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 He started to become more stressed, agitated, withdrawn.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.