When To Know You’re A Rebound

Almost a year ago a work colleague started talking to me and we started getting along. A couple of months later we went out with a couple of his friends and had a great time. 

His girlfriend of 10 years who he was planning on marrying and who he says is the love of his life broke up with him around the time we met

His girlfriend of 10 years who he was planning on marrying and who he says is the love of his life broke up with him around the time we met, and since then he’s been in a depression and taking pills for it. As we started hanging out and talking more, we ended up hooking up after a while. He always said he was not ready for a serious relationship, as he had just left one and was heartbroken. 

Since then we’ve been spending A LOT of time together (we spend almost every night together), and I’m afraid this will lead to a burnout on both our parts. While we are not boyfriend/girlfriend, he has said I am his partner, and that he would really like to try to have a relationship with me when he’s over his ex, but also that he’s afraid I will lose my patience and stop waiting for that time to come. He treats me well and is a caring and sweet man whose life dream is to have a family and kids, and we have talked about anything and everything regarding that. 

He’s introduced me to all of his friends and family as “a friend,” but I’m pretty sure they know I’m more than that, and he has told me that his parents have told him to hang on to me, and not let me go, as I’m a great girl according to them. I know he’s making an effort to make things work, even if we’re not a couple, but a part of me is afraid he’s just going along for the ride and will not be ready for a relationship any time soon. I know he likes me, but I also feel there are small inconsiderate things he does.

For example, he doesn’t seem to care when he knows I have no jacket and it’s cold outside, and rather than hurrying up a conversation with friends–so I can get to a warmer place–he drags the conversation out while I sit there freezing, nor is he aware when chatting with others that it’s quite late, and I have to get to work the next day, even though he sees me standing there almost falling asleep on my feet.

He also used to be quite vocal about how he would have liked to have “tried” different types of girls, and whenever he saw cute/hot girls, he was a bit flirty with them. He still mentions this type of thing, but far less since I talked to him about it. I know these are small things and are not too important in the big scheme of things, but what I’m worried about is if he just doesn’t care enough about me to care in general about my feelings, and most importantly, if I should take what he said seriously, that he’s not ready for anything serious right now and just let it go. How long is it enough to wait before giving up on something that could be very good?

Poppy

Yep, you’re a rebound

Yep, you’re a rebound, Poppy. There’s nothing wrong with that unless you fall in love with the rebound guy and expect him to want to marry you. Which you seem to have done.

So yeah, what you’ve really done here is ask two entirely different questions:

Q: Should I ignore it when a guy:

  1. Is clinically depressed.
  2. Is still hung up on his ex.
  3. Says he’s not looking for a serious relationship.
  4. Introduces you as his “friend.”
  5. Hasn’t offered to become your boyfriend in a year.

A: No!!!

Each of these are separate red flags that add up to one huge crimson banner, telling you to run far, far away from this man. Yet, even looking at that list, you still won’t run because you can find ways to justify his behavior because it prolongs your fantasy.

Hasn’t everyone gone through depression?

Isn’t it normal to take time to get over someone you loved?

Maybe he wasn’t looking for something serious then, but now he’s probably ready.

I think he’s afraid of declaring his feelings for me publicly.

Fact is, Poppy, your worries are well-founded.

He gets all the benefits of having a girlfriend without the obligations that come with being the boyfriend.

He gets all the benefits of having a girlfriend without the obligations that come with being the boyfriend. I call this “The Emotional Booty Call,” and even though you’re having sex with him, you still don’t have the peace of mind of knowing that you’re building something that leads anywhere.

As far as your other question about whether he could be more considerate of you?

Let’s just say that it may be a point of concern if he were your boyfriend, but he’s not, he’s not going to be, and you shouldn’t invest more time in waiting for him to come around.

If he wanted to be your boyfriend and get on the marriage path with you, he’d already have done so. Cut him loose and look for a man who wants to take you off the market within 6 weeks. I promise it’ll feel a LOT better than whatever relationship you have now.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jenn

    Lol at the “he’s a sweet man who treats me well”. Um, sweetie, you said this guy has refused to commit to you while spending every night having sex with you, he also doesn’t seem to notice or care about your comfort and your schedule, and he openly flirts with other women and talks about how he has fantasies about being with them. That’s not a sweet man who treats you well, that’s a heel who wants to eat his cake and have it too. Good Lord, this poor woman desperately needs a clue.

    1. 1.1
      Emily, the original

      Jenn,

      Um, sweetie, you said this guy has refused to commit to you while spending every night having sex with you, he also doesn’t seem to notice or care about your comfort and your schedule, and he openly flirts with other women and talks about how he has fantasies about being with them. That’s not a sweet man who treats you well, that’s a heel who wants to eat his cake and have it too. 

      Exactly. Plus, when someone refers to the previous girlfriend as “the love of his life,” what else do you need to know? And why is she with this guy? He’s either insanely hot and/or the sex is insanely hot because he’s not offering much else.

  2. 2
    Clare

    Evan is right.

    The OP may have many of the trappings of a girlfriend (sees him all the time, has met his family and friends, knows he has feelings for her), but the fact that she isn’t one puts her in a very precarious position.

    It may seem like a small distinction to make for a man to say he wants a woman to be his girlfriend and to pursue a relationship with her when he is spending all his time with her and is effectively exclusive, but it’s actually very important. A man who is invested in actually building something with a woman is world apart emotionally from one who isn’t.

    This is something I’ve observed again and again. Perfect example: the little complaints that the OP mentioned – being cold, being tired, the flirting with other women. If a guy is your boyfriend and is just being careless, in most cases you can communicate about these issues and address them. Depending on the type of man he is, these behaviours will either resolve themselves, you’ll come to a compromise, or they won’t change. But you have the maximum chance of being able to address your concerns if the guy is your boyfriend because then he is actually invested in you.

    A man who is not your boyfriend is unlikely to care much if you address such issues with him because he has not claimed you, and therefore, in his mind, you don’t really have standing to make these requests. When a man is committed to a woman, or on his way to being committed, he wants to make her happy. When he’s not committed at all, he does not see her comfort as his responsibility.

    I say this because I have learned this the hard way. When a man has invested himself, he sees a woman totally differently. If he has emotionally and mentally “checked out,” then he’s not going to care so much about the little niceties.

    By the way, Poppy, a couple of things I couldn’t help but comment on: He’s talking about sampling other types of women? That is a huge sign that he’s not planning on committing.

    Also, you mention the tiredness and being cold when you’re out… whilst I understand how nice it is to have your partner care about these things, couldn’t you woman up a little and take a jacket? Or tell him you’re getting a cab home so that you can get some sleep? Maybe I’m just too independent, but I don’t like leaving my comfort entirely at the mercy of other people, even my boyfriend.

    1. 2.1
      Nissa

      I thought the same exact thing about her jacket issue. He’s a potential boyfriend, not her mommy.

      1. 2.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Dear Nissa and Clare,

        I hear you about the independence, but the OP wants care.

        I used to find that an extremely delicious thing about dating North American or Canadian men was that they put my coat on me as I left a building…. that would just make me melt, every time.

        Being taken care of feels lovely, for any of us.

        1. Nissa

          Having the gift of care IS lovely. Being angry at someone for not giving you what you want when you want it is not.

        2. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy,

          This is going to sound completely sexist, but I like when you trust in their opinion enough that if you have an issue, you call up and say, “I don’t know what to do. What should I do?” I do this now with one male friend. My female friends want to talk it out. He give directives, but if you respect someone enough, the dynamic works.

        3. Clare

          Mrs Happy,

          I agree with Nissa.

          I’m a sensitive, warm, caring woman and as feminine as they come… so of course it feels incredible for me when a man notices I am cold or tired and takes steps to fix that. My current boyfriend does that. He is of that school of men who will give me his jacket without a second thought, and prioritizes me having a drink or something to eat before himself. He puts my comfort first when we are out, truly, and I just love that about him. So I know exactly how amazing it feels.

          But I have learned over the years that the problem comes in when you expect someone else to do that for you. If they do it willingly and without any prompting, then you get to enjoy the fullness of that feeling – you get to know that they express their care for you in that way, and it feels amazing

          But expectations lead to disappointment. If you are going to sit there stewing inside because the man you’re with hasn’t noticed that you’re cold or hasn’t offered to take you home because you’re tired, that is going to make you miserable. This isn’t about letting the man off the hook; it’s simply not good for her. I firmly believe that women should allow men to take care of them in ways that feel good, but should also take responsibility for their own wellbeing and comfort. The point that I was making is that I would never leave the responsibility for my comfort in the hands of someone else. I’m not going to sit there shivering if I know it will be cold on the assumption that my man will come and save me… I’ll take a coat.

          I’m not going to stand there suffering in silence feeling exhausted listening to him talking to his buddies… I’ll make my excuses and take myself off to bed. Of course it would be wonderful if he, of his own initiative, took care of those things, but I’m not going to leave it to chance or expect it. I’m a grown up.

      2. 2.1.2
        Jenn

        Maybe so, but a good man should be attentive to his woman. At least, I’d think if he really wants to be with her, and she’s his dream girl, he’d make darn sure she’s comfortable. This guy is not the one for her, he obviously doesn’t see her as girlfriend or wife material.

  3. 3
    Noone45

    Many of these outcomes could be avoided if women would trust themselves.  We’ve been taught to give others the benefit of the doubt. Stop doing it. What you see is what you get with people. Stop believing your affection can change the outcome.

    And dumping a dude doesn’t make you an evil harpy. You can exit whenever you want for any reason.

  4. 4
    ezamused

    This guy has done nothing wrong. He has been honest and told her the exactly what he wants and doesn’t want. The bottom line is he isn’t looking for anything serious so she shouldn’t expect anything serious. It sounds like she doesn’t believe him. At this point if she wants him to be serious she should ask him. She needs to grow up and be an adult.

    1. 4.1
      amanda

      Pardon, she didn’t say “small part” – that was me editorialising.

    2. 4.2
      amanda

      Aaaaand.. I may as well go for the hat trick.. this girlfriend/partner/friend/future relationship business strikes me as weird and arbitrary. Poppy, you *are* his girlfriend and you are his partner and he is your friend and you are in a relationship – all of them, right now. Whether his mind is all there and whether this is satisfying for you are separate questions (for which the answers are clearly ‘no’), but the distinctions in terminology are bullsh*t, frankly.

  5. 5
    amanda

    Agree with ezamused: he’s done nothing wrong. His parents and the OP are pressuring him to hurry up and heal (even if it’s subtle – she wants to know how long to “wait”). Don’t “wait” – he’s been honest about his emotional state – so take it on those terms or go. It could well evolve into the relationship she wants down the track, but that could take many years to happen. Also, it may never happen. He doesn’t know and he can’t be expected to know and he certainly can’t offer a timeframe. This was a *big* life-changing devastation – make no mistake. The “small part” of the OP that is afraid he will not be ready anytime soon is her head trying to be heard over the loud opera of her heart. She should give that small voice the microphone. He has said as much. She isn’t listening.He’s not a bad guy for talking to his friends instead of getting her in out of the cold or getting her home. She’s an adult and if she can’t assert herself in front of the group, then she’s living inside a movie where the romantic lead puts his coat down over puddles and realises inside of two hours that he’s been a dolt and the other floozy was a waste of his time and the OP is the only one for him. As the others have said, he can stay there and she can go inside, or home.. or else she can simply speak up and tell everyone that it’s time for them to go. Can’t see why she needs to tread so carefully/demurely. Get your own needs met, OP – either inside of this thing or away from it – but don’t be pacing up and down waiting for him to love you and marry you and have children with you and put your needs before his and, while he’s at it, cease the mentioning of uncomfortable truths.

  6. 6
    Selena

    I think Poppy’s listening and communication skills need her attention.

    If someone tells you they don’t want a serious relationship, why wouldn’t you take them at their word?  They are being honest about wanting sex, attention, some companionship, without falling in love with you. If you want the ‘whole package’ why wouldn’t you take a pass on casual?

    If you are cold, tired, what prevents you from telling your companion that you are cold and tired and making a suggestion about that?

    eg: ” Hey, I’m freezing, can I have your coat if we’re going to stay out here talking?”

    “I’m tired ___,  I need to get home and get up early tomorrow, can you and your friend catch up later?”

    This is how people in a relationship communicate with each other.

    Poppy sounds like a ‘placeholder’ in this man’s life. If she wants more than that, and to be able to move on if need be, she needs to say what she feels and what she wants.

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