When I first moved to the city I have now lived in for almost five years, I was excited to check out the online dating scene. There were fun dates, mediocre dates, and all-together terrible dates. At times it was disheartening but it was my first time ever trying out online dating so I was trying to keep an open mind.
One Friday night I headed out to meet a new date but not expecting anything exciting. I arrived at the bar and instantly recognized the man from his profile picture and my heart stopped in its tracks. He was absolutely gorgeous. Tyler gave me butterflies and from the moment that I laid eyes on him, I was hooked.
We had a fantastic night and many more dates. I realized I would love to have a relationship with Tyler, but something seemed off; I began to realize that he didn’t have the same intentions.
These are the signs that all put together, made me realize that I was Tyler’s rebound.
#1. He had recently gotten divorced.
Tyler failed to disclose this information on our first few dates, and then dropped the bomb on me one morning with a sheepish look on his face. His divorce had been finalized just one month prior to our first date.
The reason for his divorce made sense, and the divorce itself wasn’t a red flag. His ex-wife and he had married extremely young, they had been high-school sweethearts. Unfortunately, as they grew older they grew apart instead of growing together and decided they were better off parting ways.
But I felt my heart sinking. He had just ended a major partnership, while I had been single for some time and was ready to find the right relationship.
Although he did his best to convince me that night that it wasn’t a big deal, I made a mental note in the back of my mind… fresh off of the divorce train, check.
#2. He called me his girlfriend but didn’t want to commit.
At first, Tyler was texting me every day, constantly making plans, and even referring to me as his girlfriend. We seemed to be headed down the relationship road. But about a month into our “relationship” that I saw a glimpse of how much he didn’t want to actually commit.
After making plans to hang out over the weekend, he was hard to reach. When he finally responed to my texts, he said he was tired and he wanted to hang out at home and chill. When I reminded him we’d made plans, he shot back that he hadn’t committed to anything and that I was being needy.
That was the first of many nights when I would try to make plans and Tyler would refuse to commit to anything until the very last minute.
#3. He didn’t want to grieve or accept the loss of his marriage.
Grieving a relationship is one of the most important parts of the healing process. Tyler didn’t want to grieve his divorce at all and refused to accept that he had just gone through a traumatic life event.
I knew the divorce was such a hard thing for him to face was because he didn’t want to talk about it except when he had a few drinks…and then it was all that he wanted to talk about. For hours he would prattle on about the reasons why it happened, the reasons why they couldn’t manage to work things out.
He said that he didn’t want to grieve but it was obvious that he was grieving, in an unhealthy way.
The more that he tried to portray his divorce as, “whatever” the more alarm bells went off in my head.
Either he didn’t take marriage seriously which was a red flag, or he didn’t want to deal with the emotional aftermath of his break-up which was also a red flag.
#4. His ex was at the forefront of his mind.
The straw that finally caused me to call it quits with Tyler was the fact that I felt like I was living in his ex-wife’s shadow.
At times he would tell me all of the things she had done that drove him absolutely crazy. Other times something would trigger a fond memory and he would tell me a long-winded story about all of the fun they had together. Obviously, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that he wasn’t over their relationship.
I also had a sinking suspicion that she had been the one to end things, and that if she called him he would be running back into his arms. Although I am an understanding person in general, I wasn’t about to play second fiddle to someone’s ex-wife. I decided it was time to cut things off.
He wasn’t ready to be in a relationship and had jumped into a rebound relationship with me instead of dealing with his past.
For a long time, I repeated this pattern — developing feelings for people like Tyler and overlooking the blatant red flags. My friends joked that I constantly went after men that were emotionally unavailable. I would settle for someone who was making me their second choice or a fallback option.
After Tyler, I was finally ready to admit that I didn’t want to be in that kind of relationship. I didn’t want to be second to the ghost of another woman like I had been so many times before.
I decided not to repeat the mistakes of my past and I learned to cut ties before I got too invested in someone who either consciously or unconsciously saw me as their rebound girl.
Instead of wasting months or even years with someone who was emotionally unavailable, I started putting myself in a position to be available to someone who would be willing to put me first, not anyone else.