Life After Heartbreak: Do Rebound Relationships Ever Work?

Breakups can be heart-shattering experiences characterized by feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, anxiety, and even grief. The adjustment process that follows might include a phase of sadness and frustration, prompting many to take their time to recover. However, others choose to seek comfort in another romantic partner as a way to speed up the process. Leaving many to wonder whether or not these relationships are an unhealthy alternative to moving forward.

For years, rebound relationships have been regarded by some as disingenuous. Popular culture looks at people on the rebound as emotionally unavailable and overindulgent. They believe that they’re distracting themselves from evaluating their unresolved emotions. But is avoiding the therapeutic nature of a dating detox all that bad? Scientists say no. New research suggests that rebound relationships are remarkably healthy when executed correctly.

Taking time between relationships to move on isn’t necessary for emotional stability. However, one should still approach the dating scene with caution. Here are some pros and cons to consider before going on a rebound:


It will boost your confidence.

One of the biggest upsides to being in a rebound relationship is the confidence-boost it provides. Claudia Brumbaugh, P.h.D., a social-personality psychologist, found that individuals who are in rebound relationships experience increased well-being and self-esteem. Not to mention, people on the rebound tend to feel a higher sense of respect for their new partners compared to their former counterparts. Gestures included in a rebound, such as having sex, flirting over text, or going on a date, release endorphins. These all make you realize that there are other people out there who want to be with you. Further increasing your self-esteem and ability to date.

It will make you get over your breakup faster.

People consider those in rebound relationships to have attachment issues. While this is true in some cases, research has shown that the presence of a new partner helps people get over their old relationships faster. Stephanie Spielman, P.h.D. a social psychologist, reported that people with attachment-related anxiety found it easier to cut ties with their previous relationships after they entered a rebound period. When anxious individuals spend time with their new romantic interests, they are more likely to step aside from any negative feelings that stemmed from their breakup. Establishing a safe environment for them to effortlessly move on.

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It will encourage you to be more adventurous.

Rebound relationships encourage us to be adventurous because it allows us to explore outside of our dating comfort zones. Perhaps, if there was something that your last relationship lacked, you can find a new partner with those qualities. If you’re taking a more casual approach to your rebound experience, you can get together with someone who you’d normally never date. Further exposing you to new restaurants, bars, hobbies, music, and even movies - some of which you will love. We can’t guarantee those no-strings-attached relationships will be lengthy and genuine. But, that’s what’s so wonderful about the rebound. You’re in complete control of your dating life. If something feels right, you can stay and vise versa. Just remember that you should always be open and honest with the people you are seeing. The last thing you want to do is be on opposite ends with whoever you’re being intimate with.

It will give you hope for the future.

Even if your rebound relationship does not work out, it proves that you are capable of putting yourself out there despite the breakup pains. That reassurance alone is enough to strengthen your relationship with yourself. When romantic connections end, we are left in an extremely vulnerable psychological state - even if we’re the ones initiating the breakup. We wallow in the thought that we’ll never be able to love or be loved by someone else. But, putting yourself out there and letting new people find you attractive and lovable, will make you realize that there’s a whole new world of potential partners out there.

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It could be a temporary distraction.

It’s normal for us to want to escape the painful reality of a breakup. Some people block their exes on social media, while others throw themselves into work. We believe that in some instances, rebound relationships can be a great escape from heartbreak. Unfortunately, when we go on the rebound for the wrong reasons, such as looking for a quick diversion, we are lowering the percentage of that relationship’s durability. If you’re looking for a no-strings-attached deal, make sure to let the person know. On top of that, you need to tell them that you’re fresh off of a relationship. Your partner will better understand your behavior and emotions when you do so.

It could prompt you to find someone who reminds you of your ex.

Humans find comfort in familiarity, which is what sometimes prompts us to reach out to people who remind us of our exes. It’s acceptable to want to fill a romantic void, but when we constantly seek similar partners out, we hurt ourselves. Think of everything you didn’t enjoy about your previous relationship. Would you be happy with welcoming those things back into your life? Breakups are tough. It’s normal to miss your ex, but that doesn’t mean you should reconnect with them in the form of someone else. We should also mention that you shouldn’t expect your new partner to make up for your former partner’s shortcomings. The best decision you can make is to enjoy the company of someone who doesn’t remind you of anyone - especially your ex. And if you’re longing for a specific person’s company, take some time to reflect. It’s the healthiest option.

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It could keep you from dealing with unresolved conflict.

Whether you dated for two months or two years, there’s always something we can take away from our breakups. They can teach us to pick more emotionally available partners or even encourage us to practice better communication in the future. When we go on the rebound unprepared, we run the risk of entering new relationships with unresolved conflict. This is why you should always let go of any baggage before committing to someone new. People in relationships who are emotionally attached to their former partners are more likely to be dissatisfied with their current ones. Unsurprisingly, this develops tension, resentment, jealousy, and even disappointment.

It could blossom from resentment.

If your relationship ended on bad terms, chances are you have some feelings of resentment towards your former partner. There are several ways to approach this situation, but going on a vengeful rebound is not one of them. Starting a relationship, casual or committed, from wanting to upset your ex is unhealthy for everyone involved. The thrill of being in a brand new partnership will serve as a temporary fix for your resentment, but it will not make it go away. When romance stems out of vengeance, you are being selfish and inconsiderate to your new partner. Regardless of your intentions, seeking revenge on an ex-lover by getting involved with someone new shows that your former relationship is a current priority of yours. Which could potentially result in another heartbreak.

No two rebound relationships are alike. Different factors, like honesty and genuine interest, contribute to their success. When we go through heartbreak, our egos are bruised, and sometimes rebounds are the pick-me-up we need.

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How much is too much?

Balance is the key to living your best love life. While rebounds are fun and therapeutic, there is such thing as rebounding too hard. An escape from our breakups is the perfect way to disconnect from our hurt. Still, we shouldn’t avoid those feelings. Suppressing your emotions is harmful to our physical and mental states. These can lead to stress, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and even trouble with memory. A 2011 study at the University of Texas reported that when we don’t acknowledge our emotions we are making them stronger. When you bring baggage into your new relationship, you are increasing the chances of healing your negative feelings. Even if you feel like you’ve found a great match, your unresolved feelings can get in the way of you being the best partner possible. Not to mention, they’ll creep up on you when you least expect it.

Some signs to look out for are:

You’re avoiding commitment

You’re constantly bringing up your ex

You’re experiencing signs of depression

You’re fighting about unresolved issues from your past relationship with your new partner

You’re constantly searching for someone who reminds you of your ex

Being on the rebound isn’t for everyone. There is a comfort that comes with taking a break from the dating scene between relationships. But there’s also a sense of relief that’s rooted in the introduction of a new romantic interest in your life - it can feel like a breath of fresh air. Depending on your reasoning behind dipping your toes back in the dating pool, a brand-new partner might be the cherry on top of your post-breakup sundae. These partnerships are complex, so they should always be approached with caution. At the end of the day, only you know what’s best for you.

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