What Is A Rebound Relationship? The Signs Of A Rebound Relationship To Watch Out For

By: Darby Faubion

Updated December 31, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT

The end of a long-term relationship can be rough. You spent a good while with someone, only for the two of you to separate. It's a big life change and one that some will handle differently than others. Some people will spend a good while living the single life. They may have some casual dates here and there, but they're making this period a time to grow and to find themselves. Then, there are those who rush into a new relationship, with the dust of their old relationship still on their face.

If you or someone you know has recently ended a long-term relationship, failing to allow for emotional healing can result in beginning a new relationship too soon. This is known as a "rebound relationship." A rebound relationship is an undefined period following the break-up of a romantic relationship during which one of the partners becomes involved with someone else, despite the fact that they have not yet healed from the break-up. Rebound relationships are usually short-lived because of the partner's emotional instability that is the result of a painful break-up.

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What Is A Rebound Relationship? Why Do Rebound Relationships Happen?

After spending a significant amount of time with a partner or spouse, many people struggle with adjusting to life without that person. The feelings of loneliness and longing for companionship often seem to outweigh the need for healing. Some people believe if they have someone new in their life, it can make them forget about their last relationship and help them move on. Some may find themselves engaging in a new relationship with someone they do not know well, which could leave them in a dangerous situation.

Being accustomed to a certain lifestyle may also dictate whether they seek a new relationship right away. Financial stability can be tested when a relationship ends. Individuals who have relied heavily upon someone else for support may seek it elsewhere. Unfortunately, when the person realizes that the new relationship isn't fulfilling their needs (emotionally and/or financially), it can leave them feeling more hurt and alone.

The Problem with Rebound Relationships

If a person has recently ended a relationship, emotions are raw and feelings of vulnerability are almost always present. The emotional instability that comes after the break-up, especially of a long-term relationship, means that the individual is not ready to handle a new relationship right away.

Attachments to a previous partner may not always be evident, but it doesn't mean they aren't there. Without time to heal, any hurt or frustration that was caused by the previous relationship can be carried into a new one and it, too, will likely fail. When this occurs, it not only affects the person who was in a long-term relationship, but it can have a domino effect of emotional trauma to the new partner.

While many rebound relationships may not last, there are some things that improve the chances of the new relationship's survival. For example:

  • If the previous relationship was short-term, there may not be as much emotional trauma to overcome before beginning a new relationship.
  • When relationships end on good terms, where both parties were amicable and felt the breakup was for the best, moving on to a new relationship may not be as difficult.
  • The person who chose to end the relationship is more likely to have a successful rebound relationship than the one who tried to hold on to the relationship.

When a Rebound Relationship Is Not the Right Choice

Some people actually find a new partner during what is considered the "rebound stage" and are able to make things work. Others are not as fortunate. Knowing when a rebound is not healthy and how to take control of your life and relationships is important.

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Some signs to look for that indicate a bad rebound relationship include:

  • You think about your ex constantly. One of the main reasons rebound relationships fail is the individual who is experiencing rebound emotions often holds onto hope of restoring the lost relationship. This makes it impossible to have a true connection with a new partner. If any of the following pertain to you, you are not ready for a new relationship:
    • You struggle with deleting photos of your previous partner from your phone or computer
    • You still have your ex's phone number saved in your phone
    • You hope that your previous partner will call you to let you know he/she is doing okay
    • You feel the need to look at your ex's social media profile and postings
    • You talk about your ex as if you are still good friends
  • The relationship feels rushed: Healthy relationships take time to build. If you are considering beginning a relationship with someone who has recently ended a relationship with someone else, but who is in a rush to make your relationship "official", then chances are you are this person's "rebound." Take the time to step away and let him/her heal from the previous relationship. It will save you both some heartache in the end. Additionally, if you are the one who has recently ended a relationship and you want to pursue a new one, remember to give yourself time to heal. Bad breakups and making someone feel like they were a substitute for the person you lost can cause you to lose friendships and possible future relationships.
  • The presence of substance abuse: If you or someone you know has experienced a break-up and feel the need to engage in excessive drinking or in the use of illegal drugs, this is a warning sign that there are no effective coping mechanisms. If a rebound relationship begins while there is some type of substance abuse, the chances of the relationship failing increase. Additionally, the risk of violence is also increased. If there is a presence of any type of substance abuse, it is crucial to seek help.

What You Should Do After A Bad Breakup

The most important thing you can do after a breakup is to allow yourself time to heal. Healing occurs at different paces and stages for individuals. Take the time to allow yourself to breathe and begin to enjoy life. Focus on things that are important to you.

The Temptation of Rebound Relationships

What is a rebound relationship? It’s a romantic connection you foster immediately after a breakup. It’s tempting to want to numb your pain after you find that a relationship ended. But, it’s crucial to ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” Figure out what type of relationship you want and examine if this new one fits the mold. You can read about rebound relationships on Psychology Today and get insight into them. Learn about why these new relationships may not last. You could find new love after your relationship ended abruptly, and discover that the new connection works out. Psychology Today addresses the concept of a rebound relationship connection and if it can develop into a long-lasting relationship. There’s no hard and fast rule about romance. When you read articles on Psychology Today, you’ll find that people get into relationships for different reasons. If you find yourself with a new partner shortly after a breakup, there are many factors involved. You can read about codependency on Psychology Today. You may be afraid to be alone. There are articles about self-love and learning to value you. Psychology Today can be a great resource for understanding the source of why you want a rebound relationship. If you find yourself in a new relationship suddenly, that doesn’t mean the connection isn’t real. You could feel drawn to that person and want to be around them if you love someone that’s a valid feeling. But, love isn’t enough to sustain a long-term romance. A long lasting relationship has many components. You need to connect with your new love interest on a deep level. There needs to be an initial physical attraction and intellectual stimulation, and they want to take this connection further. A lasting relationship has many different elements. It depends on what you want out of it. Some people just want to hook up with another person after your previous relationship ended. That’s valid, but if that’s the case but people need to be on the same page. Relationships don’t work if each person is looking at matters differently. A lasting relationship involves two mutual parties who want the same things. Before entering into a new romantic relationship, examine your motivations.

Examine Your Motives

It’s tempting to engage in a rebound relationship if you’ve been dumped. You want to distract yourself from the pain of a breakup. You may be tempted to get back at your ex. Remember, revenge will make you end up feeling worse. A romantic relationship is a beautiful thing. If you’re involved in a rebound relationship to make your ex jealous, that’s probably a short-term motive. And it’s unfair to the new person you’re dating. You’re using that individual, whether it seems like it or not. Even if they know why you’re involved in a rebound relationship with them, it’s still not right. Romantic relationships should be about love, trust, and two people who want to spend their lives together. The basis for these connections isn’t about revenge or jealousy. Relationships don’t involve anyone else but the two people who are in them. When you invite another party into your connection, you’re destined for disaster. Examine why you want to be with this new partner. Is it because you find them attractive and see a future with them? Is it due to the want to make your ex envious? Figure out your motives and ask yourself, “is it worth it?” 

Focus On What You Want

People deserve to get what they want out of romantic relationships. Think about what you want and need out of a partner. You don’t need to settle for a partner who isn’t in the connection to value you. When you have a new love interest, it’s exciting. You want to learn more about that person and nurture the relationship. But don’t sacrifice what you want. Whether you want comfort, love, or support, these are things you are entitled to receive. Many people enter into relationships to feel loved. If you get into a rebound situation, maybe you’re unsure of what you want. That’s when you can seek resources from experts. Psychology Today has licensed mental health professionals who know about relationship issues. They have written articles on these concerns. If you’re unsure of why you’re pursuing a rebound, try reading some of the pieces on Psychology Today. It doesn’t hurt to get advice from experts. You don’t have to have all the answers. It’s also easier to give others advice than look at your relationship and understand it. That’s why reading articles on Psychology Today can give you insight into how to handle a rebound and discover whether or not it’s worth staying in the relationship. There could be real love there between the two of you. But remember, with your previous relationship, it took time to discover whether you wanted to be with your partner. You need to pursue a rebound connection cautiously. You could be seeking comfort. Maybe you’re lonely, and you don’t want to be sad in the aftermath of a bad breakup. You don’t want to assume that a relationship is going to last forever. You’re in a vulnerable state after a breakup. Whether you dumped your partner, or they broke up with you, it’s a traumatic experience. And if it was a long-term relationship, it will take some time to get over that person. Your new partner shouldn’t have to deal with your healing process. If they are patient and are willing to let you grieve the old relationship while pursuing the new one, that’s a beautiful thing. But they are not responsible for doing the therapeutic work of grieving the old connection. You can work on that with a licensed mental health professional. Ultimately it’s about what you want out of a relationship and if your partner wants and needs the same things. You need to be on the same page as anyone you are dating. It’s unfair to use a new partner to make the old one jealous. That’s not respectful of that person. Before committing to a new relationship, ask yourself why you’re in it. And if it feels like these are good reasons, and they’re promoting your wellbeing, then you can decide whether or not to stay. 

what is a rebound relationship

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There Are Resources to Help You Recover

The emotions that come following a breakup can make a person feel blinded. During the time you take to heal, sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone else can be helpful. For some, reaching out to friends or other loved ones is beneficial. Additionally, reaching out to a professional who is experienced with relationship issues is another option.

However, not everyone has access to reputable counselors nearby, and not everyone has time to sit in traffic on their way to an appointment. This is where online counseling services like ReGain offer solutions. You may access ReGain's platform from the comfort and privacy of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection). Read below for some reviews of ReGain counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"I have a tendency to feel too much obligation or responsibility for others, and offer too much of myself. He picked up on this and makes me aware so I can set healthy boundaries. I have been to counselors in the past and I think there is something to learn from everyone, but I find my engagement here is held a little more accountable, which is what I need, because otherwise I tend to fall back on the excuse of being very busy. All in all, we have a long way to go, but my experience so far has been wonderful. I look forward to us both realizing a transformation of myself that we have undertaken together."

what is a rebound relationship

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what is a rebound relationship


After a breakup, it is not uncommon to desire companionship and new beginnings. Knowing when it's the right time to move forward with a new relationship, however, is not always easy. Further, wanting to establish a relationship with someone who has recently ended one with someone else can feel appealing to someone who desires to make others happy. No matter where you find yourself, it's important to remember that caring for yourself must be a priority.

Take the time to get to know the person you are interested in and allow each of you the time to heal from any past relationship issues before moving forward. Also, always keep in mind that it's okay to ask for help if you aren't sure how to process your feelings or thoughts regarding rebound relationships or how to watch out for them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About A Rebound Relationship

Can a rebound turn into a relationship?

A rebound fling does have the potential to turn into a relationship, but there’s a really high risk involved. The truth about rebound relationships is that people use a new partner as a means of getting over an ended relationship, whether it was good or bad. It’s important to know all of the reasons and risks of an unhealthy rebound relationship.

If you’re dating someone new right after you’ve gotten out of a committed relationship, especially if that relationship lasted a long time, then you are likely a rebounding person. One of the signs you’re rebounding is you’re looking for a short term connection that feels good and helps you get over your previous relationship. Since these are your intentions, it will likely lead to an unhealthy rebound relationship. Dating someone new isn’t the way to get over your current relationship or breakup. Instead, the truth about rebound relationships is that they are often a way to distract yourself from the actual healing process.

So, while it’s not impossible, it’s usually magical thinking when you really expect a new partner in a rebound relationship to last for a long time. A rebounding person has their sights set on the short term, and that type of person won’t support a healthy relationship. If you’re coming out a long term and committed relationship, this new romantic partner probably isn’t the real deal.

Why do rebound relationships feel like love?

It’s not uncommon for a rebounding person to feel like they’re in love with their new partner. An unhealthy rebound relationship can spark a lot of the feelings that are usually associated with being in love. Even before the feelings of the recently ended relationship have been resolved, a rebounding person will seek out those fuzzy feelings associated with a new partner.

First of all, a rebounding person will experience the sexual attraction and tension surrounding the new rebound relationship. This is not unlike the physical reactions that our body has when we’re falling in love with a partner whom we really love and care about. However, in the case of a rebound relationship, there are usually complicated intentions and pain wrapped up in these feelings, along with a desire to escape element. So, while the physical reaction you have might feel like love, overall it’s not the love that you would find in a committed relationship that both you and your new partner are will to work hard to establish and build.

Do Rebound Relationships move fast?

Usually rebound relationship move fast and are over quickly. One of the signs of an unhealthy rebound is that it is moving quickly. The rebounding person focuses mainly on what the new partner can do for them, instead of trying to build and work on an emotional attachment or actual relationship with long term potential. This is an unhealthy rebound relationship because it is not balanced. The person and the new partner probably spend the bulk of their time and energy on sex, pleasure, and other distractions for the rebounding person. However, once the rebounding person gets bored of this new partner, they won’t stay in that unhealthy rebound relationship for long.

Can a rebound be true love?

In most cases, a rebound relationship won’t be true love. However, some interesting new investigation into rebound relationships has shown that people who turn to a new partner shortly after a breakup, especially if the breakup was after a long and committed relationship, are more likely to view themselves as “date-able” more quickly after the breakup. This empirical investigation into rebound relationships also shows how a shorter time between a breakup and the beginning of a relationship with a new partner could be an indicator of emotional stability, as well as higher self-esteem and more respect for their new partner.

All in all, a rebound is probably not true love. However, it could give you some insight about you and your new partner when it comes to personality and self-esteem.

Do exes come back after a rebound?

It’s not uncommon for exes to come back after a rebound, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. If your ex is the type of person to leave you, be with someone else, and then come back to you when they realize the negative dynamics of a rebound relationship, then they might have some mental health issues that should be addressed before (and if) you decide to take them back. For example, they may have some issues related to narcissism and sexual desire, or the idea that they’re so great and desirable that you’ll take them back on their terms when they want you to. This type of person can be dangerous and not at all helpful for your own mental health.

That being said, even if your ex comes back after a rebound, it’s up to you whether or not you take them back. Before you make that decision, talk to your friends and family members who know both you and your ex well. Or, you might consider individual or couples therapy. This will help both of you come to terms with your ex’s rebound and the healing process that must follow the breakdown of a relationship.

How do you know it's not a rebound?

While you can’t be entirely sure of what your new partner is thinking or feeling unless you ask them and they answer you honestly, there are a few ways to know if you’re someone’s rebound. You can use these signs to find out whether or not your new partner is using you as a rebound.

  • If they’re totally into you but can’t really articulate why, or they don’t know why they’re so in love with you, it might be a rebound.
  • If the sexual aspect of the relationship moves really quickly while the emotional or intimate aspects of the relationship move really slowly, then it’s likely a rebound.
  • If they are constantly talking about their ex or comparing you to their ex, then it’s almost certainly a rebound.
  • If they seem determined to “run into” their ex with you around to make their ex jealous, then it’s probably a rebound.

On the other hand:

  • If they can say why they’re attracted to you and point to specific examples, then it’s probably not a rebound.
  • If they are careful to lay the emotional groundwork in the relationship before rushing through the sexual aspects of the relationship, it’s likely not a rebound.
  • If they don’t mention their ex, or if they see their ex on friendly terms with groups of mutual friends, or if you don’t sense any bitterness at all about their ex from them, then it’s probably not a rebound.

What are the signs of a rebound relationship?

There are several signs you’re in a rebound relationship. First of all, if your motivation is one of jealousy or revenge, then you’re probably in an unhealthy rebound relationship. If your goal is to show off your new lover to your ex, then you’re a rebounding person. Another one of the signs you’re in unhealthy rebound relationships is if you’re constantly thinking about or fantasizing about your ex while you’re with your new partner. Or, you might be constantly comparing your new partner to your ex. A third sign of an unhealthy rebound relationship is if you’re dating someone just so that you can be distracted. You might be interested in spending time with them, but you’re not really willing to invest emotionally. Even when you’re in this rebound relationship, you might feel a fear of rejections from your new partner, or run the risk of narcissism as you constantly put your own wants and needs before those of your new partner. The biggest indicator of an unhealthy rebound relationship is the imbalance between what you’re willing to give and what you expect to get from this new partner.

How long after a relationship is a rebound?

The most common amount of time to wait after a big breakup is three to four months for a relationship that lasted for a year. This is just a common answer; in reality there’s no right answer out there to this question. However, you should be absolutely sure that you’re healed and recovered from your previous relationship before you start dating new people. Anything before that has the huge potential to be a shallow and unhealthy rebound relationship.

Is rebound dating a good idea?

If you’re asking if rebound dating is a good idea, then you probably have an idea of the answer. In most cases, it’s not a great idea, because you should take the time to heal and recover from your previous relationship before starting something with a new partner. Waiting to jump into a new relationship is good not only for you and your own mental health, but also for any potential new partner who will want to share and open up to you. If you want a healthy and balanced relationship, rebound dating is not a good idea.

What are the chances of a rebound relationship lasting?

To be honest, the chances of a rebound relationship lasting are pretty slim. By its very nature, a rebound relationship moves very quickly, especially in terms of the sexual aspects of the relationship. This means that it has the huge potential to get boring and end quickly, as well. On the whole, a rebound relationship can’t reasonably be expected to last very long, and it certainly can’t be expected to turn into a lifelong or long term relationship.

Why did my ex rebound so fast?

It’s very likely that your ex rebounded so quickly because they are trying to distract themselves from the pain of the breakup. This is especially true in the case of divorce remarriage, especially if you ended a long marriage. Your ex probably didn’t feel comfortable without the presence of a marriage or relationship in their life. In the journal of divorce of a person’s experience, they often feel the need to be attached to someone throughout that whole process, even if that means turning to a shallow and unhealthy rebound relationship before they’ve had time to heal and process the breakup or divorce completely.

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