I’ve been dating a girl for about two months and I really like her. And I think she really likes me. The problem is we started dating just a month after she got out of a long-term relationship. Is it a bad idea for me to fall for this girl? Is she really ready for another relationship, or just on the rebound?
Scooping up girls and guys “on the rebound” is a time tested way to get laid…whether they’re emotionally fragile or just newly single and horny, it’s easy pickins. But if you’re interested in a long-term romance, does it make sense?
Short answer: Yes, if you’re actually a good match.
Long answer: I read about a study last week done at Columbia University comparing physical pain to emotional pain. Volunteers who had previously gone through a painful break-up were shown pictures of their exes, and asked to think of a positive memory, then of a painful one. They also had an object placed on their arm, which at one time produced a warm, pleasurable sensation, and another was heated up to cause pain. Using functional MRIs, scientists mapped what areas of the brain responded to each of the four sensations.
The result was that the same part of the brain which we used to believe was dedicated only to physical pain was also used to process the emotionally painful memory. This study showed what anyone who has suffered heartbreak can tell you: emotional pain doesn’t metaphorically hurt, it actually hurts.
Now, keep in mind what pain is: an evolutionary adaptation meant to keep you out of harm’s way. If you didn’t feel pain, you’d happily stand in fire, or run around till you died of exhaustion…pain sucks, but it helps you survive.
Emotional pain is the same. It sucks, but it is there for a reason. Tens of thousands of years ago pair-bondings were essential to a woman for food, protection, and late-night caveman spooning. If something happened to put these in jeopardy, those with strong pain reactions would cope best. Just like the pain of burning will help you instinctively jump out of a fire, the pain of getting dumped will instinctively help you jump into a new relationship. As you might guess, cavebabes on the rebound were a lot more desperate than modern women need to be. But modern men and women don’t have modern brains, they have cavebrains…this is a core belief of evolutionary psychology. So while times have changed—getting dumped no longer means dying in the wild—our emotions are the same as they were 10,000 years ago.
So, in 2011, if a woman gets dumped, how soon until she’s ready to get back into a long-term relationship? Well, pretty freaking soon, thanks to her cavebrain instincts. And the more desperate she is, the more kids she has, or the more help she needs, the quicker she’ll want to make that pain go away by getting back to a place of relationship security.
What if it was the woman who chose to end the relationship? Break-ups are always sad, but less sad if you’re the one doing the dumping. Still, both produce heartache, and your body and brain will want to relieve that pain, whether you are the dumper or dumpee. You might say “But this girl specifically ended her relationship because she wanted more freedom. She doesn’t want a new relationship.” Yeah, they say that. In the scientific community, this is known as “a crock of shit.” Women rarely break up with guys in long-term relationships, and if they do, it’s because the guy was seriously lacking whatever it is they were looking for. Or cheated. Either way, they will be more than happy to jump back in the saddle if Prince Charming shows up.
Now the real question is: Are you Prince Charming, or just a pretender to the throne? Because if you’re grabbing a girl on the rebound who is way out of your league, you will soon have a problem faced by many men before you…nursing a sad girl back to emotional health, only to have her become confident enough to realize she can do better than you. So here’s the thing: if she’s waaaay out of your league, remember she’s on the rebound and think of this as short-term. But if she’s not out of your league (or just slightly out of your league), I say full steam ahead. Rebound or no, if you’re good for each other, she’s not gonna let you slip away. In fact, she’ll be more ready than ever to realize your true worth. You don’t have to be Prince Charming, exactly. Close counts in horse shoes, hand grenades, and looking attractive to a girl on the rebound.
So ladies…what about men on the rebound? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother animal. In evolutionary terms, men didn’t need relationships for personal survival like women did. While it might be sad to lose a cavebabe, it didn’t incur any immediate danger…men can still provide for and protect themselves. Thus, modern guys can ease the pain with a trip to Vegas, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a visit to Sapphire. Most of the time, we just don’t take break-ups that hard. At least…not at first.
Cavemen might not have needed women for food or protection, but they did need them for making babies, which was equally important, and in a clan of 100 people there weren’t a lot of single women to go around. But realizing this can take time. Essentially, I’ve found that the pain and depression of a break-up for a man is not immediate, but delayed, and directly related to his ability to get new sexual partners. Thus, if a guy just broke up but is getting laid constantly, he’s not really on the rebound at all. In fact, life is pretty good. But if a month or two goes by and he can’t get so much as a pity-bang, he’s right where a recently dumped woman is: desperate.
Same rules apply, girls: If he’s out of your league, don’t fall too hard, cause it probably won’t last. But if he’s in your hotness range, and especially if he’s 30 or older, dig your claws in good. Is he new in town? Just got dumped by his girl back home? No friends or family to set him up with new chicks? Perfect. He is wounded prey; you are a ravenous hunter. Like the women who don’t realize they no longer need a man to provide for them, he doesn’t understand that there are other fish in the sea besides you.
Comfort him, pat his head, hold it close to your bosom. He will eat your fish.