It’s inevitable: getting dumped is one of the guarantees in life, along with death and taxes. There’s the awful, depressing low you feel when you are still in the process of digesting it. Whether it’s dating or work, be careful of what decisions you make during the rebound, because you can end up overcomplicating an already complicated situation.
I used to know a girl, we’ll call her “Regina”, who used to make some really bad decisions when it came to dating on the rebound. One of the rebound dates was a guy we’ll call “Bobby” who she met at a grocery store in the ice cream aisle. Bobby liked to drink with his buddies a lot and act like a complete and total jackass. On top of it all, Bobby was a college graduate who was working as a bread delivery guy and was very content with doing that and only that. It’s always nice to meet a person with such high ambitions in life and making limited time on this earth count. And yes, I’m being ridiculously sarcastic.
Bobby was a total flake with Regina: he’d tell her he’d call her but he wouldn’t, he’d make plans with her then would flake on her for his buddies, etc. All signs pointed to LOSE THE LOSER ALREADY, but she for some reason fell hard for this guy. Her last relationship had ended months earlier and had left her feeling kind of in the dumps, and she wasn’t able to readily see that this loser wasn’t worth her feeling fraught with concern. The clarity with which she normally would have easily dismissed Bobby wasn’t there. Instead, her judgement was clouded by her need to feel attractive to someone, to be with someone, and to be pursued.
Bobby continued to string along Regina for a couple of months, and for those months I had to hear about “Bread Boy” (as we coined him) repeatedly. She would spend countless mind-numbing hours talking to me about him when we’d hang out, questioning why he was being so flakey and psychoanalyzing his flakiness. The first few times I was patient and entertained her. However, the next 503,892,385 times I had to hear psychoanalysis about Bread Boy wore me down and made me nostalgic for the times I stared at the faux wood panels when I was forced to kneel in the corner as punishment during my childhood.
I finally directly asked her upfront the hard question: is this guy even into you? I knew the answer but wanted her to answer it out loud, because by having her answer it out loud, I would force her to wrestle with the truth that he wasn’t. Astonishingly, she wasn’t willing to acknowledge that he wasn’t into her, because that would entail her coming to terms that she was being rejected again. She ended up wasting even more valuable time lamenting over Bread Boy, and their nonexistent relationship ended in a depressing, anticlimactic, yet predictable fizzle.
A guy I know who we’ll call “Kevin” was working at a company where there was a lot of political infighting and lack of collaboration between people from different departments. Kevin and I worked on a project together that was The Project From Hell. There were shifting deadlines, cloudy milestones, constantly evolving requirements, and much much more. Eventually, after months and months and months of dates slipping, deployment issues, and disappointment from the test users, Kevin got let go from the company.
Kevin’s first reaction was to start looking for another job, any job. There were bills to pay and a family to take care of. I don’t blame Kevin one second for wanting to get on the job hunt ASAP. My first instinct would also be to scramble and find something quickly. Kevin reached out to me to ask for help with his resume as well as reaching out to my network to see what was available. I did provide him with resume assistance but what made it difficult was when I started asking him questions about what he wanted to do. In order for me to give people the most effective resume help, I have to ask direct questions about what people are looking for so that I know who to talk to in my network and how to make the resume a targeted and focused one relevant to the positions they are interested in.
When I asked Kevin what he wanted to do (e.g., project management? development? product management? general management? etc), he told me he was looking for “anything”, as long as he had a job. I warned him this wasn’t the best approach to his situation because if he jumped into something he wasn’t really willing to do and/or wasn’t qualified to do, he might end up getting into a situation where he might end up getting let go again. Instead of rushing into another job, any job, I advised him to take some time to digest what happened, and to think (I mean really think) about what he wanted to do with his life as a next step. Did he want to go into a different job? role? industry? career path? If he wanted to get into project management again, did he maybe want to get PMP certification to help bolster his credentials and better compete against other project managers in the job market? If he wanted to go back to school to finish his degree, did he have that option if they could cover the mortgage/utilities/bills? etc
Luckily, Kevin was very receptive to the hard questions and spent a good amount of time doing some introspection on what he wanted his next steps to be. We did get his resume updated and were able to come out with a few different versions focused on the different roles he was interested in. He actually ended up going back to school to finish his degree, which I applaud and respect him for, and is keeping his eye out for options that he’d pursue only if he’d be a good match for them.
Oh, how easy it is to fall victim to the dangers of the rebound. I know it’s crazy difficult to think clearly in the rebound phase. Allow yourself to ask the hard questions or allow trusted family and friends to ask the hard questions, give yourself time to do some introspection, and by trusting your gut instead of making reactive decisions, hopefully you can reduce the number of “why did I do that???” moments in the rebound phase.