Discover the signs you may be in a rebound relationship – advice from relationship experts.
Heartbreaks hurt. Recovering from a previous relationship can be tricky, especially when your feelings are hurt and you’re not taking the time to heal.
Finding an emotional connection with a new person when you’re still not over a previous partner can often spiral into a new romantic relationship – even though you still have an unresolved emotional attachment to your past relationship, you’re already invested in someone new.
This is a confusing situation for both parties. So how can you be sure you’re in a rebound relationship?
What is a rebound relationship?
A rebound relationship is a romantic relationship that begins shortly after a breakup – the defining feature is that feelings surrounding the former relationship are still not resolved.
14 Signs of a Rebound Relationship
There are two sides to every story. In a rebound relationship, you’re either trying to figure out whether you’re a rebound, or you’re dating someone new shortly after a breakup.
Either way, here are some excellent warning signs a rebound relationship is taking place.
1) The honeymoon phase comes soon and fast
Rebound relationships start with an overwhelming sense of love and affection sometimes.
The honeymoon phase seems to come super fast, you’re both head over heels in love before you can even say “rebound”, and there’s no space for rationality.
These feelings of excitement surrounding a new relationship can boost self-esteem, making a person feel better about their romantic prospects.
2) The relationship is defined by avoiding painful feelings
According to an empirical investigation into rebound relationships, people may use rebound relationships as a coping strategy to distract themselves from the painful feelings that a big breakup brings.
If you’re the one who’s recently broken up, take a moment to truly consider your feelings. Does your recent breakup still bring up old feelings of bitterness and negative emotions tied to your formal lover?
If you’re not over your ex, you may be in a rebound relationship.
3) The relationship moves quickly and slowly at the same time
The great honeymoon phase that rebound relationships often trigger is potentially only superficial.
Even though you feel you’re in love with your new partner after just a few weeks, you soon realize you don’t actually… know them.
You’re rarely emotionally vulnerable with each other and you only focus on the positives of the relationship.
4) Comparison is your old friend
People in rebound relationships tend to compare their past relationships to new relationships.
Research has actually shown that unrewarding rebound relationships can make people more attached to their ex-partners – everything you dislike about your new partner is what you miss in your former lover.
To quote the relationship expert Samantha Joel PhD:
“When people fail to connect with new partners, it can make them long powerfully for the familiarity of an ex.”
5) They’re showing you off way too much and way too fast
Sometimes, rebound relationships feel like you’re the main art exhibition in a gallery.
If your new partner has recently ended another romantic long-term relationship, they may want to flaunt you on their social media all the time and invite you to all the events their ex might appear at, too.
No matter if you’re just a casual fling or you’re in a serious relationship, you might also be the means to make their former partner jealous without realizing it.
6) Present when sad, absent when happy
Another sign you’re someone’s rebound is that you’re always there for them when they’re blue, but once your new partner picks themselves up again, they don’t seem to need you anymore.
Especially when you have emotional needs and look for support – that’s when they might seem to be very emotionally unavailable.
7) You don’t discuss long-term commitment
One of the signs of a rebound lies in honest communication – or lack thereof.
Your current partner seems to be madly in love with you while also steering clear of any discussion about long-term relationships.
Is this going to be a lasting relationship? Who knows?
How can you be on the same page in terms of where your current relationship is heading when you never broach the topic?
8) Mixed signals are on the daily menu
fMRI studies of people with a broken heart have shown that heartbreak activates similar mechanisms in the brain to those activated when you experience actual physical pain.
Your brain overreacts when your committed relationship ends because your attachment system gets triggered. As Amir Levine, psychiatrist and neuroscientist, says in the book Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love:
“Our brain assigns our partner the task of being our secure base, the person we use as an emotional anchor and a safe haven, the one we turn to in time of need. We are programmed to seek their emotional availability.”
When that availability is suddenly gone… mayhem ensues.
A person who is still recovering from their previous relationship may send many mixed signals because they’re extremely confused themselves.
Their brain is overreacting, making their emotions ride one hundred rollercoasters per day.
Unfortunately, the rebounding person is often on the receiving end of that chaos.
9) They talk about their ex way too often
Wondering how to know if you’re a rebound? One of the signs is that your partner constantly talks about their ex.
Not everyone does that, of course – some people will compare silently or try to avoid comparisons altogether, but if your partner does talk about their past relationship too much, it may be a sign they can’t move on just yet.
Experts suggest that you should wait a month for every year that you were in the relationship before starting a new one.
10) You’re going through the typical rebound relationship stages
Yes, there are typical rebound relationship stages! They can last from weeks to a few months or even years.
While you shouldn’t take them too seriously – everyone is different and responds differently to various situations – they’re a helpful general measurement.
The Pre-Rebound Stage
You’ve broken up. You’re back on the dating scene. Let’s date someone new to avoid the pain, yay!
The Honeymoon Stage
Why is everything they do so perfect? You literally can’t get enough of your new partner – all you want to do is to be with them!
The Reality Stage
This is when the reality of the situation hits you in the face. Is this new relationship really suitable for you? Is it just a rebound?
The Comparison Stage
Why are they so much louder than your ex? Have they always had this annoying habit? Were you and your ex a better match?
The comparisons begin.
The Epiphany Stage
It’s time to draw final conclusions – either your relationship is a rebound turned toxic, or you actually have a great thing going on there.
No matter if you break up or continue fostering a healthy bond, congratulations!
You’re closer to finding the right partner for you.
11) You don’t really feel that special
As a rebound, you kind of have the feeling that your partner has simply picked the first person they feel attracted to as their date.
This can lead to some negative dynamics between the two of you.
In new relationships, you should always feel intrigued – it’s exciting to get to know a new person and to discover all the little things you can love about them.
They should feel the same.
If you’re in a rebound, however, your partner may be with you just to improve their mental health and boost self-confidence.
It’s not actually about who you are as a person. And that’s wrong.
Reciprocity of emotion and interest is key in every healthy relationship.
12) You don’t really have anything in common
Every long-term relationship should be built on some stable foundation – similar core values, worldviews, perhaps even hobbies.
If you have nothing in common with your partner and spend most of your dates watching TV at home, having sex, or fighting about your opinions, your new relationship might be resting on very shaky grounds.
It might also be a rebound relationship.
13) No family introductions are taking place
While your very intention may be to stay with your partner forever and establish a family, they might feel very differently if you’re their rebound.
Their last breakup has prompted them to jump into the next relationship without considering any long-term consequences.
Now that they’re with you, they’re not entirely sure this is what they want – and so they hesitate when it comes to family introductions.
As a serious partner, you deserve to get to know their family eventually.
14) Your sex life seems a little off
Some people jump into sex with a new person straight away, using the sexual aspects of themselves to force the pain away.
Others don’t want to engage in any sexual activity whatsoever because they’re simply not over their ex yet.
Research suggests that a healthy sex life in a relationship not only has beneficial physiological and hedonic effects but also promotes a more positive connection between partners.
Sexuality is a complex topic, and this sign alone doesn’t automatically mean you’re in a rebound relationship.
When it’s combined with many other rebound relationship signs, however, it’s yet another thing on the list.
FAQ – Rebound Relationships
Are rebound relationships successful?
Yes, but only if the rebound relationship is better than your last relationship. Research shows that rebound relationships lead to comparisons between your ex-partner and your current partner.
In some areas of life, rebound relationships increase well-being and are more beneficial than waiting longer after a breakup.
How long do rebound relationships last?
Rebound relationships tend to last between one month and one year. Since they are based on infatuation, not compatibility, they are likely to last a short period of time.
Is a rebound relationship healthy?
Yes, scientists say that a rebound relationship increases one’s well-being. Taking the time between relationships doesn’t necessarily cause your next relationship to be emotionally stable.
However, rebound relationships also cause comparisons between partners and do not tend to last very long.
Can a rebound relationship turn into love?
Yes, any rebound relationship can turn into love when executed correctly. Two emotionally mature individuals can create a healthy relationship even when it starts as a rebound.