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Am I a rebound relationship after a loss?

Discussion in 'Dating Again After the Loss of a Spouse/Partner' started by Delilah, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. Delilah

    Delilah New Member

    Hi there,

    I am no stranger to grief.. I lost my father to cancer in 2011 3 months after diagnosis and lost my mother to cancer in April of 2017 after 4 months of caring for her. My question/story is complicated but hoping to gain some insight, comfort, anything.. from people who have experience grief of losing a spouse and then dating someone new.

    Here goes.. while I was caring for my mother, I met a man online whose wife had passed away a month before after a 4 year battle with cancer. He has 3 kids and had a particularly tough night, so he ended up on an app and was matched to me at random. He needed to talk and I listened. We formed a connection, a friendship and then it evolved to a romantic relationship over the following 20 months. We live pretty far apart but were able to see each other every couple of months. We talked about his late wife openly, and he said he was ready for a relationship, that he felt alive again.
    The last 6 months, I had noticed things change. His oldest child graduated highschool, he started a new job, his 15th wedding anniversary with his late wife and he took his kids on a family vacation to the last place they had all gone together on vacation before she passed away. He started to become more stressed, agitated, withdrawn. The week of the anniversary he said he needed space which I understood, and gave him space. But he called me a day into it and said he didn’t want to lose me. Things were different but still okay until the day he returned from the vacation. He ended our relationship saying he loved me but didn’t feel love for me. That he couldn’t get back what he had lost? I asked about his late wife and he admitted it was hitting him really hard, that he felt emotionally numb. That he didn’t feel love for anyone and he didn’t know what was wrong with him. I suggested he should seek out a counselor (since he had never done any kind of counseling after her death) and he became aggitated with me saying I was pushing him and manipulating him. He said he deeply cared for me and wanted me in his life.. but then he said it was easier if we had no communication. At this point, it’s been a month since he ended it.. I feel like he died and I went into a process of grief over it ending so suddenly. He’s not the same person at all.. he’s cold and we no longer are in contact. I understand that this is likely delayed grief.. that the trip and the anniversary plus the graduation all triggered what he never fully processed.
    This has been hard for me to cope with and move on from. He was the kind of guy who always said good morning and good night. We talked every single day for 20 months. And now.. it’s just nothing. Like a switch was flipped. I still love him and deeply care for him, I can’t find that switch.

    Has anyone experienced this? Or have any advice? I know my life goes on and this is something he needs to deal with on his own to heal and cope. It’s just hard.. he had made plans, asked me if I would marry him someday, I was going to move closer to him and it’s all just gone. Like it never existed. Hard not to feel like I was a rebound or a distraction and then he just abandoned me and discarded the relationship we had like it was nothing. Do people experience a delayed grief that causes them to just shut down like this and do they recover?
    Thanks for listening.
  2. Lee2122

    Lee2122 New Member

    Hey D, I was just wondering how your story has turned out 6 months later? Reading your story nearly made me cry as it’s almost the same experience I’m going through. The biggest difference being that his partner had a long battle with a disease for over 10 years and she passed approx 10 months before we got together. I have always supported her presence and him talking about her in our time together, and he didn’t talk too much about her or have pictures up. We were together and very happy for 10months. I was apparently the ‘love of his life’, best girlfriend, and so on and on and was pushed early to give 100% emotional commitment, but the last month I noticed his actions weren’t matching his words and he started to not take me along to many events and things were becoming a bit strained. He did promise me the world, he started to build a house that he wanted me and my kids to move into with him, he planned to take me on a holiday and I just think that he had promised me so many things to soon that he freaked out. He also started to have really heavy dreams of his late partner dying over and over and I know he was struggling and missing her lately (little things he said combined with moving into a new place);. But the way he just shut me down and dumped me in a day, (and put it all on me - not owning anything) and has since basically erased all trace of me, it’s like nothing happened and it was all just a figment of my imagination. (I haven’t tried to get in contact with him again, I thanked him for what he said and told him to be gentle with himself and have left it at that). He pushed me so hard to get my kids on board quickly and make a perfect second family then all of a sudden just dumped me like I was no one. I wrote him a letter and he basically replied saying he was a fool to think that he could unravel 25 years and that he needed/wanted to be alone. He went on to tell me that he meant and felt everything he said to me and that I was definitely not no one and he was sorry. But I’m still just reeling, angry and can’t understand how people can do this? Delayed grief I understand is a big thing, and I guess he just wasn’t ready, but how can you can build and invest in a new relationship then just throw it all away so quickly? So yeah I am really interested in how things are going now in your situation? Thanks for your time.
  3. Lee2122

    Lee2122 New Member

  4. Lindamedina79

    Lindamedina79 Member

    I am on the opposite end of things. I was separated from my husband for 2yrs before I started seeing someone new. Things between me and my new bf moved quickly. Everything was going great for 6 months. On the day of my bf’s bday I got a knock on my door letting me know that my husband had died. It literally was like a switch had been turned on and absolutely everything for me in my life had changed in a sheer moment. I realized how much love I still had for him. And I had so many unresolved feelings for him and the loss of any possibility that our family would be together again. Nothing my bf did was particularly wrong but it was just “different.” I felt as though I was cheating on my husband despite our situation. I tried to make things work with my bf for 3 months but nothing was the same since that fateful day. I had to let him go and not sting him along any longer. I felt guilty because the love I had for him had changed and guilty because I failed my family by not keeping it together. I am still physically numb 4+ months later. I’m trying to navigate this new life for my kids and I.

    Now I’m not sure what happened in either of your situations but I hope you both were able to get some closure. I suspect that your relationships ended due to grief and unresolved feelings over the loss of their wives. I know that that doesn’t help but if they are feeling anything like I am I can completely relate to what they went through.
    Stan Hale likes this.
  5. Diane Thea

    Diane Thea Member

    People change their minds every day. Sometimes for no reason. His reason sounded like he was just consumed by grief. It was too soon for him to be involved. In any situation where something ends, it hurts. Somehow, we survive.
  6. edj9

    edj9 Well-Known Member

    Loosing a parent and loosing a spouse are fundamentally different. That’s not a quantitative comparison. I lost my mom to cancer when I was 29, and my husband last year when I was 52. I know I’m not ready to even think about dating, and often wonder if I ever will, but I wouldn’t have had that same feeling following my mom’s death. Had I started dating after my mom died, there would have been no question of whether I was “replacing her” (at least, I hope not).

    But dating after loosing my husband? It’s not as if I’ve lost more than one husband, and am a practiced hand at it now. I don’t know what I’m doing, and learning as I go. If I were to start dating again, how would I know if what I’m feeling is real, or just a search to fill what I’d lost? I could “try it on for size,” but, is that fair? I guess I’d say to the new guy, “I’m not sure, but I’ll try,” and if he’s willing to take the risk of getting crushed when/if I discover that I’m genuinely not ready for a relationship, he’ll stick around. Problem is, it takes prescience to know whether it’s a risk, so I’d be expecting him to know exactly what he’s doing, as if he’s a old hand at dating widowers. Is it fair to expect HIM to know what he’s getting into? Finding someone simpatico is hard enough in “ideal” situations. Grief adds a whole nother layer of issues, not the least of which is anger. So, perhaps it’s just best NOT to date until I know I’m ready.

    But, then again, how do I know when I’m ready unless I try?

    Maybe it’s a chicken and egg issue, and the answer isn’t one or the other, but both at the same time, very gradually, and with much retracing, and high potential for failure, over a much longer period.

    tl; dr: if I found myself getting emotionally attached to someone now in a very short span of time, that would be a huge red flag.
    ainie likes this.
  7. edj9

    edj9 Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I meant to quote the OP in that last post.
  8. judestewd

    judestewd New Member

    What happens when you lose your spouse and in the same year a dear male friend contacts you telling you he's on hospice and probably will die within 3 month and wants to reconnect before he dies. Do you allow yourself to feel the acute loss again or just run for the hills?
  9. ainie

    ainie Well-Known Member

    Only you can know how you are doing. Perhaps it would give a new purpose to your days to give comfort, caring, to this old friend in time of need. Perhaps it would be simply too much heartache. Either choice is valid. Personally I would choose the reconnect, but I have always lived by the old saying "i'd rather be sorry for what I did than for what I didn't do". Give it thought and do what feels right to you.