. One of our experts, Susan Winter, recommends you meet for coffee. You always meet for coffee, you give yourself about 15 minutes, and you’ll know whether it’s a one cup, or no cup, or dinner at another time, and really presenting boundaries, managing expectations up front, so that you’re not put in a position of being out $400. What do you think about that? Do you feel it would be a bad thing–how would you feel if the woman on the first day was like, “I’m paying”?
Jessica: Well, or offers to pay.
Rob: An offer is nice. It just shows something about her character. Or that we’ll split it. I’ll usually say, “No, no, I got this,” or “You get coffee after,” or “You get the next one,” if there’s going to be a next one. I think coming in with this expectation, then I’m going to get in my head, “Oh, she just expects me to pay.” Then I’m reading into her character. I think making some kind of gesture is probably a good thing for a woman to do. Then at the same time, if a guy’s like, “Yeah, good, thanks. You got this.”–
T.H.: Yeah, totally.
Rob: If I’m the woman, I’d be like, “Who is this guy? He needs a–”
T.H.: So it’s a game.
Rob: Yeah. I think just being open and honest about it. The first one, it’s another good reason to do coffee at first, because it’s cheap enough that if I pick it up and it’s 12 bucks, no skin off my back. But your point, what you were saying: you don’t know, just go to coffee, just keep it short, and have boundaries, unless you’ve talked to a dating coach, I think nobody’s teaching you these things. I’m just like, “Oh, I’m dating again. You want to go to New York Prime and have a steak dinner together? And maybe we’ll go home together after?”
T.H.: Well, Rob, that’s your mistake. That’s your mistake. We will coach you. We will coach you on that.
Rob: Well, I’m past it then. I’m talking about in the beginning this is what guys think.
T.H.: I know. I hear you.
Jessica: Right. No, but honestly, I think it’s somewhere in between. I think it’s fair to say the three of us are of a certain generation, right? I have gone on coffee dates. First of all, I don’t even drink coffee. So to me, someone who wants to meet at four o’clock in the afternoon for a cup of coffee, part of me is like, you can buy me a drink. We can meet after work. It still doesn’t have to be that expensive, whatever, right? 15 bucks, we can get a cocktail. I don’t know. I feel like the coffee date to me is a little chintzy. But I do think a little bit of it is generational because I do think that people that are under 40, or maybe under 35, I think it’s a lot more acceptable to have an activity date or a walk in the park date where it doesn’t cost a lot of money and or where women are genuinely being permitted to pay sometimes and they are not put off by it. Well, for a while on first dates, I would offer to pay, and I don’t know that any guy ever really let me. But I knew in my head that if they did, I wasn’t going out with them again.
Rob: You made me think of something right there. As a guy, if a woman offers to pay, well, I might be flattered. I also might think, and I’ve seen this from women, if I pay, there’s no real I’m off the hook. There’s no expectation. I didn’t order the lobster. It’s like, “Here you go, here’s 20. By the way, I’m getting out of here.” That goes on in a guy’s mind I think. That’s a signal that maybe she’s not interested. It goes both ways, but we’re definitely thinking.
Jessica: Oh, that’s interesting. That’s an interesting perspective. I never would have thought of that. She’s going to offer to pay, because that way the scoreboard’s even, and she doesn’t feel obligated to have to go out with you again.
Rob: “Yeah, no, I got this.” I’m like, huh, that’s not really the best thing. But I mean, what you’re saying about coffee dates, I think that I could see that side of it. But as I’ve learned it, your first date is like I almost wouldn’t even call it a date. It’s like you’re meeting somebody.
T.H.: It’s a meet and greet.
Rob: If you’re going from an app to whatever, that first time, first of all, you’re going to be awkward and uncomfortable, but that second date is really your first date. The first thing is like, literally, I’m going to go to the park, you want to meet me here for 20 minutes just so we can–I mean, that’s why I think you should end up FaceTiming a lot too to start, because you need to get more information, because a whole other topic, we’re busy as hell. I’ve got like three nights a month sometimes where I’m actually free. So I don’t want to waste it on this person I built up in my head.
Jessica: Totally fair. Totally fair.
Rob: So yeah, first date, just lower the expectations, and knock it out if you decide to get that far. But the second and third, that’s when maybe it’s like, “Oh, did she offer to pay?” and then there’s more interesting conversations.
T.H.: So let’s talk about co-parenting as a single dad, a newly single dad. That’s so overwhelming. I know that you moved and you were home more, but even that first step of being home with three little kids, I mean, tell the women how that feels. If you weren’t in this position and you were working nine to five, or nine to seven or something, you come home, and then you have the routine. So basically, a shift in your routine as far as parenting, tell us the dad’s side of it.
Rob: Yeah, it’s very hard. I think a lot of guys are overwhelmed. Probably why, as we’ve talked about, they will hire help or get married early, because they’re like, “I can’t handle this.” But yeah, even if you’re a piece of shit husband, there’s a chance you are a good dad, or you’re a decent dad. Now you also don’t have this person that you’re probably leaning on a little too much, so stuff’s falling on you. So that is one thing I think all guys are thinking. They’re probably not going to tell you. But like, “Man, Jessica really did a lot. I’m not going to tell her that. But, man, life was a little easier when there was dinner cooked or my kid went to bed.” Because here’s another thing, my kid at baseball skinned his knee real bad and was bleeding. What’s the first thing a kid says when they get hurt?
Rob: Mommy. “I want Mommy.” Now I’m like, “Oh, I got this.” Now I’m thinking in my head. I’m like, “Where is Mommy?”
T.H.: I don’t got this.
Rob: That would be nice. And he’s crying and I want to cry. So it’s like, there’s all of these things that even if your marriage was a complete disaster and maybe was shitty, if the co-parent has 50, or a large percentage of time with the kids, you want that to be going pretty well too. It’s so complicated. You’re like, “I hate this guy’s guts. But also take care of my kids and please be responsible and figure it out. But also, I’m not going to help you. But also, don’t do it the way you’re doing it.” And now we’re just like, “Okay, go figure all that out, people.”
T.H.: And then a woman’s perspective could be, if you hire someone, or you all of a sudden start dating someone seriously, “See, he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care.” I’m just saying, it’s so interesting because it’s bringing up things. Like, “He doesn’t care. He can’t be alone. And he still doesn’t have time for the kids. Now he’s got to hire someone else to raise his kids?” That’s the shit that goes around. It’s not right.
Jessica: It also feeds into the potential misconceptions of, I hate to say it, because I don’t have a better way to articulate it, but how guys can’t do it. Like, guys can’t do all the things that women do, right?
T.H.: Right, it’s validating all your hard work.
Jessica: Right. I was at work at freaking to six in the morning. I wasn’t getting home till eight o’clock at night. I had two infants. I was doing this and then doing all the things. I knew my kids’ teachers’ names. I knew some of their friends’ names, all that kind of stuff. It’s like, my ex would go to parent morning, and he’d be texting me like, “What classroom are they in?” It does go to that misconception of moms take care of all the things, and all of a sudden they get divorced, and now the dads are like, “What the fuck am I doing? And how do I do it?”
Rob: Does that feel a little good, deep down in your head, that validation of like, “You see, now he gets to see it”? I mean, I even feel like that sometimes. Or I’m like, “See, not so easy.” I imagine a lot of moms are like–
T.H.: The truth is it’s never going to be the same on both sides anyway, even if you’re married, right? I could have still been married and he still wouldn’t have known their names. He wouldn’t have known where he was going, or any of that because–wait, I didn’t hear what you said.
Jessica: He said, “He doesn’t know the kids’ names?”
T.H.: Sometimes, maybe not. But when you’re married, you guys take on certain responsibilities and certain roles. Then to all of a sudden assume that that other person’s going to be an expert, like, I’m not going to be an expert poker player all of a sudden because we got divorced and now I’ve got to go play poker. Why do you expect the man to all of a sudden be doing all the things that you did in your role in the family? I think that’s a really important message for people to think about when they’re starting to get angry. I remember my son got hurt with his dad, and I was like, “Of course he did.” He wasn’t paying attention. He’s at the pool. I mean, how’s he not paying attention? Is my son even wearing swimmies? What the hell is going on over there? Meanwhile, he could have skimmed his knee like your son skimmed his knee at baseball, right under my eyes. I’m not going to tell anybody that that happened on my watch. But if it happens on his watch, totally front page news. It’s not fair, everybody. We’ve all done it. Don’t lie, we’ve all done it.
Rob: Yeah. And one thing you said too is that story of like, “Oh, you can’t handle it. He had to get the nanny or the girlfriend or the fiancée.” If he really is a problem, I’ve heard this in really toxic people, and I’ve heard divorce coaches that deal with that high conflict stuff, they’re like, that’s probably a good thing. You don’t need him. You want him to have some help. Hopefully, she’s not horrible.
Rob: But maybe it’s a little bit of a relief that there’s somebody else there to regulate.
T.H.: It makes my life so much easier with him otherwise occupied.
Jessica: But along those lines, I mean, I know that’s something that is a real struggle for a lot of women. T.H. and I were kind of forced into it, because both of our husbands had had affairs. They were already with new women, even as we were getting divorced. It just was right there. But the idea of people getting divorced and their spouse moving on, we talked to a lot of women, obviously, who talk about how hard it is when they do see their husbands moving on with someone else. Sometimes it honestly doesn’t matter even how soon–
T.H.: But we lived that. We already know if–
Jessica: I said, so for us, it was a little bit different. That was forced upon us. We weren’t in a situation where we were divorced, and then maybe six months later, or a year later, our husbands met someone new and started developing a new relationship. We’ve heard from a lot of women how you can be divorced, and you can be out of it, you can think you’re doing great, and then all of a sudden that happens and it throws everything into a tailspin, because now all these emotions come up that you haven’t had to deal with already. I’m curious from the guy’s side of things, how does that feel? What is that like? I think that a lot of times women think that guys are like whatever, it’s not a big deal to them when their ex wives meet someone new or bring someone new into their life or their kids’ lives.
Rob: Yeah, it’s hard. I mean, even though I didn’t have those same feelings about my ex wife, and it wasn’t even jealousy, when she introduced me to her boyfriend at the time, it was more of just, especially because I was dating a lot at the time, I was jealous of like, “Oh she’s out of the rat race and I’m still doing it. She’s just having dinner with him and the kids, and I’m meeting some random for coffee for the fifth time.” So it’s like we all want there to be balance, and a lot of times in divorce, it’s not. Somebody might completely have their shit together, or appear to, and the other person is scrapping and moving four times while your ex is in their mansion.
Jessica: That was me.
Rob: Yeah, it’s horrible. That, I think, also compounds that “What the fuck?” Nobody gets it. Maybe my friend who’s divorced, but she’s settled in her old house. So every divorce is different, but there’s probably somebody going through what you’re going through. But yeah, like you said, when the other person’s dating, that was the main feeling I had was not that jealous rage, it was more just like, “Oh, it must be nice.” But when you’re both dating somebody, that’s a healthy thing, it takes some of the edge off because it evens the playing field a little bit.
Jessica: I’ve heard men say sometimes their wives can be so whatever, so bitchy, so annoying, all the things, and then they’re excited when the wife actually starts dating someone because they’re like, “Oh my God, now she’s happy. She’s getting laid. She’s so nice all the time. She’s so flexible with things. It makes things so much easier.”
T.H.: Getting laid may actually change a lot in your dynamics.
Rob: For everybody, yeah.
Jessica: Right. So that’s kind of funny, but I do think that a lot of times, women, when they see that their exes actually are in a relationship past the “I’m-dating-someone” stage, but in a relationship, that it’s really hard for them to accept. It brings up a lot of sadness. I think that for some reason, women have the misconception that that’s not the same for men.
Rob: Yeah, it’s inadequacy. I mean, you know deep down it’s never about you. We can all say that and read it on a meme and inspirational posts, but what does it do? It reflects upon, well, she seems happy now. What the hell was wrong with me? Or maybe it was me. Which it was both of you, but it was also their own issues. But again, I think that intellectually I know that, but like you said, that’s why it’s so easy to give advice to people, and when you’re going through it, it’s like, only you have those chemicals raging through you. That’s why I think too, going back to community, and we do that on WTF Divorce: sharing stories, confessions, responses, seeing that other people are going through that is an easy step that you can take to just feel, “Oh my God, I’m not the only person who’s ex did that. I feel a little bit better.”
T.H.: Right. Or who’s feeling that way.
T.H.: You’re not crazy. If you had to say the top three things that a woman should not do on a date, what would they be?
Rob: Hmm, you’re putting me on the spot here, what not to do.
T.H.: You must have been on a date where every one of them happened?
Rob: Oh, yeah. Talking about yourself the whole time. It’s just like, there’s no hitting the ball back, that’s a big turn off. Complaining about your ex – you can talk about it, maybe a little bit later, make some reference to it, but I remember in my head at the time just being like, she’s probably really negative. Or even like, I remember one time I was talking to a woman that had one kid, and she was just complaining. I had three little kids, and was just like, we’re probably not going to be a match because a) you can’t laugh about it, but b) you’re just too wrapped up in your own story. I would say yeah, listen more is always a good thing. Just be quiet, be funny, and just accept that the other person is going through something hard too. Dating can also foster a lot of that bitterness because it can grind you down. If you have to fake it just when you’re out there, just try even write something down like, “Oh, it’s been a roller coaster experience.” Smile, laugh about it, and that makes it a lot more relatable. I’m more interested in somebody that can talk about it like that, than like, “Ugh, they’re horrible. All guys are such dicks.”
Jessica: Although, it’s funny, because I think that women say the same things. None of us really want to go out on a date and have the guy sit there and bitch and moan about how terrible their ex wives were. Because it is, it’s so much negativity. But I do remember, I always thought it was a good thing to tell people that I had had a really amicable divorce. It turns out in retrospect, my second husband, I think, didn’t love hearing that I’d had such an amicable divorce with my first husband. I think that there was a little bit of a sense of feeling threatened to some extent of, well, this guy seems so great, and funny, and whatever. He didn’t want to hear about how great the relationship still was. I think there’s a little bit of a fine line there I think about what you say at all.
Rob: We’re all living in our own stories. Our narrative that’s going on in our head, nobody else is thinking about. But it’s all we think about.
T.H.: So if there’s one thing that you could say you wish you knew going through your divorce, about yourself, it doesn’t even have to be the process. So for me, I wish I knew that my gut was being honest with me, and I was going to be okay if I listened to it. That’s the one thing I wish I knew. That would have changed a lot for me. So what’s the one thing you wish you knew?
Rob: One thing that I always tell people is accept that it’s going to be hard. I think it’s our expectation that we’re supposed to be over it quickly. Just give yourself some grace that like, it’s just a shitty day. Be willing to tell somebody that. That’s something I think guys struggle with a lot too. It’s like I should be over this by now. So just give yourself a break. That first year is going to be kind of brutal. Take some time for yourself, that’s one thing too that ends up happening is like, you’re over-functioning with your kids. There’s guilt around that I still have. With three kids and one parent, I’m like, “What do you need?” Or “Yeah, I’ll read with you.” Or “Okay, let’s watch your video game.” You’re just spread so thin that you’ve got to be a little selfish. The kids will be fine. It’s hard to remember that in the moment though.
Jessica: The divorced dad guilt. We always talk about the divorced mom guilt.
Jessica: The divorced dad guilt, I guess does exist. We don’t think about it.
Rob: Right, it exists, because again, Mom, she’s the favorite in a lot of ways. There’s this weird, “Oh, I took my kids away from their mom.” Or maybe I screwed up in the marriage, and now I have guilt over that. We’re both at fault here, but if you’re there for your kids, if you just listen to your kids and pay attention to them, most of the time, they’ll turn out fine. It doesn’t seem that way in the moment. But I’m always like, was parenting this hard when I was married? Yeah, it probably was. But now I’m just like, this is–
T.H.: But there was another person there. I talked about that all the time. We talk about single mom moments. I’m sure there are tons of single dad moments. It’s scary. It’s scary. Even if that person didn’t do anything, at least there was another human being in the room.
Jessica: Right, there to help. Yeah.
Rob: That got it. Yeah, I mean, I’m like, I’m getting my kids here soon. I’m like, “Oh, crap, what’s for dinner?” I was like, “Oh, we got two Hot Pockets left, so it’s going to be a Hot Pocket night,” whereas before–
T.H.: And it’s a Hot Pocket night!
Rob: Yeah. It’ll be fine, but I better get something tomorrow, because three days of Hot Pockets, it’s probably not–but if I do it, again, they’ll be fine, if I was a kid. I remember eating that crap, and I was just fine.
Jessica: Excited about it.
Rob: We’re harder on ourselves–
T.H.: Jessica still eats that crap.
Jessica: What’s wrong with Hot Pockets?
Rob: Exactly, delicious, and they only take two minutes.
T.H.: There’s one missing because you ate it.
Rob: That’ll be mine. That’s what happens too. I’ll feed the kids, and I’ll be like, “I don’t even have food here for me.”
T.H.: Right, I’m starving.
Rob: Guys are, I mean, we are like wild animals I think sometimes, where it is like, “Oh, I guess I do have to go to the grocery once a week. I didn’t know I had to do that all the time before.”
Jessica: Right. Why was she always doing that
Jessica: Well, listen, I mean, there’s so much more to be said. We really are so grateful for you coming on and sharing the guy’s side of things. This is something that all women want to know, and to your point from the very beginning of our interview, that a lot of men need. They need to know that WTF Divorce is out there, that there are guys out there that actually can have conversations and want to have conversations about what it’s like. So thanks for being there, thanks for joining us, and more to come.
T.H.: And thanks for just talking about it. Between the three of us and the community that we’re also building at exEXPERTS, a lot of our exEXPERTS have actually lived it too. And the more we talk about it, the less of a problem it is. So the more men we get to talk about it and create a platform for men to speak about it, then you will have a guy who understands it, and who you can go to and talk about and not feel like I’m not macho and what are they going to think and whatever. You’re human. So let’s just talk about it.
Rob: Yeah, one part of dating too is you will end up in the friend zone or not romantically interested in somebody. Having women friends, because like you said, women are more likely, that was really important for me. A couple of my best friends after divorce were women. I’ve always had women friends, but I didn’t realize that was a route that I should go on. So guys, if it’s hard to find other guys, find some divorced women that there’s not–
T.H.: Come on over to exEXPERTS. We’ll talk to you.
Jessica: That’s right, we’ll take it on.
Rob: We all need each other, if you’re divorced, or you’re in.
T.H.: Thank you, Rob.
Jessica: Alright, thanks again. We’ll talk to you soon.
Rob: Alright, thanks, guys.