I started dating a guy that I met online. The date was actually really great – I was definitely into him and he showed every indication of being into me (the way he looked at me, the things he said, etc.) At one point, he mentioned that he’s really stressed right now because he just broke up with his girlfriend of 10 months a couple weeks ago. I was really confused because I thought he really liked me!
From the beginning of this he’s texted me almost immediately and held conversations. Now it’s been two days and I’ve heard nothing from him. I really like this guy and feel there’s a connection, but I’m afraid that if I pursue this I’m going to end up being the rebound no matter what I do.
Is there a way I can have a relationship with this guy without me becoming the “rebound”?
I thought about your situation and there are a few things I wanted to touch on in my response.
First, you mentioned that he was very stressed after having broken up his relationship of 10 months a couple of weeks ago. You followed that up with, “I was confused because I thought he really liked me.”
Maybe I’m missing something here, but his recent break up with his girlfriend has nothing to do with whether or not he likes you. Just because he’s recently gone through a breakup or mentions that he’s stressed doesn’t mean that you don’t have something good between the two of you.
I do understand your concern though about being a rebound. This is one of those conversations that I hear people talking about all the time. “Oh, she’s just a rebound,” “She just broke up, she’s looking for a rebound,” etc. etc. In reality, what really is a rebound? I mean, let’s think about this…
I mean, we all get the basic premise. Someone breaks up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, they immediately date someone else and then somehow it falls apart or becomes a bad situation. But let’s really look at what’s happening here: You’ve got two people who have been dating for a while. They’re used to each other, they expect the other one to be there and their day-to-day lifestyles are intertwined.
When a relationship ends, there are all sorts of loose ends and areas of life that end up changing (depending on how closely connected these two people were.) The rebound happens when the guy or girl doesn’t address the loose ends and just seeks out another relationship to “shortcut” getting their life back into the order it was in before.
I’m not just talking about finding a replacement girlfriend who can cook as well as well as the last one or is willing to do the same things with you the last one was. I’m talking about the process of the guy (or girl) looking inside themselves and recognizing the areas that are still raw… and then working them out.
When a breakup happens, I think we all like to kid ourselves into believing that we’re OK and we have things all worked out… no healing needed.
I know I’ve had breakups where I thought I was OK after a period of time, but the truth is I wasn’t fully back to 100% until a full year later. It wasn’t like I was sulking in a corner for a year, but I would catch myself 6 months after the breakup thinking about “unfinished business” or “loose ends” that still bothered me. The bulk of the healing happened within the first month and a half (and probably would have happened quickly if I had just acknowledged that I needed time to work everything out in my head and lifestyle.)
My point in all of this is that it’s up to the guy to work his issues out. There’s no way to shortcut this for him or for you – he needs to do it himself. Now, I’m not saying that there’s no way you can start dating him. And I’m not saying that if you start dating that he can’t work things out.
But I will caution that if you start dating him only two weeks after he broke up with a girlfriend of 10 months, you run several risks:
1) You risk that instead of working things out in his mind and making peace with the breakup, he will retreat from thinking about his stuff and perpetually be wrestling with his thoughts and unresolved issues. As long as you are in the relationship with him, he will be able to distract himself from dealing with the issues he really needs to deal with.
2) You risk him running back to his ex. When a guy hasn’t had a good amount of time to work out his issues, it’s very likely that he’ll go to the ex-girlfriend for one reason or another. The main reason is that while he’s distracting himself with a new relationship, the unresolved stuff is eating away at him. He’s not going to bring that stuff up with you, but he might feel that if he talks with his ex it might lead to some inner-resolution. And that’s a slippery slope…
3) You risk turning into his scapegoat, quasi-therapist or shoulder-to-cry-on while he works out his issues. I don’t mean to make this guy out to be a basket case, but if he was messed up from his break up, it’s a very good idea to stand back (far back) and let him work out his issues. If something looks like it’s going to explode, it’s good to stand far away.
I know this might sound kind of disappointing, but trust me, it’s better you really think this through now before you get deeply entrenched in a relationship with someone who hasn’t worked their stuff out yet. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy, or that you aren’t good enough or even that you aren’t good together. Chances are, you probably do have some real chemistry together.
Still, the fact remains that if you get involved with someone who hasn’t worked out their issues, there’s a very good possibility that it will lead to a long, drawn-out, confusing roller-coaster of relationship drama that will not end pretty. Hate to be blunt, but that’s the most likely scenario if he has a lot of unresolved issues from his breakup (or baggage, or loose ends, or whatever you want to call it.)
If you can manage to step back gracefully and give him lots of space to really, truly work out his stuff, maybe in a month or two he’ll have it completely worked out and you two can start something on a virtually clean slate. You would have to be patient and really disciplined to give him that space, but it’s much much better than going through a relationship where you’re competing with the ghost of an ex.
Hope it helps,