23 July, 2008

Rebound Relationships - reclaiming the term

Location: the lovosphere
Mood: on course

If someone says to you "I think that you are having a rebound relationship", this is usually something we will receive either defensively, or with the sad realization that the "accuser" is correct. When we use the term rebound, we almost always mean that a person ended a relationship, and then hit the proverbial ground hard, and bounced right into something else that was completely wrong for them. I have had relationships like this. You have had relationships like this. We all have. But there is another way to see the term "rebound" and it can actually be framed positively. The very nature of a rebound often involves going for something that is the exact opposite of whatever we had before. The idea in our little hurt mind is that if "Old Lover" was wrong, then "Opposite of Old Lover" might be right. The problem with this game plan is that it is usually done impulsively, without a lot of analysis or self-reflection. And that's what gets us into trouble.

The idea of going for the opposite of what didn't work, in and of itself, is not a failed notion. But to grow as an individual and have healthier and healthier relationships, we need to put in the work of realizing what didn't work, and just as importantly what did work. Because it might turn out that much of what we gravitate toward does work for us, and that there were a few values or lifestyle issues, or personality traits that were the stopping points. If we can identify those little things, we can slowly build up a list from each relationship of the traits we would like to find again, and the traits that caused the friction. And then, a "rebound" becomes a "controlled rebound" - instead of bouncing like a superball from one extreme to another, we are making tiny course corrections, and slowly zeroing in on a composite of qualities with which we are compatible.

There is a possible flaw in this entire thought process, unfortunately. Maybe finding the love that lasts is not a scientific process, but a completely random one? Maybe we go through our lives making what we think are logical or illogical choices, but in the end it comes down to a magic "click" that either happens or does not? And when the click occurs, then all of the criteria on our checklists go out the window, and in we go - hook, line, and sinker - regardless of whatever lessons we think we may have learned from the past. But what is the success of those relationships? Matters of the "heart" are so difficult to predict.

Can "method" and "logic" be used to make romantic choices? Are the words "romance" and "logic" inherently in conflict? A lot of our culture and media teaches us that this is so. But I am becoming increasingly convinced that it may not be the case. Romance can be like a bungee jump without a bungee cord. Or romance can be like riding in a hang glider. It's the quality of the view that makes the romance something we all strive for. But including some self-evaluation, and at least a modicum of logic in our choices, might lead to a prolonged, exhilarating, peaceful glide across endless beautiful landscapes, instead of an intense but brief plummet, with burnout on re-entry, to the atmosphere that comprises our inescapable core value system.

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