Rebound relationships: What you should know about making yours work

Take care not to bad-mouth your ex-partner regardless of the mess that may have triggered your breakup.

Take care not to bad-mouth your ex-partner regardless of the mess that may have triggered your breakup.

What you need to know:

  • The majority of rebound relationships will work after age 30.
  • Find time to work through the healing process in your new relationship instead of sweeping everything under the carpet.
  • Marriages that are initiated from rebound relationships have a higher probability of ending in divorce than those that aren’t.

After a breakup, the temptation to soothe your pain by getting into another relationship immediately is tremendous. Generally, this is not advisable. Rebound relationships are seen as selfish, one-sided, and short-term.

The value factor

One of the profound fears most people have is that their rebound relationship will be of lesser value due to the low emotional investment and incompatibility. But this is not always the case. Mary Lamia, a psychologist and the author of Emotions: Making Sense of Your Feelings, says that a rebound can actually prove to be of higher value than a just-ended relationship. “The rebound relationship will not necessarily be less worthy. In fact, it can have far greater value than the previous relationship since it is through the comparisons of need satisfaction that fulfillment is judged,” she says. This implies that if presented with the offer of a good mate who fits all the attributes you have been looking for, you should give it a chance and wait for your feelings to grow later as you date.

The age factor

Age is a major factor when jumping from heartbreak to a rebound. The majority of rebound relationships will work after age 30. “When you’re over 30, you know what you want, you know your needs, and you understand your emotions well to control and steer them towards a certain direction,” says Terry Gaspard, the author of Daughters of Divorce. But even with a rebound, it is prudent that you go for someone you’d actually want to date if circumstances were different. Also, you should avoid seeing your new partner as a replacement. Instead, see them as an individual without drawing unnecessary comparisons. Find time to work through the healing process in your new relationship instead of sweeping everything under the carpet. “Avoid the rebound tag by following the parameters of running a good new relationship. Don’t allow people around you to label your relationship as a rebound either because this could have a negative impact on your mindset,” says psychologist Dr. Carissa Coulston.

Keep off marriage

According to psychologist Dr. Chris Hart, marriages that are initiated from rebound relationships have a higher probability of ending in divorce than those that aren’t. “You will change as your healing process from the broken relationship progresses. Through these changes and healing, you may discover that you are not compatible with your rebound partner. This is a discovery that you don’t want to make when already committed under marriage,” says Dr. Hart. Have fun, enjoy the companionship of casual dating and take care to see where the relationship is going before you start contemplating long-term commitments such as marriage.

The new person you’re dating

When struggling to move on through a rebound, you are likely to see a mundane character as great or look for an exact replica of your ex! This will result in another, quicker, hurtful breakup. According to Susan Degges-White, a relationship coach, author, and professor at Northern Illinois University, you must take off rose-coloured glasses to watch your new mate before venturing deeper. “While instinct may drive you, you should never forget to use good judgment and take precautions not to make desperate or detrimental choices in your selection,” she says.

Rebound sex - the loss

Once you get into it, there’s the possibility that you will be vulnerable to sexual partners who are not in it for the long term. “It might be risky sex and could end up bruising you emotionally, especially when you get entangled with partners you know little about or who are only interested in sexual intercourse,” says Susan Krauss, a psychologist and the author of The Search for Fulfillment. It is likely that rebound sex will be a one-night stand that you weren’t looking forward to in the first place. Such an encounter may leave you feeling more depressed than you were before.

Rebound sex – the gain

Rebound sex has a brighter side to it too. According to Dr. Nikki Goldsetin, the author of Single but Dating, rebound sex can be a great way to remind yourself that you are still sexually attractive and that, there are admirers out there who sexually fantasise about you. “This kind of sex will not only uplift your sunken mood but also put you in a positive headspace.” However, if you are after no strings attached sexual encounters, you should inform your prospective mates beforehand, and take the necessary safety precautions. If possible, stick to one partner. And don't use sexual hookups as a revenge tool.

Case of the ex

There is a good chance that your rebound partner will tell that you were in another relationship not too long ago. When confronted, do not lie about it. Be open and honest about how long you had been together and what went wrong. Take care not to bad-mouth your ex-partner regardless of the mess that may have triggered your breakup. Also, resist the urge to lie about any lingering feelings for your ex if your new partner pressures you about it. Be caring, though, to assure them that with time, your old feelings will fade away as your new feelings for them grow.

The breakup

You must be psychologically prepared for a potential breakup. Just because you have willingly entered into a rebound relationship doesn’t mean you won’t be heartbroken again. For instance, your rebound partner may decide to end the relationship once they find out that you are still emotionally attached to your former mate. “You must know how you will cope if your rebound ends up with a breakup. A second break up hot on the heels of a first break up can be mentally and emotionally devastating. It could cause you to question your worth,” says psychologist Elisa Mutua. “Be emotionally ready to cope in the event things don’t work out. This includes coping with being dumped and, or dumping your rebound partner.”

Quick takeaway

  • Learn from your just ended relationship. If you were the cause of the breakup, evaluate what you can change.
  • Have a long-term strategy. You and your new partner need to be on the same page about where the new relationship might lead.
  • Feelings come and go. Just because you don’t feel butterflies in your stomach right now doesn’t mean the new relationship is doomed. The happiest relationships transcend feelings.
  • Strive to be open to your new partner regardless of how vulnerable you may be feeling.
  • Build a wall of commitment, dedication, and honesty around you, especially if your last relationship was dominated by mistrust, dishonesty, and infidelity.

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