Posted by: rose | 2008/08/08

Divorce &  dating after 1yr of separation

So, after a year of separation, in which I spent the time seeing a counselor and even going through a 12-step program called Recovery to deal with my feelings of anger and bitterness towards my (soon to be ex) husband... I asked him for a divorce. A year ago, he had an affair and moved out, but in January, he claimed he ended the affair and wanted to try to reconcile. Counseling sessions over the next 3 months went nowhere, and it was discovered shortly after counseling stopped that he is still in touch with / having the affair with the girlfriend.

We' ve lived apart for a year. I' ve been on my own for a year. I' ve not felt lonely. I made new friends, re-discovered my faith, and ultimately was the one who asked him for a divorce, but not before I forgave him and asked for forgiveness for my part of the failed relationship (anger, pride, resentment).

I have recently taken a job in another state where I have to be on site 5 days a week, and I spend 2-3 weekends a month there as well. Most of my coworkers are male, and I have hung out with a couple of them after hours... One " made a move"  on me, completely catching me off-guard. But, over the past few weeks, while he didn' t originally seem like someone I normally would have been interested in - which is to say, he seemed like the type who, in the past, has been " too cool"  for me - i.e., a bit of a player. He' s intelligent, mature, a little younger than I originally thought I should want to try dating, but has held a good, steady job since his early 20s in an engineering field.

It caught me by surprise that he' s so sweet and considerate towards me. And over the past month or so, I' ve really enjoyed getting to know him and spend time with him. He' s really comfortable to be around. We have a (surprising) amount of things in common. I think he' s a really great guy, but he' s also been burned relationship-wise.

As such, I' ve been trying to be cognizant of seeming clingy. I never have been clingy before, in fact my ex hated the fact I was so independent. But, I' m in a place where I don' t know many other people, so it' s hard not to want to spend my free time with this new guy. However, I know if I don' t find and make my own friends, I won' t like becoming dependent on him and neither will he - it' ll probably suffocate him sooner rather than later. So, I' m struggling with that. I figure he probably has some committment issues, so I definitely want to respect the time and space he needs to feel comfortable. But, I also want him to know I' m interested...

So, then there' s the other part of the problem, which is the recent-ness of the decision to divorce. It seems like a very recent decision, and I admit that telling my Ex I want a divorce hurt more than I anticipated it would. But, when I did so, I felt the last of my anger leave, and I only felt sad. Sad that someone who has been a part of my life for so long would no longer be there - even though he hadn' t been physically there for a year, and he' d been emotionally gone for 2 years before then. I spent some time mourning and praying, and while it is a sad thing, I am convinced it is the right choice.

I found out from a mutual friend / co-worker last night that the new guy I' ve been quasi-dating is concerned about the rebound possibility. He' s afraid that on some level he may be hurting me / is afraid that I' m just on the rebound and only wanting casual sex. I told him about a week and a half ago that I wasn' t in the market for something serious, but I didn' t think he was, either. He said he wasn' t... My thought at the time was that for me, it was and wasn' t true. I know from a logical standpoint, I shouldn' t be entertaining thoughts of a serious relationship. I also figured that he probably wanted to hear that I wasn' t trying to rope him into something committment-wise, especially this early. And I' m not envisioning moving in together or marriage or anything, but I do think there' s a lot of potential in him as a long-term partner. But, I don' t want to rush anything or scare him off.

My friends and family have cautioned me not to date too early. I really had no intention of dating, and again, spent the last year on my own and not dating. Seeing a counselor, working through my issues and how I contributed to the downfall of my marriage. One of the last things I want to do, I swear, is hurt this guy. But, in addition to the other internal battles I' m fighting, I also have to fight leaving myself open to being hurt / vulnerable - it' s not something I' ve done well in the past. My tendency is to cut off emotions, especially negative ones. But, when I told my Ex I wanted a divorce, I felt it was a really healthy sign / choice to spend some time grieving - and not just covering up or putting aside those feelings.

So...I guess what I' m concerned about this a rebound relationship? Should I stop seeing him to keep from hurting him?

Thanks for the advice.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Whew ! Sorry, but when messages reach 100 words or so, I find it really hard to keep track of so many details.
It sounds as though you have made a perfectly sensible and justifiable decision to divorce your huisband. When the divorce is through and over, it would be reasonable for you to consider dating again, but NOT too rapidly ( on the rebound, as such relationships usually fail ) nor leaping into mariage rather than taking it more gradually, to be more sure of yourself and the other guy.
Is it possible, and perhaps beneficial to both of you, to form a nice ordinary friendship with this guy, rather than becoming deeply intimate and long-term, at least not for a while ? If he is indeed a good potential long-term partner, this isn;'t likely to change if you wait a while to get to know each other better, especially when it might be in more natural settings than this artificial isolation in the sork context.
As for defining a rebound relationship, I think any useful definition would depend more on the extent to which you are over the previous relationship, not exceedingly needy or vulnerable, and moving on with your life in other areas of life, as well

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