Picture it: You meet someone you’re interested in, only to find out soon after that he or she just got out of a relationship. If you mention this to your friends, you’ll be hit with comments like these: “It’s not going to work because you are just the rebound relationship;” “Be careful because this new person shouldn’t jump right into a relationship with someone else.” In these situations, who’s right? Is it safe to start a relationship with someone who just got out of one?
Odds are that you have enough life and dating experience to know that getting into a relationship with someone who is recently single isn’t the safest or most effective route to take. Many relationships that start this way won’t last, but some can make it past difficult hurdles if you follow a few basic tips and tread carefully.
Tip #1: Slow down.
Let’s say that you’ve met a guy you really like, and he just got out of a relationship a short time ago. To protect yourself, date slowly and carefully. Specifically, you can best protect yourself by seeing the new person about once per week. The rush to spend several nights a week with someone you’ve just met is not healthy, and it will often result in the following sequence of events: moving too fast; having a mental freak-out; weirdness or fighting between the two of you; and the ultimate breakup. If you start slowly, you will keep your emotions and expectations in check.
Tip #2: Delay sexual activity.
If there were ever a time to delay intimate activity, it should be when you meet someone who just got out of a relationship. After a relationship ends, people often want to jump in too quickly in this area because their last experience wasn’t so fulfilling toward the end. You, however, don’t want to be exploited; you want to make sure that your new interest is interested in you personally and emotionally – not just sexually. For this reason, wait longer than you typically do to engage in sexual activity.
Tip #3: Do not have the monogamy talk for at least a few months.
The last thing you want someone to do is to establish another monogamous relationship right away after he or she just got out of another one. Simply put, you must very casually date a new person in order to get to know him and figure out if the two of you have enough in common to sustain a lasting relationship. It would be healthy for you to continue to keep your online dating profiles active during this period or to agree to casual dates with others during this period. The reason? You are not in a hurry to find The One.
Tip #4: Talk to your new love interest about what they learned from the last relationship.
This next point is crucial: You don’t want to talk to your new interest about details of their past relationship because the details really aren’t important to the new relationship. But it is fair to ask your new date the following questions: “Did you feel like you didn’t need time alone after the last relationship?” “So you think you had enough time to figure out where things went wrong?” “What lessons did you learn from the relationship?” You aren’t trying to cross-examine anyone, but you do want to send a clear message that you’re only interested in having a relationship if it’s a healthy one.
Tip #5: Wait to meet the family.
When you start dating the new person, you’re inevitably going to meet their friends and coworkers. Because this new person just got out of a relationship, however, put the brakes on meeting his or her family members until you’ve been dating several months. Meeting family members takes a relationship to a higher level, especially if meeting parents or siblings involves getting on a plane and actually traveling. There’s no need to rush to meet anyone’s family.
The takeaway message
You won’t know until you’re several months into a relationship whether it has a real chance at lasting, and that’s because it takes several months (at least!) to get to know a person. Sure, the two of you may get along incredibly well and all signs may point toward the relationship lasting, but the truth is that the person you’re dating has gone from one relationship to the next quickly, and you need to make sure you don’t (unnecessarily) get your heart broken. To protect yourself, you can follow my tips which will keep your eyes wide open!
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.