My boyfriend and I broke up at the end of the summer, right before I left home to spend a year in England. The break-up was mutual, but we were together for one blissful year and I had been crazy in love. I wallowed for a weeks in the company of the Lorelai Gilmore, Carrie Bradshaw, and Pizza Pizza. After a month of wretchedness, it was time to pack up and make the massive move across the ocean.
Break-ups are horrendously painful but they serve a great cosmic purpose; once it doesn’t hurt anymore, you can look back and learn something. However, a month isn’t a long enough time for the hurt to go away. All I could feel was the absence of adoring and being adored.
I made friends quickly upon my arrival across the pond. Before I knew it, I was out on the town grabbing ‘one pound pints’ with my new buddies and scoping the scene for the next man who might be lucky enough to woo me.
It wasn’t hard to find him. He was called Mike. Tall, slim build, nice face. He sidled up next to me at the bar and asked me where I was from. Before I knew it we were sharing a cigarette outside. Then moving on to the next bar. Then I was showing him photos of my cat. Then he was rubbing my shoulder as I wept about my heartbreak. Then we were eating McDonald’s at three in the morning.
And then I blinked and was waking up next to him. He left me with his number scrawled on the back of a receipt for the chicken nuggets he had bought me.
I began sending Mike text messages like this: ‘Just did something funny, can’t wait to tell u about it!’ and ‘I miss my cat ’ etc. I am not proud of messages like this, but they came naturally. I was used to having someone care about my life in all its mundane glory.
And Mike was into it all. He answered my messages promptly and with the occasional joke. He took me for drinks. He had Bob Dylan song lyrics tattooed around his bicep and I would fall asleep tracing my finger over the cursive words. I had known him for three weeks and he had easily slipped into my life and replaced a void before I really realized it was there. He had effortlessly become my — dum duh duh dumm cue the horror music — rebound.
One night, we stumbled home together after about a million ‘one pound pints’. He snuggled into my bed and I grabbed my laptop to load a movie. I quickly checked a message on Facebook and that was when everything fell apart at the seams. It was from my Ex, it was the length of a short story and it was filled with words I wanted to hear and didn’t want to hear in equal measure.
My eyes darted over to my bed where poor Mike lay, waiting for me with a dopey grin on his face, posing like he was in a bad porno and not in an ironic way. His only fault was that he was not the person I was still in love with, a fact that I had been repressing for the whole three weeks of our relationship. When I looked at him, that fault was the only thing I could see. From that moment on, I would feel nothing but complete repulsion for Mike. Guilt-ridden, I let him snuggle me all night long, avoiding all things dirty by pretending to pass out.
Without a word of explanation I stopped answering his calls, ignored all his text messages and avoided the bars I knew he frequented. It took a few weeks for him to stop calling me every half an hour whenever he got drunk. It took a few months for him to stop rubbing up on me if I did happen to bump into him at a bar. There was one evening where he actually followed me around a club and tapped me on the shoulder several times while I was busy making out with someone else. But for the most part, the whole thing fizzled out as quickly as it had started.
Meanwhile, I had more important things to deal with. The message didn’t change things between the Ex and myself. However, now that I had gotten rid of Mike, it was time to face the fact that I was alone in a strange city. To make matters worse, I hadn’t spent much time with my new roommates in those pivotal first few weeks. I had rebounded with Mike because I was afraid of loneliness and I had ended up lonelier as a result.
But this is not a sad story; it is merely a cautionary tale. Rebounds are destined to hurt the person you’re using and succeed only in prolonging the pain of your break-up. You might get a good story out of those rebound guys, but using someone will never make you feel good in the long run. My advice is that after breaking up, keep your girlfriends close, keep the one night stands coming and don’t gain too much weight because you’ll regret that in a few months when you’re sick of being single.