are you quick to rebound?

straight up advice

I get quite a bit of mail asking for advice. Sometimes it’s restaurant reco’s, other times it’s itinerary questions about New York. Hair products or my favorite brand of bedding. How to lose weight. Mostly, it’s about the heart. I know a lot of you have emailed and I haven’t had a chance, dammit, to write you back yet. Perhaps this will help.

I received an email from a woman I’ll call Claire, about my age, living in Los Angeles. She broke off her engagement in January. She just didn’t think it was right. He then moved on, and by March, he was engaged to someone else, a model (of course!), and proposed using the same ring he’d chosen for Claire. Not only this, said model knew the ring had been worn by Claire, but didn’t care. Knew he’d just broken off an engagement, but again, didn’t care. Claire knew she shouldn’t feel upset, that she did, after all, end things… but still.

Now, I know we’re all quick to call him an asslick, but sit tight. I also get emails from people in HIS position, though they’re mostly women. Their boyfriends, fiancees, husbands leave them, and they email to tell me it was a blessing in disguise because they’ve just met the love of their life, and a month later they’re engaged. "You always said ‘what can take a lifetime to find with one person you can find in a moment with someone else!’" Yes, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean you should rebound, headfirst, just so you don’t lose your place.

That’s what happened to me. I didn’t want to lose my place. I’d gotten to a point in my relationship where I was ready for marriage, and if it didn’t work out, I’d find someone else to marry, and I’d do so, full speed ahead… because I wanted what I wanted… needed what I needed… and that was to be married.

Whether it’s a guy or girl who’s dumped or doing the dumping, it doesn’t all that much matter (aside from the feelings of rejection). I said as much to Claire, who admitted she was going to nab up Straight Up And Dirty straight away as her "heart-salve."

I know this is hard to see, Claire, but if he could, that quickly, jump (plummet, really) into another serious relationship like that, that’s very very telling about his character. He sounds very needy and unsure of himself. To race into a relationship like that, means you NEED it, need it so badly, need to believe that you won’t be alone, need to feel loved, need to know that you won’t die alone. And NEED is not a good mental state when entering a relationship. Why? Because with all that wanting, and need, you don’t even really know what you want in a partner. You just know what you need and grab something to get those needs met. It sounds like he has a lot of fear in his life.

You made a decision from your heart, and you can never go wrong as long as you follow that. I know it sounds so damn cheesy, but it’s very true. You knew in your gut that it wasn’t going to work out. I know you feel weak right now, but the great thing is this: when we’re in pain, we do the most growing.

Intellectually, I know you know all this. Emotionally you feel kinda battered. It’s normal. Just know that the universe is taking care of you and will present you with a whole dumptruck of love when you’re ready for it–and the only way you’ll be ready for it is if you respond to this hurt with grace. It’s not the events themselves that matter… it’s how we respond to them.

You’re no "woe is me!" girl. So pick yourself up, put on some lipstick or gloss or whatever makes you feel like tap dancing, and remember that every stranger we meet in life can turn out to be a person who can change our lives forever. There’s sooooo much out there. Today, when you look out the window or walk around the block, even to clear your head, look at all the strangers. They each have their own little dramas, and you realize how many other possibilities there are out there for you… adventures, really. And it’s what makes life so tasty. Well, that and cheese. This will be behind you when you bury it and decide you’re ready for adventure.



  1. I don't necessarilly agree with your analysis of the guy's character (being needy). It really could have been sincere, that he now "finally knows what love feels like" etc…
    When my boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me, I was crushed. After a while it got better, and I started enjoying being single – but it didn't last that long, I met and fell in love with another guy within 3 months of the breakup. At first I thought of turning the new guy down, remaining single, but I just liked him too much. I was head over heels despite not needing a partner at that time. I'm glad I still let him in and we became a couple. It was crazy-madly-deeply love, not rebound fling. And it had nothing to do with my feelings for guy nr1, who I had also loved deeply.
    I just want to say that there's a chance that Claire's guy really is just in love. And that she shouldn't feel too hurt, just because he's in love with someone else now doesn't mean that he didn't truely love her too.

    BTW, ordered your book through UK Amazon today – they're selling me the pocket version with the hardback cover, I hope this is not some counterfeit?

  2. I called off an engagement 5 months before the wedding after being together for almost three years but we didn't breakup for another 14 months. He finally left me saying that I broke him and everything was was my fault for calling off the wedding. That I was the one that hurt him and he couldn't take that initial hurt anymore. He had to go. I called off the wedding because I knew I wasn't ready for "forever" but, I would be one day.

    That was nine months ago and I'm still haunted by decisions and choices… and I repeat some words from your Slow Burn post "He'll infiltrate your dreams, I'm afraid, but you'll finally be free to live yours" until I can breathe again. Reading another one of your posts about this continues to help to reiterate that I need to continue to crawl until I can walk and then open myself back up to the adventure.

    And though I do put on my lipgloss and heels and talk to cute strangers during nice long lunch breaks, I still feel lost. All i know is that this is all a process and one day when I'm really truly ready, I'll find the life that I am supposed to have. But the universe continues to take care of me, and I'm so thankful for that.

    Thanks again…

  3. Ha- perfect timing. I broke up with my BF right before he was about to propose. He jumped into another relationship – spent a year in that relationship trying (actively) to get me back, and just now proposed to her when I began my first relationship since the break-up.
    He wants security and that's what he's getting I guess. He only stopped pursuing me when he saw I was never gonna take him back- I pity his fiance.

  4. "Claire" I was in your shoes about five years ago I was with someone for four years. I thought I was in love with him. Then I realized I loved him, but wasn't "in" love with him. So, one day out of the blue I ended it. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, to say the least.

    Four months later I was fixed up on a date with a friend, of a friend. Really, I didn't want to meet anyone. I went because I felt like I needed to be more outgoing. So, after seeing a picture of him, and he had seen one of me, we agreed to meet each other. I had never met him or spoken to him, not even emailed.

    A few days later I was walking my dog. A guy with the bluest eyes I had ever seen ran past me. We made eye contact and I felt like I knew him. I stopped walking and turned around. He was walking back to me. Thats how I met the guy I will marry in a week. It was the most comforting thing. Our first conversation was so effortless. The minute I started talking to him I knew we would be together forever.

    I hope you can let got of the pain and give yourself permission to meet the perfect person. Good luck and have fun trying.

  5. ah, how right you are! we all know this! but it seems at times when we really need it…we have to hear it from someone else.

  6. It's so funny I came to your site today with every intention of emailing a personal question to you and I found this post! I'm re-reading SUAD for probably the twentieth time and I started asking myself how you kept going after the Wasband. How you didn't just die of the boredom found in dating? I've been out of a relationship for a long time now and the last one ended with restraining orders and changed emails/phone numbers/addresses. I find myself in a new city (well, i've been here three years now) with new people and i'm very happy with my quiet life and my solitary ways. I know many people think that's just an excuse and whatnot, but I lived several lifetimes in my 20s and now that i'm 32, i'm not really interested in all the nonsense associated with dating. I find myself meeting new boys/men/guys and within five minutes of talking to them i'm so bored I could just fall over. I don't believe in marriage and don't want to have kids and if I have to explain myself to one more person I think i'll join a convent to avoid having to speak to anyone. (which presents a problem as i'm not the least bit religious). So i'm reading SUAD and i'm wondering how did you solider on? How did you endure over and over again experiences that were so disappointingly similar that you could have been on autopilot for all the guys knew?
    I see the priceless end result in the pictures of Lucas and Abigail and you with Phil. But being someone who doesn't want a husband or kids, I'm finding it harder and harder to muster any energy to suffer through dating.

  7. I think sometimes your analysis is right. And sometimes, people are done with a relationship while still in the relationship. That was the case with me. I hung around for months with a boyfriend even though we both knew that what we had was long over. Neither one of knew how to end it. Within four months of me finally agreeing to give up the apartment, he and his new girlfriend (three years later his wife) were pregnant and I had met my future husband. It was as if we went through the break up while still together and when we physically parted, we were ready to paint the town red.
    Have to say, though, to the Claire girl – he gave her the same engagement ring? Eeek.

  8. "every stranger we meet in life can turn out to be a person who can change our lives forever"

    This is very true and great advice…..I need ot keep that one in my back pocket everytime I immediately shut down a new guy in new york, but every stranger you meet could also be some pyscho path…lol. So maybe I won't save that advice for random men in NYC but for other types of strangers..

  9. this is one of my most favorite posts you have written…its so true and solid simple advice. thanks.

  10. I sometimes wonder about the people who hang onto (or in) a relationship they 'both know is over.' Seems like that's the same thing Stephanie is saying — you're staying out of need (to not be alone) or fear (of the unknown, of change, whatever). I want to be with someone who's ready to be in a relationship and is choosing it out of want, not need to fill anything.

  11. I ended a four year relationship, four years ago. He wanted to get married, I didn't. He married the next girl he dated and I am still single. Sometimes I wonder if he was my only chance to be married, albeit unhappily married. I wonder if I am being punished for breaking his heart at the end, even though he broke my heart continuously throughout our relationship.
    I've had many 3-4 mini relationships since then, but no bona-fide boyfriend. It's frustrating, but I do believe that I've grown after every one of those mini romances have ended and that it is hopefully setting me up to meet the right man for me. I believe that everything we do sets forward a motion of future events. So even though I just ended things with someone this week, perhaps that's setting me up to meet someone better for me by this weekend? :)

    1. Hi Jules,
      My name is Jules too and I’ve wondered to myself if I was punished for breaking my 3 1/2 year relationship with a man who was just not the one. I was single for almost 6 years before I met my current boyfriend of just under a year. So I totally get your frustrations as I’ve been in your shoes.
      I think you’re in the right mindset that your actions are setting you up to meet the right man. That’s what I said to myself after going on almost 100 dates during that 6 year period!
      Keep that positive attitude and I believe that will continue to put you in the path to meeting the right guy for you. :)
      Jules in NYC

  12. My boyfriend had just gotten out of a 2.5 year relationship when he met me. We got together within 2 months of his breakup, and I was supposed to just be a fling. That was over 3 years ago. As he said, "You just can't help when it happens. And you can't let something good go by for the wrong reasons."

    Of course, he's now 22 and has been in a serious relationship (well, 2) for the past 6 years of his life, albeit unintentionally. I do wonder if one day he will wake up and crave that fling. But I guess that's my own insecurity.

  13. I hate to nitpick, I really do.. but in paragraph three, it's "though THEY'RE mostly women" (unless I'm misunderstanding the sentence). Feel free to not post this comment if you've already corrected it. :-)

  14. Thanks for this. I broke up with someone last summer because I knew it wasn't healthy and found myself jumping into things so quickly. I just broke up with another, he was in the last stages of divorce. He was pushing so hard to be serious and I knew I wasn't into him enough. I also worried that someday, if we did stay together, he would resent me for never having freedom. In the midst of this hard decision, I still care about him as a person, I realized I too had jumped too quickly; wanting to fill the void from the first break-up.

    Its always nice to be reminded to take a step-back and learn from mistakes.

  15. Christina, I think I am like you. Do you like to write? I met the most amazing man on-line about three years ago. Our relationship launched from a series of lengthy and regular correspondences (we are both professional writers). It helped us cut to the chase and quickly gain a sense that we were worryingly compatible. I'm older – 38 – so I'd settled into a much quieter and more focused type of lifestyle than in my twenties when I met said man. I'd also grown tired of dating and found – no sour grapes here, at least not now – that men my age and even older were dating women 5-10 years younger than I. I'm quite certain that biological clocks had something to do with that, which is fair enough. While I was extremely skeptical on numerous levels about the future of my Internet romance, I believe our relationship stayed afloat on the strength of our lengthy e-mails between frequent visits. What's more, I was so utterly attracted to his person, that when he didn't end up being my physical ideal, I was already sold, if that makes sense. Last winter I brought my mother over to meet him (he lives in Europe) and now it looks like we're going to have a go at something permanent. I leave in six weeks! (Yikes.) This is all to say that, if, like me, you find you've given yourself permission to get a tad plump; your preferred companions purr and/or require corking and you'd rather go sea-glass hunting than shoulder the local Happy Hour scene, I say satisfying dating can start with a pen-pal. It's not for everybody. (Neither, as we all know, are women who like cats!)

  16. to jennynyc-

    i know this type of man…the guy that you are dating. its a very sticky situation you are in. most likely he will have a freak out (in a few years) and will want to be alone or sleep around or whatever he thinks will make him feel good again. some guys keep telling themselves that they need time alone or to just be themselves, but then continue to be in relationship after relationship…stringing women along. your insecurities? probably a good indication that you know its going to end this way.

  17. Years ago I remember listening to a friend of mine in a bar lamenting the fact that she'd just broken up with her college boyfriend. We were probably about 28 or so at the time. She wasn't sad about losing the guy, but totally freaked out about her "timeline."

    She laid it all out for me – "If I were to meet someone tomorrow, then we'd have to date for at least a year, then we'd be engaged for a year, and then I'm already 30 and no kids in sight! And that's if I meet someone tomorrow!" I remember looking at her like she'd lost her mind.

    It turns out she did meet someone later that year, and now she's 33 with two kids. She and her husband fight alot but overall are making it work – mostly because she rules him. Sometimes I wonder if whoever she had met next would have been "the one" for her. People like this baffle me. What's more important, making your deadlines or finding someone that makes you happy?

  18. I heard something interesting the other day. Each one of us has an 'aura' or an 'energy' around us. For people who are constantly seeking and desperately searching for their 'other half' or 'soul mate', they are only offering half of themselves – they have an incomplete or weakened aura. When you become whole, complete and satisfied with yourself, that's when you're likely to attract a whole, complete and satisfied person. Even if you don't believe in the aura stuff – desperation smells bad, everyone knows that.

    I remember when I was 20 though – I never thought I could be complete or whole or satisfied without someone. Oh, I fought to keep that alive a long, long time.

    Oh, the sweet salvation of solitude, how I cherish it. At least in the relationship world.

  19. That was beautiful Stephanie, and I think very comforting.

    I have such a difficult time determining whether I "need" something or I am just "ready for it".

    We'll have to see which one this man turns out to be. I hope I'll have the foresight and grace to realize if it's the first, if and when it ends.

  20. I particularly like the sentiment that everyone else, all of the strangers we see and pass every day have their own drama. They all have their own stories. When we see the world in this way it affords us more leeway, room to make mistakes and learn. It takes the edge off of having to feel perfect and like we're on the right path because what is the right path? There's only a right path for you. By being open to new people and the world (as you wrote here) we won't get in our own way and instead end up where we'll be happiest and with the partner who fits us best. Such a healthy and wonderful way to see things.

    And Mia- your story gave me goosebumps. That's really exciting. I want to know more. What did he say to you? Later on did you both share your impressions with each other? Congratulations!

  21. I agree with most everything you wrote here, except for one point. You can go wrong when you go with your heart because sometimes your heart is just being influenced by some emotion or something else (like Turner or whatever the hell his name was in your prior post). *shrug* However, maybe that doesn't make it wrong – merely an opportunity to learn.

  22. I was devastated after my last breakup. It was the deepest pain that I had ever felt. It seemed like he took part of me with him. I thought I needed him so badly. I forced myself to learn as much as possible from the situation. We aren't guaranteed a significant other in this life. I decided that I needed to reach a point where I could be happy on my own even if I never dated anyone again. I wasn't even looking when I found someone new. He's wonderful, but he could never complete me-only I can do that. He is my bonus, and I am so grateful for him.

  23. I say we end all comments after Caroline's – that was the perfect ending for the string following this wonderful post.

  24. Your point about not losing your place in relationships is very insightful. Seriously, spot on. I am also a pre-30 divorcee (now a happily married mommy of soon-to-be two). The end of a relationship at that point in life really shakes your fragile identity and takes a shot at your biological clock fears too. Not losing your place seems like self-preservation but it is very misleading!

  25. I loved this post Stephanie. What wonderful advice you shared with Claire.

    Could not have come at a better time for ME either.

    Thank you. For always writing from the heart- with eloquence and style and sass that I just admire to no end.

  26. I think women look for the right "man" in their lives to marry, while sometimes, men just look for the right "time" in their lives to marry. I understand Claire's feelings – I'm sure she (or anyone in her situation) would have wanted the other party in a failed relationship to have grieved over that broken relationship a bit longer.

  27. I just read this back, including my own comment. Here I am, a week later, and we broke up. Part of me can't believe it, because it seemingly came out of nowhere. But maybe I did know all along that somehow, or some reason, we were going to need to separate. We both have so much more growing to do (him especially) and maybe we just need to do it alone.

    Mostly I'm still in denial. But those moments I embrace it, I feel like my heart was just ripped from my body, and now I can feel the breeze blow through the gaping hole that is left. I wonder how I will make it through.

    FROM SK: You will make it through, as you know. I am sorry you're hurting. Please try to remember this… you don't want to be on the wrong bus when the right one pulls up. You knew you weren't where you really belonged. It was just too hard to face the change. Now you're in it, and it's hard. It's hard for anyone. Just know that you'll make it through, and it's how you respond to this event that really defines who you are.

  28. To Jenny NYC-

    Here I am on a Saturday night, alone at my apartment. I, too, just went through a rough breakup in similar circumstances. I have my moments of complete liberation and complete desperation. I know exactly how you feel. Hang in there!

  29. Thanks for this post Stephanie, just what I needed to hear tonight. Your writing is beautiful, I just bought your book, Moose and really look forward to reading it. :)

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