“Be careful,” she told me.
“Oh?” I said. “What do you mean?”
“I know you’re crazy about this guy, but it’s all so new,” she said.
I smiled. “Yeah, I get that. I know all about New Relationship Energy. I know what that feels like.” New Relationship Energy (or NRE) is a term for the biochemical state that your body enters when you’re first falling in love, or lust, with someone. Where you begin to bond with them and half-lose your mind. New lovers make rash decisions, can look manic to the outside world.
In fact, prior to this conversation, I’d had a total of 4 cases of NRE in the past 2 years. And in fact, two of those had overlapped, where I had dated 2 new lovers just a few months apart.
I knew what it felt like.
“This isn’t NRE,” I told her. “Well, sure, there is NRE happening, but it isn’t just NRE. There’s real compatibility here. Comfort. We make sense on a level I’m not used to making sense with other people. He gets me. No one gets me.”
“Just be careful,” she said.
I frowned. “I know what I’m doing,” I said.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” she said.
My stomach dropped.
“He’s the rebound guy, after all,” she said.
I laughed. “That doesn’t really make sense in a polyamorous context,” I said. Because we hadn’t started dating out of desperation. If anything, I’d been quite strained for time and energy when I’d started dating him. He basically got my alone time, which should have been disastrous but ended up working out better than I could have imagined. Because strangely, he refilled my energy instead of draining it, like everyone else I was dating at the time.
It was stuff like the fact that he refilled my energy that made me think this wasn’t just NRE. This was different. But she wouldn’t listen.
She wasn’t the only one. Fact is, a lot of people thought we’d never make it.
But I always knew we would. (Well, as long as he would have me; part of me worried he’d get tired of me and move onto someone else.)
I’ve been with the rebound guy for almost a decade. It’s been outrageously good.
The initial wave of NRE is long gone, although we’ve had resurgences over the years. Times when it’s felt brand new, shiny, exciting.
But for the most part, something more satisfying and stable has taken its place. I write about it regularly, this minor miracle. Some examples:
- Great Things Can Seem Impossible Before They Happen; Then They Seem Inevitable
- What Old Relationship Energy Feels Like
- Thank You for Ruining My Life
- When Someone Can Make an Old World Feel New
- Don’t Stop Being Friends Just Because You Start Dating
- “You Don’t Act Married, You Like Each Other Too Much”
- “Don’t Worry, I’ll Take Care of It”
I have learned that when you know, you know. And you can do everything “wrong” when it comes to a relationship and still have it come out right.
Because we did. You were a rebound. I moved in with you too quickly. So many people thought we wouldn’t make it, although others would openly comment on how incredibly compatible and happy we seemed.
A Note About the Available Research on Rebound Relationships
Interestingly, while it’s commonly believed that rebound relationships are doomed to fail and it’s best to take time and space after a breakup before diving into a new one, the available research on it doesn’t actually support that.
I’ve written about it before in response to a reader who asked for advice about grieving polyamorous breakups. But here it is again: One study found that people who have rebound relationships get over their ex-partner more quickly and feel more confident (as did this one). Not only that but the study also found that folks who tended to be emotionally stable were actually more likely to have a shorter time between one relationship’s end and another’s beginning. Surprisingly, research has suggested that when it comes to moving on that focusing on something new actually helps.
And perhaps most surprisingly of all, research has found that “rebounds” don’t seem to be any more prone to relationship instability than relationships that started after a long break from dating…despite the very popular advice to take a break and work on yourself.
Anyway, I’ve been with the “rebound guy” for almost a decade. And I can honestly say that ignoring the naysayers and “common wisdom” on the subject was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.