Q. My soon-to-be ex-wife and I decided to divorce about a year ago. We have two young boys, and we’re still friendly enough, but the romantic relationship was completely over. We had some struggles before the pandemic, but then that struck, and then a few significant tragedies struck, and it was too much. I hadn’t truly been attracted to her in years — nor her to me — but for a long time I was resigned to the relationship, as we had our family. Ultimately, though, we just couldn’t do it — the lack of romantic connection was too much to bear for both of us.
Several months later, I decided to try going on a date. My plan was that if I went out on a few dates, then when I was ready to start dating more seriously six months or so later, I’d be back in the swing of it. At this point, the particulars of my divorce were mostly settled. She had moved out, I was about to move out, and we had begun our custody schedule.
I met a woman on Match. I didn’t have any expectations. I mostly wanted to get the first date out of the way. Well, 10 minutes into the first date, I thought: What have I done? She was beautiful and engaging, just electrifying. At the end of the date, when we walked out, she happily followed me back to my car without my even asking. It was the one scenario I hadn’t planned out at all — that she would actually like me, or that I would like her. Now it’s five months later, and I love her. It didn’t happen right away. We were very deliberate about expanding our connection given my situation; a largely settled divorce that was not yet technically finished. We went out many times before sleeping together.
She hasn’t yet met my children. I haven’t yet met her family. We don’t intend to move in together, not any time soon at least. We don’t feel a need to get married. We’ve tried to talk ourselves out of it so many times. But we care about each other too much. We connect on the levels of friendship, humor, intellect, romance, and sexuality. Nonetheless, I’m still not quite technically divorced, as the bureaucracy takes forever. My ex supports the relationship, so long as I am careful introducing the children. But the woman I love is a little hesitant — though still very much involved with me — as she has some concerns that I will need time to rediscover who I am, that I will realize things about myself in a year or two that could make the relationship untenable, that I might even still have feelings for my ex (believe me, I don’t). Most of all, she was my first date out of a long relationship! On paper, the whole thing is pretty unbelievable. I’m an introspective person with a healthy degree of cynicism. But I love this woman. Watching her behavior, I am pretty sure she loves me also. Yes, the relationship might not work out, but that’s true of any relationship.
The story is somewhat questionable, but a lot of love stories are at first unbelievable. When she’s not with me, while I still get everything in my life done, I am like a dog waiting at the window in my mind, all the time now. Is there any reason for us not pursue this relationship?
A. Your story is not that unbelievable. (Sorry. I know you want to feel special and unique, but ... I hear this a lot.)
People who like partnership — who expect partnership — tend to be good at finding more partnership. Sometimes they’re excellent at sharing because of past experiences. Maybe they’re better at forgoing alone time.
I don’t want to generalize, but because of your marriage, you know how to be with someone — to stay committed to them, even after the excitement is gone. I’m sure this new woman is wonderful, but you’re also the kind of person who would notice that. You didn’t think, “But what if the second person I met on Match was even better.”
All you can do is experience this fantastic relationship and try not to second-guess every good feeling. Your girlfriend is right — you might change your mind in a year. You’re also right to remember that any relationship involves that risk.
The point is, the bad stuff hasn’t happened, and you’re both very into each other. Take pleasure in that and stop worrying about the narrative. Couples who met when they were young aren’t always running around saying, “How is it possible that we met at 19 and still like each other at 49!” It’s their only story, so they’re used to it. But to me, that kind of love also looks fairly miraculous. Maybe even more wild than yours.
If that feeling of being a dog “waiting at the window” continues in a bad way — if you have trouble spending any time alone or working on friendships — make an effort to get better at independence. But if it’s all good, let it be good. Sometimes life isn’t difficult. You and your ex were open, honest, and thoughtful. You continue to communicate. That made it easier to enjoy the next steps.
This is a rebound relationship. Rebound relationships usually don’t last. Then again, most relationships don’t last. There’s no way to see where this goes other than to see where this goes.
If this new relationship of yours works or doesn’t work, it’s not because of how soon you met. You can’t meet — or not meet — based on a predefined schedule. You met. You dated. You fell in love. Who cares about the timing that it happened? It’ll work or not work because of the effort you both put into it.
Take it one day at a time, pal. Just have fun. Don’t think too far ahead. If the new relationship continues to grow, then great! But don’t harness it with “what-ifs.” All of life is one big what-if.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.