He's Still Married, He's Got Baggage, and You're the Rebound

Dear Dategirl,I'm a 32-year-old single woman who's fallen for a guy. I'm pretty sure he's falling for me too, but he's going through a contentious divorce with his high-school sweetheart. They've been married 10 years and dated for five years before that. He moved to Seattle six months ago, after he caught her cheating on him with a co-worker.They never had kids, thank God, but she won't sign the divorce papers. I don't understand why she can't let him go—after all, she was the one who had sex with someone else! From what I hear, this was an ongoing affair for almost a year.I like this man a lot, but am I completely insane trying to get serious with someone who's not even divorced yet? Or might there be a glimmer of hope for a fulfilling relationship in the future?—Lost in Space

A few months ago I assured a reader that rebound relationships never work—they are always doomed to failure. This caused several people to school me. The more I listened and thought about it, the more I agreed I was wrong. Plenty of rebounders end up living happily ever after.So no, it doesn't mean there's no way your relationship will work, but at the same time, yes, you may be insane. After all, technically he's still married! On the bright side, getting into any relationship demands a certain setting-aside of sanity.However, the nearly divorced are a bigger risk than your average unencumbered human. Their baggage has not yet been stowed neatly in an overhead compartment, so dirty undergarments have a better chance of exploding all over the cabin. Here are some things to look out for:• When a man has been in a monogamous (at least on his end) relationship since high school, he might correctly assume he's missed out on the smorgasbord of booty that all his less-committed friends have been enjoying. Depending on the guy, he may need time to wage his own personal porkapalooza. While this urge is understandable, this is probably also a scenario that's not going to be much fun for you. His stance on this should be fairly easy to detect.• On the other side of the fence is the soon-to-be-unmarried guy who's so used to being in a relationship that he's lost without a partner. These people—and all these descriptions apply to women as well—tend to go straight from one relationship into another with little time for reflection or self-growth in between. This may sound great, but does he love you, or does he love the fact that you're handy?• When someone is actively invested in hating their ex, it's harder for them to focus on loving you. Do yourself a favor and don't get involved in long conversations about what a heinous cunt she is. Nod, shrug, and tell him that those types of conversations are best had with a guy friend over beers or with a licensed mental-health professional. I had a friend who was dating a nearly divorced guy, and every time I met him he droned on about his "bitch ex." Not only was this unattractive, but a shared sense of loathing is not the stuff solid relationships are made of.• I know it's difficult, but try to maintain a little distance from your new friend as he navigates his way through his divorce. See how he handles himself and watch how he treats you. Talk to him honestly and don't get stuck in fantasyland. This may work out great, or it may be too much too soon. So be careful: There's a big difference between optimism and blind stupidity.

 
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