My client Jade met someone perfect online. She could not believe her luck. Keith seemed custom designed to fit her dating needs and wants. They exchanged a few emails, chatted on the phone, and since things continued to look oh-so-hopeful, they met face to face for a coffee date. Bingo! Chemistry? Check. Comfort and mutual enjoyment? Check. Available? Check… well wait. Not so fast. There was one small hiccup.
It turned out that, though technically available, legally available, and intellectually available (after all he did fill out an online profile, right?) – Keith was seriously on the rebound and therefore very much NOT emotionally available. Jade had noticed that Keith’s dating profile stated “recently divorced.” It should have said, “I have no business being on this site because I am so not over my last relationship.” Unfortunately, there’s no check box for that.
Jade was initially not concerned about the “recent divorce” revelation, until the issues commonly (though not always) associated with such a status reared their nasty little heads… over and over. After a couple dates, Jade got the picture and bowed out, asking Keith to get in touch when he’d done the necessary work to move on after his marriage.
Have any of these happened to you?
- Your date takes you to a nice restaurant then tells you, “This was our favorite place,” and proceeds to inform you what “my ex always ordered.” Red flag – you are there to recreate past experiences for your date.
- “You really remind me of my ex,” are words that have actually come out of the mouth of the new person in your life. Perhaps he or she calls you by the ex’s name… accidentally (?). Red flag – your date is looking for a replacement.
- OR, “You aren’t anything like my ex. She was quite decisive.” Or “Gosh, my ex was pretty handy. He always knew what to do when the car broke down.” Red flag – you will never live up to the specter of the ex.
- Your date expresses relief and gratitude for your presence in his or her life. “Now I can stop thinking about my ex.” Red flag – there is a void, and you are supposed to fill it.
- “I was so happy. I thought we were so happy…. It feels really weird to be dating again.” Red flag – this person is NOT OVER IT!
- Your date breaks down when the subject of exes comes up. Red flag – run!
What is a rebounder? It is someone whose relationship has recently ended, has not done the necessary processing, and is trying to rush into a new relationship to avoid grief, fill a void, be reassured about his or her value and worth, or otherwise use you regain health (or regain the feeling of health) without actually doing the work.
A relationship does not have to be long, involve marriage vows, or cohabitation to create a rebound effect. It does not even have to be a happy relationship. People rebound after the most dysfunctional ties are broken. Whatever created the bond in that former relationship – love, habit, codependency, passion, common interests, obsession, even hate – when it is broken, it takes work to move on, and not everyone wants to do that work.
If you suspect that you are dating a rebounder, you probably are. The rebounder is not going to become emotionally available while in a relationship with you, or anyone. The time you spend involved with one is time you could be spending with someone who is available in every sense of the word. My best dating advice if you are seeing a rebounder: use your exit strategy.