One year after I had served my ex-husband divorce papers, I started dating again.
I met a witty, attractive and brilliant single dad 7 ½ years my junior who sent his daughter to my son’s pre-school.
Ironically enough my poor little boy also developed his first crush on his daughter who cared nothing for his affections, but I digress…
So, knowing that I was still not even close to being ready for anything at all resembling a relationship I started seeing him. Why not give this whole dating thing a try? Get back into the swing of things so to speak.
I jumped in, with two feet first, thinking I could somehow remain cool and not get too attached.
I have absolutely no idea who I thought I was trying to fool. That somehow, at the age of 38, I could be a completely different person than the overly sensitive individual I had been my entire life.
Yet it had been so long since a man had even touched me. So long since I had done anything besides take care of my son or worry about how I would provide for our future. Receiving the attentions of a young attractive man felt good. Really good. I had actually forgotten what it was like to feel that way…
So I let it happen.
At first he had been charming and truth be told I started to loose my head rather quickly. Faster than I care to admit…
But it wasn’t long before I began to realize that this boy (and I mean boy) had some real issues.
First off, even though he had graduated law school and had a law degree, he still didn’t have a job.
Huge, huge, huge red flag.
Then there was the disastrous seventh date where he completely changed personalities. He spent the entire time either checking his cell or looking at his reflection in the mirror. Ugh!
But still I gave him a chance. At this point I had already developed feelings for the guy. I thought- I’m not ready anyway for a relationship. I’ll just have a fling…nothing serious.
Oh dear. How wrong I was…
What no one told me was how much your rebound after divorce will consume you- how painful it is and how hard it is to let go.
Not long after we became intimate the boy (let’s just call him that) started to withdraw, emotionally and physically. He ended the whole thing in a less than chivalrous fashion after about 3 1/2 months time.
I felt used and hurt. The thing was, I saw him quite clearly. I knew he was immature, lost, self-absorbed and at times cruel. I realized he was not at all what I was looking for but I wanted him anyway.
After the last time I saw him, I couldn’t function. I had a 20 page website I had to complete under a tight deadline and I couldn’t manage to concentrate on it. Instead I lied down on the floor and cried uncontrollably because I would never see him again.
Was this love? No, it was not. But it felt an awful lot like love…
Rebound, I tell you.
And I have to say I am so grateful the guy didn’t want a relationship with me. My rebound was brief- painful, but brief. I thought about him for months after in ended but imagine how much worse it would have been if it had lasted.
And in a weird way it helped me heal from my divorce.
In her blog wealthysinglemommy.com, writer Emma Johnson talks a lot about why rebound after divorce is so much more painful than other rebound relationships.
She also explains how vulnerable recently divorced people are in her article titled, “You’re Post-Divorced Rebound is Guaranteed to Destroy Your Heart.”
That title just made me laugh…mostly because it is true.
It’s simple, really.
Because divorce is so much worse than your average break-up. Because we deal with countless worries and financial concerns. Because we have to worry about our children and how they will be affected. Because we have to come to terms with the fact that we may face the future alone. Because divorce is nothing less than emotional, financial, and mental hurricane.
The list is endless.
To top it all off most people divorce long after the relationship has needed to end. They have lived in a loveless partnership for quite some time. No wonder you lose your head over the first person you date after such torment. Feeling affection after such a long drought is nothing less than intoxicating.
So the rebound after divorce is a painful and necessary hurtle we divorced people must all go through.
And I did it and survived. I feel stronger because of it. Dating no longer intimidates me the same way it did one year ago. I may not yet be the strong woman I aspire to become but I am definitely closer than I used to be.
Recently I started dating another single dad who has been separated from his wife for only 8 months. I look at him and I see the vulnerable person that I was one year ago.
And I think, “Poor guy. I hope I’m not his rebound.”
I also think, “Thank God that’s no longer me…”