What you need to know:
Having a rebound can help build up the self-esteem that was eroded in a relationship and also rebuild your belief that you can love again
It’s the era of kuoga na kuridi soko. You know, when you dust yourself, and bounce right back into the dating arena soon after a break-up?
We have all been there. After an apocalyptic break up you suddenly meet a man who sweeps you right off your feet. Interestingly, he may not be the usual kind you go for. He may be too quiet, too loud, and socially awkward, or maybe a few feet shorter than your normal preference but he makes you feel all the right things. Feels like your soul mate. Makes you forget and want to commit to something new.
“Emily Magak, 33, refers to a man she got with last year after a seven-year cohabiting relationship as an emotional airbag.
“It was at the height of Covid. I’d just been dumped. We met at a house party. It was way too serious way too fast. I mean, I moved in with the man after just two months,” she recalls.
He was not her usual type but she felt so good about the relationship. She thought she was going to marry the man. Interestingly, everyone else but her could see that she was on the rebound.
“Whenever I gushed about him to my girlfriends, there would be awkward silence. Even my mother who is usually very supportive of my relationships did not seem excited when I took him home. It’s like they all saw the end which came after just six months,” she says.
Emily fell hard and fast. On the flip side, some women like Nancy Aquino, 31, run from any semblance of a commitment after a breakup. In her case, after a hard split-up a year and a half ago, she just wanted to dress up, go out and have people admire her. Because she usually went to places where alcohol was served, she ended up sleeping with a bunch of people within just a few months, each interaction lasting just a night or a few days.
“At the moment, it felt good. It helped me keep my mind off my ex and the messy split,” she says.
Like Emily, her rebound phase did not last. Also, in retrospect, both women admit that their rebound relations caused more heartache when they ended.
Seeing as they seem to help some and hurt some, how can someone have a successful rebound? One that helps you get over a relationship and doesn’t hurt so much when it ends?
Not seeing it for what it is
If you’ve been dating long enough, then you must have been advised to steer clear of rebounds. Nothing good can come out of them, you’ve been told. Is this the whole truth?
Dictionary.com describes rebounding as springing back from a force of impact. What if this is what one is craving after a breakup? What if all you need is a band aid or a distraction to keep you occupied as you mend your broken heart and deal with the feelings that you may still have for your ex? Should there be shame in craving the comfort of being with someone? Can rebounds be helpful?
Experts think that a rebound relationship after a breakup can have other benefits beyond getting over your ex.
A recent study by the University of Illinois in the US found that those study subjects who had gotten into rebound relationships recorded higher self-esteem and confidence in their romantic desirability. The less the time a person took between a breakup and a new relationship, the higher their general well-being and the more confident and respectful of the new love they felt.
According to Science, when done right, a rebound relationship may make you a better partner for your next relationship.
“Having a rebound can help build up the self-esteem that was eroded in a relationship and also rebuild your belief that you can love again,” says Nicholas Nasombi, a Nairobi based counseling psychologist.
The key, according to him, is to do it the right way.
“Watch out for the red flags that you are rebounding into an unhealthy situation like being overly attached to a new flame or engaging in risky sexual behaviour,” he says.
Cherry who is 30 and liberal agrees that a rebound can be a healthy way of dealing with a breakup. She believes that as long as you are honest with yourself about what you are looking for in a rebound relationship, it can be utterly successful. Rebound relationships have worked for her, more than once.
“My best dating experiences happened while I was in a rebound relationship,” she shares.
Her rebounds helped her see value in non-serious relationships, enjoy the company of men she was attracted to, and take in the shared experiences without worrying about whether or not the relationship would end up in a serious commitment.
She just made sure to inform her potential dates of the fact that she had just left a relationship and that she wasn’t in a position to get into something serious.
“If you are honest about the fact that you are looking for some random play, you will find someone who is looking for the same thing. If you do, it can be exhilarating,” she says.
Apparently, if you are clear about your intentions, label your relationship as a rebound and commit to this, you will enjoy the experience and might even save yourself a heartbreak at the end.
Choose the rebounding partner carefully
Clearly, the rebound path can be slippery. According to Lanet Nyawira, 28, who you rebound with can determine how slippery things get. From her experience, a man who resembles your ex whether physically or in personality is a recipe for disaster.
“I was heartbroken after my break up early this year. My friends told me that the best way to get over someone was to get under someone else. So I got a man that physically looked just like my ex. From day one, I was comparing the two. Instead of moving on, I got nostalgic. I ended up going back to my ex and getting hurt again,” says Nyawira, a videographer.
To be able to experience something new, it looks like you need to get with someone different.
What it should look like?
Now that we’ve established that a rebound can be good, what should it look like?
Authors Jennifer Worick and Kerry Colburn in their book The rebound rituals write that successful rebounds are governed by boundaries. Once you and your rebound partner have agreed that it is a casual relationship, and you have kept both your emotions in check, then you can’t start shacking up or have this person meeting your siblings or your parents. Also be wary of the terms of endearment and the titles that you give each other as these, according to the authors can create blurred lines.
If you are looking for a successful rebound, do not go for someone who was interested in you while you were still in the relationship. Most of the time, they will lose interest as what probably sparked their pursuit was that you were unavailable. Rejection is the last thing you need when you are still recovering from a break-up.
Keeping an open mind
The leading cause of failure for rebound liaisons is perhaps the fact that people enter them expecting them to fail.
“Keep an open mind. Just as you shouldn’t get into a rebound dreaming of a happy ever after, don’t go in expecting a heartbreak,” argues Maria Cera, 32.
Cera is one of the few women who get to marry their rebounds. It didn’t happen immediately though. The rebound relationship became a serious affair a year after the two had started dating. She maintains that this new relationship helped weed out all the hang ups that she had over the past union. Her most valuable tip?
“Don’t do it as an act of revenge against your ex. Go in with an open mind. You never know.”