Ask Dr. Gilda-Am I His Rebound Romance?

Can someone be ready for a real relationship right after a big split? Our expert offers advice.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I met a guy online and we’ve been dating for a couple of months now. We get along so well! But then I found out that he had only been broken up with his ex of three years for two months prior to meeting me online. My last relationship lasted three years as
You are wise to question the relationship-readiness of your current boyfriend.
well, and I know how long it took me to get over it (about a year). He has been completely honest with me and tells me that he is not over his ex, but is making progress.

We have now been dating for a couple of months and he spends all his free time with my son and me. We have a great time, but I can’t help but feel there is this other person in our relationship. He has not talked about his feelings for me, either.

I’m very cautious, because I don’t want to get hurt and more importantly, I don’t want my four-year-old son to get hurt. How should I handle this situation? Is it possible that he is using me to fill his time so he isn’t lonely? I have voiced my concerns to him and told him if he needs time to get over her, then he should take it now.

Should we not see so much of each other until he can say he is completely over her and can tell me how he feels about me? Or is it possible for him to get over a past relationship while in a current one?
-Confused (but hopefully not the rebound)

Dear Confused,
In all the years I’ve been responding to relationship questions, I find that most people already know the answers to the questions they ask. Many times, they don’t know that they know the answers, or they don’t want to face the truth. Based on what you have asked, I believe you are very astute about your current situation.

You are wise to question the relationship-readiness of your current boyfriend. Especially having been there yourself, you know how long it takes to become ready for a new love. I don’t like the fact that this guy is spending so much time with you and your son. You say that you don’t want your child to get hurt, but if he’s already bonding
I suggest you tell him to take time to find himself.
with your boyfriend, you’ve already set a scene that can disappoint him greatly. This guy, by his own admission, is still aching. And you’re right, there IS a third party—his ex—contaminating your duo.

Most people unwittingly seek what I call a “bridge relationship” between a painful breakup and one that eases them into the dating mainstream once again. Do you want to be the bridge between your man’s past and his future with someone else?

You already suspect that this is not an emotionally healthy situation either for you or for your son—and that’s why you’re asking about it. People in pain often do look to spend “all their free time” with time-fillers. Would you ever want to describe yourself as a “time-filler?” Your guy is still too numb to feel and he’s not been out there long enough to even appreciate how terrific you may be. Moreover, he’s still too raw to want to be alone. While it seems impressive now that he wants to spend so much time with you and your son, things may not end up where you want them to.

I suggest you tell him to take time to find himself. Occasionally, the two of you might communicate as friends online or on the phone, but not in person. Maybe time will prove that you two do have more than a rebound connection. But to involve yourself and your son in anything more is too emotionally dangerous. Heed the words of my Gilda-Gram: “Every single deserves a partner who is emotionally available.”

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website ( and send her your relationship questions.
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