By the time we as women reach a certain age, it’s safe to say that we’ve been through a multitude of dates, relationships, break-ups and, least desirable of all, divorces. There are many reasons why each of these events occur and sometimes it seems, try as we may, our quest to achieve relationship nirvana constantly eludes us due incompatibility, infidelity and the blanket statement that I love most, irreconcilable differences. More often than not, there’s a lot of collateral damage in the way of children, assets and loss of connections with mutual friends and family members. What we all experience, whether we admit it or not, is the emotional impact and the loss of self-esteem. How we handle it varies, but sometimes that man comes along at that moment post-disaster, replacing black clouds with blue skies, renewing our faith in ourselves and relationships.
My mother always told me that everything happens for a reason and the best things occur when you do not look for them. Let’s address the first widely used saying. There’s a reason that relationships don’t work out, and although we love to live in the state of denial and can continue along for years—even decades—hoping things will get better, they won’t. Before you know it, a big chunk of irretrievable time was spent settling for what you have and you eventually die, literally or figuratively, in an abyss of personal compromise.
Now, onto the second. After the demise of an important relationship, regardless of the time invested or who actually ends it, our self-esteem takes a dive. We cry, commiserate with friends, eat or starve, and perhaps even throw our ex’s belongings in the trash. Most of us swear off men and relationships for a certain amount of time, saying, “I need to be on my own” or, if we’ve really been scorned, “screw them all.” At this point, we need to take a step back and realize that not all men are made out of the same mold as our ex-partners.
Once we admit to ourselves that the relationship had flaws and slowly start to pick up the pieces of our broken ego, that’s when it magically happens. A new man comes into your life, whether it’s across the state, city or right down the hall, but you're vulnerable and you know it. The attention feels nice and, especially if your mate mopped the hardwood floors of your shared apartment with your heart, the euphoria feels so good. What makes it even better is that this new guy appears to be the polar opposite of your past man. You have so much in common, and you’re not walking on eggshells or having to watch everything you say. He likes you the way you are and doesn’t criticize you. It’s easy. Uncomplicated. Fun. Passionate. He makes you feel good mentally and physically.
There’s nothing wrong with letting go, throwing caution to the wind and allowing this person into your life, but do so thoughtfully and try to understand why you’re attracted to him. Is it because of who he is or because he represents everything your ex is not? Rebounds can be essential to moving on after an especially harsh break-up, but there’s a few things to keep in mind so this new situation doesn’t end up putting salt into still-healing wounds but turns out to be what you want and need at the time and perhaps even long-term.
Be Honest This new man sees something in you that you may not at the moment due to your recent break-up, so respect that with honesty. Tell him the truth—as still painful as it may or may not be—and if he doesn’t ask for the check in the middle of dinner, take time to listen to his story. He’s got a past too and who knows, he may have experienced the same or even a worse situation.
Take it Slow Most major separations happen over time and during those months or years, your sex life may have been less than satisfactory or non-existent. Reeling from the attention, your libido suddenly wakes up and your body starts to supersede your mind, but the last thing you want is to be seen as a one-night stand, which will only serve another right hook to your already fragile ego. Take a step back, and tell him how much you like him and are not ready. If he balks, walk out, and if he’s willing to wait, it will happen at the right time, even if it’s just the next time you see him.
Be Your Own Person A lot of men see a woman who recently left a relationship as vulnerable, and it’s true, but don’t let him know at what level. I’m not encouraging you to lie, but just keep the emotional aspect in check. The best thing you can do at this point is to take responsibility for your part in the break-up (after all, it takes two) and cite the real reasons; you know what they are. Be honest and you’ll score points; blame your ex for everything and you can kiss the new guy good-bye. Moving forward, keep calls, texts and emails to a minimum. It’s the hardest thing to do but if he thinks that you’re really rebounding and just trying to fill a void, well, who wants to be the interim guy? The only reason to take on that role is that he’s in it just for sex and if that’s the case, as I said before, walk out.
Only Have Expectations on Yourself You’re newly single, so act like it and invest time in yourself. Likelihood is that you have some past relationship messes to clean up, and that’s your job, not his. Take the time to finalize things with your ex on your own, start your new existence, spend time with friends and rediscover the person you were before your last relationship. Regaining self-esteem will not happen immediately, but take it one day at a time and give the new man his space, avoiding the possibility of appearing needy. Having expectations on a new relationship usually only leads to disappointment. Being aloof is not the answer, but rest assured, men find confidence attractive and, whether you’ve been on one date or a few, he knows where to find you, so let him come to you.