Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised that the article below might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence, which could be triggering.
Whether you were a part of the decision to end a relationship or not, a breakup involves loss and a need for grieving. 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. In this cycle of grief, 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 and give ourselves the chance to feel our emotions truthfully. Though seeking out a new partner might feel comforting immediately after a breakup, otherwise known as a "rebound," these situations can also cause damage to your healing process.
The Science Behind Breakup Pain
When we are in close intimate relationships, we tend to enjoy and rely on the presence of our partners. 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. Even if you know that ending the relationship was the right thing to do, it can be challenging to accept the sudden lifestyle change.
Have you ever heard of someone not eating for weeks after a breakup? Or maybe not being able to pull themselves out of bed even to take a shower? Scientists are now saying that this heartache causes significant shifts in our thinking, 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. Know that experiencing these feelings, which can sometimes be conflicting, is a normal part of the healing process. It's important to know that even if you experience moments of longing or regret, it doesn't mean that ending the relationship wasn't the right decision.
Although you might think that getting involved in a rebound relationship is a healthy way to transition into being single, that isn't always the case. Though seeking comfort from a new relationship can ease some of the negative thoughts and feelings you're having for a certain period, it's important to understand that rushing your grieving process can lead to issues in the future. Some people find that dating after a relationship helps them feel less alone, but it's important to be aware of your feelings for the past relationship.
How Long Do Rebound Relationships Last?
According to James Nelmondo, rebound relationships can last anywhere from a few months to a year. Still, 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.
The main problem with most rebound relationships is that we 'jump right in,' so to speak. To escape the loneliness and pain that comes with losing the one we love, we may seek a partnership with someone who isn't a good fit for us. Though it can be a distraction from our thoughts and feelings from the relationship, it's important to only commit to a relationship when you're emotionally available to do so, not only for your healing but for the person that you're engaging with intimately.
Relationships take time, effort, and continued patience and compromise. When you're in a heightened state of emotion after a breakup, you may not have the ability to offer that. Engaging in a new partnership before you've grieved your previous relationship may also cause you to feel doubtful about how things will be moving forward, and you may find yourself comparing your new partner to your ex.
It's important to be responsible when committing to relationships because though you may be focused on protecting your own heart, the person that you're dating wants to feel cherished and loved as well. By maintaining open communication with anyone you're interested in about how ready you are to be committed and being honest with yourself about whether you're ready to date at all, you can be respectful as you move forward.
How Long Do Rebound Relationships Last?
Some rebound relationships work out. There is a chance that the rebound relationship turns out to be a successful and long-term relationship. If you meet someone special soon after a relationship ends, take your time getting to know them. You don't have to rule out a future relationship entirely, but you may need to take things slow as you let go of your breakup. Being communicative with anyone you're romantic with can make all the difference in preventing unnecessary hardship.
Preventing Damage that Rebound Relationships Can Inflict
First things first - focus on letting go of your previous relationship before actively seeking a new partner. Take time to heal yourself, work through the hurt, and prepare for your next, best partnership. Though people in your life may encourage you to start dating again, make sure you wait until you feel ready and comfortable to do so. The energy you spend looking for someone new may better serve you if it's used to spend time with your loved ones, learn more about yourself, and focus on enjoying time on your own.
Even if you aren't looking, sometimes life may present someone at a time that feels inconvenient. If you know you haven't fully processed your breakup, but you're genuinely interested in another person, keep an open line of communication regarding your expectations. It's possible the person may not be interested in dating you while you grieve your last partnership, and that's completely understandable. They may also be willing to date casually while you move forward from the past.
All romantic relationships allow us to learn, grow and have a deeper understanding of what we want from our future partner. By taking the time to reflect on what went wrong in your last relationship, you can prevent similar issues from occurring in your future one. Without taking the time to understand your own needs truly and wants in a relationship, you will likely find yourself in similar circumstances in the future.
When the Rebound Relationship Does Not Work
If you've tried to engage in a new relationship soon after a breakup, you may find yourself disappointed that you're still not fully over your previous partner. Unfortunately, the only thing that can help you heal is time and self-care. Even if it's uncomfortable sometimes, letting yourself feel your emotions fully will allow you to move forward in life.
Even if a breakup feels isolating, you don't have to go through it alone. Finding support from a friend or a family member, or even a therapist such as those available at BetterHelp can help you express your thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental space. By talking through what you're going through, you can find ways to heal and learn for the better.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why Do Rebound Relationships Feel Like Love?
Rebound relationships can feel like love because that is what the individual is looking for. Following a breakup, it's common for people to fill up any emptiness or attempt to replace the negative feelings and emotions in favor of positive ones. It can be easy to long for affection and attention from people, even if you're not fully prepared for a new committed relationship.
Some people also find that they enjoy rebound relationships because it feels like a healthy distraction from the pain that they're in. Though this may be effective for a certain time, "new relationship energy" will fade in any partnership. Many people find that when the initial attraction and infatuation fades, they still have lingering healing to do from their past relationship.
How Long After A Breakup Is It OK To Date?
There is no set timeframe or contact rule that defines when it is acceptable to start dating someone new following a breakup; it depends entirely on you. Though the time between relationships is generally recommended for anyone, only you can truly know when you're ready to begin dating again.
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, they depend on a rebound relationship. It can be helpful for many people to ease into dating after a breakup and start by dating casually. By doing so, you may find yourself enjoying new company and experiences without the added pressure of a serious long-term commitment.
On the other hand, many people wait until they are truly ready to move on. The feeling of being "ready" is different for everyone, and talking with a licensed therapist can help you figure out when the timing will be right for you.
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 recent relationship, and here, there can be additional from her signs.
Rebound relationships can often escalate pretty quickly because of the urge 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 not to want to bring up their ex to another person, rebounding individuals 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 Partner 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 of a breakup. It's also possible that they felt like the relationship was over in some ways before the official breakup happened. They may have begun grieving the relationship before it ended and feel ready to move forward. It's also possible that the relationship ended amicably, and because of that, your partner feels comfortable moving on with someone new.
No matter what, focusing on yourself rather than your ex-partner is going to be the most effective way for you to move forward. It's normal to have feelings of resentment and hurt if a partner is in a new relationship soon after a breakup, but there's no way for you to understand their emotional and mental state is doing so fully. You may find it helpful to disconnect from your ex on social media and cut off contact for some time so you can healthily process the breakup.
Why Is My Ex Hiding Their New Relationship From Me?
Even if you know that your ex sees someone else and has a new partner, they 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 of whether you ended the relationship on a good note. Your ex may want to avoid hurting you or feel protective of divulging too much about their new partner.
Do Exes Come Back After A Rebound?
People can 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 breakups 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," which can resolve their issues, especially with counseling and therapy, and rekindle their previous relationship.
Who Moves Faster After A Breakup?
There is a stereotypical 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. Every person, regardless of gender, is affected by a breakup in their way. People cope with breakups differently, and rebounds are one of the ways people do so.
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. Taking your time to get to know each other can help you understand whether or not a long-term relationship is in the cards. By easing into any new relationship soon after a breakup, you can make sure that you're in it for the right reasons. As mentioned before, only you can know if you're ready for a committed relationship.
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, BetterHelp 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.