Rebound or Real?

Six years ago I met my best friend. He was in a brand new relationship and I was dating around, a few months later I entered my own relationship. About a year ago, my relationship ended. About 4 months ago, his relationship ended. So to talk it to death, we both just got out of 5+ year things.

Throughout the past 6 years we have been close, talking at least a little almost every day and generally being good supports for each other, through good and bad. When my relationship ended and through the past year when I was very unhappy, he is who I turned to to vent my frustrations and everything. I was always who he came to when he needed advice or relationship help, etc. We were just great friends, truly.

Aside from like two or three isolated incidents, we never even really joked about dating each other. It really was platonic.

A few months ago when his relationship fell apart, I of course was right there for him. The first day it happened I helped him move out, and the following weekend I dragged him out with my friends to help distract him. It stayed very platonic while he processed his hurt and I continued to date other people.

About two months ago we slept together and now we’re (for all intents and purposes) in a relationship. It all happened very gradually and smoothly, and felt natural. He’s very good to me, and I him, and I see a lot for us in the future.

But. I have a couple of hang ups.

For one, he still talks to his ex girlfriend. This is a girl who he lived with, who manipulated him and made him compromise on everything, who eventually said she wasn’t getting enough from the relationship and ended up kissing a coworker and asking my friend for space, then immediately sleeping with the coworker the day after my friend moved out. This is a girl he had a six year relationship/friendship with, but who hurt him and cheated on him and never appreciated him. I understand it’s hard to sever all ties after 6 years, and that it’s only been a few months since this happened to them, but I don’t understand how he could want someone who treated him that way to stay in his life.

It makes me worry that I’m just a rebound or replacement. Is he with me because I was there when he needed someone? Is he with me out of habit? Did we fall into a routine by simply replacing our missing pieces with each other? OR, did we get together so quickly because maybe this is how it was supposed to be all along? Did we just ignore all the signs until we were both available to each other?

I want to believe that it’s the latter; that we were just always bound to happen. We eventually got here and we’re both happy. He has told me how glad he is now that all the stuff happened in both of our other relationships, because the result is that we’re together now.

I truly am happy with him but I want to be cautious still. He’s still so fresh from his breakup, and I’m at an age where anyone I commit to is someone I can see a long future with. I worry about our timing and whether or not one or both of us may not really be ready for a deep commitment.

I’m a practical Patty and an over-thinker, but I think my worries are smart here. I don’t know. What do you guys think?

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5 thoughts on “Rebound or Real?

  1. Dennis Hong says:

    [Under any other circumstance, I’d say this is a pretty easy answer: rebound. If a guy you’re seeing is always talking about his ex, that’s a pretty big red flag.

    But here’s the problem now: this guy has always talked to you about his relationship issues. So in this case, he might just be doing what he’s already used to doing. This means you’re now playing the double-role of being both the best friend and the girlfriend. And of course, that complicates things.

    But the way I see it, there’s a positive flip-side to your situation: I personally believe that the one we end up with should be both a lover and a best friend. For me, I know I’m serious about someone when she’s the first person I want to brag to when I’ve had a great day… and also the first person I look for sympathy from when I’ve had a rough day.

    Well, you’ve been this person for him for the past six years. For many guys, talking about relationships is hard. So if he’s learned to do that with you, he may not be willing — or able — to look to someone else now. Of course, that he’s talking to you about his ex makes it kind of weird for you, but really, what can you expect from him? So, I don’t necessarily think it’s a red flag in your case that he talks about his ex to you.

    At the same time, I think you should pay attention to how or how much he talks about his ex, as you didn’t really specify. Does he mention her every now and then when he needs a shoulder to lean on? Does he try to stay positive about moving on? Or is he constantly dwelling in the past and complaining about her and vilifying her in every way possible?

    I mean, I get that she did some pretty horrible things to him, so he’s going to need time to heal. But that’s why you should consider whether or not he’s ready to heal. And the way he talks about her will be a big clue to that.

    Besides, if you pay attention to how he deals with adversity, I think that will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not he’s someone who would be good for you long-term. So… yeah, use this to your advantage. 🙂

    Either way, I don’t think there’s a simple answer here, and I don’t think anyone on the internet will know for certain. I’d say to give it a shot, and just be cautious. But if you’re practical and an over-thinker, well, hopefully, you already are being cautious.

    Good luck, though. And as someone who has… well, had some experience crossing the line between friendship and sex, I’d love to hear back from you on how it goes.

    • EricaSwagger says:

      [He actually doesn’t talk about her that much at all. When it comes up, sure, but I think he tires very hard not to talk about it because he wants to move on and also he knows it’s weird for me now that we’re together.

      I’m mostly concerned that he talks TO her. They’re too friendly IMO. She texts him about his sports team, texts him pictures of the cat they had together, she bought him some new things to furnish his new apartment because he had left his other stuff (dishes, silverware, deck chairs) at the apartment they shared. It’s friendly and civil on the surface but I know she’s trying to keep him in her life. I think that’s really selfish because she’s the one who broke things off.

      He says he doesn’t want anything from her and that he’s glad for what happened now. He makes an effort not to talk to her while he’s with me, but I know they are in contact most days, she initiates it, and I know she wants him back. I’m not sure if he actually wants to keep her in his life, or if it’s just out of habit, or if he does want to cut ties but he’s just too nice to shut her out.

      I always think a clean break is the best way to go so seeing him still in touch with her really just makes my stomach turn.

    • Dennis Hong says:

      [Oops, my bad. I misread that he talks *about* his ex, rather than *to* his ex.

      I totally understand that you prefer a clean break. I’m one of those guys who’s done both in the past, and honestly, I’m still not sure which is the best. When it’s a five-year+ relationship, it’s hard to cut all ties completely. I know that’s not how you would handle it, but if that’s how he handles it, then I think you have to respect him for it — as long as you trust him.

      And to me, that’s what this all comes down to: trust. Do you believe him when he says that he wants nothing to do with her? And hat he does want to be with you?

      If you’re not sure, then bring it up with him. I mean, don’t be confrontational about it — don’t say, “You need to stop talking to your ex!” Because that won’t be productive.

      Instead, be honest and say, “Hey, I know it’s hard to make a clean break after 5+ years, but I just want to be upfront with you and let you know that it does make me feel awkward that you still talk to your ex. I do trust you, and I don’t expect you to cut all ties completely. But hopefully, you see where I’m coming from. And yeah, if every now and then, you could help reassure me that you do want to be with me, that would be awesome.”

      I think if you say something like that, you’ll be able to communicate your doubts without coming across as being needy or manipulative. And then, I think all you can do is wait and see how he responds:

      If he cares about you, then hopefully, he’ll put you first and at least make an effort to start cutting the ties (though it sounds like he already is making that effort). Just don’t expect it to happen overnight, of course.

      If deep down, he still wants to be with her, and you are in fact a rebound, then he’ll probably be unwilling to even consider cutting contact.

      So I think there’s your answer: Does it seem like he’s at least trying to fade her out of his life (even if it’s going more slowly than you’d like)? Or is he making no effort at all to move on and be with you?

    • Dennis Hong says:

      [Oh, and yes, I agree that it’s pretty selfish of her to keep initiating contact. It could be that she wants him back, but she could also be doing it as a way to feel less guilty about what she did to him. For what it’s worth, here’s an article I wrote that addresses that:

      http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-08-07/guy-talk-why-i%e2%80%99ll-act-like-a-jerk-if-i-break-up-with-you/

      Either way, I don’t think it’s productive for you to judge her actions and think too much about what she may or may not want. I think you’re better off focusing on you and him, because you’re probably never going to get the answer to why she’s doing what she’s doing, anyway.

      For what it’s worth, we get a lot of blurbs at LemonVibe where red flags are just flying everywhere. And honestly, I’m detecting very little semaphore from yours. So I’m optimistic for you. 🙂

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