Navigating through a break-up can be a very nuanced process. Things that are supposed to make you feel better can often end up making you feel shitty, and vice versa. One area that I am finding to be particularly confusing is: The Rebound. Now, I know that “rebounding” is somewhat of a point of contention amongst breakup survivors. Some people swear by it, others vehemently swear against it, and I can see validity in the argument for both camps. Here is my experience, though, and take it with a grain of salt because I have already mentioned that I think my situation is anomalous in a few relevant ways. For one, I was already long ago checked out, and so I did not have to go through that weird period where you start to realize that you are attracted to other people, and then start to realize that it is okay to act on that attraction, and begin to slowly relinquish any ties you have to your ex, and ignore the guilt you may have because for so long what is now okay to do would have been considered cheating. See, I had already gone through all of that in a way, but stopped at the ‘acting on’ part. Part of the reason that having a rebound relationship can be detrimental to your healing, is that often times you are constantly comparing the new person to your ex, or you are feeling guilty for doing the things that you are doing, and want to call your ex up to check in or something.
I think that being rid of these things simply comes with readiness- not necessarily time. For the past year, I had been equally ready at all times to leave my ex. There really were never days where I felt like ‘I have to get out of this right now,’ any more than there were days where I felt like ‘Hmm maybe we can make this work after all.’ We had nice days, and we had shitty days, same as any relationship (only not the same, and riddled with emotionally damaging behavior,) but regardless of what was going on that day or that moment, I knew that the relationship was not right. However, for some reason I was not ready to end it and accept that end, until I was. There is no formula to it, and I can’t tell you that it was the last fight that we had that drove me to do it- I was just simply, inexplicably, ready. We did get into a fight, and that fight was the catalyst that led to the conversation where I ended it, but it was in no way the fight that I broke up with him for, because terrible fights like that were a dime-a-dozen in our relationship. The point is, is that I was just ready- my body and mind. I knew that physically I could no longer continue to be talked to like that, or to be constantly feeling anxious and worried. I knew that mentally I was on the verge of breaking, and freaking out. I was on the verge of, for the first time in my whole life, losing complete control of my emotions. If a specific situation causes your body to have such adverse reactions, your mind will only let it go on for so long before you just have to put a stop to it, out of self-preservation. Obviously the length of this threshold varies by person, and mine was about three years.
Being ready doesn’t mean that you are not going to feel any pain, or that you’re not going to think or wonder what/how they are doing. Being ready does not mean that it is going to be easy, or your’re not going to pick up the phone a time or two on the verge of dialing their number. I think that being ready simply means that you feel all of the same things, and know all of the same things, and have all of the same worries, but that you are now allowing yourself and your needs to trump everything else. Meaning: you may miss him, but the feeling that is stronger than you missing him, is you needing to get away from that situation. You know it would be nice to see/hug/kiss/sleep with him just one more time, but you also know if –>Insert Bad Behavior<– happens just one more time, you’re going to snap.
I went on a bit of a tangent there. What I am getting at in terms of rebounding, and all of the other stuff that is good or bad for you to do during the beginning stages of a break-up, is that: everything will come together when you’re ready. And that’s not to say that if you meet a guy, and the idea of sleeping with him disgusts you because you still have emotional ties to your ex, that you should go running back to him! Do not do that. That simply means that you’re not ready for that part. You were ready to walk away in the first place, you were ready to spend your first nights alone, you were ready to go days without talking to him- you don’t have to be ready for everything all at once. For me, J and I broke up for about two days a year ago. I was already checked out, and the night that we broke up, I agreed to go have dinner with a new male co-worker of mine (in retrospect this was unhealthy of me,) and the guy and I had already gotten to know each other over the past few months of working together (nothing romantic,) and so it did not feel like a first date-type situation. So I went to dinner with him, and all I could think about the whole time was J (Duh!!!) and how he would not say or do this, or he would have laughed at this joke, or whatever. And so of course, when two days later J showed up at my door to tell me how much he had F’d up, I went running back to him with open arms- having taken my first stroll into singleness and finding out how terrifying it can be. And that night started another year of angst and turmoil, but I wouldn’t take it back. I wasn’t ready at that time to end it I guess, or I would not have taken him back. I think that I was waiting for all of those feelings to go away- the sadness, the wondering, the thinking about the fun times- but they just don’t, they simply take a back seat to your other feelings, which allows you to deal with those instead.