Unlike many other divorce and relationship experts, I don't believe that it's necessary to abstain from all relationships until you have emotionally recovered from your divorce. Instead, I recommend that divorcees jump headfirst into a rebound relationship.
Before you disagree with my statement, it's important to recognize that I am using the word "relationship" loosely in this recommendation. I am in no way implying that divorcees should jump into committed, long-term, monogamous relationships. In my definition, rebound relationships could take many forms: a monogamous relationship between two people who agree that it won't be long-term, or for others, many short-term non-monogamous relationships. In short, the only requirement in my mind for a "relationship" to qualify as a rebound is the lack of intent to create a long-term, lasting partnership.
So without further ado, here are my five (very convincing!) reasons to have a rebound relationship right now.
5. You're probably not ready for a real long-term, committed relationship.
I have spoken to many people mid-divorce who have already chosen (in their own minds or otherwise) a new dating partner before their papers are even signed. They believe that as soon as their divorce is finalized, they will be ready to move onto a new long-term, committed, healthy relationship. I can tell you that even though you may want a rebound relationship to be something real with long-term potential, it very rarely will be. Trust me, I've tried on multiple occasions and it never ends well.
Before entering into another long-term relationship, it's important to take time to figure out what went wrong in your marriage and how you can address and prevent those issues in future relationships. Divorcees need to go through the very painful healing process. Before the healing is well underway, most people will not be able to commit properly to another person and a new relationship; hence, my suggestion to enjoy a rebound relationship, which offers fun, companionship and excitement, without the long-term commitment.
4. It's fun.
3. It can make the transition between marriage and single life easier.
There is a big caveat with this reason: rebound relationships are only healthy if both parties go into the relationship knowing exactly the boundaries and intent of the relationship. This is the only way for a rebound relationship to be healthy and productive for both the divorcee and the new partner. Assuming that this is condition is met, rebound relationships can be very effective ways to find the comfort, intimacy and social life that many divorcees are looking for after their marriage ends. Rebound relationships can give you a much-needed confidence boost and can help you feel hopeful for the possibility of a new relationship in the future.
2. It gives you the opportunity to figure out what type of partner you really want in your next relationship.
The best way to figure out what you want in a relationship is to figure out what you don't want. By casually dating many different types of people, you get the opportunity to try out different character traits and personality types to see how compatible you are together. A rebound relationship is like trying on a pair of shoes or test driving a new car: you get to try out the item risk-free for a limited period of time.
My recommendation is to start by looking for someone who is the opposite of your ex. Figure out what personality traits or issues you had as a couple and look for someone who will give you the opportunity to experience something different. For example, if you and your husband/wife argued all the time because of difference in spending habits, then try to find a rebound relationship prospect that feels the same way as you do about spending. By spending time with this person, you'll get the opportunity to really find out if that quality is a deal-breaker for you in your next relationship.
1. Once in a blue moon, a rebound relationship can turn into a real, long-term, committed relationship.
Although I was quick to state that rebound relationships shouldn't be used as a way to find a new long-term relationship, there is no proof that rebound relationships can't turn into successful rebound marriages in certain cases. A 2006 Princeton University study concluded that "People quickly entering new relationships after an initial divorce, whether by remarriage or cohabitation followed by remarriage, do not have higher divorce rates".
Again, I want to caution against convincing yourself that every single rebound relationship has potential to become a long-term relationship for two reasons:
First, it is important to be aware of all of the stipulations of the Princeton study. The study only examined remarriages, not rebound relationships. Additionally, the average time from divorce to remarriage in the study was five years, which is very different than someone whose divorce was just finalized last week.
Secondly, if you are hoping to find a rebound relationship that will become a long-term relationship and, eventually, a rebound marriage, then you probably aren't ready to jump into a rebound relationship at all. To fully appreciate and enjoy a rebound relationship, you need to first be able to accept it for what it is, completely without hope that it will progress or become something more meaningful.
With all of this being said, I do strongly suggest that divorcees spend time feeling their feelings, figuring out what went wrong in their last relationship and what they need to do to make their next relationship more successful. Self-healing is important.
But who says that you can't have some harmless fun in the meantime?