Recognizing The Signs Of A Rebound Relationship

Updated March 27, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Healing after a breakup can be hard and definitely takes time. Try to be honest with yourself about where you are in that journey and when you are ready to connect with someone else.” - Ryan Smith, LPC, NCC

Many people get into a new relationship after ending a long-term connection before they’re emotionally ready, only to find that coupling progressing too fast and ultimately fizzling out in a relatively short time. Read on to explore what a rebound relationship is, how it can affect you emotionally, and what signs you should watch for to evaluate where you’re either rebounding or in a rebound relationship. 

Have you moved on, or is it a rebound relationship?

What is a rebound relationship?

Ending a serious relationship often leaves people with a combination of unresolved emotions. Sometimes, people get into a new relationship before they’re emotionally ready, which can set the connection up for failure. Jumping into a new relationship immediately after a breakup to “bounce back” is often called a rebound. 

“A ‘rebound relationship’ is commonly understood as a relationship that is initiated shortly after a romantic breakup—before the feelings about the former relationship have been resolved.” — Too Fast, Too Soon? An Empirical Investigation into Rebound Relationships

Understanding the characteristics of a rebound relationship

While it can be challenging to know exactly how your partner feels or their level of emotional connection to the relationship, you can use a few characteristics of rebounds to help you form an opinion one way or the other. 

Recent breakup

If the breakup was recent, there might still be lingering feelings that need resolving. It may be a rebound if you or your partner connected with someone new after recently ending a long-term relationship. 

Frequent comparisons to ex

If you or your partner make frequent comparisons to an ex, it could be a characteristic of a rebound relationship. 

Fear of commitment

If you or your new partner hesitates to commit to the relationship or make any effort to move forward, it could be a rebound. 

Rapid pace

If the new relationship progresses unusually fast, it may be a rebound where one partner strives to attain the deeper emotional intimacy they shared with a former partner. 

Why do we seek rebound relationships?

There may be many reasons to seek a new relationship before you’ve found closure from the last one. Explore why some people get into rebound relationships. 

“Rebound relationships reflect a change in mating strategy which is evident in a temporary shift in the characteristics of the pursued mate and the benefits gained.” — The Rebound Effect, Indiana State University

Getting over a breakup

Breakups are often painful, emotionally challenging experiences that leave people feeling lonely, confused, or insecure as they work to process their unresolved emotions. During this complex emotional period, they may seek validation that they’re still desirable and attractive or distraction from their complicated feelings through a new relationship. 

Forming an emotional connection

Many people feel lonely after a breakup and may seek to form an emotional connection with someone new to fill the void left by the bond they shared with their former partner. It can be essential to note that if you're getting into a new relationship while you’re not emotionally available, you should tell your partner from the beginning. Connecting with someone else after a breakup can help you find your new normal.

Can rebound relationships be a good thing?

Rebound relationships seem destined for failure, so how could they be a good thing? Everyone isn’t looking for a serious relationship. Some people prefer to date someone for a while and then move on when things get more serious. If both partners are upfront about their expectations and emotional availability, a rebound relationship can be a source of companionship and comfort that gives everyone what they need and allows them to move on without hurt feelings. Honesty and communication are key components in a healthy relationship, whether it’s a rebound or not. 

Impacts of rebound relationships

Your mental health

Using a rebound to avoid examining and processing your feelings can be counterproductive, extending how long you feel these negative emotions. 

By contrast, if both partners know the relationship's scope and potential at the outset, a rebound can help you affirm your new start and promote growth. 

Partner’s mental health

If your partner is aware that it's a rebound relationship and you agree that it's what you need at this point in your lives, it can be a healthy connection that meets everyone’s unique needs. 

However, if only one person is aware that the relationship isn’t likely to go anywhere, it could cause them pain and emotional distress.

Recognizing the signs of a rebound

You will likely be aware that you’ve gotten into a rebound relationship if you’re the one who’s not quite ready to move on, but if you're wondering whether your partner thinks your new relationship is a rebound, there are some signs. 

Talking about the ex all the time

If they talk about their ex all the time or frequently make comparisons between you and their ex, your partner may still be experiencing unresolved feelings related to their former partner. 

Very little time between relationships

It might be a sign that it’s a rebound if there was very little time between your partner’s last relationship and this one.

The connection is superficial

You may be in a rebound relationship if your partner is emotionally unavailable, and your connection feels superficial because they can’t offer deeper ties. However, it can be important to remember that many people have emotional attachment issues or other reasons for emotional unavailability.

The relationship focuses on sex

You may be in a rebound relationship if your entire connection focuses on sex. If the majority of what you do together is related to sexual activity and you aren’t forming an emotional connection, it could be a rebound. 

Emotional unavailability

If you’ve tried to establish an emotional connection and found your new partner to consistently be emotionally unavailable, you may be in a rebound relationship. 

Feeling used

You may be in a rebound relationship if the connection feels transactional or you get the sense that you’re being used. Are they making you part of their life or seeing you only when it’s convenient for them?


If your partner talks about their ex a lot and often sounds bitter, they may have unresolved feelings, which could mean it’s a rebound relationship and they aren’t ready to move on yet. 

No long-term plans

Being reluctant to make long-term plans with you or discuss the future could indicate that you're in a rebound relationship. 

Pros and cons of a rebound relationship

If you’re working to get over a difficult breakup, consider the pros and cons of a rebound relationship before you get into one. 


Below is a list of benefits being in a rebound relationship:

  • A rebound relationship can be a healthy distraction as you process your unresolved emotions—as long as both partners are aware. 
  • New beginnings can be exciting after a breakup. 
  • If the last relationship didn’t end well, a rebound could provide support and comfort as you heal.  


On the other hand, here are some of the downsides of a rebound relationship:

  • Forming a genuine emotional connection can be challenging when your emotions are raw.
  • Trusting someone new and letting them into your life can be difficult after a breakup, and you may push a new partner away. 
  • Unresolved issues from your last relationship may occur again.
  • Your new partner can be hurt or feel used.  

Have you moved on, or is it a rebound relationship?

How therapy can help you move forward after a breakup

Many people struggle to process their lingering feelings after a breakup and don’t know how to find the emotional balance to move on to a loving, trusting relationship with someone else. If that sounds like you, consider working with a licensed therapist online through a virtual therapy platform focused on relationship issues like Regain. Therapy can help you identify and process your problematic feelings so you can move forward, ready to build a healthy relationship with someone else. Therapists can also teach practical coping skills to manage stress and communication skills to express your needs and feelings to future partners. If you're a parent or guardian seeking ways to support your child through a difficult breakup, TeenCounseling provides online therapy for kids from 12 to 19.  

Recent studies show that online therapy provides the same results as in-person treatments, often with lower costs and shorter wait times. One of the most significant advantages of online therapy platforms is the access they provide to a large selection of mental healthcare providers. If you don’t find someone who fits your personality and situation well at first, it’s easy to connect with another therapist. 


Rebound relationships aren’t always a bad thing. They can help you move forward after ending a long-term bond, but being upfront with new partners is important. The information in this article offers insight into how rebound relationships can affect both people and how therapy can help you move forward in healthy relationships with your future partners. 

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