The Trials of Rebound Love
Q: I met my love a year and a half after my divorce. We clicked instantly like we have known one another our whole lives. He had lost his wife six months prior. She passed due to substance abuse issues which was similar to why I divorced my ex. We are so alike and often joke that the other is the male/female version of ourselves. Then my ex passed away due to substance abuse issues, and instead of this bringing us together, it created a huge distance. I believe my grief caused him to relive his, and we broke up.
We have rekindled the relationship twice since, and it always leads to him backing away. I told him that I loved him, but needed more and was going to force myself to move on. He said he loved me and that I was very important to him, but he still struggles with issues related to his ex. He wishes I would wait for him, but he knows that it's selfish to ask me to wait. I feel like I deserve someone who can give me the time and attention that I desire and not disappear the moment things get deep. On the other hand, moving on makes me feel like I am abandoning someone I love in a time of need. I just don't know if I should move on with my life with him or without. — Lily, 32
Dr. Susan: I've never heard a better reason for a couple to try therapy, either yourself or, ideally, together. You met one another a little soon after your respective losses, and apparently your guy hadn't finished grieving his wife. I'm not sure why he's holding back, but I wouldn't give up just yet. He may feel guilty or disloyal or afraid, or any number of emotions that are interfering with his opening up to you. I understand that you want to know where you stand, but perhaps giving him more time will get you what you both want.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.