Can a Rebound Relationship Ever Work?

Can a Rebound Relationship Ever Work?

After a breakup, there are a few things you can do to get through the emotional upheaval, sometimes in conjunction with each other. You can mope and spend a few days in bed. You can undertake a forced glow-up and hit the gym. You can surround yourself with friends and have a distracting blast. Or, you can throw yourself headfirst into a new relationship.

That last one might not always work out so well. If your relationship is based on your interest in getting over your old one — not necessarily your interest in nurturing your new one — things can feel a little crowded. But can it actually work out? Sure, sometimes.

What is a rebound relationship?

To rebound, per the dictionary, is “to spring back on or as if on collision or impact with another body.” In a romantic context, then, think of that collision or impact as your past relationship and its ending. When you “spring back” from that, you enter another relationship as fast as you can.

This is a common occurrence, so if you find yourself reeling after a breakup and frantically reinstalling your old slate of dating apps, take heart. There are movies about this phenomenon, loads of Reddit threads, and great songs, too. Note, though, that these examples aren’t exactly positive. Ariana Grande’s rebound anthem, for instance, is aptly named: “Bad Idea.”

Are rebound relationships a bad idea?

Let’s explore Grande’s 2019 banger here for a second. She sings, “I got a bad idea / How ‘bout we take a little bit of time away? / I got a bad idea / Forget about it, yeah, forget about him, yeah / Forget about me / I got a bad idea / Yeah, I’ma call you over here to numb the pain / I got a bad idea / Forget about it, yeah, forget about him, yeah / Forget about me.”

That is a case study in why rebound relationships are a less-than-stellar move. Grande professes an interest in enlisting someone else to help her “forget” about her previous relationship — and even herself — and “numb the pain.” Elsewhere in the song, she mentions wanting the new boyfriend to “save” her while outright admitting “this isn’t real.” To be clear, it’s not someone else’s responsibility to “save” you and entering a relationship you know “isn’t real” is a disservice to your new partner.

It might be convenient for you to hop into a new fling and embrace all the fun stuff that comes with those early days of the honeymoon phase without taking the time to process the negative emotions about your past partnership, but consider what it means for the innocent third party you’re dragging into your existing mess. Is it fair to them that you’re still hung up on someone else and repressing your emotions? No.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve done this or are doing it right now. This might not even be an active choice. You aren’t a world-famous artist whose job is to write down all your experiences and thoughts for mass consumption, so you’d be forgiven for not realising you’re engaging in a “Bad Idea” of your own.

“You don’t recognise it at the time,” said one 39-year-old Brooklyn dater who admitted he’s been in three rebound relationships. “There is more hindsight recognition. Even saying this now, it makes me feel bad for reducing the people I was with because they are and were valid and there were feelings, but now I can see what I was doing and it was more about me than them.”

When someone else is giving you their all but you’re using them to get over someone else (or even make your ex jealous), the relationship isn’t starting off particularly fair or healthy. Still, that doesn’t mean it can’t work.

Can rebound relationships work?

Love stories come in all forms, so far be it for us to say your rebound relationship is one terrible, cruel mistake. You very well might meet your perfect person while scrambling to heal yourself after a breakup with someone else. We put feelers out for this article and didn’t hear from any sources who had a story like that, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen for you.

“I’d never say anything is out of the range of possibility,” said the repeat-rebounding Brooklynite. “I think that after a breakup, you’re a little less trustworthy of yourself and so that presents a challenge, but it’s still possible.”

For the best shot at this working, be honest. It’s mortifying and uncouth to talk about your ex when you first get with someone new, but you should still tactfully explain that you’re fresh out of a relationship and might be hurting for a while. If your new partner is kind and understanding, that’s a good sign. Don’t hide that they met you at a time when you were really going through it. That will only lead to confusion, especially on days when you’re feeling down or get reminded of your former flame. Total honesty is the best option here, especially if you’re still in contact with your ex. Say you’re in the stage now where you’re giving them back all the stuff they had at your place or you’re working out the post-breakup details. If you don’t disclose this stuff to your new partner, you’re starting off with secrets and lies, which is not the foundation of a great relationship.

If you really are just looking for someone to hook up and hang out with to numb or distract yourself, be honest. Do not tell this new person that you want a relationship if you don’t or aren’t ready for one. Don’t let your heartbreak become someone else’s heartbreak.

Finally, if you and your ex are not only still communicating, but still talking frequently or even meeting or hooking up, take a step back. Be honest with yourself. Are you being an arsehole to this new person? Are you really ready to sever ties with your old boo? Is it really even over? The answers to these questions may not be comfortable, but you owe it to yourself and the person you’re trying to rebound with to ask them.

It might be in your best interest to spend some time alone after your breakup. It can feel soothing to get back into a relationship groove, especially if you haven’t been single for a while, but there is a lot to learn about yourself after a partnership ends and you find yourself on your own. Embrace that. Becoming a better person and learning to survive solo can only help you in the future — and lessen the chances of you heading for another heartache or causing one for someone else.

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