Romantic relationship dissolution is often not easy, especially after two people walked a journey together. To avoid facing the feelings of loss, grief, and/or rejection, one might be tempted to “rebound”, and jump right into another intimate association.
Researchers Brumbaugh and Fraley define rebound relationship as: “A relationship that is initiated shortly after a romantic breakup—before the feelings about the former relationship have been resolved.”(1) Studies indicate that while some rebound relationships can be successful, others may be detrimental and harmful, both to the rebounding person and the new partner.(2)(3)(4)(5)
Possible negative dynamics and consequences of an unhealthy rebound relationship may include:
Below are seven signs you may be in an unhealthy rebound relationship, with references to my book (click on title): “How to Get Over a Breakup – Keys to Healing and Happiness Again”. Although this article is intended for the benefit of both the rebound individual and the new partner, the information below will focus on the experience of the rebounding person. Most unhealthy rebound relationships will possess a few (but probably not all) of the following characteristics:
1. Getting Involved with Someone Who’s Not a Serious Prospect
This is the classic “one night stand”, or “one-week stand”, or “six-month stand” scenario. You’re dating someone new, and despite some positive experiences, you know that, deep down, your partner is “mister/miss right now” rather than “mister/miss right”. While one can make a case that there’s nothing inherently wrong with short-term relationships between adults, to enter into one immediately after a break-up is to increase emotional and physical vulnerability, for the rebounding person and/or the new partner.
2. You Like the Relationship for the Attention
Sometimes, a person on the rebound will deliberately seek out a new partner who makes a strong effort at courtship, and showers the rebounding individual with interest and affection. Having someone who treats you special can certainly be uplifting, especially in the aftermath of heartache. At the same time, it’s important to consider whether you’re in the new relationship because the attention feels good, or you’re sincerely interested in building a new, strong partnership.
As with all the points in this article, this is not about right or wrong, but positive self-awareness.
3. Calls Partner When Lonely, Neglects Partner When Happy
A clear sign of a rebounding relationship is when one calls the new partner mostly while feeling sad, lonely or empty. Conversely, one might forget or neglect the new partner when happy. The relationship is one of emotional convenience, where the rebounding person is associating with the new partner because of NEED, rather than WANT.
4. You Want to Show Off Your New Partner to Your Ex
One of the most telling signs of a rebound relationship is when the rebounding partner makes a concerted effort to show off the new partner to her or his ex. This may occur via social networking, at social functions, or in front of friends and acquaintances of the ex. While the urge to show off a new partner may be understandable and relatively harmless (if done only once or twice), to persistently blur the boundary between old and new romantic relationships suggests unresolved emotional baggage, which may lead to complications.
5. Projecting Traits of Ex Onto New Partner
This particular rebounding sign is not very common, but can occur. Here, the rebounding person may consciously or subconsciously look for characteristics from a new partner that reminds her or him of the old partner. For example, someone who broke-up with an athlete will deliberately date another athlete, a redhead will look for another redhead, or somebody from Canada will seek another Canadian. This type of projection is, of course, illusory, as the rebounding partner clings to hints of the former relationship.
The rebounding partner may also be trying to prove to her or himself that she’s lovable and worthy by connecting with someone with similar attributes as the ex.
6. Thinking About Your Ex While Being with Your New Partner
One problematic effect of a quick rebound is that emotional attachments from the previous relationship have not had time to subside. The rebounding person may still miss the former relationship, and find oneself thinking about the ex, even while interacting with the new partner. This dynamic, of course, is distractive to relational health and unfair for the new partner.
7. Not Including the New Partner in Your Inner Circle
Often, the sign of a relationship becoming serious is a stage called “integration”, when one introduces a significant other to her or his highly regarded family members and friends.(6) In a rebound relationship, however, the rebounding partner might isolate a temporary suitor from entering into her or his inner circle, knowing that the association likely won’t last. The relationship is viewed as “you” and “me”, rather than “we”.
For tips on relationship healing and success, see my books (click on titles): "How to Get Over a Breakup – Keys to Healing and Happiness Again" and "7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success".
© 2016 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright violation may subject the violator to legal prosecution.
(1) Brumbaugh, C. C., & Fraley, R. C. Too Fast, Too Soon? An Empirical Investigation Into Rebound Relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. (2015)
(2) Lewandowski, G. W., Aron, A., Bassis, S., & Kunak, J. Losing A Self‐Expanding Relationship: Implications For The Self‐Concept. Personal Relationships. (2006)
(4) Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., & Wilson, A. E. On The Rebound: Focusing On Someone New Helps Anxiously Attached Individuals Let Go Of Ex-Partners. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. (2012)
(5) Wolfinger, N. H. Does The Rebound Effect Exist? Time to Remarriage And Subsequent Union Stability. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. (2007)
(6) Knapp, M. L., Vangelisti, A.L. Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships, 2nd. edition. Allyn & Bacon. (1992)