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A holiday rebound

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  December 22, 2009 09:43 AM

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Christmas is almost here. I'll treat Christmas like Thanksgiving -- meaning, I'll post one letter on Thursday that will carry us through the weekend.

Also, please reserve Feb. 12 for me. You asked for a Love Letters event and you're getting it. It will be a big, fun party. Please save the date.

Today is a pre-Christmas rebound letter.

Q: Dear Meredith,

This is one I hope you’ll be kind enough to answer before Christmas, as I don’t have much time left to decide.

I had an on-and-off (mostly on) long-distance boyfriend for 3.5 years. It ended six weeks ago for good after I found out he sent inappropriate messages to his roommate’s ex-girlfriend, who was living close by. I initiated the split, but I was and still am in love with him. However, it has come to light that he is hooking up with that same girl, which has destroyed me. I really want to start moving past him, or at least give myself something else to focus on.

Enter "Mike."

I met Mike last November when I was living in Texas, and I moved back to Massachusetts in April. We have kept in touch since I left, and it has always been platonic. He did ask me out once while I was still dating my ex, and I said no. To be honest, had I been single, I probably still would have said no. I’m really not attracted to him, but he’s a very nice person and I enjoy his company. I have spared him the grisly details of my failed romance, other than to say I want to move on and get my rebound going. He joked that he should be my rebound, and when I joked back that it would be perfect because we’re friends and there would be no strings attached, it went from joke to proposal to reality. I have a ticket booked to visit him for a week starting on Christmas day, with the sole purpose being rebound companionship.

Here’s my issue: I can separate my feelings from the physical, and having an NSA week with a friend isn’t going to pose a problem for me, but I’m concerned about Mike. Is this fair to him, knowing that at one time he had some sort of romantic feelings for me? He has said that there are no expectations beyond the week, and this situation is perfect for him. I don’t want to be the idiot friend who ends up inadvertently using someone who doesn’t want to be used because I missed some glaringly obvious sign or something.

Do I take him at his word that he’s fine with this? My friends are encouraging me to go visit and just enjoy myself, but there is a little nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps saying, “Friends-with-benefits never works!” Even if that FWB situation is only for a very specific week, is that voice still right? I want to go back to being friends with him when I leave, but do friends-with-benefits-type situations ever work in the long-run? Or have I already doomed this friendship?

– Friend With(out) Benefits, Cape Cod

A: FW(O)B, okay. This letter is from you – not from Mike – so I’m going to worry about you, as opposed to Mike. Mike can take care of himself. And if he can’t, he can write his own letter.

Why do you think that sleeping with a guy you’re not attracted to will make you feel better about losing the man with whom you were/are in love? My fear is that the experience will make you feel much, much worse. I’ve never been a huge believer in rebounds (and readers, feel free to disagree with me on that point), but it seems to me that the worst kind of rebound is a one-night-stand with a guy you’ve never wanted to date and feel sort of blah about, in general. I fear the experience will remind you of all that you no longer have.

My advice, which is not fun advice, is to go hang out with Mike (because you already have the ticket) and to enjoy his company, but maybe skip the physical intimacy thing with him. Not because it might hurt him, but because it might hurt you. There’s no need to miss your ex more than you already do. There no need to feel bad about a second thing.

If you have to have a rebound, find someone who knocks your socks and sneakers off – someone who will make you happy that your ex is no longer in the picture, at least for a few hours.

Readers? Are rebounds necessary? Are you worried about Mike? Share here.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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