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Carolyn Hax: Post-divorce, she fears being a 'rebound girl'

By Carolyn Hax
Thursday, September 23, 2010; C04

Adapted from a recent online discussion:

Hi, Carolyn:

I divorced, found myself again, and I'm out there dating. After a lot of dead ends, I've met someone with whom I really connect. He has been separated about six months after 15 years of marriage. I know he likes me (a lot), but he also says he's not looking for a long-term relationship. Eventually I do hope to find a partner, though if I don't I'll still be fine enough.

But I don't want to be Rebound Girl. What to do? It seems like a hopeless scenario, but I don't want to give up the best thing I've had in a long while.

Washington

You have to take him at his word. If you don't think you can handle sharing or losing him, then you need to back off, if you're able -- or break up.

If you do think you can handle it -- if you're not afraid to feel like roadkill if this flops -- then take the chance and see where it goes.

You've recovered from a divorce, so you can recover from this. The question is whether he's worth that kind of effort.

In fact, try to think less of how he feels about you and more of how you feel about you. Don't date him, or anyone for that matter, past the point where it's dragging your self-image down.

Dear Carolyn:

My boyfriend and I have been casually looking at engagement rings for him to see what I like, but I've asked him if I can be involved in picking it out, and he has agreed. He has this endearing habit of bringing home presents I'm allergic to, can't use, don't like to eat, etc. His heart is in the right place, so I appreciate every one of these gifts, but for something this expensive, I'd rather we both put thought into it.

When I mentioned this to my mother, she told me I was greedy, ungrateful and "you're lucky you're getting anything." It hurt my feelings to no end.

Now, she didn't get an engagement ring from my father, so I'm guessing this is colored by jealousy a bit, but . . . I feel horrible. Am I an ungrateful wench because I want something on my finger I'm not allergic to and would actually like to look at for the rest of my life?

N.Y., N.Y.

Is your mom always this tough on you? I can see her disagreeing, fine, but, "Ooh, I hope you didn't hurt his feelings when you asked that . . . " would have gotten her point across without trashing your character. That phrasing also would have allowed for the possibility that there wasn't anything wrong with it, and left you room to explain your rationale.

To answer your question, your rationale sounds fine to me. You can be pragmatic without being presumptuous.

That said -- when you presented this to your mom as a matter of avoiding an ugly ring, that might not have helped your cause. From now on, if the subject comes up, consider leaving out your fiance's knack for bad gifts, and stick to the logic of your decision: "For something this expensive, I'd rather we both put thought into it."

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