Rebound Relationships article

Rebound Relationships

Sarah Riccio

If you've ever jumped from one partner to the next with barely a moment in between, then you probably know what a rebound relationship is. Rebound relationships come in many different forms, and can be toxic, healthy, or something in between. 

Let's dive into the signs of a rebound relationship, how to know if you're in one, what makes a rebound successful  or not. 

What Is A Rebound Relationship?

A rebound relationship refers to a partnership that happens very soon after a breakup. For example, if you break up with your boyfriend and find a new boyfriend a week later, that's considered "rebounding."

That said, the whole concept of a rebound relationship is more nuanced than that simplistic definition. The term rebound often carries negative connotations that suggest rebounding is unhealthy, but that's not always the case! Rebound relationships can be healthy  if the circumstances and people involved are right. 

The rebound relationship is largely a subjective construct. Why? Well, everyone's idea of what constitutes a short amount of time (and thus, a rebound) is different. For example, if someone breaks up with their girlfriend and stays single for 3 months before entering a new relationship, some folks might consider that a rebound, while others might think 3 months is plenty of time to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move on. 

But there are certain guideposts that can help identify a rebound relationship. If you're wondering whether you're in a rebound situation, take a look at the telltale signs below

Signs Of A Rebound Relationship

You're dating someone fresh out of a breakup, and things are going so well! How do you know if you're in a rebound relationship, or if your relationship is genuine (and are the two mutually exclusive?). Let's look at some signs of a rebound relationship, shall we?

  • They got out of a serious relationship very recently. The first thing to look for is how recently you and/or your current partner were in a relationship. There are exceptions to every rule, and rebounding does not automatically lead to a toxic relationship. However, if only a few weeks have transpired between the old partner and the new one, you're probably in a rebound relationship.
  • They talk about their ex all the time  or not at all. Yes, rebounds can turn into healthy relationships that last for years. But there are folks who are not over their ex, and should seek healing and closure before moving on to the next relationship. If your partner constantly talks about their former partner or avoids discussing them altogether, there's a strong chance that they're still processing the breakup. In this situation, the healthy choice is to take some time to be alone and focus on the relationship with yourself.
  • The relationship is moving fast or feels rushed. In some rebound relationships, one person will use another person as a distraction to get over their ex. One sign this might be happening is a fast pace in a brand new relationship. For example, if your partner just ended their last relationship and now — one week into your new relationship — asks you to move in, that's a potential red flag. If you feel that your partner wants to rush through your new relationship, that could mean that they're looking for a distraction more than an actual relationship. 
  • They won't open up emotionally. If your partner recently parted ways with their ex and seems closed off or emotionally unavailable, it's probably because they are. In rebound relationships, it's very common (and normal!) for people to still feel emotional attachment to their exes, even if those feelings are not romantic (or even friendly!). That said, not being able to open up emotionally to a new partner is a good sign that you're not ready to rebound just yet.
  • Most of your time together is oriented around sex. Some relationships center solely around sex, and under the right circumstances, that can make for a healthy and fun dynamic! However, rebound relationships that center around sex may not be healthy if one or both people are emotionally unavailable. If you notice that you and your new boo never do anything outside of the bedroom, that's a strong sign of a rebound relationship.

Now that you've seen some of the main signs of a rebound relationship, you're better equipped to determine if you're currently in one. These aren't all the possible signs, of course, and direct communication with your new partner is often the best way to discover what kind of connection you have, and the purpose it serves for both of you. 

Can Rebound Relationships Last?

As we've seen, the term "rebound" can carry negative connotations, and rebound relationships are considered by many to be inherently toxic. But most of us know someone who made a rebound last, so some manage to go the distance! New relationships that closely follow ex-relationships are not doomed to fail, and in fact, many rebound relationships can last a long time and/or result in marriage. The point to keep in mind is that every relationship is different, rebound or not. 

Imagine two people in a long-term relationship that has been stagnant and unfulfilling for years. Despite growing apart, the couple stays together year after year. By the time they finally go their separate ways, both people feel 100% ready for a new relationship. Why? Because it hasn't felt like they were in a relationship for quite some time. 

In a situation like that, it's probable that one or both people "checked out" of the relationship long before the actual breakup, and were able to move on quickly to healthier, longer lasting relationships. 

Another example of a situation where a rebound relationship could last is simply this: one person falls out of love with their current partner and in love with someone else! The point is that life, love, and relationships can be unpredictable. So yes, it's quite possible for rebound relationships to last. 

Are Rebound Relationships Toxic?

Rebound relationships can have toxic traits just like any relationship. Certain issues can be more likely to pop up in a rebound relationship, in particular, because of the specific nature of the rebound dynamic. Let's take a look at some examples:

  • You don't feel good. This seems obvious, but a healthy relationship should make you feel good. If you find that your new relationship is already full of stress, worry, and anxiety, there's a good chance that your partner is not ready to be dating anyone yet.
  • Everything is about the ex. If your partner's ex is constantly the topic of conversation, that's a potential sign of a toxic relationship. Moving onto a new relationship before you're ready is never a good idea, and can rob you both of real fulfillment and intimacy. 
  • Feelings fade fast. In toxic rebound relationships, it's common to feel enamored and excited at first, and less so as time goes by. Again, this is a sign that the breakup was too recent and/or one or both people are not emotionally ready for a new relationship.
  • Repressed feelings flare up. A rebound is often a way to avoid feeling hurt, pain, jealousy, and all of the uncomfortable emotions that go with a breakup. While another person can help soothe the sting temporarily, buried feelings can rise to the surface during a rebound and demand to be addressed. This can be a signal to step away from the new relationship and deal with leftover pain from the old one before trying to move on.