Oh, those stories of dating after divorce. On television and in movies, they can be oh-so-lovely, and surprisingly reminiscent of fairy tales.
Come on. You know how the script goes in these films.
The newly divorced woman falls into the arms of the handsome younger man... The working single mom has a fling that turns into a relationship... Sex rejuvenates the single mom, and usually without too many complications.
We have only to look at "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" or "Sex and the Single Mom." For that matter, we could look to pop culture.
Care to spell Tamra Barney and Eddie Judge, of Real Housewives of Orange County?
I dare say the reality for most of us is at least one heartbreak following divorce. We find ourselves in a rebound relationship - mistakenly thinking it will become permanent, feeling our way through residual negativity that more rightly belongs in the old relationship, and in general... feeling our way as we process our losses.
And who wants pain, right?
Better the thrill of love, the distraction of being wanted.
What is a Rebound Relationship?
What exactly is the rebound relationship?
To put it succinctly, its a relationship following a significant breakup, in which we bring all kinds of unresolved emotions into the new couple. Usually, we don't allow the time or possess the clarity to protect ourselves from the hurt that invariably lies ahead. Or, we haven't learned to break troublesome patterns that may have existed in previous relationships.
Reminding us of the value of taking time - healing before we're involved in the next serious relationship, Psychology Today has this to say on the subject of rebounds:
"The rebound relationship, it is believed, takes up the space that was left by the previous relationship and provides both stability and distraction from loss rather than a working through."
Psychology Today also points out that we may be dating someone on the rebound:
"...if you are dating someone who is rebounding, you may wonder if that person is capable of emotional attachment or if you are, instead, simply a subsitute for love that was lost."
Life on the Rebound
Have I been through it?
You bet. And more than once, following divorce. I'd say I "transitioned" to a rather odd relationship with a narcissist extraordinaire.
Truthfully, though the end of that relationship was painful, what I learned by loving a good man was wonderful. Then again, in the wake of that ending, I was utterly vulnerable to a world-class womanizer, and that's exactly what I met. He pursued hard and fast, and I fell hard and fast. It's not that there weren't a few warning signs that I was in dangerous (rebound) territory - he pushed for too much, too quickly, and used the word "love" in short order.
But when you're on the rebound, hearts over smarts can yield an unfortunate result. He possessed a few necessary elements that the previous relationship couldn't provide, I focused on those, and when he ended it abruptly - literally overnight - I was left reeling and licking my wounds.
Only months later did I find out he was carrying on with several of us... none of us, for a time, the wiser.
Dating After Divorce: Must It Mean Heartbreak?
Will dating after divorce necessarily mean heartbreak?
Well, if it's been some years since you were last "out there," it certainly will bring some discomfort and confusion. It can also mean fun, play time, discovery, and good distraction. Necessary distraction even - as long as you realize what you're doing.
And it may mean a return to your sexual self that you thought went missing - a sexual self you're happy to welcome back.
That you could have feelings for someone and they aren't reciprocal is also a possibility. You feel it, he doesn't. So maybe guarding your heart, just a little, should be on the agenda.
It's also possible that you encounter an individual who is on the rebound, though you aren't. So keep that in mind, as you let your emotions build, and especially if you're thinking future and he's not ready for any such thing.
My recommendations after any major breakup? And in particular if you're responsible for children?
- Tread lightly, proceed slowly, pay attention with your head - not just your heart.
- You don't want your children attaching to a new partner too soon.Rebounds frequently do not "work out."
Don't fall prey to the idea that you must remarry in a certain time frame, or for that matter, that you must remarry at all. Don't we think there's a reason for the extremely high divorce rate when it comes to second and subsequent marriages?