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“Jump-Off” v. “Jump On”

Dear Robin:

I read on your blog somewhere that the relationship that comes immediately after a breakup is statistically doomed.  I think you referred to it as the “Jump-Off.”  So am I screwed?

My marriage was over years ago but I didn’t have the guts to admit it.  I am not divorced yet, but I am doing great and looking forward to the legal stuff ending and getting on with my new life.

Recently I met someone I’ve been spending a lot of time with and our feelings developed very quickly.  The word love is definitely in play and every minute we spend together is amazing.  My friends and family are warning me this won’t last and I’ll get hurt and it’s too soon.

Have you ever seen the “Jump-Off” work long-term?

BD

Dear BD:

Thanks for chatting with me on the phone.  As you know, I cleared up some confusion on your part regarding who is and who isn’t a “Jump-Off.”

A “Jump-Off” (“JO”) is someone you meet during the marriage and cheat with. The JO is often the motivating factor for the divorce, either because someone leaves their spouse for the JO, or their spouse finds out about the JO and ends the marriage.  

A “Jump-On” (“JO2”) is someone you meet not long after the former relationship is over.  The JO2 had nothing to do with your divorce but they wandered into your life before you expected someone would, and even though you knew it might be too soon for a relationship, there they stayed.

Jump Offs: Fighting the Odds

The reason the JO relationship is problematic and statistically challenged is because of all the attendant baggage that comes with the circumstances giving rise to the relationship.  The divorce is much more likely to be ugly when a JO is involved, which means more expensive and stressful, which means exponentially more difficult than an already-difficult divorce would be.  

A nascent relationship can be both unusually strong and unusually weak, but the tenuous bonds that are formed in the beginning might not last through the incendiary pressures of an ugly divorce brought on by infidelity.

Another factor playing into the statistical improbability of the JO lasting long-term is the hostility that will make a future co-parenting relationship difficult between the former spouses.  Some people have a very hard time forgiving infidelity, and if their children are now spending parenting time with the man or woman whom they believe  broke up their marriage, fireworks and ugliness will be a regular struggle in the co-parenting relationship.  

If someone isn’t getting along with their ex, that can bleed into the new relationship like poison.  As if that weren’t bad enough, imagine if both the new partners are JOs, having left their spouses for each other.  We are now dealing with nasty recriminations on an exponential level.

Finally, there are the kids.  Assuming they are old enough to understand that the JO played a role in their parents breaking up, they likely won’t be welcoming to that person sharing a life with them.  A discordant relationship between new partners and their kids can kill any relationship, even the strongest ones.

Although statistically-speaking the JO is at a real disadvantage, it’s possible to make it work.  However, I would advise a very tactical approach to a relationship like that, including family counseling when appropriate, a decent waiting period before coming out as a couple, and always considering the feelings of the former spouse and the kids when making decisions that impact the family.

Jump Ons: Odds Are Better, but Still Tough!

The good news is this: you aren’t in a JO situation.  You are in a JO2 spot, which while still tricky is not as rife with potential strife as the JO.  Here are some details for the readers to consider:

  • Your ex cheated and is now committed to her JO
  • Your kids still live at home
  • You and the JO2 fell in love very quickly and are not seeing anyone else
  • Both you and the JO2 are in the divorce process
  • Your ex has vowed to take your divorce to DEFCON 1 since finding out you are seeing someone, which is fabulously hypocritical as well as nonsensical

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My advice to you, BD, is simple:

Don’t think so much.

You are going through a very difficult time right now.  Your main focus should be on your kids, resolving your divorce as peacefully as possible (hopefully she will realize that burning the house down leaves everyone homeless, including her), work, and the friends you have that are most supportive of you during this crisis. 

This new relationship could last for the rest of your life.  It could also be a passing fancy – a nice salve for the wounds you have been licking on your own for a long time.  Let someone else lick them for a change, and don’t worry about whether you’ll last as a couple.

Too many of us fail to enjoy the moment because we are so busy analyzing the past and planning for the future.  Treasure your time with your JO2, enjoy the affection and love you share with each other, expect nothing, and be open to everything.

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Good luck!

Readers: I’m doing my best to tend to work and the writing.  Please be patient.  

Tune in Monday for a letter from a woman whose husband steadfastly refused to spend any time, and I mean any, with her child during a ten year relationship. After he bails from the marriage and leaves them with nothing, he demands she facilitate step-parenting time.  This is going to be a good one so don’t miss out!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Howie Keester

    WHAT???????
    Did I read that correctly…that a soon to be EX-husband who didn’t have a relationship with his step (I call it a bonus) child and now that he has run away from the marriage, he now wants a relationship with this child? A little late don’t you think? What a moron. Or…does he think that he can get in the good graces of his wife and return to the marriage after he’s left and hurt her and the child? I smell the loss of money and he’s trying to bribe her in some way. Looking forward to that on Monday!

    1. Robin DesCamp

      No, definitely no interest in returning to the marriage. You’ll have to wait until Monday to get the rest of the scoop!

  2. Signal Mixer

    Another fine piece of advice from Robin! Don’t be so focused on looking for happiness in the future that you miss the chance to delight in the present.

  3. so happy

    After my husband’s first wife had announced that she thought she’d be more fulfilled if she were having dates with other men and acted on that announcement, it became clear that things were over. In retrospect, I wish we hadn’t started dating until the divorce had been filed, but it was all over but the shouting. Oh–and shouting there was! Apparently, what was sauce for the goose was never going to be sauce for the gander. She didn’t want him, but she didn’t want anyone else to have him, either.

    36 years later, we’re still very happy. She’s on her third husband and seems happy enough, but gave me the best husband in the world.

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