The 8 Rules Of Rebounding

It’s over. Before you get back in the game, make sure you understand these eight important rules.

By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

our relationship has ended and the reality of being alone shocks your system like freezing water on sunburned skin. Some singles may hop back into the dating pool with a speediness that would make J.Lo dizzy. Others hole up in their bedrooms, staring at the ceiling and wondering what went wrong. Neither of these scenarios are bad, as long as they aren’t the only tactics that you take. In terms of emotional health and a balanced outlook, a combination of things are important to remember when you’re between relationships:

Analyze what went wrong
This means going beyond “he never bought me
Learn from the relationship and open yourself up to new ones.
flowers.” What were the main problems in the relationship and how did you contribute to them? No matter what the issue, from inattention to verbal abuse, a relationship is a two-way street. Realizing what the problem was and your role in it will prevent you from attracting a similar situation. “I was really angry at my ex because he always treated me like a second fiddle to his friends, his job, his hobbies,” says Liz, 28, of her last relationship. “When we broke up, I carried that anger around for a long time. I only seemed to meet more self-involved jerks. Then I realized that I had made the situation worse by accepting it. I was actually angry at myself for putting up with that nonsense. Now that I know that I have the power to choose what is acceptable to me in a relationship, I’m no longer angry. I’m starting to meet nice guys, now.”

Let go
Do not go over and over in your mind about what went wrong and what you should have done. Jealousy, resentment and anger concerning your past relationship should all be washed down with your first round of post-break-up margaritas. Learn from the relationship and open yourself up to new ones.

Spend some time alone
Friends are great in times like these, but you must face yourself and the prospect of being alone. It’s not a bad thing. Use all that time you used to devote to your relationship and pamper yourself. Write in a journal, read your favorite books, buy your favorite foods. Reacquaint yourself with you.

Slowly start to socialize
It’s important not to get stuck in a solitary existence. You don’t need to go out every night, but force yourself to attend events you enjoy—film festivals, gallery openings, sports events, fund-raisers. As long as you’re out doing something you like, you’ll feel comfortable and happy.

Be clear on what you want
Are you interested in casual dating? Are you looking for a serious relationship, and what are the parameters? Don’t just throw yourself out there and expect to find compatible singles. Be focused on what you do and don’t want. “After my last, difficult relationship, I decided I
Open your mind to new experiences.
didn’t want anything serious for a long time,” says Joyce, a laid-back 43-year-old. “Unfortunately, I didn’t communicate that to the men I met and I wound up getting tangled in several sticky situations where the men wanted a commitment. Now I quickly make it plain that I’m just having fun right now. If they want more, they can move on.”

Avoid fast-paced relationships
The classic rebound relationship happens shortly after a break-up and escalates at an unnatural pace. Do not be in a hurry to substitute your old relationship. Take your time, get to know the person and enjoy dating again.

Don’t expect your dates to be like your ex
If your ex cheated, don’t go sniffing your new man for strange perfume. If he was a commitment-phobe, don’t demand an engagement ring in three months. If your past love was a perfect gentleman, don’t walk away from a date if he doesn’t hold the door for you. Remember, the past is gone, don’t try to recreate it. Open your mind to new experiences.

Have fun
Lose the rigid dating time lines and desperate comparisons to your married friends. Life does not always go according to plans. Wear you hair in pigtails, paint your toenails different colors, flirt with that waiter who’s way too young for you. You just might like it. Appreciate this time to explore new possibilities for love, growth and happiness.

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a freelance writer who frequently contributes to Happen magazine.
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