Maybe you met online…maybe through work. He’s very recently divorced. He’s going through a lot of emotional and legal stuff. Contentious litigation. Vindictive ex-wife (or soon-to-be ex-wife). His kids are unhappy.
But then he met you.
You’re a break in his storm clouds, a compassionate ear, a warm embrace, not to mention you’re hot, sexy and fun.
He says you’re everything his ex-wife wasn’t. He’s so happy with you. Can’t wait to spend time with you. You’ve never felt such a connection with anyone else you’ve ever met before. And he feels the same way.
You take a weekend away (even though it’s mostly spent in bed, but oh well, you don’t mind). It’s a whirlwind romance. Everything is great, fine, wonderful…
Then, one day he doesn’t pick up the phone or answer your texts as readily as he used to. Oh well, you say to yourself, maybe he had a busy day at work. We all have deadlines. Right?
But then he cancels plans. Unlike him to not give you notice or find some workaround. But he said his ex has a last minute business trip and he has to take care of the kids. Oh well, you say to yourself, he’s adjusting to being a single dad, you can understand, right?
Then he goes AWOL. Doesn’t call you back or return your texts.
Ten days later your phone lights up.
He says he’s sorry. He loves spending time with you! That you’re his dream woman, you’re everything he wants!
But then he said he thought he was ready for this but realized he’s not. “It’s not you, it’s me,” he says. He says he needs time…
Suddenly, you’re heartbroken, bewildered and pissed all at the same time.
You’re Not Alone
Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario.
I receive handfuls of letters every month from women who describe, more or less, this same hot/cold story line. Falling into the rebound trap is a painful thing to go through, it really does put your heart through the wringer.
Wondering whether you’re the transitional woman is a common concern (in any relationship), but it’s especially a concern if you’re dating a recently divorced or divorcing man.
It’s a concern because – let’s define it – a rebound woman or transitional woman is the woman or the relationship who ultimately gets used (consciously or unconsciously) to get over a previous relationship or to get over a recently dramatic change in his life.
That is not to say that in every case the next relationship after a guy’s divorce will be a rebound relationship. The man that I married was a recent divorcee and we’re still going strong.
But there are some key differences between rebound relationships and relationships with long term potential.
What is a Rebound Relationship?
Rebound relationships typically serve short-term needs and have a short-term outlook.
Rebound relationships might have all the comforts of being in a relationship such as physically intimacy, and the social perks of dating such as fun and recreation.
But the thing that is often missing is a sense of depth and open and honest outlook toward the future.
Or if there is a sense of depth and outlook toward the future in a rebound relationship, it is often short-lived.
In other words, one week he might tell you he sees a future with you and even take steps toward demonstrating that sort of commitment (like introducing you to his family) but the next week you notice a definite shift in is energy – he pulls away or goes AWOL.
This is a big red flag that shows that he’s unsure of what he wants right now and is kind of just doing what feels good in the moment but not really being conscious and intentional about this relationship.
Before I move on, though, let me just say that short-term, recreational, just-for-fun dating is not bad in and of itself.
If you’re not looking for long-term love right now and just want to date for fun…dating a guy on the rebound might be your opportunity! (This is assuming that the guy is conscious and forthright about just wanting to date for fun right now)
But if you want a long-term relationship with someone who is emotionally available in a consistent way, you’re going to get your heart broken if he’s on the rebound.
If he doesn’t know what he wants and he tells you that he doesn’t know what he wants (sometimes this happens; sometimes guys realize “wait, I don’t know what I want right now” or, even better and more clear: “this isn’t what I want right now”) – this is actually to your advantage because then there’s no guessing game at that point, there’s little or no ambiguity (unless he’s giving you mixed messages, which often happens).
But if he says he doesn’t know what he wants or he says that this isn’t what he wants, this gives you
1) a clear awareness of his sense of readiness and where he’s at, and
2) a clear opportunity to choose whether or not you want to continue in the relationship given where he is at.
Why Rebound Relationship Can Get so Damn Confusing, Messy and Heartbreaking
But, unfortunately, relationships are often not that clear.
In many cases, he’s not aware of what he wants or aware of his readiness for a long-term committed relationship.
In many cases, he’s just taking it day by day, week by week, doing what feels good or what feels right for him in the moment (or for that week) without being conscious and intentional about whether this really makes sense for him (and for the both of you!) long term.
When a guy is on the rebound and not conscious of it, he might say he knows what he wants or think he knows what he wants…but in reality, he’s not thinking that far ahead.
He might be saying (through his words or his actions) that this is what he wants because this is what he wants right now.
Often after a divorce, there’s a void in his life – a lot of big changes, a lot of unknowns – and living with that void and sense of uncertainty can be very uncomfortable. For anybody.
Change, by its nature, is uncomfortable because change is the death of a previous position.
How to Avoid Being the Rebound Woman
So how do you know whether you’re being used if he’s not even aware that he’s using you?
And how can you avoid it?
In short, be VIGILANT about spotting red flags and don’t gloss over them. Here are some other guidelines:
Trust your intuition, not your fears
Your gut feelings point to valuable information.
If you feel some level of discomfort about the pace of the relationship, for example, the relationship is going too fast (or too slow) for your comfort, pay attention to that; your feelings are an indication of something.
Your feelings are telling you to notice the direction you’re going.
If you’re uncomfortable about the pace of the relationship, the key thing to do is to first examine why.
What, exactly, makes you uncomfortable about the pace of the relationship?
And then really tune in. Tune in to discern if your discomfort is insecurity or if it is coming from a grounded place.
How do we know the difference between our inner guidance and just plain ol’ insecurity and fear? Intuition and insecurity/fear will feel different. Intuition feels right, it has a grounded, affirming tone to it. And intuition tends to be rather neutral and unemotional.
Whereas fear and insecurity is highly emotionally charged. Here’s a graphic by coach Rosalie Puiman that I like that distinguishes the two. She also has a great suggestion for how to practice noticing the difference (because it does take practice!)
“Make a list of everything you are afraid off. After that, it will be easier to recognize when a gut feeling is referring to one of your fears.”
Also, practice feeling it in your body. What does your intuition feel like in your body? And what does insecurity and fear feel like in your body? Notice and tune in.
Get clear on your needs, wants and relationship requirements
When you’re super clear on your relationship needs, wants and relationship requirements, you’re less likely to overlook red flags.
Your needs, wants and relationship requirements serve as your guideposts, the things that you hold true to you.
Knowing your needs and relationship requirements help you more clearly discern whether they are being met and honored in your relationship.
Pay attention to your lived experience
I talk about it this in more detail in my free guide, but what this basically means is to notice when his words don’t match his actions.
And don’t get attached (or blinded) by what you hope will happen or what you hope will change about him and your relationship; make relationship decisions based on your lived experienced.
Make decisions based on what’s actually happening in your relationship in the here and now, in your actual experience – not the experience that you hope for.
Notice when he’s not emotionally available
There are usually some telltale signs when a guy is not emotionally available and not over his previous relationship.
If he still harbors a lot of emotionally energy around his previous relationship, sadness or bitterness or other demonstrations of being emotionally occupied with his ex, rather than being more matter-of-fact about it, it could mean that he still has some unresolved emotional baggage.
And in a rebound relationship, he’s often happy to be with someone, anyone, who can help soothe his wounds (whether he’s aware of it or not).
Oftentimes, he just wants to have his short-term needs met and so there may be a lot of physical connection, maybe even a strong spiritual and emotional connection, but no lasting emotional connection.
For example, after an intense romance…he might pull away, says he needs space…but also mention that he wouldn’t mind if you continued sleeping together.
If he’s not emotionally available, but you really want someone to connect with on a deep level in a relationship, chances are you’re not going to be happy being with him because he can’t meet your needs.
Don’t try to rescue him
I know that when he’s going through a pending divorce or recovering from a recent divorce, he might look like he’s a complete mess. He might look like he needs you. He might even say that he needs you.
But I urge you, if you don’t want to be the rebound woman, don’t fall into the trap of trying to rescue him.
Know that he’s responsible for, and is the only one who can control, his own emotional well-being.
There’s a difference between being a compassionate friend and being someone’s crutch or being someone’s medicine.
But when you’re a crutch…sure, crutches are a godsend when we can’t walk. But what happens to crutches once a broken foot heals? We discard them. They’ve served their purpose. In other words, we don’t need them anymore.
When you’re a compassionate friend, you empathize, you feel for him, maybe you offer verbal solutions if he asks for it, but you maintain emotional boundaries, you don’t own his problem for him, you don’t try to manage or control his pain.
You don’t try to fix his life for him (because ultimately you can’t). Only he can manage and control his own pain.
Compassion is different from control. The desire to control is ultimately based in fear and in self-sabotaging beliefs. If you let go of trying to heal or protect him from the pain of his divorce, or let go of trying to rescue him—if you let go of the notion that he NEEDS you—what does that ultimately mean about you?
What if he doesn’t need you?
What if no one needed you?
What would that mean then?
Does it mean our life lacks purpose?
If no one needs us, does it mean we’re not loveable people?
These were questions that I had really struggled with in the past. I unconsciously fell in love with guys who seemed to have a lot of problems. I was drawn to them like a magnet. I thought I could save them. I made it my purpose.
But ultimately it left me wrecked.
I failed every time at rescuing.
And it further damaged my self-esteem.
I had gotten attached to people needing me because it fed my sense of self-worth. And when I wasn’t needed, when I wasn’t trying to be the hero, I felt deeply alone and worthless. (if you really struggle with this, get help from a trusted friend or professional)
So if you find yourself having the tendency to rescue him…ask yourself:
Could you be attached? Could your sense of self-worth be tied up in outcomes over which you have no control?
When we’re attached, could we be equating love with trying to fix people?
Could we need to change our view of what it means to love?
Here’s a poem by Nayyirah Waheed to inspire your thinking..
not wanting me
the beginning of me
– nayyirah waheed
Whatever the issues are in your relationship, if you find yourself agonizing over questions like…
Is this relationship worth it??
Should I give him a chance or walk away??
I totally get you. I felt the same way when I was dating, which is why I created a free guide to help you get clarity.
In my free guide you’ll discover:
- 30 questions to ask yourself to help you decide if you should give him a chance or if you’re wasting your time
- 22 red flags you should be aware of if you want to avoid heartbreak and painful surprises
- How to assess your compatibility with your partner to know if your relationship has long-term potential
Want to avoid wasting your precious time? I hear you! Download my free guide Should You Stay or Go? Relationship Choice Assessment ↴
Heal Anxious Attachment in Romantic Relationships
If anxious attachment has been a problem for you in your romantic relationships and you want to feel confident and secure (and make conscious relationship decisions) so that you can have a deeply fulfilling life and love, I can help.
I invite you to apply for a free Anxious to Secure Breakthrough Visioning & Strategy Session.
This session is for those who feel ready to do deeper work on this and are considering working together to overcome painful relationship patterns so that they can free themselves anxious attachment, have fulfilling love, and live an authentic Soul-led life.❤️
I’m so impressed with your blog and how thoughtfully you respond to comments! Your advice is so insightful!
I’m a couple of months into a relationship with a man with two kids who was divorced at the beginning of this year. He and his ex were separated for a while before that, but lived together for financial reasons. After the divorce she moved out. He wasn’t looking for a relationship but our paths crossed in a very serendipitous way and there was no denying the chemistry between us. We started out slow, but I could feel myself falling for him and he told me he loved me just a few weeks after our first date.
I have met his kids once, but he hasn’t told them or his ex wife that we are dating. His kids are understandably struggling with the end of mom and dad being together and living in different houses, so he doesn’t want to rock their world with another big change and I’m completely on board with that. He has opened up to me about his ex and their history, but we don’t focus on her or talk about her frequently. They were emotionally distant for a couple of years before the separation. He says that the hardest part of the divorce for him is the way it’s affecting his children, but he knows it’s better that he’s no longer in a loveless marriage. He has expressed interest in going to counseling to talk about his pain regarding his kids and the best way to handle their questions and sadness. I can tell he’s confused and scared that he’s making bad choices that will hurt his kids even more.
I’m a strong woman who has a child of her own (never been married) and has been single for about a year. I am looking for a committed relationship that will eventually lead to marriage. I feel that this man could be the one for me, but I know that it will require a lot of patience and understanding on my part while he goes through all of these difficult transitions. And while I’m not looking to rush anything — we’ve only been together for two months — I am scared he may never be ready to involve my daughter and me more deeply in his life and kids’ lives. This is not based on facts, but more on a feeling I have. You talk about the difference between fear and intuition and I’m having a really hard time deciphering between the two!
The things is, I’ve been through some really bad relationships in the past and I think I still struggle with trusting my own judgment. I’ve dated men who lied to me and used me, so a part of me is worried this man is doing the same — even though there is NO evidence to back it up. He is one of the kindest, sweetest men I’ve ever met, a deeply committed father, and an all around great person. He is the exact opposite of every man I’ve ever dated.
My question for you is — how long should a gal be patient with a newly divorced man while he goes through some of these hard situations with his kids? Is it normal in all relationships for there to be a period at the beginning when things are still a little ambiguous? Or is it better in this situation to just step back and let him be alone so he can deal with it all? I’ve asked him if my presence in his life is a burden that makes it more difficult for him, and he’s assured me that it’s not. I don’t want to be impatient and demanding of more from him and miss out on a relationship that could be deeply rewarding and successful!
Ultimately, I just want us both to be happy and healthy and if that means that we’re not able to be together, I can accept that and move on. I’d rather do it earlier than a year down the road when I’ve fallen even harder for him and our lives have commingled even further.
Thanks for any advice you might have, Melissa. I really appreciate all you do!
Melissa Josue says
Hi Paige, Thanks so much for your question! and thanks so much for your kind words about the blog. 🙂 I’m really glad you’re finding it helpful! I feel your confusion and frustration. These decisions are really tough.
how long should you be patient? Well my approach is…there is no such thing as “should. There’s only what you want or what you don’t want. So the short answer is, it’s entirely up to you…how long are you willing to be patient?
depending on the nature of the divorce and the nature of their co-parenting dynamic it can take a few months to several years for kids to adjust to the new circumstances. Kids are kind of on their own timeline. From what you said…I’m assuming they are younger than 10 years old?
With that said, it is really up to the kids’ parents to support the adjustment. and going to a divorce coach or counselor might certainly help with strategies for helping the kids cope and alleviating parental guilt.
To respond to your other concern about whether he will ever be ale to involve you and your daughter: A question to think about would be…what does “involve deeply” mean to you? And how would you know when he is deeply involved? what does deeply involved look like? It’s normal for a stepmom or stepmom-to-be to feel like an outsider. According to stepfamily research, on average it takes 4 to 7 years for a stepfamily to actually function and feel like a family.
And to your other concern about how will you know if he’s using you: I encourage you to look at your lived experience with him. Do you have the information and experience with him to make the determinations that you want to make? Examine whether your concerns about being used are based on fact and real experience with him or based on your “baggage”. I go into this more in my guide.
Another question you had is whether ambiguity is a given at this time in a relationship. I would say not necessarily. Some people are more forthright and clear about their readiness for a relationship and what they want in a relationship, others are not. What makes for an ambiguous situation is not knowing what the next step is. We’re lacking information to make a decision.
When it gets frustrating is when we rely on the other person to give us the information that we need. But what if they don’t know when they’ll be ready? What if they don’t know what they want? What then? Then, we have to base our decisions on the information that we do have and the information from our own knowing: our relationship needs and requirements.
So “should” you stay or go? Are you putting too much pressure on him? Is it right for you to do this, to ask for what you want, to ask where this is going?
It is totally fair to ask at this point, I think. (Actually, I take the approach that it’s totally fair to ask at anytime…because the sooner you get the information you need, the sooner you can decide whether you want to stay together or whether you’re wasting your time) If you’ve been dating a while, sleeping together, met his kids, exchanged I love yous…and you want to know what the next step is…I think it’s totally fair to ask the questions to help you figure out what the next step is. Have you talked to each other about your individual life visions? what is your vision for you and your family? does he want to remarry? do your visions align with each other? What do you personally need to know in order to know whether you want to stay or go?
But also know that he might not be ready or available to give you what you want or need. Or he might not know what his next step is. And so whether you stay or go is completely up to you. I invite you to think about: What are your needs and requirements in order for a relationship to be fulfilling for you? And if some of your needs are not being met, are you willing to go for some time without those needs being met or are you not willing to? It’s a deeply personal decision and assessment.
I hope this helps! I know it’s hard. But remember, you’re always at choice…so what choices are you willing or want to make?
All the best,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, Melissa. It certainly gave me a lot to think about. I realized that as much as I love and care about this man, I know deep down that he’s just not ready for a relationship. We spoke about it and he confirmed that even though he loves being with me, he really does need to take some time to work through things on his own. We both acknowledged that we have something very special between us and that we are both open to exploring a relationship at a later time, when we’re both ready.
Before this experience, I really thought that I was 100 percent ready for a relationship, but going through this with him made me realize that I, too, still have baggage that I need to sort through before I can have a healthy attachment in a relationship. So I plan to take time for myself to do that so I can be ready when my next relationship comes around.
I do hope that he and I reconnect, but I’m trying really hard not to make that my focus at this time. I am wondering, however, if you know of any success stories of couples taking time apart and coming back together after they’ve each worked on their own stuff for a while? Maybe that would help me put things into better perspective. At the end of the day, I feel that we are very compatible on so many levels and that if we were both in a good place, that we could have a great relationship.
Thanks again, Melissa! I look forward to continuing to read your blog!
Melissa Josue says
You’re so welcome! I know it’s frustrating and difficult when we realize that we still have some things to work through in order to be ready for a relationship. But I really acknowledge you for your awareness. Being aware of our own readiness and taking conscious action to identify our vision, values, relationship requirements, needs and anything that could interfere with our relationship success…is really the foundation for setting yourself up for long-term relationship success.
I do know of a success story. A couple that I know of really differed on politics and child-rearing and they were at different places in their careers so they broke it off and didn’t reconnect until some years later. But both had grown a lot in their time apart. They gave it another try and it worked out! They went on to get married and have three kids! Readiness and compatibility really counts for a lot in terms of predicting relationship success and happiness. When they reconnected, I think at that point in their life they were both really ready and when they both started to date again they found that they were still very compatible (When people grow, they naturally change so testing for compatibility again and taking time to date each other again and making sure that they still meet your needs and requirements when you reconnect is an important step).
Anyway, I’m so glad it was helpful! On your note about readiness, I actually have a relationship readiness quiz which can help you assess your readiness for a committed relationship. After taking the quiz, you’ll be able to see which areas need improvement and which items could most interfere with the success of your next relationship. It assesses key areas such as your life vision, values, relationship requirements, your needs, relationship history and patterns, emotional issues, communication, support community, lifestyle, and dating patterns. If you’re interested in taking this quiz, feel free to email me directly at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to send it over to you. 🙂
All the best,
He Says He’s Not Ready for Relationship. Now What? — Dating a Divorced Man Support says
[…] I mentioned in my article, How to Avoid Being the Rebound Woman, in most cases he’s not aware of what he wants or fully aware of his readiness for a long-term […]
I just found your page and would really like some advice for my situation.
I’d say it is different of what you talk about, in a way that the guy I was with wasn’t divorced (around 1-2 months out of relationship that lasted 1 and half year) a he broke up with me. So I’m not even sure whether there is something I can do, or get your insight about.
But I just need to give it a try. See I met this guy at work, and we’ve been kind of together for 2 months. We didn’t really date, it was more about texting, we only met 3 times. I never realised I could be his rebound. He told me he didn’t want a relationship, saying I would dump him after year, and talking about issues he had to deal with. But he made it sound that in time it might change..
I didn’t like that situation much, but wasn’t able to let him go. Did my best to give him time and space..but after 1 and half month he started becoming distant..until he ended it. He gave me the beautiful it’s not you, it’s me, and that he needs time to deal with problems in his life and doesn’t want me to deal with that. Since then we haven’t spoken, it’s been a month.
Everyone tells me I need to move on, and I’m trying. But I can’t shake the feeling we could be great together (even though he’s 30 and I’m 23) if we had a real shot. He never let me to really get to know him, and it is only now I really see he was not emotionelly ready and it might not be about me. It is really difficult not to take it personally when somenone says they don’t want relationship.
So you think I’m crazy to think I could get him back and have a real, meaningful relationship with him?
Thank you so much for any reaction..
Melissa Josue says
Hi Nina, Thank you so much for reaching out. I know that is difficult…when you fall in love and then he pulls away. Unfortunately, it’s very common.
You’re right in that he wasn’t ready for a relationship; he has other issues in his life that were taking up his time and energy and thus unable to really be emotionally/physically present to a new relationship.
I know it hurts to be told “it’s not you, it’s me,” but he’s actually doing you a favor by not insisting you stay in a relationship with him when he can’t give your relationship the nurturing and attention that it deserves.
I don’t think there would be any harm in staying in touch with him. But trying to have a romantic relationship with someone who isn’t ready for one is going to be really painful for you because you will likely end up not getting your needs met.
I would wait until he has resolved whatever issues he is dealing with right now before trying to pursue him.
Hope this helps!
Thank you sooo much for the response!
It’s for the first time in forever I feel like someone understands what I’m going through and why it is so difficult for me to move on. Usually they just tell me to forget about him and move on, because I deserve better and it wasn’t meant to be..but that really doesn’t help. I think that after a normal, longer relationship you at least know why it failed..what you or he did wrong and maybe you can see you were not right for each other..but in this case I can’t do that. It feels like it was all about bad
timing, and how are you supposed to deal with that.
For weeks I’ve been asking myself why I wasn’t good enough for him, and when I realised I might have been a rebound..the horror that he just used me to move on..two worst feelings I ever encountered. I felt completely worthless. But it also motivated me to change myself a little..and I filled my life with activities (so that I want put all of my energy only to relationship again) and I’m trying to become ”the best version of myself” so at least something good came out of it.
For a long time I also regretted so much not acting different when we were still together, I would have given him all the space in the world, never mention that I wanted a relationship, just to prevent him from breaking up with me. I wish so much I’ve read your page back then! But maybe it’s better for him to move on on his own. Now I know better, and I want to give him the space, and let him to deal with things in his life. I think I became more patient person in last weeks (getting so many activities helped) in a way.
The problem is..I’m willing to wait for months for him to be ready..I have stuff going on, I’m not putting my life on hold and just just sit around waiting for him. I want to talk to him again, even in just a friendly way. But I don’t want to be his friend..I want for him to want me when he’s ready, The idea he’ll move on and date someone else, someone new (I don’t think he would get back to his ex, she dumped him because she wanted family, and he doesn’t want it, at least now) is terrifying! All I wish for is, that one day (preferebly months, not years) from now he’ll want to be with me, he won’t look for someone new. But what to do about it? I feel like I have to do something for that to happen..I don’t want to pursue him, definitely not know..I want him to pursue me, when he’s ready.
So I guess I wish for something I have no power over..
And once again, thank you for your advice and ”listening” to me. It honestly helped a lot and for that I’m really grateful to you.
Melissa Josue says
You’re so welcome, Nina! I’m so glad it was helpful to you.
We often blame ourselves when relationships don’t work out and tell ourselves that we should have done this or should have done that. But what if it was really about readiness and compatibility? What if you were just being yourself and he wasn’t ready or he wasn’t quite the right fit in terms of compatibility to fully appreciate who you truly are?
Changing who we are or denying parts of our self in order to try and get someone to love and accept us is the worst thing we can do for our long-term relationship happiness because then the person we’re trying to attract falls in love with the image we’re creating of ourselves but not who we truly are….and it’s ultimately painful and exhausting for our sense of self; we end up feeling worthless if we’re rejected.
I really acknowledge you for focusing on YOU and reconnecting with doing things that you love. That is so important for building a healthy relationship with yourself and, as you said, the best version of yourself…which, in turn, will help you attract someone (maybe him, if he’s ready) who really celebrates who you are.
All the best,
I found your blog, and i think might be helpful in my situation right now. I have a workmate who eventually became part of my group and become close friends, We sometimes hang out as a group and he usually opens up the rough times he is going through with his current relationship, He says that although they live in together, they sleep on separate rooms, that he cant even hold her girl friends hand, and he doesn’t say I love you to her for a year now not unless the GF asks for it and that he doesn’t see her in her future. As friends we were all telling him not to waste his time if thats the case, to be fair to his girlfriend too. He seemed to be falling out of love, but he is struggling to exit the relationship as he says the girl friend loves him more than what he deserves and does a lot for him, he owes her and cant break her heart. So i knew all his relationship stories just before I got to be closer to him after attending My sister and His brother’s wedding. Everyone knew we were friends even before so we didn’t mind dancing drinking and enjoying the party together. Her girl was there but, looks like he enjoyed my company than hers. Long story short our friendship developed to something more closer. We were texting a lot for a month after the wedding, and eventually planned on meeting each other to give it a try cause I know he still on a relationship but not in a good shape, he told me like 2 times while we’re seeing that they’re not together anymore but i dont think theres was ever a formal closure, so i didn’t really wanted to interrogate him cause knowing his story i thought he wound finish his business with his GF eventually i tried to be patient and understanding during the process. all our meet ups were a click, we really get a long on any situation, and he said he has not have this kind of affection and enjoyment for a long time, he says that being with me he sees himself back and very comfortable with me, he says its so easy to love me and he feels something for me more than I know.. and he really does a lot of effort going out of his way and gives gifts to me. He said e was never that thoughtful to his current and pasts, the GF knew he had gifts for me for holidays, and he said he did not even thought of buying one for the girlfriend, they were in a lot of argument when the GF knew he we were close but he told me he needed to deny it as he didn’t want her to think anything bad about me and might spread rumors. They still have a lot of unfinished business which i tried to understand but was never easy, sometimes i had to cry and he knows , cause they have to attend their best friends occasions out of town with a group though, the Gf still calls him for emergencies. But he never failed to update me with all this. But when he starteted to see me getting sad and miserable he started telling me that, Its not me, its him, he doesnt want to put me with his misery and he just want me to be happy.. he said he misses me a thinks of me a lot but it is not really easy for him to leave the GF just like that, He said i deserve some one better than him and he says that if theres something for us it will just come in our way in the right time. But I love him already, i have trusted what we have shared cause i knew what he was going through his relationship even before we got close, so i know it was something real. I am just confused if he used me? which is like a hard pill to swallow. I am trying to move on but it is really hard to do. And I cant deny that i still want him, I blocked him on all social media so i wont see his whereabouts or what will the GF will posts as part of moving on, but he messages me once in awhile and he asked me why i needed to blocked him, I try not to reply for now and keep my focus and not get distracted. But its never easy. I got hurt, I cried, I hoped for something better between us, but I just dont know what to do now since he is not still making up his minds. bUt im still hoping something for us. I knew what we had was different and has a great potential.
Thank you in advance Melissa.
Melissa Josue says
Hi Anna, Thanks for reaching out. I’m so glad you find the blog helpful! I feel your concern. I know this is a really tough thing to be going through because you love him.
It sounds like, though, from the mixed messages that he is giving that he is not yet ready for a new relationship and not quite over his previous relationship. From what you described, it sounds like he feels responsible to her and that they have a lot of unfinished business. And so that is interfering with his ability to be fully present to a new relationship.
Is he using you? If he’s being really honest with you about where he is at in terms of his relationship readiness, and he’s not insisting on an unfair arrangement (where, for instance, you stay together but he gets to remain emotionally unavailable while he resolves his previous relationship and figures out what he really wants) it does not sound like he is using you. He’s not deceiving you. He’s telling you exactly where he stands, but he left it up to you whether you want to stay in the relationship or not.
Also, when he says that “you deserve better,” he’s basically admitting and resigning himself to the fact that he can’t meet your needs right now. So when he says “you deserve better,” he is saying “I can’t give you the relationship that you want.”
Will you work out in the future? Maybe. But not while he still has a lot of unfinished business. If you stay in a relationship that’s not meeting your needs, you will burn out.
I really acknowledge you for focusing on you and focusing on self-care. I know that it not easy when you have to consciousness block him and consciously avoid contact with him. But avoiding contact will help you move on and focusing on you and your needs and your own self-care will help you move on as well. It’s not easy to take a stand for what we really want. But when you have the courage to do that, when you have the courage to not settle, you prioritize your long-term success and happiness over short-term discomfort.
I hope this helps provide some guidance!
All the best,
So here is my story. I met this great man on a dating site. From the first email he was ready to take me out. Due to the holidays and schedules it took a week for that first date and man what a date. I think I almost fell for him then. He was always texting me first, pursuing me ardently and wanted to see me every day. Yes we were intimate pretty quickly and both realized we broke some rules but it just felt right. After only a week and a half of dating he asked me to go away for the weekend. We did and had a great time up until the last day there, he pulled away, didn’t show any physical affection at all and was very quiet on the car ride home. I thought maybe he was done with me, but then he texted me everyday as always, good morning etc. But he never mentioned seeing me again. I did ask if he was ok and he just said work was crazy and he was tired. So finally he asked if he could come over one night and he got there, we talked but still no affection. So then he said, you are going to hate me. I was like ok here we go. then he told me that he changed his mind and he does want kids. Back story, I am 47 with an 18 yo son and he is 39, no children and divorce was final the day before he broke up with me.
on our first date I told him if he wanted kids he needed to find someone else because I was done. He said he had accepted that he wouldn’t be blessed with children. (his exwife had three miscarriages and gave up) He told me that he could see himself wanting a relationship with me and falling in love with me, but it wouldn’t be fair. So I cried which I thought was crazy, how could someone who had been in my life only 3 weeks do so much to my emotions. We hugged and kissed and I asked about being friends and he said not a good idea because he wouldn’t be able to move on…but to text him if I ever need to bounce anything off him or vent etc??? Anyway today it has been a week and while I am accepting it there are so many things I want to ask him. My best friend and my brother think that he just didn’t want a relationship and that is why he ended it. Or that I was just a booty call (course I don’t know many men that spend 600 on hotels etc for a weekend away with a booty call). I want to text him and just say …is that really the reason? I miss him and just not sure how to move past it. Will he ever come back maybe , but I know I cant hold on to that or I will never move on…
Melissa Josue says
Hi Caroline, Thanks for reaching out. Ugh, I hear ya. That is so frustrating and heartbreaking when you have a wonderful connection to somebody and then they suddenly pull away and start giving mixed messages.
It is totally normal to feel what you’re feeling and normal to miss him. You had a connection. Also, since you’ve slept together; sex releases bonding hormones.
In my articles I talk a lot about requirements and how important they are for a relationship to work long term. And while it does hurt to hear this from him after all that you’ve shared with each other, it was to your benefit that he voiced his realization about the vision that he wants for his life (about wanting to become a dad someday)… because that’s one of the main reasons that couples end up divorcing….they don’t feel like they can live their vision. And it’s better to know about that way earlier in the relationship than after you have gone into even deeper levels of commitment. (I go into this more in my articles about Is it going to work out? and Is he the one?)
And I agree that if you want to move on, it’s best to not contact each other for a while, at least a couple of months. So that you can heal from the breakup and not rehash wounds. It will be much easier to move on that way.
Another common question that I get is “was he just using me?” My take on this is…it takes a lot of energy to use people. If he just wanted a booty call, I can think of simpler, easier and maybe cheaper ways of achieving that, right? So, I believe the connection was real. It’s just that the unfortunate part was, once you guys got to know each other, and once he started to think more seriously about the possibility of a future together, he realized that this scenarios wouldn’t support his vision nor your vision. Your vision is that you are done having kids. You have a right to live the life that you really want (as does he).
And while your visions didn’t align in this relationship, and saying goodbye is painful, it also frees you to be available for someone who does align with your vision.
I also believe that everything happens for a reason. we don’t meet people by accident or for no good reason.
I believe all relationships, even if some are painful, bless us in some way. Sometimes it’s not always apparent. And maybe we don’t see the meaning in it until years later.
But if this experience shifted you in a way that made you grow as a person, I would call that a blessing. 🙂
I hope this is helpful!
All the best,
Thanks Melissa, what you said helps, still struggling but with time I am sure I will be fine. I guess my issue is that he is almost 40..what are his guarantees that he will meet someone date them a year, get married and then have kids. it could take him years to find someone or he could meet someone get married and they aren’t able to conceive. I know men can have children at a much older age but it still isn’t ideal. It is very hard not to contact him but I wont…I guess it was just the finality of it. like there is no hope he will come back to me…
Melissa Josue says
Hi Caroline, I’m so glad it’s helpful to you. I hear you. It does take time; but it’s normal what you are feeling. After investing our heart in a relationship, we don’t just turn off when the relationship ends, it’s a process.
Sure, it is possible, but as you said…there are not guarantees. I know people who got married after four weeks of dating. And I know people who dated for seven years before marrying. To each his own.
It is heard when you really want to connect with him. What I encourage people to do who are in this situation is to really focus on their own self-care and focus not on the loss, but the gain and the bigger vision of the life and relationship that you really want. It hurts to lose someone with whom we’re so deeply connected, but if they are not a good fit in an area that is a requirement for either of you (like wanting/not wanting kids), the relationship will not last anyway (I talk more about this in my article about how to decide is you should make a commitment to him).
Sure, this relationship is ending, but what is also happening is you’re freeing yourself to be available for a partner who is aligned with the vision that you really want, and you’re prioritizing long-term happiness over short-term pain.
I hope this help provide some guidance!
All the best,
Wow this was a really good post. I’m over my former partner but am healing from the lingering hurt. Ugh. Lol Almost a year later, I met someone again and we hit it off better this time. It seemed we both we were in a better place to receive one another. After hanging out so much, they told me they liked me and I said I do too.
While at my place, I found out they were cutting things off with someone else (in my home!) but previously they said they were single and things had ended. They were visibly distraught and I wondered if the only reason they wanted to reconnect was to fill this void since the other person moved away. Also this other person was someone I know of but we followed each other on social media — she’s very transparent and was venting about someone who wanted a monogamous relationship and felt this person should’ve been honest. Mind you all of this came after I found out the person lied. Things started adding up. Then they said they never truly ended things and the other person thought they were still involved with one another.
This person said they never had a (real) relationship, was emotionally unavailable and never truly ended things. I have been in a few long term relationships and ended things. Since I care about this person, I asked “what have you done to heal besides be around me.” They told me they’re fine and that they’re relieved things are officially over between them and the other person. Despite me telling them I just want to be friends and I’m not ready for a relationship (for self-care), they’ve been vocal about their feelings and now have made subtle “warnings” about getting with them while I still can. I don’t want to keep hurting their feelings with telling them I’m not there — aside from the hiccup I feel they’re moving too fast. I’m creating space between us and trying to set boundaries.
Melissa Josue says
Hi healingwoman, thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your story. I’m so glad this article was helpful to you. I hear you, sometimes it’s not always clear whether someone is over their ex or if they’re ready for a relationship. I really acknowledge you for standing in your truth and going at the pace that feels right for you, including honoring your boundaries.
And to your mention of healing from a lingering hurt…I actually just launched a class on Writing Your Way from Heartbreak to Healing. We start in a couple of weeks! You can see if it interests you. 🙂
All the best,
I wanted to get your input on my relationship. My now ex boyfriend broke up with me last week. He has been separated from his wife since November of 2017 and officially filed for divorce this past January pf 2018. We met in May of 2018 through some friends and really hit it off fast and hit the ground running do fast with our relationship. Probably way too fast. We were very connected from the get go and I do feel like he genuinely really loved me…although he actually never told me he loved me. That was one of the things we both had a harder time saying to one another but he would say things during conversations like “I know Im in love with someone when money doesn’t matter anymore”. Well I moved into his house that he bought after his separation in late September of 2018. We had a great 5 months of living together for the most part. We got along really well, did plenty of activities together and tried to respect one anothers need for space to do our own activities and time with other people. When he filed for divorce I told him I thought it would be good for him to see a counselor to sort through his divorce issues….he literally came home from counseling and broke up with me. He said the counselor asked a lot of good questions that made him think a lot. Then he grappled with reasons of why we shouldn’t be together such as he wasn’t certain if for how much he liked and cared about me if that could sustain us long term and he wanted to be certain, he also said he needed to figure himself out and he had been running away from his faith for over a year (he was married to a pastors daughter) and left the church and had stopped going but grew up heavily within his faith. Overall I think he just needs time and space so I moved out and we split the things we owned together. In his mind even with his strong faith he had told himself he was going to live with the next person he married before he married them because he did not want to make the same mistake again. I think the emotions he did not deal with that I helped distract him from were now all seeping over the edge of the cup and he really just had to realize that he has to deal with them. anyways, I am practicing no contact with him… I cant help but feel like he will reach out to me within 2 months or so but I also dont want to sit around and wait for it to happen or be disappointed when he doesn’t reach out. Iv read so much about getting your ex back through no contact but I also have read that it just takes so long for a man going through a divorce to heal, which is understandable. I feel like I love and miss him so much and I really want to give this a second chance if I can but I am not going to be the one to initiate it. I want to make sure that if he comes back to me it is without any effort or push on my part. Do you think 2 months is enough time to establish that if he doesn’t reach out then ultimately he has just moved on completely or do you think it will take longer for him to reach out even after no contact because he is going through a divorce as well?
Melissa Josue says
Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for reaching out. This is a really great question. First of all, I’m so sorry about your breakup. I know breakups are hard, especially when you’ve been living together.
My gut (and experience) is that it will take longer. Depending on how long they were married…and whether it’s an amicable or contentious divorce…he’s going to be occupied both emotionally and mentally with going through this divorce…so much so that it will very likely detract from trying to grow a romance with you. And then even after the divorce, there’s still the emotional healing on his end that needs to takes place before he can really move on from his divorce and be ready for a new relationship. In this phase, he is making sense of what happened, figuring out what to do next, etc. It’s a very tumultuous time.
So you’re on the right track by letting him take care of what he needs to take care of. I know it’s hard, but not being involved is the best thing that you can do to your relationship if it’s meant to be in the future, because if you try to grow a romance with him while he’s going through all this, it’s like trying to build a house during an earthquake.
I really acknowledge you for having the courage to go no contact. I know that is hard, especially when you really miss him. But don’t wait for him as in put off your life to see if he comes around or whether he will come back. Continue to take care of yourself and engage in activities that make you feel good and fill your soul. Reconnect with your inner Goddess so that when/if he does want to reconnect, you’re in the heartspace to reconnect without any resentment.
I hope this helps provide some guidance!
Hi Melissa! 3 years ago I met this amazing guy. I was single for a very long time and when I met him it was real love, connection was real. On his dating profile it said that he is divorced. When we started communicating I wasn’t 100% sure whats going on, I was totally naive that he is divorced and healed and ready to have a full time real deep relationsip. He didnt told me that he was still just separated, when I met him in person he was separated just recently I am guessing for 3, 4 months, he already moved out to his own place. When I found out he is separated he was claiming that doesnt mean anything, that he doesnt feel nothing towards his wife. He cant or is not willing to face his ex-wife with finalization, he was constantly promising that he will finalize it, even till this day, that he is aware that he needs to do this. One thing I also dont understand his ex-wife is living together with someone now for 4 years, why doesnt she want to finalize this divorce? Is it a form of control, manipulation? Apparently she told him that she doesnt want to get married with the man she is living with now, he told her that he wants to finalize it, and she agreed to it. For the last 8 months I have moved to his place and it has been pure hell for me. This man gives me promises that he will finalize his divorce, nothing happens. He cant commit, I am completely heartbroken and drained. He is claiming now that he is ready to commit, but how? Where are the results? I dont see any! I am seriously thinking to buy plane ticket to go back home. My family and friends are worried about me and are helping me to get back home. I am 36 and I totally wasted 3 years. This man is 50 has two teenage kids and still a wife. What should I do Melissa? I already gave this man 3 years and I am living now with him for almost a year. Is it even worth trying, in my heart I cant take it anymore, we are also not intimate anymore for the last 5 months because emotionally I cant open anymore because I cant get more hurt that I already am.
I dont understand why people do this? If you are emotionally so destroyed why dont people like this leave us single people alone? Why cant they heal first and than move on and look for relationships? When I broke up with someone and was in pain, my first thought was never Ohh I want to start a new relationship. I had to heal first. I dont understand the selfishness of these type of people. Than no wonder they are divorced if they are so selfish on the first place.
Melissa thanks so much for this. I find your blog to be so helpful. I have recently walked away from a man who just separated from his wife. She left him, and only 2 weeks later we met. I knew somehow it was not meant to last, it was intense and somehow i believed we could remain friends. He love bombed me, and i felt it was too much and he couldn’t possibly be ready for a relationship so i decided to walk away. Turns out he was seeing someone else at the same time, and just a couple of weeks later he has a girlfriend. He actually contacted me to inform me of this and well besides being angry at the fact that he was lying to me it makes me sad that he moved on so quickly. i really liked him and believed he needed time but obviously he was looking for a third wife..