Tags: rebound, boundaries, serial dating
After a recent break-up with my boyfriend of two years (ending a ten-year streak of serial dating) I was thrown into the world of rebounding – a curious behavior I perhaps have never experienced before. I’m the heartbreaker. I let my relationships stretch as far as they can until the breaking point – the moment in which I have found someone new, someone to shower me with affection and treat me the way my previous boyfriend had never treated me before. This is how it has been since I was 18, never allowing myself to be single. I found my identity through relationships rather than alone, because, let’s face it, breaking-up (no matter which end you’re on) is painful.
I recently was confronted by some really challenging situations and faced these difficulties alone, without a partner. My friends and family were supportive, but they couldn’t relieve me of the burden the same way a partner could. (I should also mention that I have lived with these boyfriends for the better part of these past ten years.) Each night, I’ve found myself in this cavernous new apartment with black floors and black rooms swallowing my confidence and throwing terrifying sounds from the street around empty walls. The hardest thing is going to bed at night – my cat is the ultimate cat, but not the ultimate cuddler. And for me, nothing beats the musty, sweet smell of a man at the end of the day, his warm arms wrapped around my body, leaving me feeling small, loved, and protected.
So what is rebounding? With each passing day, I’m increasingly craving affection, warmth, intimacy, attention… Someone to fill my lungs with the air I need to move on, the strength to keep me from calling my ex, from crawling back into bed with him to inundate the emptiness with familiarity.
Rebounding makes me feel weak. I am an incredibly strong person. I take pride in my independence and the life I’ve made for myself regardless of my serial relationships. My exes have shaped me and made me stronger, for better or worse, but I never let another person dictate who I was to become. The emptiness I feel isn’t in myself – it’s in the room. It’s in the atmosphere. It’s in the intimate things I adore sharing with another person.
As per the official definition of rebounding: I found someone. Code Name: Ángel (using the Spanish pronunciation “AHN-hell”). He’s attentive and sweet, warm and caring, so fucking funny, and near brutally honest. I have been very open about my situation and he says he’s looking for similar things in a relationship: warmth and emotional intimacy, someone with whom to cuddle, a deeply supportive friendship… We’ve discussed the boundaries and each assured the other that we will remain direct in our wants and needs, we will be honest with each other, and, most importantly, we will maintain our friendship.
So here comes the tricky part. I know I’m not in love with him, and he is not by any means the Man for me, but there was a strange sort of emotional transfer that occurred when I met Ángel. Any remaining love for my ex immediately seemed projected onto Ángel and has grown stronger with each moment we’ve shared. My heart aches when he’s not around, it flutters when I see his smile, and it melts when he makes me laugh.
Not only does swooning for him literally, physically relieve my pain through the release of oxytocin, but it’s also occupying the painful spaces of this empty house and filling my empty stomach full of laughter. He knows I’m using him… Hell, he’s using me. I worry because it’s such a dangerous situation to maneuver without someone getting hurt. I thought it would be me harming him if I were to move for a job or return to the Midwest defeated – but these ridiculous feelings of infatuation for him lead me to wonder if this relationship is blossoming too soon and if I will find myself the one retreating back to my empty house. He’s had his eyes on another girl since before I met him – one I promised to lure in by winging for him – but I can’t help but feel a little sad. I just found this wonderful thing! Why should it end so soon if she were to finally agree to see him exclusively?
It’s silly, really. This is why the boundaries are laid in place. What a cruel game it is for me to feel so passionate about this new friendship, though. For now, Ángel is there to catch me on my rebound. I look forward to his warmth and intimacy as a way to help me cope with my difficult feelings regarding the past ten years. I hope him and I can continue to carefully navigate this new territory and that he and I can find an equilibrium of comfort in this exciting new friendship.
Over and out — Capt.Crème