After a Breakup, How Do I Know If It’s Just a Rebound Relationship?

happy matured couple posing at the camera

So my partner of two years left me without warning for a mutual friend three months ago. He is a typical alpha with a lot of …erm…challenges…but I loved him deeply and completely and was planning a future with him.

Since the breakup we had zero contact and in this time I have become friends with another guy. Only friends, only platonic, and I’ve been really upfront about my emotional position. But as the weeks have passed, although I continue to feel strong and lingering feelings for my ex, my feelings for the new (beta, completely out of my usual range of attraction) guy have started growing. He’s keen to progress things but I’ve kept him at arms-length (with honesty and openness about why). The new guy is so very different to anyone I’ve ever dated before, and I know this is a good thing, on so many levels. But my question is this – firstly, how can I really uncover whether this is a rebound thing, or if the feelings might be genuine, and secondly, because I am so aware that I really needed to ‘break the mold’, how do I evaluate if this is not just the motivation for something new. I have had a conversation with the new guy, and he is understanding and patient – but I also don’t want to keep him hanging on. I find myself doubting all my feelings, not least because of the betrayal that I am still processing. Look forward to your perspective.

Thanks, Susan

Dear Susan,

Thanks for the smart and self-aware email. You deserve credit for trying to turn over a new leaf and open up to different (read: less challenging) men.

It’s only been three months and you have every right to still be reeling from your situation. Should you be dating now? Are you emotionally available? Still scarred by the last guy?

Only you can know that. But I applaud you for getting out there instead of pining away for a guy who demonstrated his lack of integrity by going straight into the arms of your friend.

There are two issues here that I want to address separately:

    1. You want to know something that is impossible to know.

I take a pretty cerebral approach to dating, but ultimately, relationships are about what’s in your heart. There are lots of people — men and women alike — who are eager to find love again directly after their painful breakup. They think they’re over it. They want to be ready. They dive into a new relationship. And then, when it comes time to step things up, they bail because they weren’t “really” ready to be committed for life. Not yet. These are not bad people; they are driven by their emotions and are doing the best they can. Is it generally a risky bet to date someone on the rebound? Sure. But do people on the rebound fall in love every day? You betcha.

I applaud you for getting out there instead of pining away for a guy who demonstrated his lack of integrity by going straight into the arms of your friend.

Ultimately, you will never know what kind of relationship you have on your hands until you let down your guard and stop keeping him at arm’s length. The beta guy may put up with it for awhile because he likes you, but he deserves to show you what it’s like to BE with him. Not for him to have an unrequited crush on you, but to be there for you — calling you every day after work, listening to you vent about your boss, cooking dinner together, planning weekends away together, meeting each others’ friends and family members.

These are things that happen in a relationship that don’t happen when you’re just platonic.

This doesn’t mean you have to have sex with him tomorrow and get a ring on Friday. It just means that to really see if there is something there, you have to allow your guy to be more alpha with you — plan dates, make the first move, and follow up to see you again.

Is it POSSIBLE that you determine after a week, a month, or a year, that you were on the rebound and misjudged things?

Of course.

Is it POSSIBLE that he IS the one and you’d never know it as “just friends”?

Sure is.

So let down your guard. See what its like to be treated well. Try a new relationship on for size and see if it fits. You are under no obligation to date him if he doesn’t make you happy. But it would be hard for him to make you happy unless you let him.

    2. The other point that I want to bring up — and it’s an important one — is what I call “overcorrection”. What is overcorrection?

You were in a relationship with no spark. The next time out, you want PASSION.

You were in a relationship with a poor slacker. Next time out, you want MONEY.

You were in a relationship with a person who was uptight. Next time out, you want FUN.

You are under no obligation to date him if he doesn’t make you happy. But it would be hard for him to make you happy unless you let him.

My mom married a man who was an overcorrection from her deceased husband. My dad, son of Russian immigrant parents, was not the most chivalrous guy. So when she found a guy who doted upon her, opening the car door, carrying the heavy grocery bag, lavishing her with gifts, she tied the knot, because he was everything my Dad wasn’t.

But to get chivalry, my Mom gave up attraction, humor, respect, and financial stability.

This was not her intention. This was the byproduct of her overcorrection.

So, Susan, just because you were with an uber-alpha and need to detox from him does NOT mean you have to go way down the beta scale. You can be with a nice guy who also has opinions, makes decisions, and makes you feel feminine.

Regardless, I don’t want you to overthink things.

Do you FEEL good with this guy? Yes? Then spend more time with him and give him the feedback that you’re open to a romantic relationship. The rest will be written over time.

And please come back and let us know how it goes, okay?

Join our conversation (39 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Awesome post on so many levels that I can relate to. My serious partner of 5 years broke up with me two years ago for another woman, which left me in incredible aguish. I finally feel that I recovered after the two years, but had a very dramatic unhealthy relationship in between with someone who I did take my time with getting to know platonically at first, but he was a huge overcorrection from my ex. The new guy was very alpha, and what came with that was incredible drama, fights, verbally aggressive language. No matter how I tried to fix myself, I could never seem to get anything right. It was a disaster. Now that I broke that off and haven’t spoken to him for four months, I got back into online dating. I have gone on four dates with the total opposite of the alpha guy. Super beta, we kissed on our second date but now he wants to take a step back and be “just friends” for a while, even though he says he really likes me. So I’m kind of losing interest in this guy because I can’t really figure out what he wants, and maybe he doesn’t know either. In the meantime, I’ve been friends with this really nice (but four years younger, I’m 30) guy (who seems to be a nice mix of alpha/beta) that I met through a class I took. He’s been asking me to go out to some events with him, plans ahead, already asked me out for valentine’s day?? I really enjoy his company a lot, but I never really thought of him as boyfriend material. Not sure if I should pursue that, but if he keeps asking me out and it just naturally progresses like that, maybe I should open myself up, like Evan suggested in his response.
    Anyways, interesting post, glad I read this today!

  2. 2

    Such a great post!
    Thank you, Susan, for being brave enough to create the set up.
    … and thank you Evan (as always) for the clear, honest feedback.

    So glad this showed up today.

  3. 3

    Great post; thank you Evan.

  4. 4

    Hi Susan
    I almost could have written your post. Evan is right, please do not overthink this. Simply enjoy the experience. I spent a lot of time reading Evan and The Tao of Dating because I really wasn’t sure I would recognize a good man if I met him. Then I did. I knew he was because he did all the things I had been reading a good man would do–follow up with texts, phone calls, plan and pay for dates, plan ahead, include me in his life, introduce me to friends and family, calls me before bed every night, gentleman, etc etc. I let my guard down and allowed him to be the man I had always wanted. He, too, was not what I would typically pursued.
    He has made me feel wanted, desired, respected. He’s fun, funny, and it’s so easy to be around each other. I cannot believe I’m writing this because I’m not certain I would have believed it really could be this great. I enjoy each and every moment and never ever overthink anything.
    I think I was ready, too. Ready for something really great and it’s arrived.
    So–enjoy the moment, Susan. If it’s right, I think you’ll know it. If it’s not, what have you lost? But, you won’t know unless you give new guy a chance to be a great guy.

    1. 4.1

      First thought- You say he’s not the kind of guy you usually pursue- do you really pursue other men? You chase them? If so, those are the kind of guys you really want.

      Second thought- if this guy doesn’t turn you on, cut him loose because you are both going to be disappointed in the long run

      1. 4.1.1

        Wow, BOB.

        I’m amazed you could make something negative out of chelly’s post. But then again, that says a lot more about you and your insecurity than it does about her relationship.

        chelly said “I cannot believe I’m writing this because I’m not certain I would have believed it really could be this great. I enjoy each and every moment”, what part of that says that he doesn’t turn her on or that they are headed for disappointment.

        As “those are the guys you really want”… well, sometimes what we think we want doesn’t always yield the best results or make us happy. Just think of those poor 53 year olds chasing the 20 year olds. So, I think it is patently obvious that your advice that chelly cut loose the man who is respecting, cherishing and loving her and making her happy is BAD advice.

        1. jeremy


          I mostly agree with you. If she is truly happy, I wish her and her man all the joy in the world. Yet I see some red flags in her comment that may have triggered Bob’s reply (though I think his advice is premature).

          She writes that:
          1) This man is not the type of man she would have typically pursued.
          2) The qualities about this man that she likes are that he “made me feel wanted, desired, respected. He’s fun, funny, and it’s so easy to be around each other”

          What’s missing from that list? Nowhere does she mention that she finds him attractive, sexy, or arousing in any way. In fact, she goes out of her way to state that he is NOT the sort of man she would have typically pursued – in other words, not the sort of man she would have found arousing.

          In all my reading, I have discovered that to men, attraction and arousal are the same thing. A woman who is attractive to men is also arousing to men. Yet, for women, attraction and arousal are 2 completely different things. Alpha and Beta, if you will. Attractive qualities are those that are intellectually attractive – he treats me well, he is kind, he is intelligent, he is giving – in short, he has the qualities that make a man seem like he would be a good husband and a good dad.

          But arousal – is he powerful? Is he good-looking? Is he sexy? These qualities have nothing to do with whether he would be a good husband or dad – just a man that she finds arousing.

          Chel’s post indicated that she finds this man very ATTRACTIVE. But there was absolutely no mention of any quality that she finds arousing. Too many men have discovered, to their detriment, that they married women who wanted good husbands, but who did not find them terribly arousing. This does not often lead to good results.

          The fact that this man treats Chel well is fantastic. The fact that she finds him attractive is fantastic. But hopefully she also finds him arousing, and her lack of any arousing descriptive is only an omission in text, rather than an absence in fact.

        2. Clare


          You and BOB are making massive assumptions from a post that was overwhelmingly positive. You don’t seem to understand women as well as you think you do. When a woman is not sexually aroused by her man, she does not tend to go on about how happy she is, how great things are and how fun and funny he is. Now, can we just leave chelly and her self-proclaimed happy relationship in peace?

        3. starthrower68

          Can’t say that I agree about the red flags in chelly’s comments. Yes, men want to be sexually desired but just because chelly didn’t specifically say, “I want to rip his clothes off and do him” doesn’t mean she feels no sexual attraction toward him. It could mean that she has a better balance between chemistry and compatability than she’s had in the past.

          As far as her comment about him being the type of man she wouldn’t have pursued in the past, so what? Ending up with someone they never thought they would happens to people all the time. Chelly talks about her relationship in glowing terms so why be critical? Sounds to me like she did exactly what many men that comment on here claim women don’t do and that’s be open to a good man. So she does, and now you’re going to turn around and criticize her or look for problems?

        4. jeremy


          If you read the last paragraph of my comment, I tried to be clear that I hope the lack of arousal traits was simply an omission of text, and not an absence in fact. If that is the case, I think things are ideal. If that is not the case, things are not ideal. No assumptions are being made – allowances are being made for the unknowns. But the fact of the matter is, all of the qualities mentioned in the post are attraction qualities, with arousal qualities conspicuously absent.

          “When a woman is not sexually aroused by her man, she does not tend to go on about how happy she is.” Yes she does, when her goal is to get married. It happens all the time. I know of many cases personally, and the media is absolutely FULL of examples. Women dating one type of man (whom they find arousing), reaching an age when marriage and kids become more of a priority and finding an entirely different type of man, marrying him and having kids, only to discover a future lack of attraction once the qualities which she once found attractive are no longer necessary. It happens all the time. It’s why men advise other men to be careful and try to be sure that the women they date (and marry) find them arousing as well as attractive. None of this may apply to Chelly’s case (I hope it doesn’t), but it is useful to discuss IMHO.

        5. Clare


          I’m just terribly glad that I didn’t come on here to post about my relationship which I’m very happy about, only for it to be used as a jumping point to a discussion that I’m not aroused by my husband, which I never said. If you want to talk hypothetically, then do that. But leave other people’s perfectly fine relationships alone.

        6. Gabri'el

          I see both Clare’s and Jeremy’s point. Chelly explained about her happy relationship and Jeremy’s male mind couldn’t understand what women consider happiness, even after Clare explained to him that a woman can’t be as happy with her boyfriend as Chelly is with her boyfriend, if she wasn’t also sexually attracted to him as much as she is also mentally and emotionally attracted to him.

          To Clare: men need to feel desired and wanted sexually, more than mentally and emotionally (remember men look for sex and find love). To Jeremy: women want a over all good man, that doesn’t mean they date men they aren’t attracted to, but it means that unlike men, they don’t put a higher focus on looks & body, with women (in my opinion) it’s more of the whole picture they focus on when they talk about being happy with a good boyfriend or husband.

          Of course these is all a generalization, there are many men who won’t choose the hot woman who is a 9 over the nice woman who is a 5, and there are plenty of women who will choose the short-term, bad boy model over the slightly above average looking, but consistent and stable man.

          Karl R said something a few blogs ago about looks and twinkle mentioned it again in this blog post. I think both men and women place looks and body (sexual attraction) high on there list when looking for a future partner, it’s just that most people know they can’t get the model or have enough life experiences to know that for a relationship to work you need more than looks and a toned butt, so they look for the person they find attractive, but they make sure that the person has just as high or higher long-term relationship qualities also, in other words, Evan’s motto: “It’s better to choose the person who is a 5 in chemistry (sexual attraction), but 9 in compatibility (shared core values, goals, and someone willing to accept you with all your flaws), over the 5 in compatibility, but 9 in chemistry “. And Jeremy according to many of the women here, the more a women gets to know, like and trust a new boyfriend, the more the level of chemistry she has for him grows, in other words, the guy who was a 5 could become a 7, and the guy who she says: “Isn’t normally the type she would date” , she could fall in love with and write a glowing report about him on a relationship blog! (^_^)

          From what I’ve notice, women seem to start to focus less on looks (that doesn’t mean she wants a men she isn’t attracted to) after the age of 35 and men seem to do this after about 45. Most women think men only want younger women, but from what I’ve seen, the only men who go after girls 10 or more younger than themselves, are the men who can’t get the attractive women in their own age group. Trust me, they try to get the hot women their age first, because of compatibility..

        7. Clare


          This is an excellent explanation and shows a very good understanding I think of how women work.

          Women don’t tend to put *as much* of a premium on looks when they are dating – which is to say, yes we need someone whom we feel at least somewhat attracted to. But chemistry and physical arousal is very much something that can grow and blossom and ignite over time when we are with a good man who makes us happy. Some say the brain is our biggest erogenous zone, but I think it is our hearts. When a man is able to unlock that feeling emotional safety and openness and make us happy, we can develop tremendous desire for him.

  5. 5

    Those things can happen in a platonic friendship. Man at work befriend me. I got a crush. He told me he didn’t want to mix work and sex. Then we proceeded to have months of hanging out, texting me most days, introducing me to his friends, getting jealous if another man asked me out, deep talks, telling me how much I mean to him and how great I am, putting his arm around me all the time, day trips, even a ski weekend alone in a cabin. But you know what doesn’t happen in a platonic friendship? Sex, kissing, romance. That definitely never happened! I still don’t understand what DID happen.

  6. 6

    I think so many people use the generic definition of Alpha and beta, to describe men, that many people forget that their is actually a scale, from Alpha to Beta. So many women don’t have to really worry about settling for a beta man, they can find a guy who is a Alpha enough to step up and be masculine but beta enough not to be a arrogant, selfish boyfriend.

    I could be wrong, but I think this is what Evan is advising when he tells women to avoid the “typical” guy with Alpha like tendencies and choice a guy who is more beta. I don’t think he is talking about a complete beta.

    Though, I’ve always wondered -and maybe someone can answer this for me-, since we men care more about looks and body, then we do about what kind of job a women has, her position and statues at a job, or does she hold a masters degree or not… What then would constitute a Alpha female? Again I’m asking this question in the context of what most men desire. If it’s the same as what is a Alpha male, then why don’t you hear more men telling other men to chase after Alpha females? Aren’t Alpha’s usually highly sought after, yet we men only talk about chasing Christina the 25 year old with a great slim body and gorgeous face that works at Starbuck; not 45 year old VP of a national Bank, Susan, with her average looking face and body. Wouldn’t in this example Susan be the Alpha female? Than shouldn’t she be the one being chased more than the 25 year old? Or is the definition of Alpha different for women and men?

    1. 6.1

      It doesn’t matter what an alpha woman is or isn’t, or what a beta man is or isn’t.

      All that matters is what a woman wants or what a man wants, and the former wants a masculine man whereas the latter wants a feminine woman.

      Inasmuch as a man falls to be masculine, he finds himself single as does a woman whose tendency is toward androgyny.

      Inasmuch as a person of either gender is androgynous, that person finds itself with plenty of friends of the opposite gender but an unsatisfying sex life.

    2. 6.2

      I think the alpha female has similar characteristics to the alpha male.

      I find your questions on Christina and Susan a little strange. :p Come on, the beautiful woman–whether alpha or beta, tall or petite, Earthling or Martian–will always have a big advantage over the plain woman in the dating world. Susan will probably not be chased more than Chriistina, whether she is a VP or Starbucks waitress. I do believe that many men find alpha women personalities attractive, though, just not enough to make them overlook her ‘negative’ qualities.

      However, I think it’s similar for men, although some people disagree. I think a man who looks great, is smart, has a good job, and a positive personality will be popular with women whether he is alpha or beta.

      1. 6.2.1

        One thing I will quickly agree with is that beauty and intelligence are anything but mutually exclusive… Any one who thinks otherwise just needs to stroll the campus of an ivy league school or a fortune 500 company without a blindfold on.

        The problem- for most men, common men, average men, ordinary men- with the high-status, highly-paid beautiful woman is that she wants only the men at the top of the desirability scale, and most men fall short of that, often literally.

        This is why, as was expressed in the article “Asia’s lonely hearts,” it is “a” women and “d” men who must remain single. Worse, though, is that it isn’t only “d” men but most “c” and likely many “b” men who will be rejected enough times that they will ask themselves why they keep trying, and they won’t have a good answer.

        This is what a so-called post-feminist world, itself being an implicitly ideologically feminist one, has in store for us. That is why the institution of marriage has taken a nose dive and continues on its downward trajectory.

        1. starthrower68

          What women are these common, ordinary, average men looking for? Common, ordinary, average women?

        2. Karmic Equation

          If b, c, and d men decided to ask out b, c, and d women, they’d probably have a shot at a relationship.

          Problem is b,c,d men all want the A woman, who usually can have any A man she wants. And the A man can usually get any A woman he wants, particularly if he offers commitment.

          If you’re a B,C,D guy it won’t matter if you’re the best relationship guy in the world if she doesn’t consider you in her league. Easy fix. B,C,D guys need to date women IN HIS OWN LEAGUE. “A” women only fall for D guys in teen movies.

        3. Gabri'el

          Karmic as always I agree with you, but are you saying that for women an Alpha is determined by her looks?

          I’m sure that when people talk about Alpha men, it’s not just his looks and most times it’s not his looks at all, it’s his masculinity level, how much he makes her feel feminine, and how much of a take charge type of guy he is. To many women, when they say a man is a sexy or a handsome Alpha, they mean it in a Jarod butler from 300 way, not a Zac Efron way. Since I fall more into the Efron category look wise, I’ve heard this countless times. Sure they say, guys like me and Efron are very cute, but rugged guys are just assumed to be more Alpha based off looks.

          Actually, I’ve seen more women call guys who aren’t even attractive Alpha, then guys who are I would consider attractive Alpha; because of their job, muscular body, height, etc.. I’ve never once seen a guy say that a women who “I” would consider an Alpha (high powered job, tall, mannishly muscular, etc..), chase after her for just those male Alpha reasons. It’s most about her looks… that I’ve seen. Which is why I’m asking are when it comes to dating, is a woman considered an Alpha based off her looks or are we using the same criteria that we use for what defines a Alpha man, which isn’t his looks?

      2. 6.2.2

        Twinkle I completely agree!

  7. 7

    Evan, I was struck by how you characterized Susan’s ex-partner as lacking in integrity because he went straight into the arms of their mutual friend. From Susan’s brief description, she had challenges and issues with him. I would imagine he also had challenges and issues with her. So, after two years he came to the conclusion that he no longer wanted to be in a relationship with her. Fair enough. Breakups are difficult and painful. No one likes to be left, but that’s how it goes. As Adele sang, sometimes it lasts in love, sometimes it hurts instead. And maybe this mutual friend is a much better match for him. Should he not pursue a relationship with her so his ex doesn’t feel bad? In my view that is a kind of dysfunctional loyalty that doesn’t benefit anyone. I’m not seeing any lack of integrity on his part. There is no mention of an affair, and he ended his relationship with Susan decisively, i.e. he didn’t jerk her around with maybe I’ll stay/maybe I’ll go be with her nonsense. There likely was no warning because when he reached the conclusion that he did not want to remain in the relationship, he did not want to get caught up in attempts by Susan to change him or work on the relationship. After breaking up with Susan, he then started a new relationship with a woman who happened to be a part of their social circle. Painful for Susan, of course. I’m just questioning your characterization of her ex-partner, because this is a pretty common scenario, and the guy typically gets vilified for it. In my view, he has a right to break up with her, and having done so, he has a right to date or be in a new relationship without being condemned for doing so, even if it is with someone within the same social circle.

    1. 7.1

      The majority of Evan’s paying audience are women, so unlike when he first began and was teaching both men and women, his advice now is less balanced, and more focused on women. So I think his answers are maybe subconsciously catering to his female audience.

      In other words women want to hear that a guy choosing another woman, or a younger women, or a better looking women is a guy lacking integrity. If the majority of Evan’s paying audience where men, then women who do such things would be lacking in integrity. I’m not saying Evan’s a sell out or that he just does what he does for the money, I’m just saying it may be an unconscious act on his part, I don’t even think he sees that he is doing it. I only notice his change because I’ve read hundreds of his blogs back to back, so I was able to see the gradual shift. But because I’m a fan of his earlier work, I still come back here from time to time.

    2. 7.2

      She says he left her for another woman. He developed that relationship while he was still in the previous relationship. I know, I’ve done it myself. I would never do it again. It’s a betrayal.
      Sure, it happens a lot and people do worse. Doesn’t make it right.

      1. 7.2.1


        I stand by my two main points. A man has a right to break up with a woman and then be in a relationship with whomever he chooses. Is experiencing an attraction to someone else, then deciding to break up with your current partner to pursue a relationship with them really a betrayal? They weren’t married. He did not promise to stay with Susan for the rest of his life. He was not happy with her. To characterize it as a betrayal is to create a victim/villain scenario. She was not victimized, she was rejected by him as a life partner. That is painful. But that is life. A person either wants to be with you or they don’t. If a guy doesn’t want to be with me, I want him to break up with me, and I want him to find happiness with someone else, even if it is with a mutual friend the day after he leaves me. So many people struggle to find happiness in relationships in this world. If the two of them are happy together, then that would make me happy. I would wish them all the best.

        1. Gabri'el

          Elle, I’m so happy you’ve said this. So many people, especially on television, in magazines, and movies, even dating & relationship book authors, condemn men and women who break up with someone after dating them for a year or two. Yet, I thought the purpose of dating is to “Determine” if this is someone you wish to spend the rest of your life with in marriage???

          You move in together not for the sex or to save on money, but to “test” the next level of the relationship out and see if this is someone you can spend the next 40 years or more with everyday. It’s not wrong if after dating someone for a year and a half and then living with them for another year and a half, you come to the conclusion that, if you spent the rest of your life with this person, you wouldn’t be happy, so you break up with them.

          People who give advice to the one who is dumped intentionally try to make the person feel better (I think this was Evan’s intent J, and not to just placate his female audience so the money will keep rolling in). Though, I don’t think it’s right to make the person who did the dumping a villain for that single reason alone. I have been in those shoes, and it’s not fun. Like the letter’s writer Susan’s boyfriend, my choices were to either stay with someone who I made happy, but I was unhappy, or to leave so we both could find someone to make us happy, and trust me, no matter how altruistic your intentions are, the person whom loves you, that you break up with isn’t going to see you as being nothing but a selfish, heartbreaking villain.

          But I do think her ex-boyfriend was wrong dating the mutual friend afterwards. That’s just shows a lack of consideration for Susan from her ex in my opinion, but on the other hand, now that she sees the type of guy he is, she should be happy he is no longer her problem.

  8. 8


    Thank you for the supportive comments, but once again I stand by my two main points. He had the right to break up with her (we appear to be in agreement about that) AND to date or be in a relationship with whomever he wants after having done so. She has no claim to ownership of him or possessiveness of him after the breakup. He is not responsible for her feelings. She is. In life we will be called upon to make choices that another person may choose to respond to with feelings of unhappiness or rejection or whatever. It is a dysfunctional form of loyalty to sacrifice new opportunities for growth in our own lives just to shield someone else from their own growth challenges. Life is short. None of us knows how long we will be here. Time should not be wasted. Susan’s ex wasted no time in starting another relationship. Many would condemn him for that. But opportunity doesn’t always knock at the most conventional time. Her ex has plans and goals for his life, as does Susan. When it is over, it is over. Best to let go with no strings attached, including strings about who an ex can date.

    1. 8.1

      Elle, when someone says their partner left them for someone else, it means he was pursuing a relationship behind her back. While they may not have been married, I think a two-year relationship carries with it some implication of “commitment.” Would you really be happy to date a guy for a year, or two, or three, all the while he’s dating other women behind your back until he decide which one he wants to be with? That sounds like an inconsiderate waste of my time if he’s deluding me into thinking I have a future with him. If he didn’t want to be with Susan, he should have been man enough to break up with her, THEN move on to his next relationship. If he cared anything for her he would have at least considered her feelings instead of stomping all over them. That’s just a simple human kindness which the world could use more of, not less of, as you advocate.

      1. 8.1.1

        Wendy, there was nothing in Susan’s letter about her ex having an affair with the mutual friend or dating other women behind her back and that is not behavior I would condone. A mutual attraction developed that happened to be the catalyst to leave a relationship that was not working. That is likely what happened here, and that is why he left her “without warning for a mutual friend.” Breakups hurt. Being left for someone else hurts. But that is how it goes sometimes.

  9. 9

    Hi it’s Susan. Thanks so much Evan for publishing my letter, and to everyone that has added their thoughts. As an aside I was intrigued by how the conversation so quickly moved to the morality (or lack thereof) of my ex partner, rather than the question at hand. But I digress….I write now to bring you an update…
    This weekend marks 6 months since I met new guy, and just on three months since I decided to go forth and start dating him. It happened very organically and SLOWLY and it was only when, after encouraging him to date others since I was feeling so unsure, and he (reluctantly as it turned out) agreed, that I realised I was potentially letting someone really awesome slip away – I knew that should he meet someone else that would be the end of our friendship and I knew I didn’t want that to happen (boundaries and all that).
    Anyway, we have been in a very happy and stable relationship for coming up three months and I am SO pleased with the way things have turned out. Sure there’s not the high levels of excitement I had with Alpha, but there’s also 100% less stress. We are not out every night of the week but we have heaps of fun, that is inclusive of friends and family – and everyone without exception loves this guy.
    The other two are still together and I wish them well. I know I have the right guy for me, and starting as friends and seeing his qualities reveal themselves as time went on, and goes on, just reminds me of that.
    We just ‘work’ and both bring different things to our relationship that fit together so well.
    As an afterthought, I should add that actually I am a 46 year old CEO with two young kids and a demanding job, and he is, as a measured, calm and loyal Beta, the perfect foil for that:)

    1. 9.1

      Hi Susan-   your story is so similar to what just happened to me.   She was betrayed by her alpha bf of 1.5 years, whom she loved.   That ended over  a year ago and she was encouraged by friends to get out and date and that’s how we met.   She’s an alpha CEO and I’m more toward the beta end but certainly no slouch.   We seemed to connect so well and had boatloads of fun together.   Her friends very much approved of me but she was haunted by the ex and would react toward me as if I was him and it was unpleasant for me.   She would apologize for not being emotionally available and I told her that I would be patient (since I liked her so much).   She also let me know that she was inclined to cut and run because she was so hurt by the ex and was having trouble letting someone into her heart again.   On many occasions she let me know how much she liked me and how happy I made her and how I seemed to know how to do things right with her- calling and planning good dates, being consistent, gifts,  etc…     (I’ve been reading Evan for a while).   Then after 4 months, she suddenly cut me loose telling me that she wasn’t experiencing the same levels of feeling toward me that I was toward her and she didn’t think it was fair to me.  I told her I loved her after ~3 months and she said that she loved “us” but wouldn’t say that she loved me.     I chalk it up to a case of commitment-phobia and cutting and running as she said she was inclined to do.   I was heart broken and decided to get back out and start dating again and met someone who seems to be real nice but it’s very early.

      Anyway, just sharing.   It seems to be very cathartic.   Thanks for sharing your story.   I was wondering where you guys are at now if you don’t mind sharing.

      1. 9.1.1

        @ ScottH #9.1
        It wasn’t a case of commitment-phobia: she just wasn’t into you. If a woman mentions that she’s “haunted by the ex and apologizes for not being emotionally available” DON’T tell her that you will be patient — no matter how much you like her. Wish her well and move on. If she is genuinely into you she will  forget about the ex and suddenly become emotionally available.

        Because, it doesn’t really matter how much you like her, if she doesn’t like you (enough).

        If she lets you know that “she was inclined to cut and run because she was so hurt by the ex and was having trouble letting someone into her heart again” then LET her cut and run. Trust me, if she’s genuinely attracted to you she will suddenly have no trouble letting someone into her heart again.  
        Scott, you need to up the alpha. You need to take charge of your love life and demand proper treatment. This will generate deep attraction like the way her ex did. If you can do this then suddenly you’ll never hear all this “commitment-phobia” and “emotionally unavailable” stuff again.


  10. 10

    I do believe that Evan is correct. I went through the same thing after 15 years together. We we’re married 13 years of that 15. He cheated became abusive and than left. I felt as if I was not ready for a relationship but asked God to put a man in my life that would treat me right and make me feel nothing I’ve felt before. Well I met a man that did just that. We became friends, and we both actually had to let our guards down. Now we live together. It was the best chance I’ve ever taken. Hope it all works out for you.

  11. 11

    Hi Susan again,

    I have had a couple of goes at posting to no avail – but here is the one year on update:

    So I’ve now known him for a year and we have been in a relationship for about 9 months. It’s not like the crazy love thang I had going on with alpha guy, and whilst there is an element to that that I still miss, and sometimes think about, what I have found is a kind, decent, solid and fun person that I really like being around.   We talk tentatively of a future, and both acknowledge the past as impacting on those decisions.   The thing I have noticed most is that is self awareness (emotional intelligence) far outweighs that of many others I know in the same age bracket/stage and this is a very attractive quality.

    I think the one who cuts and runs is not necessarily wrong – and possibly she did you a favour in the end – however I chose to look at the whole situation in a rather less emotional way for me (after all, crazy emotion didn’t work so well for me in the past did it), and as a result I really believe I am on the winning team here.   As an aside, alpha guy enjoys an extremely tumultuous and cringingly public) relationship and is engaged to the woman he left me to be with.

    I miss the excitement – and I know that for a time it was a mutual real true love thing – but I sure don’t miss the drama.   I can now bless the good and let go of the bad .

    Life might be quieter, more predictable, less THRILLING than before, but when I get to 50, 60 , 70 I’m pretty sure that it won’t be thrills that will be first on the list for the secret to happiness.

  12. 12

    I guess i am one of the exceptions. My girlfriend & future fiance seperated from her relationship of 8 years. I met her a month after at a restaurant and we started dating. I guess the difference was i took it easy for few months as i was aware of the rebound effect. After 6months, she asked for a break to think about things as she was being pressured by her Ex to come back. I kept it cool and gave it to her and she came back after 2 weeks. And we have been happy since.

    I guess my point is for guys to realize that rebound relationships are like a flip of the coin. You have to understand her situation as a woman. Keep it cool, show your good sides, dont pressure her to enter something she is not ready for and she would most likely enjoy her time with you and get over her past at the same time

  13. 13

    people on the rebound are not emotionally available. They are hurting and in need of someone (anyone) to give them unconditional love. Heck, they are not even THAT selective in their choices! They want it here and now, and they want it all.

    They will use you as a spare airport to land to fix their damaged ego, to regain trust, and to get over the depression. Once they are good (for a new relationship) they take off and disappear in a thin air … taking all your dreams and hopes with them.


  14. 14
    Kitty Honey

    This is a great post, I thought Susan’s email was fantastic, really together and self aware as you say. I’d love to be that in control of my feelings and what my head and heart were saying haha.

    I think your advice was great too Evan, it sounds like so far Susan has been really sensible in her approach and really honest with the guy – maybe it is time to give it a go, but continue to be open with him and not get too serious too quickly?


  15. 15

    Susan –


    Thanks so much for your letter, and continued follow-ups! I’m in the same situation right down to the ex publicly marrying the woman he left me for and never saying a word to me after the sudden breakup four months ago. Anyway, I feel exactly as you did about my new guy, was also worried about it being a rebound but am following Evan’s advice and finding exactly what you are: minus the insane passion this time, but plus an amazing man who is tons of fun, was a friend first, and wouldn’t dream of treating me the way my dramatic alpha ex did (and this new man is also very attractive, and even mostly alpha himself – just not the same level of passion/drama as I had before…Because he’s not an unhealthy and toxic person, which my ex sadly was). All this to say thanks a ton for giving me a potential glimpse for what I have down the road. I’m scared, but finding amazing happiness, calm, and loving the well-roundedness of this relationship… and everyone loves this new guy. With every day that goes by, I’m falling deeper for the new guy. (As 21 Savage says – always choose loyalty, because crazy, passionate, up-and-down love will  stab you in the back every time.   Yeah… I learned that the hard way!!) This just feels right and it’s just working. And dang, he sure is sweet… sigh. Best of luck to you in your journey!

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