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How to avoid rebound relationshipS

How to Avoid Rebound Relationships After Divorce

There might be plenty of fish in the sea, but that doesn’t mean we won’t hook a bottom-feeder we’ll want to throw back. Sometimes, though, it will be hard to tell which fish are the keepers, especially when you’re freshly divorced and reentering the dating scene after a long marriage. Whether you were the one who wanted the divorce or not, dating after divorce can be baffling. As we begin, we are often finding out about ourselves at the same time we’re looking around at others for stability, for terra firma. This need for stability and love after divorce can lead to ignoring a lot of red flags when it comes to dating—or missing them all together—and ending up in a relationship that’s going nowhere because of incompatibility and insecurities. On the other hand, you might end up in a whirlwind relationship that moves too fast and ends up with you feeling excited and then, heartbroken. After divorce, are you only destined for rebound relationships? Rebound relationships are, by definition, almost always setup to fail. A lot of people believe that a rebound relationship is defined by time—that dating soon after a breakup or divorce alone indicates a rebound, but that’s not always the case. If you’ve set yourself free of your past relationship, you’ve been working on your divorce recovery, and you feel ready to get out there, then do. Rebounds are really about not being over your past partner and feeling insecure about being single. Generally, people don’t actively look for a rebound relationship but find themselves in one, looking for a “soul mate” or trying to find a substitute for their Ex, or they’ve moved into a relationship too fast because they’re afraid of being alone. The best way to avoid all the pitfalls of a rebound relationship might seem like not dating at all or to date but avoid anything serious—but then you’re cutting yourself off from moving on from your divorce and building a wall between you and a lot of potentially great fish out there waiting to be caught. Instead, here are some tips to help you avoid a rebound relationship when you’re reentering the dating scene after divorce.

1. Try to avoid dating men or women who are also freshly divorced if they seem as if they are still hung up on their Ex

It’s not bad to date other people who have gone through a divorce, and, hey, it even makes sense. But if they’re still fixated on their Ex and don’t seem to really be interested in getting to know you, then they aren’t ready to date, and you might end up as a fill-in for their former partner rather than a romantic interest based on your own merit. A sign that the person you’re dating is not over their Ex might be their constant reference to their Ex or even, their refusal to talk about her/him—so unless they are in a healthy place where they can discuss their past relationship, they aren’t ready to date. If this describes you, then you likely shouldn’t jump into a relationship but instead skip to #4 on this list.

2. Don’t try to recreate your past

Remember, you are divorced and that means some aspect of your past wasn’t working. While you don’t want to completely date off-type, don’t go after a person just because they remind you of qualities you enjoyed in your Ex. Your new partner cannot ever be a stand-in for your old partner. You want to like someone for who they are, not because of who they remind you of. Sometimes this can be hard to distinguish. Maybe you and your Ex enjoyed going to the beach, or skiing, and the new person in your life does too. But this is something you enjoy; remember that. If you have other things in common that make you compatible, things you did not have with your Ex—that’s better. This will move you beyond the history of your Ex and what your Ex liked, did, or said. It will foster your growth as an independent person.

3. Put yourself and your needs first

Don’t compromise your needs, no matter what. You’ve just gone through a divorce. You might find yourself not only feeling vulnerable but feeling like your newly-found singlehood means you’re somehow worth less. But you are deserving, your feelings are important, and you must not let others take advantage of you, especially when you are feeling vulnerable. If your new relationship isn’t fulfilling your needs and you find yourself repeatedly compromising your wants, needs, feelings, and even bank account to keep your new partner happy, it’s time to call your relationship what it is—a rebound. It’s time to call it quits. Consider focusing on more important things, like developing you and who you want to be before you share yourself again.

4. Play the field

No, this doesn’t make you’re “a player.” Chances are you honestly don’t know what you want after the divorce. It might be that you thought you had something perfect before, but time proved otherwise. Figuring out what you want after divorce is like asking someone who’s never had ice cream before what their favorite flavor at Baskin-Robbins is—it’s an impossible question to answer without sampling the flavors first. The best way to avoid a rebound relationship is to explore. Go on a few dates, see what you like and what you don’t like. Do this before you settle down or commit again. If all is said and done and you find yourself in a rebound relationship that seems headed for heartbreak, there is one last step you can take: break it off before it goes further. You’ve gone through a divorce already. It was both painful and a learning experience, and this breakup will be a learning experience, too — hopefully without the depth of pain; but be prepared, there may be heartache. Maybe you invested in the relationship too fast or you made compromises without fully realizing what you were doing. But you are a stronger person now, and you must not be in a relationship that doesn’t make you feel like your best self. After you break up with your rebound, you’ll be free. Free to explore and cast your line again, to see what’s out there and what is possible. And, who knows, maybe this time you’ll reel in a keeper. If you don’t right away, remember, this new time in your life is about finding out about you, your life, your values, and who you want to be. You’ve come too far to not recognize — you are the greatest keeper of all.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support and wise next steps as you rebuild your life — practically, financially, romantically, smartly — with  Paloma’s Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

Dating After Divorce Cheat Sheet

Dating After Divorce Cheat Sheet: The 5 Types of Men You MIGHT Meet

Dating after divorce can be frustrating. While you might remember what dating was like before your marriage, the men you meet after divorce are in a different ballpark—if, they are even in the game. Among them, those who are truly viable, you’ll find a differing assortment of good and bad. The problem is if you haven’t dated in twenty years, you have little context by which to compare the good against the bad.

As well, and far more interesting is the fact that you’ve grown—not only in age but as a result of your divorce. You’ve learned the only way to really appreciate the nuances of the goodies and the baddies (beyond and between the simple profiles offered below) is to dip your toes into those dating waters and to bear a few things in mind.

It’s an attitude, so practice it

Dating after divorce is a wonderful way to experience life anew. But don’t take your dates too seriously. Instead of looking outward for the “One” or “The Only,” invest in having fun and getting your bearings. We caution you about jumping into another long-term, committed relationship.

Instead, get a good feel for your wants, needs, likes, and dislikes. You will want to understand yourself first and learn how to stay true to you in your next relationship—if you even choose to have a next relationship. (Maybe you just want to focus on healing right now? That’s okay, too.)

If you are open to the idea of dating after divorce, though, we’ve prepared the following cheat sheet on the five types of men you might meet so you can be prepared. While we know there are a lot of great men out there, we also know there is truth in jest.

The Misanthrope

This guy is cheap—and we’re not saying cheap as in he’s not picking up the tab for the date (feminism means splitting the bill, right?). No, he’s the extreme sense of squeak—frugal with money and his time, and, sometimes, even his emotions. He’ll seem attractive at first because he’s elusive, and when he shares, he sounds so sensible. He believes in equality, “partnership,” and the mutual sharing of finances. But after a few early bird-dinners where he’s pulled out his calculator (not on his phone, but from his pocket), or your needing to negotiate his penciling you in on a Wednesday, next month, his mystery fades.

He distrusts people, and for that reason, he is loathe to invest. Are you up to the task of teaching him you are deserving and worthy?

The Monologist

Read about him here, because chances are you’ll never get a word in edgewise when you meet (your next?) Monologist. This is the type whose internet profile leads with his professional title . . . “Lawyer,” “CFO,” “Surfer.” In person, there is never any awkward silence because he fills the air sharing about himself. When you start to chime in, then dare to add a thought, you’ll suddenly be corrected (a mixed bag, because at last he’s heard you and you’re rather touched but then chastened). The word you chose to enunciate is not right. No, let him explain. And more mansplaining takes place.

Been there. But you are working on your capacity for compassion. So you let the leash run and run—to make sure he’s not as egregious as he seems. He can’t be.  He is.

Out on the street you tell him, it was lovely meeting but you don’t think it’s going to work out. Call you crazy, but you’d like a companion who asks you about yourself.

The Peter Pan

Ah, Sweet Bird of Youth! Whether he’s actually younger than you, or just at heart, his energy and attitude are so refreshing. It’s exhilarating to be with someone who’s positive, who’s au courante with happenings, and who thinks you’re cool enough, too.

Peter Pan knows the latest, latest. His fingers fly quickly across his smartphone, showing you the video of the next place you should go, you must go, it’s this club where this band he loves is playing! Peter Pan takes you to a bar where, as you look around, you notice there are only young people. Very young people who know him very well. A couple of nubile beauties sidle up to Peter Pan, and he looks at you as if to brag. You watch his arms slide comfortably around them. He’s their mascot. He’s either their seasoned, slightly older social director, or he’s their tired, tragic mascot. You are trying to decide which, when he offers to get you a drink and take you backstage “to meet the kids.” You’re excited because you get to use a word you’ve just learned, “Nolo.” And out the door you gogo.

There’s a reason this guy is so on the pulse to what’s young—he’s never grown up.

It’s also why he might be divorced. And if not, if he’s never been married, ask him if he’s big into video games.

Youth and energy can be fun, even confidence boosting, but problematic when you’re in trouble and need a hand. Says one client formerly married to a Peter Pan:

“I just got sick of being his mother, too, of being the killjoy, the heavy always explaining to the kids that we couldn’t do what daddy was wanting because we didn’t have the money. I wanted to be the fun one, sometimes. I am working on that now!”

Mr. Plug & Play

This guy is committed. He’s really really pro-commitment. He’s looking for a “LTR” (a long-term relationship) he tells you, more than once. He seems in love with the idea of being paired-up, and you (without his knowing the least thing about you) are perfect for him.

At first, Mr. PP seems amazing because he’s so into you—he’ll hang on your every word. He’ll even listen, with that latter part making you swoon. But soon, he’ll declare, to you, to the universe, how amazing it is that you and he are exactly alike.

Except you are not.

You are open, curious, but cautious, checking him and the situation out.

This guy, on the other hand, has already plugged you into a life he created a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

If this guy is below 40, he wants desperately to be married, for whatever ambitious, personal or cultural reasons.

If this guy is 40 or older, and recently divorced, it’s likely he’s looking for his Ex’s replacement. He has done no work on himself. He’s seeking to partner up because being alone is so darn uncomfortable. He likes it when the house “is neat and organized and there’s someone there to fix his meals.”

“I felt like the missing piece to his jigsaw puzzle,” sighed Olivia. “We had not even ordered drinks when he started telling me about his needs, what he was missing. He told me, point blank, that he was looking for someone to take care of him in his old age! It wasn’t a date, it was an interview, just showing me again how insidious this white male privilege is. They are clueless.”

We think we can all agree that if you were interviewing for a job, it would be good to know the salary and benefits paid.

The Mr. Darcy

Little by little, this guy seems like the complete package—Mr. Darcy is sensible, proud, and yet, capable of cutting loose. An added boon is that he treats you with respect. He makes you feel feminine. Special somehow. But he doesn’t tell you everything about himself that first night. He actually asks you questions as a way of deflecting your questions you pose to him.

The Mr. Darcys of the world have been burned in the past and may come off as overly cautious or guarded. Maybe he’s been divorced, too. Maybe his best friend betrayed him, or maybe his Ex betrayed him with his best friend? This guy has so many walls up, you might not actually be sure he likes you until he breaks down and confesses all his thoughts, his feelings in a gushing romantic speech many dates later.

Maybe. Or maybe you just saw that scene on Netflix.

However, there may be just enough there to keep you wondering. You are not certain, but you think you might give this guy another date, if only because you know one thing sure about yourself. You absolutely stand with and for second chances.

In Sum

If you have the ability to have these experiences and muse with your girlfriends, then, each of these encounters was worth its weight in wine. On the other hand, you may not meet any of these men. Any which way, our experience with women after divorce suggests, it’s important to be mindful of OUR desire to couple up. Too often that “need” leads the show and can blind us from seeing who is really seated across the table. We encourage you to cultivate your particular perspective, to balance the desire to get out there again with the opportunity it is for you to look at yourself.

And by the way, our vote would go for Mr. Darcy. He’s the most promising according to the book.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can secure female-centered support, information, and next steps if you are rebuilding your life with Paloma’s Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class for women only.  To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, please know space is limited. Visit for details.

“I am so happy to have these sisters on the journey with me! Our connection is very productive, very powerful. We’ve met each other with a warm full heart! I feel understood — at last — because I know these women get it! They are going through the same thing. Our connection has ended any sense of isolation or alienation that on and off, I’ve been struggling with.

Thank you for bringing us together and creating Paloma’s Group!”

~ S.L., New York City

Luxe, messed up bed

Happiness After Divorce: Your Sexual Reawakening

During the last ten years of my marriage, I had zero interest in sex. Actually, it may have even been a negative amount of interest. Ten years is a long time. I chalked my disinterest up to two kids and getting older (I was in my late 30s, so I was clearly trying to rationalize and ignore the glaring fact that I was miserable in my marriage). All of this didn’t mean I wasn’t having sex. But the sex was, at best, something to check off my to-do list.

Happiness after divorce is possible for you (because it was for me)

One fear I had (and often see clients grappling with) was this: Is bad sex in an unsatisfying loveless marriage still better than the possibility of NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN? It took me several years of weighing the fear—an unlikely and irrational one—of living the rest of my days entirely alone without a loving partner against the increasingly intolerable state of my marriage. I was thinking about divorce. Was that the right choice for me? I finally took a giant leap and moved out, focusing on baby steps like finding my own apartment, choosing a paint color for my new bedroom, and unpacking boxes one by one. But experiencing true happiness after divorce still seemed out of reach.

So, it came as a HUGE surprise when I discovered that in addition to unpacking those boxes of belongings—even the metaphorical boxes of emotions I had kept hidden away—I unpacked some interest in sex. Ok, not just some interest. I experienced a sexual reawakening! Just days after moving into my new place, SEX was all I could think about. That’s not an exaggeration. I felt different, becoming very physically aware of myself and my body. I felt so different that I looked different. Friends, family, and other people in my life asked me if I had a facelift or another kind of treatment. It dawned on me that perhaps I looked different because of feelings I was experiencing for the first time in many years: hope and happiness. And let’s face it, happiness is sexy.

Is bad sex in an unsatisfying loveless marriage still better than the possibility of NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN?

Don’t get me wrong—just because I felt a tremendous rush of interest in sex doesn’t mean I wasn’t equally consumed by bouts of pure, unadulterated panic. Sure, I had lots of interest but no game plan and no potential dates in sight. Would anyone find me attractive? Would anyone see me as anything other than a middle-aged mother of two trying desperately to keep her sh*t together? I couldn’t even allow myself to fully imagine the mechanics of undressing in front of another man. It all felt far too overwhelming.

My first kiss as the “new me”

It was a few days after moving into my new home when I received a text from a number I didn’t recognize. It was an old boyfriend I had dated in my 20s. I hadn’t heard from him in years. I knew that he had separated from his wife at some point, but I didn’t give it much thought. The text said, “Happy New Year! Hope you’re well. Would love to grab a drink sometime.” Assuming he had heard about my separation, I immediately called our one mutual friend to see if she had told him the news. She had not. In fact, she also hadn’t spoken to him in a long time. I was floored. What were the chances of my Ex texting me just days after I moved out on my own? We set up a date, and every time I imagined seeing him, I felt nervous.

I felt free and alive for the first time in what felt like a very long time.

When I arrived at Indochine, a sceney NYC restaurant frequented by models and celebrities, I barely recognized myself! I felt like I was 25 again: out at night, in the “real” world, with other people who weren’t parents! While eating dinner with my Ex (we’ll call him Chaz), I remembered that he could never stop himself from checking out every attractive woman in sight. And that he is unapologetic about it. This habit once drove me nuts and was the reason I ended things with him years before. I noted that Chaz clearly hadn’t changed. His eyes skipped from woman to woman, landing on a lanky and gorgeous Afroed hostess, but I didn’t care. I felt free and alive for the first time in what felt like a very long time. And I had a one-track mind . . .

After dinner, Chaz and I walked a few blocks south to a spot we used to go to together back in the day. It was dark, moody, and easy to hide in. I was tipsy by this point, and I think Chaz was too. We sat down across from one another, and he leaned in to kiss me. It wasn’t an innocent, just-for-old-time’s-sake kind of kiss. It was a lean-into-each-other, full throttle make out session. My first kiss with a man who was not my husband in nearly 16 years. It was THRILLING, to say the least.

We finished our drinks, and a cab dropped us off at our respective apartments. No, we didn’t have sex. Kissing someone new was enough for me just then. We furiously made out the entire taxi ride (which would be my first of several kissing experiences in a taxi). After leaving him, I was excited about my new life after divorce. I was single, unmarried, and free.

A lot of women think they cannot become who they are meant to be without another man.

I’ve discovered otherwise. Me.

 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce. Now you can find support and learn best practices RE-creating your life after divorce with Paloma’s Group. Decide who you really are. Find IT. Create IT. Own IT.

Classes start September 26 and space is limited.  Visit here for details. 

Alyssa Dineen has been a New York City stylist for close to 20 years. After getting divorced herself, Alyssa started a service to help newly single people get into the dating app world with confidence. She has worked with all different personalities, body types and budgets and knows how to help you stay relevant and current while still feeling like yourself — the best version of yourself. Meet Alyssa this fall and benefit from her personal style and dating guidance through Paloma’s Group, SAS’ post-divorce support group for women.

Woman lounging in her life after divorce

Life After Divorce: The 7 Surprising Myths About STDs

As a medical writer, one of my most gratifying roles is that of educator. I may be writing pieces that teach doctors about a new drug or how to take care of a poisoned patient (since I’m also a toxicologist), or teaching veterinary medicine students about antidotes for poisoned animals. I also write to educate patients about how to keep themselves and their families healthy. So why is a medical writer blogging on SAS for Women’s website? I’ve discovered there is a critical need to educate women, especially older women navigating their new, life after divorce about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually infections (STIs).

Women who were in a long marriage may now be in their 40s or older. These women are not in the age group that is targeted for STI education and may not be thinking about the risks they run once pregnancy is not an issue for them.

As you move through your divorce recovery and take steps to rebuild your life, please read and ponder these seven myths about STIs. These are meant to be short and easy to take in so you’ll begin your personal education and protection. For more details, read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s site on STDs or talk to your healthcare provider. And, if you think you may have an STI, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

Myth 1: STIs are only transmitted through bodily fluid.

Some STIs are transmitted via skin-to-skin contact (such as herpes or human papillomavirus [HPV]) and body fluid-contact is not necessary for transmission. So, although some STIs require bodily fluid contact, some do not. A condom only covers so much skin (see Myth #5). 

Myth 2: My partner tested “negative” for STIs so he is not infected.

If someone is exposed to an STI and is tested too soon, STI testing may not pick up the infection as there can be a delay in symptoms (or no symptoms at all) and/or a delay in a positive testing result. Also, STI testing cannot test for every STI. For example, in men, there is not a test for HPV.

Myth 3: Oral sex is completely safe.

There are some STIs that are transmittable via oral sex (either as the giver or receiver) such as HPV, herpes, and gonorrhea. Certain strains of HPV are linked not only to cervical cancer but also to esophageal cancer (making unprotected oral sex a bigger health risk than some women may realize). Safer sex practices for oral sex include using a latex condom or dental dam.

Myth 4: If I don’t see blisters, there is no chance my partner has herpes.

Partners with herpes infections can transmit the infection even before blisters appear. Many people with genital herpes do not know they even have it. Note that testing for herpes may not be included on an STI testing panel.

Myth 5: Condoms are 100% effective.

Nothing, except abstinence, is 100% effective in preventing STIs. So even with condoms, there is a risk. Using latex condoms for all sexual activity and knowing your partner’s sexual history and STI testing status, can decrease the risk considerably.

Myth 6: STI testing is done at my annual check-up.

It may be, but verify. Not all check-ups, even at the OB-GYN, will include STI testing. Ask your healthcare provider what tests are done, and based on your sexual history, if you need additional tests. Alternatively, you may also consider the at home STD test option which can be ordered online. Once the kit arrives, you’ll follow the simple sample collection instructions and then send it back to a lab for analysis.

Myth 7: If I am in an exclusive/monogamous relationship, there is no risk for an STI.

See Myth 2. It can sometimes take months for an infection to show up on an STI screen and many STIs have no symptoms. Keep in mind that it’s not only who your partner is with now, it’s who he has been with in previous months.

No doubt you are navigating a lot in your new life as an independent woman. Reading this information may be overwhelming and even frightening. But knowledge is power when it comes to keeping yourself healthy. Women (and men) need to be aware of the risk of STIs no matter what their age. Some strategies like keeping condoms handy (and using them!) and the sharing of recent STI testing results between partners can help decrease the risk for an STI. If you are thinking about dating, or are already out there, make a plan for how you will broach the topic of STIs with your new partner and how you can make sure you are both in the know regarding STI status. You and your partner can get tested together or you both can share the testing results via email (so you can see what exactly he was tested for).

 

Dr. Allison Muller, Pharm.D, D.ABAT, is a board-certified toxicologist and registered pharmacist with over 20 years’ experience in the field of clinical toxicology. After a nearly 20-year career leading the Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Muller is presently an independent consultant specializing in medical writing, medical education, and providing expert witness testimony on cases involving medications, alcohol, chemicals, and environmental toxins.

If the idea of connecting regularly to a smart community of women, women who are also recreating their best life after divorce appeals to you, you may wish to explore Paloma’s Group.  Or schedule your free consultation with SAS to hear firsthand feedback and suggestions tailored to your story and what you need help with right now.

Either way, or any which way (but down), don’t stop now. Keep reading ….

 

This blog post is not meant to provide medical advice. If you have possible symptoms of an STI or feel you are at risk, see your healthcare provider.