Why post-divorce rebound relationships hurt so damn bad

how long does divorce rebound relationship last

Eighteen months after my marriage ended, I jumped into a heady, sexually intense year-long relationship with a fellow writer and parent who was 20 years older than I was. In hindsight, it was no surprise it ended — his kids were grown, mine were tiny, our lives were at different points. But that did not make me love him any less, and did nothing to tamper the absolute devastation that pummeled me when we broke up.

Even months after we split, Sundays when my kids are with their dad and I would have otherwise spent with my ex-boyfriend, I instead engaged in unseemly behavior like walking around the streets of Manhattan while bawling uncontrollably, listening to John Legend on a loop, and reading the Wikipedia page on Carrie and Mr. Big.

Not only was all this embarrassing, it was also incongruous with the events at hand. Something else was at play.

So I called one of my best friends. I've known Kirsten for 12 years, and even though she lives on the other side of the country, we remain very close and she knows all my shit. Kirsten did what a good friend does: she listened. As I talked and sobbed and blubbered and talked some more it all came out. Besides the end of my relationship, my mom has been unwell. My mom, who adores my kids second only to their parents. As my children and their needs as people grow, it seems that our circle of people shrinks – and the pressures of being a single mother mount. I am just one person responsible for two human beings. It feels like too much.

“We’ve all watched you over the past few years be so strong and amazing,” Kirsten said. “But I said to myself, ‘I hope this girl can find time to process it all. Because sooner or later it will catch up with her.’”

It has caught up with me. When my husband fell off that cliff three years ago, I slipped into survival mode: I jutted my jaw, made sure the kids and my business and the money and the divorce and the house were all in order. Trust me, there were plenty of late night crying fits and trips to therapists and a wonderful support group for loved ones of brain injury victims. But I’m not sure I fully felt the gravity of my loss – our loss. The loss my whole family suffered.

Read: Best dating sites for single moms (and tips for how to find the best guys)

Finally, I recognized that three years’ worth of grief had come knocking. For months after that conversation, I gave myself permission to mourn. Those sad Sundays were committed to indulging  the emotion and grief and healing that had eluded me.

Online therapy is an awesome option for busy single moms. Very affordable, anonymous, and convenient, as you connect with a counselor via text, phone or video. Check out online therapy now >>

Funny thing, how empathy blooms. At bedtime after coming home from her dad’s on Sunday, I laid next to my then-4-year-old daughter in her twin bed. She was riled up after the transition, which is not unusual, but it spiraled into something else. “Why can’t our family be like other families?” she cried. I worry I dismiss the grief my kids might feel over the divorce. After all, Lucas wasn’t even born when we separated – Helena not yet 2. “It’s always Helena, Lucas, Daddy – and Mommy separate. Or Helena, Lucas, Mommy – Daddy separate. I want us to be like Eleanor’s family.”

I wasn’t sure what to say. So I held her head in the crook of my neck and listened and let her cry and cry. “Thank you for telling me how you feel,” I said. “It’s important to get it out. Because sooner or later it will catch up with you.”

Listen to my Like a Mother episode about this topic:

Is the first relationship after divorce doomed?

It seems to be a universal experience: When that first relationship after divorce ends it just kills.  When that relationship ended, it hurt like a motherfucker! Holy shit did that hurt. Ouchie!! Owwie ow ow ow! Mommy! Make it stop! Please, ow ow owie ouchie ow I can't take any more!!!

It took me a long time, and a lot of interaction with other, divorced people to figure out why post-divorce rebounds are akin to your body dripping with infected hangnails while, at the same time, a rusty scythe strikes your guts. Again. And again. And again.

Even more than an ending love, all that pain and torment is really about contending with unresolved heartbreak from divorce. You are likely as I was: needing to go through that rebound and the subsequent pain. It served as a critical point of reference through which I dealt with the dissolution of my marriage.

  • Divorce often robs us of the opportunity to mourn the romantic relationship itself because there is so much practical and logistical hell to contend with at the time of the split. Including:
  • Your children's care and feelings
  • Finances
  • Worry you will be be destitute
  • Custody
  • Co-parenting
  • Worry your children will be forever neurotic/hateful of you/incapable of love
  • Real estate transactions
  • Relocation — including deciding whether to keep or sell the house in the divorce
  • Lost relationships with in-laws
  • Lost relationships with mutual friends
  • Divvying of personal items (make sure to sell your diamond engagement ring and don't make it part of the divvying)
  • Removing names from bank accounts and mortgages and wills, credit cards, utility accounts and car notes
  • Managing your debt and credit
  • Acclimating to visitation schedules
  • Acclimating to living alone
  • Figuring out how to live on far less money (how to make and stick to your single-mom budget)
  • Figuring out how to make way more money
  • And on and on

Divorcing people are also forced to face the loss of dreams of family life, and what the rest of your life will be like. And there is a ton of fear about all of it.

All this upheaval and stress can leave little room to deal with simple loss of love. When you are contending with a 360-degree life barf, there is scant space to sit quietly and feel the weighty grief of no longer spending nights with a person who you at least once — likely still — loved very much. Not just the absence of somebody. The absence of him.

Rebound relationship after divorce statistics

Which is where the rebound breakup and all its gory hurt come in. If you're like me, that relationship was just that. Someone who I cared very much about, knew my kids, but was a lover — no more. He was not my partner. We were emotionally, intellectually, sexually intertwined. But our lives were completely separate. We owned nothing together (though I'm still kind of annoyed with myself for never retrieving that La Perla nighty from his apartment, but I'll live), and did not even share friends. When we broke up there was nothing to contend with but grief.

Which is another reason why we do not mourn the love for our husbands immediately after divorce. Divorce often comes after months and years of a really unhappy relationship. By the time the four-way lawyers meetings start, you've forgotten about the emotional, intellectual and sexual connection you once shared with that man. It was likely missing for a very long time — which is exactly why it is so intoxicating when we find that connection again in a rebound. And, if you're like me, you consciously appreciate those mutual feelings so very much more — which only adds to the scythe bludgeoning once it falls.

As far as divorce rebound relationship success rates — I couldn't find any statistics, but did find this about remarriages:

U.S. divorce rates:

41-50% first marriages

60-67% second marriages.

73-74% for third marriages

Ready to get back out there again? Try EliteSingles, where 82% of members are college-educated, 90% are aged 30 and older, and it is geared towards serious relationships

Nothing so easy as catching a heart on the rebound.

–Mary Russell Mitford

First relationship and sex after divorce

A recent amour and I were chatting.

Me: “I've been thinking about how the first time you sleep with someone, you're not really sleeping with that person – you're really sleeping with all the other people you've had sex with before them.”

Him: “That's right. You're really sleeping with your point of reference.”

In essence, before you get to know a new lover's body and preferences — as well as how your own body and preferences fit with that person — each of us is really just sorting through all of the bodies and preferences that came before in order to truly enjoy current company.

Relationships are no different. And this analogy holds most true in a rebound relationship.

There has been plenty written on the perils of the rebound. The old maxim suggests that the recently heart-broken is too angry/vulnerable/hurt to be truly open to a new love. The rebounder is at risk of attaching too quickly to the wrong person, and those dating a rebounder are subject to wandering into the line of fire of scatter-shot devotion.

I've written exhaustively about my own post-marriage rebound with a man who was also recently divorced. It lasted a full year and was thrilling, wonderful and dysfunctional.

When that relationship ended, it hurt like a motherfucker! Holy shit did that hurt. Ochie!! Owwie ow ow ow! Mommy! Make it stop! Please, ow ow owie ouchie ow I can't take any more!!! Even more than an ending love, all that pain and torment was really about contending with unresolved heartbreak from my divorce. But I needed to go through that rebound and the subsequent pain. It served as a critical point of reference through which I dealt with the dissolution of my marriage.

I just called off a month-long liaison with a man so recently divorced that his clothes were still packed in the suitcases with which he removed them from his marital home. By all outward appearances we should be planning our second marriage by now: In addition to the crazy chemistry, we're both creative, ambitious people who share sensibilities about money, child rearing, politics, travel, style — and a love for divey ethnic restaurants. He is one of the most brilliant people I've known, open, affectionate, thoughtful and physically gorgeous in all his points of reference.

But no matter how much I tried to stay true to my belief that anything is possible in love, there was no escaping that I am three years out of my marriage while he is a mere three weeks. This guy's giddy openness about starting life anew reminded me of just how I felt at that juncture. I also sensed a vulnerability and neediness that was woefully familiar — in this man I could see myself two years ago when I, too, first ventured into post-divorce dating. It evoked being on a third date with my own rebound boyfriend. Anxiously, across the table in a dimly lit West Village restaurant, I stammered: “Are you dating anyone else? Because I'm not.” My barely salvaged heart could barely stand the risk of being dinged yet again.

Today, I feel differently about emotional risk, heartbreak and dating. On the one hand, bring it on! You don't get to the good stuff in relationships without putting yourself out there emotionally. But now I don't feel quite as vulnerable and needy. I am feeling strong and free and optimistic about love in a different, more grounded way — one that allows me to see obvious love landmines before I enthusiastically dance on one – Gangnam style. As such, I couldn't figure out how to make my own phase of divorce jibe with that of my recent amour.

So in a breakup email exchange, I shared more or less what I said here. I added that I hoped we could stay connected in some way, keep open the possibility of finding each other in other phases of our journeys. What I got in response was one of the most touching compliments I've received in a very long time. It said:

“I can't think of anyone I would rather have lost my divorce virginity to.”

Check out leading online therapy site BetterHelp, which starts at $59 per week >>

Thinking of dating again as a single mom, but not sure where to start?

Dating sites for single moms

Check out a dating app. This is the easiest, cheapest way to get your mojo back, and get a feel for what is happening out there. All you need to do is connect with one cute guy or girl to get that spark going again. 

Here is my list of the best dating sites and apps for single moms

Elite Singles is especially geared towards people who are educated professionals, looking for serious relationships (and it's cheaper than eHarmony)

Online dating course

Unsure of how dating works in 2019 — with apps, texting, sexting, dick pics?

Worried about flaunting your new mom bod on the market?

That is why I developed the bestselling video course, Get Back Into Dating AGAIN for Single Moms.

This video course takes you step-by-step to work through your fears, hopes, create a dating site and get your sexy on.

Guaranteed to get you on one quality, positive date! 

Matchmaker sites for single parents

There is a reason matchmakers have been in use since the dawn of human sexuality — they work!

Matchmakers tend to be very expensive, with no guarantees. It's Just Lunch is different.

I did a lot of research on It's Just Lunch, and went through the onboarding process, which you can listen to in audio, and read the transcript. I am so impressed — if I weren't in a serious relationship, I'd 100% use this service.

Here is a deep review of It's Just Lunch, which is the largest matchmaking service in the world, and searches its network of literally millions of singles to find you quality dates. Here is what I like about it:

  • Guaranteed number of dates. They quote you a custom price that includes a fixed number of dates over a certain period of time (you can pause your engagement with penalty for any reason — including finding love 😍).
  • Both parties pay and invest in the service — so everyone is equally invested in finding a quality relationship (and can afford the service)
  • 2 free one-on-one personal dating coaching sessions
  • Daters tend to be in their 40s and older, so lots of successful men who have kids and are open to moms with kids and successful careers
  • You are assigned a designated matchmaker who goes through rigorous training, and has years of experience — so their intuition is high!
  • It's Just Lunch is 28 years old, reports 3 million first dates (!) and thousands of relationships and marriages

In this post I lay out the pros and cons of matchmaking experiences, and you can hear for yourself as I go through what you can expect in your first experience with an It's Just Lunch dating specialist.

How about you? How did you get over your post-divorce rebound? What did you learn from the experience? Share in the comments!

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.


  1. Jack Bonanno on May 11, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    I need help with a divorce issue, I need an answer to a question. I don’t know where to get an answer for my questions. Can you help?

  2. Debbie on April 22, 2019 at 12:51 am

    Thank you, your article has helped calm me somewhat as I’m going through a similar situation. I’ve been having a hard time getting over a rebound relationship that ended recently. It look a lot of effort and so much work to actually try again after my husband’s passing two years ago (he died relatively young). I suppose, besides the upside of feeling intensely connected, there were other problems with the rebound relationship. But the pain of moving on from it feels like it’s quadrupled compared to previous relationships.

  3. SARAH100 on April 3, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Heal from broken heart” Love spell from Dr.Lucky brought my Wife back”contact Realspellcasteronline@gmail. com to help you get your Ex lover back urgently after breakup/divorce”

  4. Mamudu on March 13, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    My purpose out here today is to share this article to the world about how Dr Mamudu the great wizard from africa helped me in getting back my EX-girlfriend that broke up with me 6 months ago I tried all i could to make her see reasons with me that we can continue our relationship but she
    neglected and turn down my decision. Thank God for giving me the thought of going into the internet for help, i searched properly and i saw different reviews of Dr Mamudu and i insisted in giving it a try by contacting him via whatsApp on +2348144315088 He gave me reason to live again and he prepared a spell and told me that my Ex-girlfriend will come back to me within 24 hours. Can you believe it, my EX-girlfriend came back to me and you Contact him now!!! if you need any help whatsoever. Email: Aikharaekpenmamudu

  5. Phil Coulson on February 8, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    Been heart broken isn’t a thing of joy you know. My wife got me divorced after she caught me cheating on her with my ex lover. Was so ashamed and felt so disappointed at myself. I couldn’t bear the fact that I no longer have a life partner so I decided to try get my wife back with everything I could possibly do but nothing worked out. Not till I was referred to Lord Zakuza who made what I thought was impossible to be possible by bringing back my wife within 48 hours after I made contact with him. I can boldly and joyfully say that my marriage is working just fine and more beautiful than before and I’m so happy to have got in contact with Lord Zakuza for he’s really a genius. Thanks to May Albert too for connecting me to Lord Zakuza. If you have any issues regardless of how big it is, Lord Zakuza will sort it out for you. Email address: doctorzakuzaspelltemple @hotmail. com for urgent response.

  6. Brianna Owen on February 5, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Hi viewers, I don’t really know how to thank Lord Zakuza enough for what he has done me. My husband ignored me and went back to his mistress for the past 3 months. If not for the intervention of Lord Zakuza, i wouldn’t have gotten back my husband. He’s powerful spell brought back my husband within 12 to 16 hours. Is there anyone out there who needs to get back to he’s or her lover back? Then, i suggest that you get in touch with Lord Zakuza now through his Email ID: doctorzakuzaspelltemple @hotmail. com for more information. God bless you sir.

  7. Susan Bullock on December 13, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    I want to let the world know about Doctor atakuma the Great spell caster that brought back my husband to me when i thought all hope was lost. Doctor Atakuma used his powerful spell to put a smile on my face by bringing back my man with his spell, at first i thought i was dreaming when my husband came back to me on his knees begging me to forgive him and accept him back and even since then he loves me more than i ever expected so i made a vow to my self that i will let the World know about Doctor Atakuma because he is a God sent to solve all kinds of marital problems. Do you have problems in your relationship ? have your partner broke up with you and you still love and want him back ? Do you have problem with your fiance ? or do you need help of any kind then contact Doctor Atakuma today for i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you just as he helped me. Doctor Atakuma’s mail is dr . atakumaoracle @ outlook . com

  8. Sara Tate Heffler on December 13, 2018 at 4:04 am

    My husband and I have been married for over 10 years. We met when I was 18 and he was 21. We’ve been through a lot emotionally together. There were several HUGE fights and painful situations in our marriage, but we always seemed to come out stronger on the other side. Out of the blue my husband just sprung the divorce talk on me, I was totally depressed until I found Lord Lugards website online and i ordered for a Love spell. You won’t believe my husband called me at the exact time this spell caster finished his spell work in 24hours. I was totally amazed! He is wonderful and his spells work so fast. His Email: Miracletemple@ live. com.

  9. Elizabeth Flores on December 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    thank you dr peter

  10. SOPHIE WHITE on December 10, 2018 at 9:44 am

    urgent love spell to get your ex lover back contact dr larry assurancesolutionhome@gmail.com

  11. Jason Bayne on October 30, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Has anyone realized that Emma left her Husband after he got hurt?

    What ever happened to the Wedding Vows of;

    “For Better or Worse, In SICKNESS and In Health”???

    What a quitter.

  12. Someone's Rose on October 5, 2018 at 9:55 am

    I’m in post divorce relationship at the moment, have been for 2 years. It has been the most exhilarating and confusing two years. Sometimes I feel like I’m on the good side and sometimes I feel like “holy shit why am I here”. I say that because when I was married, I was the money maker, decision maker, strong (maybe forceful at times) to get shit done. Then this relationship I’m in now, this man handles everything and I feel like the meek and weak female. I still don’t know how to adjust and it pisses me off. Hell, last week I was so somber at work I thought I was going to get picked for a random drug screen. I am worn out of being in my damn head. I’m tired of beating myself up mentally. How the hell do I finally overcome this vail of being meek and weak?

    Anyway, I appreciate your article. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time. Thank you to everyone who has commented. I haven’t been able to read everything but plan to today.

  13. Stacie on October 2, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Thank you for this. It gives a lot of insight to a situation I didn’t know was so common after divorce. This really made me feel a little better.

  14. Lorri on September 12, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    This article helped me to look st the breakup from a different perspective. I was married for 39 years to the only guy I had ever dated and then it fell apart. I felt discarded, rejected, ugly and alone. Then after the hardest year of my life, along comes this fascinating, intelligent, incredibly sexy guy. We dated for 8 intense weeks of great sex, long talks and romantic moments where he told me all the wonderful things he loved about me. And then it ended. It felt like being thrown away for a 2nd time and pushed me back a few steps in my recovery. This has given me such food for thought as to what REALLY hurt and what I was REALLY grieving. Thank you.

  15. […] Picking out a area for the pioneer wedding date that leaves a superb impression happens to be a advantageous dating advice tips. A negative site for a primary meeting can assist with your sweet heart an unacceptable impression of your identiity, everything you prefer, and how parallels all of them. How your handle yourself in the wedding date location also generates a difference the best way the date goes and if you will have a good follow-up date. Getting a glass of joe is normally but one good way to obtain acquainted with somebody without coping with every one of the fine dining and food choice info immediately. Methods Of https://www.wealthysinglemommy.com/why-post-divorce-rebound-relationships-hurt-so-damn-bad/ […]

  16. […] Programs Of https://www.wealthysinglemommy.com/why-post-divorce-rebound-relationships-hurt-so-damn-bad/ – An A-Z After you have made easier genital herpes virus treatments really are interested in […]

  17. […] https://www.wealthysinglemommy.com/why-post-divorce-rebound-relationships-hurt-so-damn-bad/ Systems – The Options Therefore, exactly why we tend to get so effected by things we percieve […]

  18. […] relationship when you need it just by installing a solid drive to use various things. Clear-Cut https://www.wealthysinglemommy.com/why-post-divorce-rebound-relationships-hurt-so-damn-bad/ […]

  19. jane on June 23, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    All thanks GREAT MUTABA that help me cast a love Spell that bring back my ex boyfriend to me, search on him on google he is a great love spell caster

  20. Melissa on June 20, 2018 at 8:15 am

    My relationship was in a mess few months back, I kept on complaining and was panicking to know if my husband was cheating. Until my friend who is a cybersecurity expert at work referred me to this hacker cheatershacker1 AT gmail who is a friend of a friend . I got all the information i needed, I got total access to his phones, seeing all his phone activities. I am so glad I got a genuine hacker after toiling for months to get. You can also contact her if you need help

  21. Meg on June 16, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Nailed it! My post divorce breakup is 2 weeks fresh. In my attempt to find some kind of answer to this gut wrenching pain my google search lead me to your blog, in turn bringing much insight, along with uncontrollable rain drop sized tears and a few laughs. Much appreciated!

    • Melissa on June 20, 2018 at 8:11 am

      You can use cheatershacker1 AT gmail to get answers. He will get you answers that you need for every hacking purpose.

  22. Ilissa on June 2, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    This is what I’m going Through now and you literally summed up every ounce of my emotions in this article

  23. lkin on May 29, 2018 at 8:05 am

    read more about GREAT MUTABA on net he is a legit spell caster that can return your ex lover

  24. phoenix men on May 25, 2018 at 12:54 am

    You may have stayed in an unsatisfactory relationship for a long time because you were afraid of dealing with the changes that splitting up forces upon you.

Leave a Comment