One After The Other: How Long Do Rebound Relationships Last?

By Michael Arangua|Updated April 4, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Avia James, LPC

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.

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