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

Updated November 18, 2021
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 have a good time living a single life. They may have some casual dates here and there, but they're making this period a time to grow and find themselves. Then, some 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. One partner becomes involved with someone else, even though they have not yet healed from the break-up. Rebounds are usually short-lived because of the partner's emotional instability resulting from a painful break-up.

Break-ups are never easy - We're here to help.
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.

Source: rawpixel.com

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 caused by the previous relationship can be carried into a new one, and it 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 rebounds may not last, some things improve the chances of the new relationship's survival. For example:

  • If the previous relationship was short-term, there might not be 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 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 the "rebound stage" and can 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.

Source: rawpixel.com

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

  • You think about your ex constantly. One of the main reasons rebounds fail is that the individual experiencing rebound emotions often holds onto the 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 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 feels the need to engage in excessive drinking or the use of illegal drugs, this is a warning sign that there are no effective coping mechanisms. Suppose a rebound begins while there is some substance abuse, the chances of the relationship failing increase. Additionally, the risk of violence is also increased. If there is a presence of any 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 this kind of 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 these types of 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 develops 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 this type of relationship. If you suddenly find yourself in a new relationship, 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 connect further. A lasting relationship has many different elements. It depends on what you want out of it. Some people want to hook up with another person after your previous relationship ended. That’s valid, but people need to be on the same page if that's the case. 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 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 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 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

Break-ups are never easy - We're here to help.

Source: rawpixel.com

There Are Resources to Help You Recover

The emotions that come following a breakup can make a person feel blinded. When 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 tend to feel too much obligation or responsibility for others and offer too much of myself. He picked up on this and made me aware so that 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

"Carrie has a very gentle, compassionate way about her. But she will confront you if you need it if you are not acting in truth. She has good insight into relationships and the differences between men and women in relation to each other. I highly recommend her!!!"

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 appeal 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 watch out for them.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist Today
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.