It doesn’t matter who asked for the divorce or not, you’re going to grieve the end of the relationship, at least a little. Maybe not the relationship but the loss of dreams, goals, hopes, and what you thought might happen. Somewhere in the middle of that process, you’ll have a rebound relationship.
I had what amounted to two rebound relationships, back to back. The first relationship was a delicious fling. We both knew it wouldn’t last. The second was an attempt to connect on a deeper level, to find intimacy that was lacking in the first rebound. We both wanted something more, and I think we both knew we weren’t right for the other.
For those introspective types, like me, you’ll know from the first minute it probably won’t last. That’s okay. Rebound relationships aren’t meant to last, but if you’re lucky, you’ll learn something about yourself while having a little bit of much-deserved fun. I learned eight things about myself and relationships from both rebounds.
1. I can love again. Yes, I’d wanted the divorce, but after spending so many years telling myself I loved a man I barely even liked at the end, I wondered if my radar was broken. Did I know how to love? Had I been lying to myself? There are so many ways to love and at so many different depths. My rebounds reminded me that I am capable of deeper feelings for a man, even if I have no desire to marry him.
2. I can trust again. I don’t trust easily, and my ex-husband’s violent actions at the end of our relationship killed every ounce of trust. Even now, all these years later, I don’t give my trust away. In order to get naked with someone, though, you have to trust they want you, trust them not to reject you, and trust in their enjoyment of the moment. You might find out you’re wrong later but having the strength to trust someone new is a big step in the right direction.
3. I am desirable. Marriage and babies don’t have to leave us feeling undesirable, but they often do. The ex and I, long before the divorce, had fallen into sexless ruts with no intimacy and no desire. My post-baby body after my youngest wasn’t what I wanted it to be (I know I’m not alone in that one). To throw caution to the wind, get naked with a new man who had no memory of my pre-baby body, and feel wanted and desired was good for my soul.
4. Sex is fun. Remember that sexless rut I was in? I truly believed I no longer enjoyed sex. Crazy talk, I know. My first rebound relationship reminded me that I enjoyed sex with wild abandon. My second showed me that intimacy makes it that much hotter. My motto when those relationships ended: more sex, please!
5. I handle getting dumped better in my thirties than I ever did in my late teens. The first rebound relationship ended quite naturally. Over time, we both drifted apart. I didn’t chase after him; he didn’t run after me. We simply let go. The second though was devastating. I was rejected by a man I cared for and wanted – and who was really good in bed. But instead of pining for months on end, I picked myself up and moved on. Much better than the crying jags, sad music, and really bad poetry of my youth.
6. Not every relationship has to be a lasting one. I didn’t really know how to have casual relationships prior to the rebounds. In all honesty, I still don’t. But I did learn the lesson – without too many tears – that not every romantic or sexual encounter has to mean forever. In fact, most of the time, it shouldn’t. I wasn’t looking to get remarried, especially not to my rebounds. Allowing those relationships to end, without desperately chasing after anyone and begging them to love me and never leave me, gave me the space I needed to heal from my divorce.
7. I’m not broken. I can’t be the only divorced person to question what’s wrong with me. Why couldn’t I keep trying one more day? How could I walk away from marriage vows, an oath I’d taken to be there in sickness and in health, til death do us part? I wondered if everything I’d believed to be true about myself – my loyalty, sense of honor, and willingness to go the distance – was a complete lie. Maybe I was broken and didn’t deserve to be loved or liked. Guess what. I’m not broken – and neither are you.
8. Rebound relationships are healthy. Most of my adult life I’ve watched people warn new singles to be careful of the rebound relationship. I assume that’s because most people will convince themselves their rebound is “The One.” I won’t warn others against rebounds, and I didn’t listen to any of the warnings I was given. When handled with realistic expectations, rebound relationships are healthy. You learn you can love and desire someone else. You learn to trust – at least a little. You learn you’re not broken. If that’s not healthy, I don’t know what is.
Relationships are hard. Post-divorce rebounds shouldn’t have to be as long as you’re realistic. For those newly free from the trappings of marriage – even if you really enjoyed being married – rebound relationships are about self-discovery, relieving some tension, having a bit of fun, and flexing the dating muscles again. This isn’t the time to go searching for your next spouse.
If you can keep your expectations realistic and enjoy the moment for what it is, rebound relationships can be a great way to heal after divorce.
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