Picture this: You just met someone new, and he’s perfect. He’s made it very clear that he’s single. Sure, he had a nasty breakup a few months ago, but that’s all behind him now. You start spending a lot of time together, and you can’t help but get excited about how promising the new relationship looks.
Then one day, he drops the bomb. He’s going back to his ex. You’ve been completely blindsided.
He said he was over her, didn’t he?
He seemed happy with you, didn’t he?
What made him change his mind so quickly?
Is there anything you could have done to see this coming?
Sometimes, these revelations are a surprise because they’re also fairly suprising to the person going back to the ex. Someone who hasn’t dealt properly with a breakup is going to feel ready for something new, but is also very susceptible to sudden bouts of nostalgia. He might also be very vulnerable to any moves his ex might make to get him back.
Is He Over His Last Relationship?
Here are a few warning signs you can heed.
1) There is unfinished business.
He might say he’s over her, but is still investing a lot of time and energy thinking about and talking about his ex. If there’s a divorce, maybe it isn’t final. If they lived together, maybe they still do, or a lot of his stuff is still at her place. Maybe they haven’t actually broken up yet.
No matter how much someone thinks they are over the last person, they really aren’t if they’re still devoting a lot of mental energy, including anger and revenge fantasies, to them.
In the early days, you shouldn’t be talking about exes much at all. You should be talking about each other!
2) It hasn’t been very long.
How long is long enough is somewhat subjective. But anyone a month or two out of a serious relationship is unlikely to be ready to move on to the next serious thing. We’ve discussed this at length in our book. When someone dies, we are expected to take time to grieve. This should also apply to relationships that don’t end in death. No matter how easy, or acrimonious, if the relationship was meaningful, the breakup will take some time to get over.
Someone who just went through a breakup can certainly be able to date and have fun, but it’s debatable if they are truly available for anything more serious than that.
Everyone of course has their own timetable, but some experts suggest taking two months for every year you were together to properly grieve the relationship that’s ended. If someone is less than a month or two out of a serious relationship, they probably aren’t ready to commit to someone new.
3) They bear emotional scars
These are often surprisingly easy to spot. The guy who can’t trust any woman because his last girlfriend cheated on him. The woman who thinks all men are liars, and is just waiting for you to prove her right.
Anyone feeling hostile toward the opposite sex is not a good relationship bet. Normal people might feel this way for a while after being mistreated, but they’ll get over it. If he’s been bitter and jaded for years, you probably won’t change his mind.
4) You are the “rebound.”
This is one of those things that’s a cliche because it’s all too often true. If you are the very first girlfriend after the end of his last relationship, he’ll very likely dump you and move on to someone else when he’s finally ready to settle down again.
People getting out of a relationship are often lonely and hurting, and might quickly latch onto the first person who crosses their path. Once they start feeling more like themselves again, it becomes clear that person they’re currently with is not who they really want.
In rare cases, you can follow all of these rules and still be blindsided, but most of the time, if you notice any of these four things, be aware that you might not be in this relationship forever. If you are looking for something long-term, it’s probably best to avoid anyone with any of these traits altogether.
If he’s been single for a while, seems neither angry nor obsessed with his ex, isn’t bitter and jaded, and you aren’t the first person he’s dating post-breakup, he’s a much better long-term bet.