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On the rebound

Are you really in love with them? Or are you just (unknowingly) using them to distract you from your ex? Rebound relationships are complicated and it’s easy for people to get hurt. Here’s what you need to ask yourself.

Heart sequins falling through the air.

Dating someone on the rebound can hurt your heart.

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What does it mean to be on the rebound?

In simple terms, someone ‘on the rebound’ has started a new relationship before they’ve managed to get over an old relationship. They still have issues from the break up they haven’t worked through yet.

Is my relationship a rebound?

If you’ve just come out of a relationship and have rushed into a new one, you’re probably rebounding.  And the same goes if you’re dating someone who’s just broken up with a significant other.

“There are all sorts of signs someone is rebounding,” says Denise Knowles from Relate. “Sometimes they go out of their way to have a really good time and appear extrovert; it’s a way of drawing attention to themselves to get a new partner, when they really feel like moping on their own in a corner.”

“Other people can be incredibly needy, wanting to be in touch all the time,” she continues. “They need to feel attached, rather than feel the pain of the previous relationship. A few others may have plenty of bitterness, making comments such as ‘all men are bastards’, or ‘women are bitches’, but then saying to their new partner ‘but of course, you’re different.’”

Someone who’s carrying a lot of unresolved stuff around with them often chooses a ‘safe person’ for their new relationship. They’ve opted for a man or woman who’ll not hurt them as their last boyfriend or girlfriend did. For example, if they’re especially afraid of unfaithfulness, they’ll pick someone who’s strongly monogamous, or maybe unattractive and dowdy. They might also subconsciously pick a person who seems ‘easy to leave’.

Why do people rebound?

Everyone’s different when it comes to the amount of time it takes to get over a break up(link). It can also depend on how serious the relationship was and how you broke up – for example, if someone cheated on you that can take a long time to get over.

Some people are just really scared of being alone and rush back into coupledom too quickly. They don’t take the time to think about what went wrong before and don’t learn from their previous mistakes. The end result is that their new love interest often gets treated unfairly and can get badly hurt.

Do rebound relationships work?

“Rebounds very rarely work out”, says Denise “They’re usually only a transitory relationship, where they’re going from being part of a couple, to getting to know themselves, to being single again or finding out what they really want.”

Someone who’s on the rebound needs time and space to get over their last relationship. They may need to be given some room for a while. It’s important that after a relationship ends you take the time to work out what was good and what was bad, so you can take what you’ve learnt on to your next relationship.

If this doesn’t happen, and one of you continues to see the other simply as a distraction to take your mind off of things, rather than a person in their own right, then there’s no real chance of a serious relationship. Maybe it’s time to move on.

Photo of hearts by Neal.

Next Steps

  • Visit Madly in Love to discuss mental health and relationships, share stories and get support and advice.
  • Got a worry about relationships? Whatever the question, get free anonymous advice from one of our relationship experts.
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By

Updated on 07-Aug-2014

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