love out loud: rebounds this way
‘Dunja, do I have a sign on my head saying ‘rebounds this way’?’
After I had assured my friend, Gertie, that there was no signage anywhere on her body indicating that damaged men were her partner of choice, I started to think about why she and I have both often found ourselves inadvertently involved with people who have just gotten out of relationships.
I’m sure this happens to everyone at some point, but Gertie and I seem to have a particular knack for attracting this particular breed of man. I wondered if it’s because we’re both psychology students, except that they seem to prefer Marvin Gaye’s school of healing than any therapies we’ve been given specific instruction in, so I don’t know that Gertie and I are better equipped to handle them than anyone else.
This is a relatively recent problem in my dating history, probably because we all tend to invest more in relationships as we get older. The inconvenience of dodging someone at lunchtime after a break-up bears little comparison to terminating a lease and having to move your poor little broken heart back in with your parents. Being convinced that you were going to spend the rest of your life with someone and then coming to realise that isn’t the case doesn’t just mean not having a regular spooning partner anymore, it often requires a complete reassessment of what you want in life now that it no longer involves this person.
I know and readily acknowledge this and am also aware that, for my part, I’m probably more fickle than average: my break-up angst tends to last only as long as it takes me to find someone else to obsess over, though this time has been known to vary anywhere between two weeks and two years.
Nonetheless, I have had break-ups, including awful ones that have taken time to get over (two years is a pretty significant portion of my adult life) but I often feel that the key difference between me and those who have told me (and Gertie) post-hook up/date/whatever that they’re not over their ex, is that I stay convincingly single during those woeful times. I commit myself to time- and-energy-consuming projects and bitch to my friends until they’ve had enough, but I get things sorted without a boy around.
Of course, we all have different ways of coping and I’m not denying that a rebound is, for some people, a very effective method of kicking their ex out of their head. But getting over their own emotional turmoil rarely makes people consider how their actions are affecting someone else, and therein lies the problem.
Someone who’s recently ended a relationship may genuinely like you but break-ups, just through the sheer fact that they exist, suck. It takes time to heal from them and we unfortunately don’t choose when we stumble across people we dig. Timing is a severely underrated factor in the success of a relationship but someone else’s current affliction with emotional baggage needn’t be your problem (often they’ll just pass their complexes on to you, which you’ll then pass on to your next partner etc etc; it’s kind of like a sexually transmitted disease, except that a lot of those are easier to get rid of than enduring self-pity).
The biggest favour you can do for the both of you is to cut it off, at least temporarily, otherwise you’re likely to become entangled in all their break-up melodrama too.
Point them in the direction of a counsellor and tell them to call you when they’ve got their shit together. Your own break-ups are bad enough, you shouldn’t have to recover from those of other people.
(Image credit: 1.)