There are so many things that stand in our way in the quest for love that it's an absolute miracle we manage to keep populating the planet.
Consider: our unrealistic expectations, monstrous insecurities, unwillingness to approach strangers online or in person, etc. etc. etc. Then one day, you meet someone and none of the ten thousand possible things that could possibly go wrong go wrong. I like her. She likes me. The world's suddenly alive with birdsong and gratis flutes of Prosecco. Everything, it seems, is going really well.
Until the catch: One of you admits to being fresh off a breakup.
Your friends, family and favorite lifestyle publications form a collective chorus of "shut it down," because you're not in a fledgling relationship. You're in a rebound
So, whether it's you or the other person who's just come off a bad or momentous breakup, you avoid getting close because you don't want anybody to get hurt and, ultimately, you return to your recurring role of "The Only Single Diner at Benihana."
It's time we looked at whether or not the "rebound relationship" is actually just a "relationship." I'm of the opinion that it's hard enough to find somebody you really like, and too many good things get sabotaged by the poisonous term. And frankly, I really like Benihana and I want to be able to go there without having to bring a book. (It's actually a fire hazard.)The Problem of Definition
What is a rebound? This seems like an easy question to answer until you actually stop and think about it. The strictest interpretation of the term states that rebounding is dating after a significant relationship has been over for less than six months (or longer in the case of a dissolved marriage, which requires additional time). Another commonly accepted fact: One or both of the parties involved in this rebound relationship is/are delusional, on some level.
If you've really, truly just broken up with somebody serious and you've already found somebody else you'd like to be serious with, consider this -- you may be one of those serial daters who just can't stay single. These people, to me, are like the Electoral College, if the Electoral College were made up of unicorns -- as in, I don't understand them and I kind of doubt their authenticity.
In my opinion, the classic rebound relationship -- the one doomed by residual wreckage of a previous relationship -- is actually rarer than we think. Most relationships don't end without both parties having some kind of emotion about it, and it doesn't mean we can't build something vital and important and different with someone else. A real rebound relationship shouldn't be defined by whether or not a person was damaged by her last relationship, but where she's not far enough along in recovering from it -- i.e., still in love with an ex (or still very, very bitter at an ex).
The Problem of Bad Timing
Often, when we're lucky enough to get something we really want, we get it (or her, or him) at the wrong time, in the wrong place, often in the form of the wrong person.
You're coming out of something that blew up in your face and you have no intention of dating anyone for a while and -- lo and behold -- you meet someone at a party that you wore your "eff it" pants to. Your friends are all "You need to slow down" and you know they could be right, but diving into something new just feels right.
Or you meet someone who's finalizing a divorce and had "no intentions of dating anyone," but you came along. All your friends are telling you that this person was married only a few months ago and "You really
need to slow down" and should absolutely not be headed out for Filipino food even though, statistically speaking, you're the only two people on Earth who actually like Filipino food, including all 89 million Filipinos.
The point? The timing is rarely right. It doesn't mean that the two of you might not be right for each other. We apply rules and labels to things in an effort to avoid pain, but most good relationships, at the beginning, require some faith and risk. If you're waiting to meet someone in a situation where neither of you has any baggage, you should also wait for them to appear at your door astride one of those Electoral College unicorns.
The Real "Rebound" Hurdles
The generally accepted rule that people who meet soon after breakups are just rebounding treats all breakups as equal. To wit: They are not.
The new person you're with is not the old person you were with, just like you aren't your boyfriend's crazy ex-girlfriend. For a relationship that comes quickly on the heels of a bad one to work, both of you have to understand and accept this. I'd say that this kind of issue is the clear make-or-break for whether or not the two of you have something that can actually work.
Remember: As much as they may seem like them at times, our exes are not terminal diseases. Don't let them keep you from going out with somebody you might actually like.
Worst-case scenario: You try it, it fails and -- trust me on this -- there is always room at Benihana for one more.
[Redacted] Guy is the resident single guy writer at Lemondrop. That thing with the onion volcano gets him every time.
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