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The Rebound Relationship

The Rebound Relationship

A relationship is considered a “rebound relationship” when the person enters into it closely following the breakup of a previous relationship.  It is commonly thought to be a reaction against the breakup, and not a true, free-forming relationship based on emotional availability.  However, there are rebound relationships that turn out to be stable, strong, and long-lasting.  It is important to be able to recognize the why’s of entering a rebound relationship so that you can make sure you don’t end up hurting yourself or the other person.

If your relationship has just ended, and you are tempted to rebound, you might want to ask yourself what you are looking for in this rebound relationship.

Signs that a rebound relationship is NOT a healthy move for you:

  • Are you doing this to make yourself feel like you are attractive and that your former partner was wrong to let you go?  Are you using the new person to help you forget your old partner?
  • Are you rebounding to hurt your ex?  Are you using social media to make sure he/she sees you happy with this new person?  Are you deliberately putting up photo after photo of you and him/her, arms around each other, locked in a kiss, out partying all the time?  Are you using this new relationship as revenge against your ex?
  • Are you not truly invested in the new partner?  Are you using him/her to fill an empty space left by your previous partner?  Is it just about sex, or warding off loneliness?  Do you use your new partner as a way to soothe your heart hurt, instead of addressing that hurt yourself?  It is neither healthy nor fair to use someone as a security blanket or a distraction from a painful emotion that needs tending to.
  • Are you feeling ashamed or dishonest in this rebound relationship?  Are you hiding from your new partner the fact that you recently got out of a relationship?  Or, to the contrary, do you spend a lot of time talking about how awful your ex was, using this new relationship as an outlet to express your anger?  Are you carrying the “ghost” of your old partner into this new situation?

Signs that a rebound relationship is not a healthy move for you

If you recognize yourself doing any of these things, you may wish to work on most positive ways to get over your previous relationship, rather than involving another person as a “healer.”  Some better options would include talking with your close friends about your feelings as a newly-single person, making an appointment with a mental-health professional, or keeping a diary where you can spend some time each day writing out your emotions.  Daily exercise, eating healthfully and involving yourself in community activities can also be helpful ways to move forward and rebuild your life.

Embarking on a rebound relationship for the right reasons

There are some good reasons to move ahead with a rebound relationship.  A new relationship has the potential for healing and learning, especially if you choose it for the right reasons.  

It is important to keep in mind that in many circumstances, a break-up doesn’t just happen overnight.  Frequently, the break-up comes at the end of a long, drawn out process.  The couple has been unhappy for a while, but reluctant to pull the trigger.  In these cases, a rebound relationship is not really a “rebound”, as the former relationship has been dead or dying for a long time.  By the time the two partners finally extract themselves from their official status as a couple, they may be more than ready to move forward with someone with whom they sense they can find happiness.

Some signs that your rebound relationship IS a healthy one:

  • You are open and honest with your new partner about your recent breakup, and the reasons for it.  
  • Your practice self-care. You ask for what you need:  space, time to get over the loss of your previous relationship, and a supportive ear.  Assure your new partner that you offer the same for them, as well, so they know that you are not looking for free therapy and a one-sided conversation.
  • You know that your former relationship is 100% over.  You grieve it, but you don’t dwell in grief.
  • You are engaging in this new relationship wholeheartedly, from a place of love and openness to this new person.  You realize you just ended a relationship, but you are not reacting to that loss as you open to this new experience.  This new person is someone you get along with well and you feel there is true potential for a mutually-fulfilling partnership.  You wouldn’t want to pass it up just because it is happening on the heels of your last relationship.
  • You are not afraid of being alone, and in fact look forward to some alone-time.  You are emotionally available to love and be loved in return.  You know what led to your previous break-up, and you are mindful of not repeating these patterns with your new partner.  

These rebound relationships have the potential of being healthy and balanced.   Entered into for the right reasons, they can help you recover more quickly from the loss of your previous relationship, and provide you with a sense of connection, which is vital to us as social beings.  

The term “rebound relationship” has a negative connotation.  But the reality is that many of these relationships blossom and are examples of good love.  It would be foolish to dismiss someone just because you have recently experienced a break-up.  Rebounding healthfully is a sign of resilience and eagerness to experience growth and connection.  Just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.


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