One After The Other: How Long Do Rebound Relationships Last?
By: Michael Arangua
Updated July 30, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Avia James
Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence which could potentially be triggering.
No matter if you were dumped, did the leaving, or were part of a mutually agreed upon break-up, the ending of a relationship involves loss. In fact, many people grieve for their partners and the connection they once had just as someone would if a loved one died, or some other tragedy struck. It is in this cycle of grief that we feel a plethora of emotions: hurt, anger, shame, relief, guilt, embarrassment, and eventually, acceptance. But the only way we arrive at our final destination-acceptance is if we work through each stage in a healthy way, ignoring all obstacles that might aim to reroute us. One such blockage is getting caught up in a rebound relationship.
The Science Behind Break-up Pain
When we are in close intimate relationships, we tend to enjoy and rely on the presence of our partner, We do things together, share our deepest thoughts, plan our lives with and around them. So, when a relationship ends, especially unexpectedly or unwantedly, it isn't uncommon to find yourself in a state that is unlike yourself.
Have you ever heard of someone not eating for weeks after a breakup? Or maybe not being able to pull themselves out of bed to even take a shower? Scientists are now saying that it's not 'all in our heads' and the loss of a partner can cause our brains to respond similarly to the way they react when trying to withdraw from drugs or alcohol. Just like a smoker with a nicotine patch, or someone withdrawing from heroin, we crave the feel-good, in-love feelings we once had. If we give in to these feelings, we end up in one of two places: back in the arms of the one who hurt us or in the arms of someone new.
Although you might think that getting involved in a rebound relationship is a healthy way to transition back into being single that isn't always the case. You may discover that you are getting somewhat comfortable in this rebound relationship, what do you do when this relationship is going on for too long? Is it healthy and how long do rebound relationships last? The answer isn't as cut and dry as one might think.
How Long Do Rebound Relationships Last? The Ugly
According to James Nelmondo, rebound relationships can last anywhere from a few months to a year, but it is all dependent on whether the rebounder feels comfortable enough to be on their own again. There's also the 'healthiness' factor that varies with each partnership.
You see the main problem with most rebound relationships is that we 'jump right in,' so to speak. To escape the loneliness and pain that comes along with losing the one we love, we numb ourselves with the first new person who comes by. This can be disastrous.
Meredith, one of my high school friends, had a reputation as the 'rebound queen.' At just twenty-seven and with two failed marriages under her belt, she felt desperate to find the 'one' for her. When her second marriage ended with two kids and a restraining order, she felt lonelier than ever. She was also afraid. Afraid of her ex-husband, afraid of being alone, afraid of being a failure. So, when Terry came along, she thought all of her problems were solved. Her knight-in-shining-armor, he even attended a domestic abuse court hearing with her, holding her hand while her ex sat in silence.
Within a month, Terry had moved in with Meredith and the kids. He cooked, cleaned, and helped with homework when he wasn't working. Meredith met Terry's mother and her own children. She was in rebound heaven.
But it wasn't long before the real Terry started to emerge. Meredith quickly realized that not only did Terry have a serious drinking problem, he was also abusive when he drank. He'd smack her in the phase for no reason, yelled hurtful putdowns, and embarrassed her in front of the children. Within a few weeks, he was sleeping with several people in the apartment complex where they lived, even one of Meredith's close friends.
When Meredith tried to end things with Terry and asked him to leave her home, he called the police and told them she was violent. Months of abuse, emotional, physical and sexual followed. Eventually, Terry was arrested for raping Meredith and the child of an ex-girlfriend.
What was Meredith's fatal mistake here? After all, she wasn't the one who was a narcissistic abuser. True enough she was a victim. But had she taken the time to actually get to know Terry instead of jumping into a rebound romance, she might have noticed some of the red flags before she was in too deep.
How Long Do Rebound Relationships Last? The Good
The truth about rebound relationships is not all of them will end the way that Meredith's did. In fact, there is a chance that the rebound relationship actually turns out to be a successful and long-term relationship. But there will always be doubt from the rebounder that the relationship will last with their new partner.
On the other side of the relationship, however, there will be hope as they put hard work and effort into a long-term relationship that can quite possibly fail. After all, should a rebound relationship last a year, that can give someone enough time to determine if they love the other or not? They may even think about marriage.
However, if a rebound relationship ends, it can be devastating, not only due to the emotions involved but also because the rebounder wasted a year of the others' life trying to get over a past love.
It is insulting and hurtful, which may lead the "dumpee" (the person who has been dumped in the previous relationship) to establish a rebound relationship of their own, creating a never-ending cycle.
In the end, nothing will be accomplished. The original pain still exists and is now compacted by more hurt. Thankfully, these types of situations are avoidable.
Preventing Damage that Rebound Relationships Can Inflict
First things first-don't enter a rebound relationship if you haven't already done so. Take time to heal yourself, to work through the hurt, and to prepare for your next, best partnership. On the flipside, you should avoid entering into a relationship with someone who is just recently single. Even if they seem like a fantastic catch, it's highly unlikely that he or she will be able to provide you with what you need and desire while working through pain and hurt.
If you choose to move forward anyway, it is best, to be honest with the person that you are in a rebound relationship with and don’t play any hot and cold games. Let them know that you are getting over someone and make it clear that you are unsure if you want the relationship to last. Most will understand. In fact, there may be a few who would prefer that the relationship did not last very long either and stays short-term.
Regardless, it is vital that you communicate with each other throughout the relationship so you can truly know where the other is at. This will give you a better understanding of what the other is thinking and feeling and know precisely where you have gone too far or when to end it.
When the Rebound Relationship Does Not Work
If you find that you are still hung-over froma past love despite going through a rebound relationship or two, try confessing your feelings with your past love. For all you know, you were meant to be. If it still doesn’t work out, you can try confiding your feelings with someone close to you rather than just diving into another rebound relationship.
You may speak with a friend or a family member, or even a therapist such as those available at BetterHelp. Whichever way you choose, you will be venting your feelings in a healthy manner, negating the need for a rebound relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Rebound Relationships Feel Like Love?
Rebound relationships can feel like love because that is what the individual is looking for; following a break-up, it’s common for people to try to fill up any emptiness or attempt to replace the negative feelings and emotions in favor of positive ones.
Instead of feeling sad, down, angry, or just miserable, in general, it’s completely normal for people to try to find pleasure, and while it might not be true love, especially upon just meeting someone, the attraction that sparks from a brand new partner in a rebound relationship can certainly feel that way and make it seem like you’ve found the real deal.
How Long After A Breakup Is It OK To Date?
There is no set time-frame or contact rule that defines when it is acceptable to start dating someone new following a breakup; it depends entirely on you.
Some people choose to date right away, but unfortunately, they might not have had enough time to heal and learn how to cope with their feelings and emotions, and instead, depend on a rebound relationship to do so.
On the other hand, many people wait until they are truly ready to move on and this could mean discussing their feelings with a counselor or therapist. Sometimes people might wait just out of respect for their old partner too, even if things didn’t end on good terms.
What Are The Signs of a Rebound Relationship?
There are many indicators that you or someone else might be in a rebound relationship. The primary one is jumping into one soon after a relationship ended recently, and from here, there can be additional signs.
Rebound relationships can often escalate pretty quickly, because of the need to find love and affection; however, sometimes they can also be just casual, and individuals might not be interested in fully committing to another person.
While it’s understandable for people to not want to bring up their ex to another person, individuals who are rebounding might also be unwilling to open up or go to great lengths to avoid talking about their previous relationship.
On the other hand, others might have much less hesitation and will complain about their exes while spending time with their new partner, and this is a sign that they are hurting and are depending on a new relationship to cope with their feelings.
“Why Did My Ex Get A New Girlfriend So Fast?”
As mentioned before, people can move into a relationship quickly because they are looking for a way to cope and distract themselves from the negative emotions that come with a breakup.
However, some people find rebound relationships quickly because they don’t have much respect for their former partner, and it also shows you that they might not be as loyal and reliable as you once believed them to be.
“Why Is My Ex Hiding His New Girlfriend From Me?”
Even if you know that your ex is seeing someone else and has a new partner, he or she might not be comfortable being open with their new relationship.
They might not want to seem that they’ve moved on too quickly, and they want to remain private out of respect for your feelings and emotions, regardless if you ended the relationship on a good note.
Your ex most likely wants to avoid hurting you and certainly doesn’t want to make you feel jealous, otherwise, he or she wouldn’t be hiding his new relationship from you.
Do Exes Come Back After A Rebound?
It’s possible for people to come back around following a rebound relationship; however, it’s not something that you should expect.
People typically find a rebound to cope with their break-ups and don’t intend on returning, but if they realize that maybe a mistake was made or that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, your ex might try to return.
Whether you accept them back is up to you; some people will consider what happened a “break,” are able to resolve their issues, especially with counseling and therapy, and can rekindle their previous relationship.
Who Moves Faster After A Breakup?
There is a popular belief that men are more likely to move faster than women after a breakup and potentially find a new partner, but this isn’t always the case, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are not hurting.
People cope with breakups differently, and rebounds are one of the ways people do so, and both men and women are capable of finding rebound relationships quickly.
How Do You Know It’s Not A Rebound?
Knowing whether or not you’re in a rebound relationship or you’ve found the real deal can be tricky, but it’s important to look at the signs that you’re in one first.
Even if it feels like you’ve found a new relationship quickly, it doesn’t necessarily mean it's a rebound. If your current relationship seems to be moving slow or steadily, you might not be in a rebound.
Importantly, if you’re both open and legitimately care about each other, and it doesn’t seem like you’re “in love” for seemingly no reason at all, it’s probably not a rebound relationship either.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Whether you’ve found a new relationship and you’re unsure it’s a rebound, or you're trying to avoid one for the time being, help is available, and you can learn skills to help you cope with any situation you’re in. By learning healthy coping and communication skills, you can set yourself up for having the best long-term relationships possible by facilitating honesty and openness.