I’ve said it before and I will say it again: If you’ve just gone through a divorce, give yourself some time alone to heal. Ideally, take a good twelve months off from dating. Yes, a good year off. Trust me, it will go by fast and you will thank yourself in the end. I know… I know… you haven’t had sex in a long time and you’re lonely and you really want to put yourself out there. You want to dip into the supposed sexual orgy of the modern-day dating pool that you keep hearing about. I get it. Been there and done that.
The problem is that, whether you feel it or not, you’re kinda fucked up right now. You went through a pretty traumatic thing. Divorce, no matter how you frame it, does a real number on a man. I know you may liken yourself to some kind of “alpha male” type dude, you’ve probably read a bunch of stuff online, watched a lot of Youtube videos, and have convinced yourself that you can jump right into the world of casual sex without “falling in love and getting in a relationship again”.
Well, maybe you will… but I doubt it.
What typically happens is this:
- You put yourself out there on every online dating app/site.
- You’re not the ugliest guy in the world, you have an okay career, and you’re in your 40’s.
- Your dating pool seems to consist of also-divorced 30 and 40-something-year-old women.
- You get a few hits and strike up conversations with a few women.
- Your energy and openness is such that these women seem to like you and want to take things to the next level.
- You meet these women and one, in particular, you really click with.
- You can’t believe your luck. You found a REALLY good woman. That didn’t take long! You are one lucky dude.
- After some time, you realize (either through a steady stream of minor red flags or one major “holy shit” moment) that this gal is REALLY bad news. You break up.
- You’re heartbroken. You find yourself saying, “This actually feels worse than the divorce.”
Congrats. You experienced what we call, “The rebound chick”.
The rebound chick phenomenon is insanely common. WHY does this happen? Because you’re broken, naive, and horny. This is not a great combination.
The rebound chick experience is a representation of what’s going on in your head at the moment. You desperately want to return to a sense of normalcy and a new sense of sexual achievement as a man… but you quickly learn that you can’t throw all of that expectation on the shoulders of a random woman from Tinder. If she’s over-the-top gaga for a freshly-divorced broken dude she just met online, then she probably has a screw loose. In fact, she’s probably A LOT like your ex. Funny how that works.
Why do these rebound chick breakups hurt so bad? Because, for guys in your frame of mind, she was a representation of hope. She was a potent shot of dopamine in a world that seemed to be hell-bent on kicking you in the ribs while pointing and laughing at you. The universe seemed to be saying, “Sorry for all the shit you went through. You’re a pretty good dude. Here’s your reward. Sorry about all that trauma stuff.” And then… “Psyche! Everything is still fucked up. Even more than you thought! Now, go crawl back into your hole.” It’s yet another major event that seems to twist and contort your sense of reality.
Now, there is the school of thought that one SHOULD actually jump right back into the dating world. This, some claim, is precisely how you grow and mature. You get your heart broken. You get back on the horse. You break some hearts yourself. You learn to “hire slow and fire fast” as business consultants like to say. You learn that it’s not all about sex. You learn that sex is actually complicated. You learn that you can’t escape feelings. You learn that there are A LOT of wackos out there and you need to understand red flags and enforce boundaries.
I get it… but this doesn’t work well in reality. The reality is that all of the suggestions to quickly “Get back on the horse” assume that you are operating mentally at 100% capacity. What I have seen, more often than not, is a very broken dude who quickly jumps into a serious relationship with the WRONG woman. Sometimes that results in a guy licking his wounds and truly learning from the experience (and the subsequent epiphany they have is “I need to take time off from dating”), and sometimes that results in a tremendous amount of pain that sets him back years in the emotional healing process.
I don’t think a lot of people have a firm grasp on just how “broken” many guys out there are. I’m not just talking about cases of divorce, either. We have an inordinate number of married men in extremely toxic relationships. Codependents. Abused men. Men who have absolutely zero sense of self-worth. Men who haven’t experienced physical intimacy in YEARS. Men who married the first woman who said, “I love you.” Men with very real mommy issues. Men with no father figure in their lives. I hear from these men on a daily basis. It’s been eye-opening to me, and extremely sad.
We want to tell THESE guys to just jump into the dating pool and learn to swim? It’s going to end in disaster. My hope is that men out there take my advice to heart, and during the downtime, they learn to deal with their deep-seated issues that have contributed to the current situation. If not, they will do it again, and again, and again…