One of the most confusing aspects of recovering from a divorce is deciding when we are ready to date again. Some people have a difficult time being alone and are willing to settle for less than they truly deserve just so that they don’t have to be single, while others of us are so scarred from divorce that we remain single for years, afraid to love anyone again. Many people use dating as a band-aid to cover the immense pain they feel from the end of their marriage and move too quickly into relationships before they’ve given themselves ample time to heal; this type of dating is known as “rebounding”. After divorce, it is so easy to confuse comfort for love. Have you found yourself in a new relationship as a divorcée and are trying to decide if you are in love or are just rebounding?
- Have You Properly Healed?
Does the thought of your former spouse still send pain through your heart or has your heart found comfort in your separation? Does thinking of them dating make you nauseous with jealousy or have you come to the point where you no longer care what they are doing? When you have given your heart the proper time to heal from the divorce you will no longer feel immense emotions regarding your Ex. It is extremely important to allow yourself the time to cut the strings and find happiness on your own, before attempting to find love elsewhere. Moving too quickly into a new relationship is the recipe for a rebound relationship, rather than the strong, healthy, long-lasting relationship that will be much more valuable.
After my first divorce I started dating right away. I had never been single before and I didn’t know how to live on my own. I was devastated by the end of my marriage and was desperate to make the pain go away. After a lot of disappointing dates I found someone who shared a similar sense of humor and personality and whom quickly became my best friend. In an ideal world, we should have become friends, but I confused loving him as a person with being in love. I never felt truly “at home” with him and questioned the relationship constantly, yet I married him and had a very unhealthy year of marriage before I filed for divorce #2.
This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to allow yourself time to heal before you date. When our minds are fogged with emotion we don’t make the best decisions for our lives. When emotions are running high, we can confuse finding comfort in a relationship for finding true love. As scary and painful as it is to be alone after being in a long-term relationship, it is imperative to finding happiness within ourselves and learning who we are and what we want and need in a relationship.
2. Do You Feel Genuinely Happy or Are You Faking It?
It is nice to have someone around to spend rainy days with, to share the holidays, and to snuggle with when we feel sad, but just because we aren’t alone, doesn’t mean that we aren’t lonely. If you feel lonely around the person you are dating, then you are probably rebounding. This can be a very perplexing question, but when you sit still with yourself, are you truly happy in your new relationship or do you feel like you could be happier? Settling for someone who doesn’t bring you true happiness isn’t good for either of you.
In my second marriage, I often times felt myself day-dreaming about having a different life. I was always looking around at other men, never feeling 100% satisfied with the one I was with. I felt lonely when we were in the same room together. I would take hours of alone-time just to sit with my thoughts and wonder if I was in the right relationship. Let me tell you first-hand, if you find yourself doing any of these things, or questioning if you are really happy, chances are that you are not happy! When you are genuinely happy, you don’t have to ask yourself if you are happy because there is no question about it.
3. What is Your Intuition Saying?
If you search deep within yourself are you really feeling content with this person or do you feel like something isn’t right? Are you constantly questioning the relationship or asking your friends and family for advice? If something in your gut doesn’t feel right when you think about your relationship, you need to listen to yourself.
It is so difficult to distinguish what is real and what is not when your mind is clouded by emotions. In some of my other posts, I have referred to the emotional mess you experience after divorce as the “Divorce Fog”, because it feels like you are lost within your emotions and don’t know which direction to turn. When you are engulfed by grief, anger, or fear you may make choices that you otherwise wouldn’t make.
I found myself deeply engrossed in the “Divorce Fog” after my first divorce. I cried all day and night, every day for months. I couldn’t eat, slept for insane amounts of time, and lost the ability to find joy in my life. After my deep depression subsided a bit, I believed that the only way to escape my pain completely was to drink alcohol and find someone to distract my thoughts. This led me to rebound with husband #2. I never felt satisfied or comfortable with him and something deep inside me kept trying to tell me to leave. I could have saved both of us a lot of time and pain if I would have known how to listen to my intuition, rather than pushing the bad feelings aside.
Don’t make the same mistake I did and settle for a rebound relationship when your intuition is screaming for you to get out. If it doesn’t feel right, leave. Your emotions may be clouding your judgement, but your gut will not steer you wrong.
4. Do You Compare Your New Relationship With Your Previous One?
If you find yourself comparing your relationship with the one you lost or your new partner with your former one, this is a big issue. You can not expect your relationship to be identical to the one you had before or your partner to do everything the last one did. In all honesty, I’m not sure why you would even what to recreate what you used to have, because it failed for a reason.
It is not only reasonable to want certain traits in a person and relationship and look for someone who exemplifies those traits, it is smart. I suggest creating a list of the things you need in a partner and sticking by those most values that are most important to you, because this will encourage you not to settle for someone who won’t make you happy in the long-run. This being said, you have to be realistic and know that no one is going to be 100% perfect, we just must know what is truly important to us. But if you find yourself always comparing your relationship with your failed marriage and wishing it was more like that, you are most-likely rebounding and should consider being alone for a while.
5. Do Things Feel Like They Are Moving Too Fast?
You’ve met someone, I-love-yous have been exchanged and you’re already talking about moving in together and marriage and it has only been a few months or weeks… HOLD ON! Whirl-wind relationships do have the possibility of lasting, but if you have recently divorced and find yourself in one, you may want to take a few steps back. Ask yourself all of the above questions and decide what your motives are in allowing this new romance to blossom so quickly.
Once again, my second marriage was a rebound relationship. Did I know it at the time? No. I didn’t allow myself time to heal, I didn’t listen to my intuition, I faked happiness, and it definitely moved way too fast! Within two weeks of meeting we were exchanging I-love-yous and moved in together. He was suggesting marriage after a year and I said no at first. Obviously, I agreed and you know how that turned out.
Healthy relationships need time in order to properly cultivate. It takes time to get to know someone on a deep level, learn how to live together, discover how you settle disagreements, and give each other the kind of love that each of you needs. It is especially smart to take your time in this after you have suffered a divorce. None of us wants to endure one divorce, let alone multiple. If you feel like you are going through the motions or are caught up in the new relationship excitement, do yourself a huge favor and stop to take a deep breath. Slow things down and really get to know this new person. Assess your feelings, intuition, and what your head and heart both have to say about the matter. If your relationship feels very rushed and you haven’t had time to think about it, you just may be experiencing a rebound.
New relationships can be successful after a divorce but it is so important to use your head and listen to your gut, not just follow a heart that recently broke. Our hearts can easily be confused by emotion and may not be trustworthy right after divorce. If you find yourself saying “Yes” to a lot of the above questions it may be time for you to reevaluate what type of relationship you are engaged in and decide if it is truly right for you. Don’t allow yourself to confuse rebounding for love.
I wish you peace, wisdom, and happiness as you reenter the world of dating ❤ Good luck!