The rebound phase is a tricky thing to handle, for everyone involved.
After all, everyone has heard the saying that the fastest way to get over someone is to get under someone else.
But, whilst we can sometimes be flippant about rebounds and talk about them generically, they’re complicated, many-layered things.
No two rebound relationships are ever the same.
For some people they can just be a bit of fun and the boost to their self-esteem that they need to get over a breakup (with the person they’re rebounding with being fully aware of and okay with that).
In other circumstances, both the rebounder and the reboundee can end up getting hurt.
There are mixed messages regarding rebound relationships.
On the one hand, we’re told that they’ll never work and that they’re a terrible idea.
On the other, we’re given the impression that they’re pretty much essential for getting over a broken heart.
What is truth and what is fiction?
This in-depth article will help you gain a better understanding of rebound relationships.
If you suspect you might be in one, or if you ever find yourself in one in the future, the advice that follows will enable you to handle the situation, ensuring that nobody gets hurt.
What is a rebound relationship?
Psychology researchers Brumbaugh and Fraley define a rebound relationship as “A relationship that is initiated shortly after a romantic breakup – before the feelings about the former relationship have been resolved.”
The key part of this definition is the latter half.
Although a ‘shortly after’ time frame is mentioned, that’s all relative. It really comes down to how a person feels about their ex and their past relationship.
For some, a short time might mean a month. But others might not have resolved those feelings six months, or even years later.
So, you may think that enough time has passed for you or someone you’re interested in to no longer be considered on the rebound…
…but you should be aware that it’s impossible to put a strict time limit on these things.
Also, bear in mind that it is possible to have more than one rebound relationship.
Just because you’ve already been romantically involved with someone since your initial breakup, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically over it and that further new relationships can’t also count as rebounds.
Some people jump from one rebound relationship to the next, frustrated that they can’t replicate the deep connection they had with their ex.
Why do we get into rebound relationships?
If you look at them on paper, rebound relationships seem like a pretty terrible idea.
Perhaps it’s obvious when we look at these things objectively that we should give ourselves time to fully process the ending of one relationship before entering another.
But when have human beings as a race ever been particularly rational or sensible?
Rebound relationships are extremely common for some fairly obvious reasons.
1. We might be looking to forget. A new relationship can soothe the pain of heartbreak, and be a great distraction.
Whilst it’s healthy to take the time to feel all the feelings and process what’s happened, it’s not exactly easy, and a lot of us will do anything to avoid it.
A new relationship is an effective way of putting those feelings in a box and pretending they don’t exist, even though they’re bound to come back to haunt you later.
2. Breakups can also be a real knock to one’s ego. We often look for someone new soon after breaking up to reassure ourselves that we’re desirable, and lovable.
3. Sometimes, it’s only after a breakup that we realize how much we’ve neglected our friendships and our social lives in general whilst in a relationship.
So we try to find someone new as a way of filling the lonely void that’s opened up in our lives.
4. Of course, sometimes the motivation is a little different, with people resorting to rebounds as a way of consciously or unconsciously getting revenge on an ex who they feel has treated them badly.
6 Signs That You’re In A Rebound Relationship As The Rebounder
It’s important to be self-aware and be able to identify if you’re rebounding, so you can keep your head on straight and make sure that this new relationship is a healthy one for both of you.
Here are the things to look out for in your own behavior if you’ve recently been through a breakup and are now getting to know someone new.
1. You find you’re not particularly picky.
If you’re looking to patch up your broken heart with a rebound relationship, chances are you won’t be as choosy as usual.
This is particularly true if your self-esteem has taken a big hit as part of the breakup.
Anyone that shows interest in you will do, even if they wouldn’t normally be your type, or you have nothing in common.
You haven’t spent enough time with them yet to get to know them properly, so you should be skeptical of the overwhelming feelings toward them that you’re experiencing.
3. You’re moving fast.
You might be keen to make things work with this new person as a way of proving to yourself and the world that you’re capable of maintaining a successful relationship.
That could translate into you pushing the relationship forward faster than you should, getting serious and taking big steps before you’re truly ready.
If other people have expressed surprise at how quickly you’ve put a label on things or even moved in together, then it’s time for some self-reflection.
4. You have a lot of sex.
If the majority of the time you spend with your new partner is time spent between the sheets, ask yourself if you’re using sex as a way of avoiding actually talking to this person and getting to know them.
5. You never had a mourning period.
You can’t control when a new person is going to come into your life, but just because you’ve met someone new, doesn’t mean you need to take your new relationship into overdrive and pretend to yourself that you’re completely over your ex.
If you can’t remember having taken any time to actively grieve your old relationship, you’re probably not magically over the whole thing, but in denial.
6. You still fantasize about your ex.
If you catch yourself daydreaming about running into your ex when you’re looking your best and out with your new guy or girl, then you’re not over them.
If you know, deep down, that you’d go back to your ex if they asked you, you shouldn’t be playing with someone else’s feelings…
…unless you’ve made it very clear that you want to keep things casual, and you’re sure they’re okay with that.
8 Signs That You’re In A Rebound Relationship As The Rebound
On the flip side, here are the things to look out for if you suspect that you might be someone’s rebound, and need to prepare yourself accordingly.
1. It’s all very recent.
As mentioned, there’s no hard and fast rule about how soon after a breakup is too soon to get into a new relationship, but there are still some vague guidelines you can follow.
If they’ve broken up with a long-term partner within the last three months, or have separated from a spouse, or someone they’ve had children with, within the last six months, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t date them, but you’d do well to be on your guard.
2. They’ve fallen head over heels in love with you in two seconds flat.
You’re charming and all, but you’ve only just met and hardly know each other, and they’re already totally besotted with you.
Have their feelings gone from 0 to 10 in no time at all? It’s always wonderful to be adored, but it might be making you feel a bit uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and skeptical.
3. They act super long-term-coupley.
New couples tend to go out on dates. Have a few drinks. Do fun activities together.
But, as we all know, once we’ve settled into a relationship, nights in with Netflix become more of a regular fixture.
If they’re providing you with the full-on boyfriend/girlfriend experience, acting like you’ve been together for years when you’ve only known them for five minutes, that’s a big red flag.
4. They blow hot and cold.
They might have been obsessed with you one minute, but the next they’re suddenly cold and distant.
And then they switch right back.
Or they might be moody for no explicable reason.
That’s probably because they’re going through ups and downs whilst getting over their ex.
One minute they’re focusing on how wonderful you are; the next they’re having a flashback to their ex.
They have no idea what they want out of life, let alone this relationship with you.
5. You feel like you’re being assessed.
There’s some kind of invisible yardstick that you have a feeling you’re being measured against.
They might come out and tell you that you’re better than their ex, or you might just suspect that they’re watching your every move and giving you gold stars or black marks depending on how you behave.
6. They’re a serial monogamist.
From what you can tell, he or she has been jumping from relationship to relationship throughout their adult life and hasn’t ever taken any time to be by his or herself.
That’s a sign that rebounding is their tactic for getting over (or avoiding getting over) breakups.
They might not be in this relationship because they really want to be with you, but rather be in it for the sake of being with someone.
7. They act like their previous relationship wasn’t a big deal.
They find it hard to admit to you that their previous relationship was important or significant.
If someone’s trying to convince you that their ten-year marriage or five-year relationship didn’t mean anything to them, you should be wary.
8. It’s all physical.
In search of a connection of some kind, but unable to replicate the deep connection they had with their ex, rebounders will often want little more than sex.
The sex might be incredible, but if they’re not showing a desire to get to know you beyond that, they could be a rebounder.
How To Protect Yourself From A Rebounder
Just because you’ve realized that you’re someone’s rebound, doesn’t mean you necessarily need to break up with them.
You just need to be sensible about things, and adapt your expectations accordingly.
You need to give them space to process events and their feelings about them. And you need to let the relationship flourish in its own time.
You shouldn’t invest too much in the relationship, emotionally-speaking, and you should keep your guard up until it becomes clear that they have come out the other side and are ready to build a true, committed relationship with you.
In an ideal world, the person you’re seeing will be able to accept that they’re not quite over their ex and that they still have some processing to do.
They might find that they need a break from your blossoming relationship, or they might ask you to be patient and take things slowly.
On the other hand, if you’re not okay with the idea of being someone’s rebound, then you need to accept that, and put an end to things.
Similarly, if they’re in denial about being on the rebound and insist that they’re completely over their ex when it’s clear to you that they’re not, you might want to rethink the relationship.
Can rebound relationships ever work in the long term?
The short answer here is yes, they can, but they definitely don’t always.
They will only ever work if both people in the new relationship are entirely honest about their situation and their feelings from day one.
The person who is on the rebound needs to be honest with his or herself and with the person that they’re seeing.
At the same time, the other party needs to be realistic about whether they’re truly happy with the situation, and whether they are willing to be patient and give their new romantic interest the time they’re going to need to properly process their breakup.
People that completely write off all rebound relationships don’t consider the fact that we can’t predict when we’ll meet the right person.
It might be the day after a breakup. Or it might be five years later.
We can’t control when someone is going to walk into our lives unannounced.
We need to hang on to special people when we meet them, but we also need to be careful not to rush into things and, by doing so, ruin a relationship that’s full of promise.
Just remember that, when it comes to rebounds, slow and steady always wins the race.
If given time and space, they can grow into wonderful things, but they might just become fond memories.
You can never predict the future, so just to be kind to yourself and to them, and enjoy it while it lasts.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.