Dealing With a Man in a Rebound Relationship

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Got some questions about men in a rebound relationship? So did this reader, who asked our dating coach the following question.

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Reader Question

Hello, I'm so happy to find a site that actually has positive outlook info on rebound relationships. I've been in a rebound relationship for 6 months. Throughout this time my boyfriend and I have had a great relationship. We get along great, I've met his family, and we've traveled together, have great communication, enjoy the same activities and have many values in common. He and his ex of 5 years lived together and were engaged prior to breaking up. I believe she broke it off. He has expressed repeatedly how he grapples with trying to sort through what went wrong and his role. Recently we had a heart to heart about the nature of his current relationship with his ex and he said they were still civil and still talk occasionally. He said he's been trying to sort through some things via his communication with her. I know he also still has a few heartstrings attached to her. Naturally I was angry to learn of their current communication. Because they have 5 yrs of mutual friend and family relationships that are active, it's complicated in that he has active reminders everywhere. However, when we discussed whether we should split in light of everything, he said he did not want to. He mentioned how much we have in common and the qualities of what we have, so we decided to give things more time. Through research I've learned that the best things to do in rebound relationships is to give the rebounding person space. I want our relationship to have the absolute best possible chance and I'm prepared to set my emotions aside. I want to focus on giving him room to heal without pressure. My question is how do I do this? We talk most days during the week and see each other about one time per week. Should I alter this? I'm admittedly hurt, and it kills me knowing his heart is not fully with me, but my goal since we've decided to see this through is to show him that I'm supportive of his need to heal; I don't judge him for where he is now; and he's free to take the time he needs while we're together work on himself. How specifically can I achieve this through my actions? Thanks in advance for your insight. ~~ callie

Expert Reply

Dear Callie,

As a dating coach, I have found that the rules for dating aren't hard and fast. Meaning just when someone tells you "don't have sex on the first date, it's a sure way that the guy won't respect you and the relationship won't last," someone else will come along and tell you they had sex on the first date and later got married. Dating rules are soft rules; they're guidelines and should be applied with common sense. This holds true for the person in a rebound relationship. Generally, rebound relationships are wrought with challenges, but this is not case for everyone. Some people go on to enjoy a long term relationship and some even get married.

You and your guy 'get along great, travel, have great communication, enjoy the same activities, etc.' Given how wonderful this new relationship is, it's natural that he will compare what he has with you with what he didn't have with his ex. It's a great sign that he is introspective and doesn't want to repeat the same mistakes of the past in this wonderful new relationship. As a result of not wanting to repeat the past, he questions his role in what went wrong with the previous relationship. It would be expected that as he tries to sort this out he would from time to time have conversations with his ex. More important is that he can describe these interactions as being civil. This is sign that he is moving through the grief and loss cycle in a normal and healthy way.

It is great that you care so much for the guy you're dating that you would even do research on rebound relationships. The downside is that you risk trying to approach the relationship emotionally removed in order to be objective. This is what mental health professionals do with their client's. This is not what a girlfriend should do. You can't be both emotionally removed and emotionally involved at the same time and expect that by doing so, you are giving "the relationship the absolute best possible chance." Additionally, you definitely can't have an amazing relationship with anyone if you are "prepared to set (your) emotions aside." Relationships that have the best chance at success are ones in which each individual is willing to jump in with both feet! Your guy has already said that he wants to be in the relationship; the question is, do you? Pick an emotional side and stick with it. Are you going to be the therapist or the fantastic new girlfriend? My vote: choose to be the irresistible, fun and exciting new girlfriend.

It's normal to feel jealousy when you hear that your boyfriend has talked with his ex. During those times, take a deep breath and remind yourself she's the ex and you are not. Remember that she is the past filled with painful memories and you are the present making memories. When you feel jealousy raise its ugly head, use that feeling to offer your boyfriend a compliment about a trait he has and which you find attractive or sexy. This will allow you to slowly change the subject toward something more pleasant without showing your insecurities.

If your boyfriend sees you as his confidant, friend and therapist, he will treat you as such. On the other hand, should he see you as passionate about life, fun to be with and someone who makes him feel special, he will respond to you accordingly.


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Dealing With a Man in a Rebound Relationship