A Reader Writes…
I was with my ex partner for 9.5 years and we lived together for 6.5 years. For the most part we had a really good relationship but we separated 16 months ago. I had left a job in which I really excelled and had a wonderful team that gave me a real sense of community and moved to a job where I was immediately targeted by a bully. My partner was also suffering from anxiety at the time was not able to support me emotionally, I felt that i always had to be the one that was emotionally strong and support her. I decided to study part-time and had a self-medicating affair (that did not become sexual) with a fellow student.
I tried to be honest with my partner about my feelings for my new ‘friend’ but when I did she was very distraught and fell on the floor crying. I took it back and said that I was just confused. We stayed together for a further year and a half but I kept in text contact with my ‘friend’ for four months after my admission and made no attempt to hide this from my partner. I attended counselling which was really helpful and when I finished 1-1 counselling I asked my partner to attend couples counselling with me. She was starting a new job and asked if we could put it off, so I agreed to that.
After we separated I was certain and consistent in my desire to reconcile but my ex kept changing her mind saying that she would love to be with me then saying she couldn’t because she loved me too much and “could not go back there”. She joined dating sites as soon as we separated and was out dating again only weeks after she moved out of our home.
5 months after we separated she drunkenly told me that she loved me and wanted to have our life back, she tried to clear the air and told me that she had seen an email from me to one of my friends admitting that I was texting this other person constantly but in the morning she said that she was really confused and decided to opt for a rebound person over me, which ended badly. When the rebound thing ended she told me that she needed to stop distracting herself from confronting our break up. She has never really confronted it, she has not wanted to understand what really happened in our relationship or with my friend and just things that I fell in love with someone younger and more attractive and has never taken any responsibility for things going wrong.
Only about a week after her rebound thing ended and 8 months after separating from me she met someone else online and this is working out very well from her. It seems to be a very loving relationship, they have lasted 8 months long distance and now her new partner is moving in with her. My problem is that I still hope that this is another rebound relationship. You have said that, when on the rebound, people play out some of the issues in the previous relationship. She does seem to be playing things from the other side vis-a-vis some of the dead bodies in our relationship.
I have spent a lot of time reflecting on our relationship and my own part in its demise and truly believe that if she had just had the courage to give things a chance we would have been very happy together I’d love nothing more than to be with her and don’t really want to start from scratch with someone new but I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance. I also realise that even if her new relationship does not work out she may not necessarily want me but I am certainly never going to get the chance while she in limerence and building a new life with someone else.
I was wondering if you have any idea how long someone can play out the issues of an old relationship in a rebound relationship as I need help understanding rebound relationships?
It is very common to play out a lot of the issues in one relationships in the next – because we think if someone really connects with us (and therefore understands us) that they will do anything to avoid causing us pain (after all isn’t that what’s love is all about). So the solution to the problems seems really easy – find someone else.
Except the problems are not superficial, they go deep into the fabric of who we are and how we see the world. Worse still, it’s not just about the other person but how we perceive their behaviour.
So for example, if we see our partner as CONTROLLING, the easiest way to sort that one out is to find someone who is not controlling. Simple! Except, we can find someone who is a doormat and start ordering them about instead. So it’s the same dynamic but we’re swapped roles. Alternatively, we can not recognise that the new partner is controlling because under the influence of limerence (the crazy part of falling in love) we are blind to our partners failings or see them as cute (she has strong opinions but that’s because she really loves me and wants the best for me). Alternatively, we can hear control when none is meant so an innocent question like ‘what time will you be back’ is heard as ‘I NEED to know what time you will be back EXACTLY and if you’re a minute late I will EXPLODE.’
So how long will someone continue to play out the issues of one relationship in another? I would love to be able to give a fixed figure but if it is something that goes back to her childhood it’s perfectly possible to spend a life-time replaying the same issues over and over again (but with different people). If we don’t learn from the past then we’re doomed to repeat it. That’s why I’m really keen for people to learn from a break up – rather than leaping into another rebound relationship to make themselves feel instantly better.
So I applaud the time you’ve spent understanding what happened but don’t put too much energy into trying to fix your ex. It’s hard enough to work on ourselves! And that’s where your focus should be.