Rebound Relationships

I remember in college someone telling me that the quickest way to get over someone was to get under someone else.  Hmm?  True or False?  From a counselor’s point of view I’m going to say false, but I’m sure many people out there would disagree with me.  Lets face it.  Breaking up is hard to do.  Most humans don’t like change.  If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time it is hard to go back to single status.  A lot of students state that they need a distraction from the pain of their break-up.  It is almost like they send a vibe out to the world that says, I’m vulnerable and need some attention.  Guess what?  There are plenty of people who will step up and provide that distraction for you.  Unfortunately, it isn’t the best way to get over your ex.

First, let me point out the obvious…you’re VULNERABLE after a break-up.  Your emotions are all over the place and your self-esteem has taken a big hit.  Like I said above, there are many people out there looking for the vulnerable type to take advantage of.  On a normal day, you might be anything but vulnerable.  You may consider yourself smart, fun, independent, and a good judge of character.  However, right after a break-up, your loser radar is a little off the mark.  Again, some people say one night stands and casual hook-ups are a way to soothe yourself after a break-up.  However, when your emotions are a mess, some people can sweet talk their way into your life.  A casual hook up can turn into a very messy relationship if someone is out to take advantage of your vulnerability.  I can assure you that is what I hear from students in my office.  Most of the time students often wonder what they were thinking, and I often hear about their regrets.  The thing is after a break-up, you aren’t thinking.  You are feeling.  That is the sucky part.  You are a ball of emotions.  Emotions are not the most reliable guides in the world.  They often persuade people to make decisions they wouldn’t usually make.  Unfortunately, a lot of losers out there know this and use it to their advantage.

Second, there is a chance you could meet a great person right after a break-up…but the timing couldn’t be worse.  Trust me, I know some great relationships that started just as one person was going through a break-up.  It can happen that a rebound relationship turns into a new relationship that lasts.  Just a few tips I want to throw out there though.  If you find someone new right away, try to go slow.  Evaluate your last relationship.  Some people go through drawn out break-ups.  They have grieved the loss of the relationship before the actual break took place.  In this case, a person may be able to move on faster.  People also may be able to move on faster if they didn’t really love their ex even if they dated for a long time.  Most of the time though, there is some grieving to be done after the actual break-up happens.  You may need time to readjust and acknowledge the loss.

A new relationship takes up a lot of energy.  It is also very easy to get caught up in the emotions of a new relationship.  Who wouldn’t rather feel excited and happy rather than angry and sad??  This is why it is hard to tell if it is a rebound relationship or the real thing.  I suggest going slow if you do happen to meet someone great.  Let them know you just got out of relationship and may need some time.  They will be more likely to deal with your sadness now rather than in six months when you really should be moving on.  Trust me, after all the newness of the relationship wears off, the ability to distract yourself weakens.  This is when all those painful emotions you were trying to cover up tend to come out.  This can damage your new relationship because no one likes to have their boyfriend or girlfriend thinking about or being sad over their ex months after they’ve broken up.  However, there  is a reason these negative emotions exist.  Crap happens and we need to be able to cope with it when it does.  It doesn’t just disappear just because some time has passed.  If we never allow ourselves to feel sad, over time we will need a lot of stimulation and distraction to keep going.  This is why some people constantly chase that new relationship high, drink or do drugs.  It is the only way to escape pain.  Guess what?  Life is painful!!  There are times when we must accept pain and learn how to deal with it.  I agree that a little distraction is good.  It is healthy to go out with your friends and pretend your fine for a few hours.  You need a break from the depressing sadness of a break-up, but remember that too much distraction is not good.

It is better to just get through the crap and then move on.  Rebound relationships have a track record of not working out long term.  They can be a temporary distraction.  If both you and your partner acknowledge it and keep it casual, then more power to you.  I think it is great to be open and honest.  That way, both people are on the same page.  However, most people aren’t honest.  They pretend they are over their ex.  They are in denial about their pain until it comes back later to haunt them.  It really isn’t fair to the person you get involved with if they think you are happy, healthy and over your ex.  Also, be aware of the con-artists out there who prey on vulnerable people just getting out of relationships.  They could use you while you are down and out and then dump you when you least expect it.  Then you’ll be feeling even more like a failure with extra baggage to deal with.  Life isn’t exactly black and white or linear.  People make choices and they aren’t always great.  Hind sight is always 20/20.  Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have fallen for the rebound relationship.  It happens to the best of us.  Just try to be more aware in the future so it won’t happen again.  I’d like to say that this new person will make all your dreams come true, but most of us just aren’t that lucky.  Take your time and get over your ex in the right way by just taking a few weeks (sometimes even months) to cry it out.

15 comments on “Rebound Relationships

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  5. Sometimes makes me wonder how some people manage to just jump into a new relationship after just breaking up. But I do agree with you in that starting a new relationship takes up a lot of energy and time as well. Most however don’t care and will just jump into the next relationship opportunity they can find. Distraction? Maybe. I prefer the word “Insanity” for that. Cheers!

  6. I really love your blog, your advice is really clear. I definitely have to agree with you on the rebound relationships. You cannot rely on someone else to give you your confidence, you have to have your own confidence. I believe it is possible to have a new relationship that works if you still have some feelings left for your ex but using someone to get over someone else is unfair and you run the risk of destroying a relationship that could potentially blossom into something wonderful.

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  8. Very interesting article. This looks exactly like what is happening to a (former) mate of mine. He is going through a divorce (after a 14 relationship) and has instantly starting chasing after a good female friend of mine.
    Initially she was truly just a shoulder to cry on but then he saw it as much more and gave up on any idea of saving his marriage (with 2 kids) and started chasing her instead. Spilling out more and more extreme sob stories along the way.
    Now she admits they have started dating!

    She seems to be acting right out of character so I carefully tried to tell her to be careful as I think he’s in full on rebound mode and i didnt want to see her get hurt a few months down the line. ( I will admit that i also liked this girl very much!)

    Unfortunately she doesnt see it that way and is not speaking to me now!

    I dont know what to do….i’m annoyed at my mate for giving up on his marriage and kids so easily and also even more annoyed that initially he came to us for support but then started keeping more from us …and eventually started completely lying to us….not a sign of a good friend.

    I’m disappointed that my female friend is now not speaking to me, but still think what i said was for the best. Should i apologise to her?

    • Hey Jim, thanks for your comment. I’m sorry your friends aren’t taking your advice or feelings into consideration. That is unfortunate for them. If I have this right, your female friend stopped talking to you after you warned her about the relationship possibly be a rebound. That is pretty harsh. If you truly care about her, it may be worth it to try to work things out. You could apologize for getting in the middle of the situation, but reinforce to her that your intention was to help her, not upset her. It can be a touchy situation since you also have feelings for her. However, it can’t hurt to try. If she continues in the relationship and gets hurt then you can be there for her as her friend. If the relationship ends up working, then hopefully you can still be friends with them both and be happy that they are happy. Good luck!

  9. ah…that was a 14 ‘year’ relationship!

    Guess im not exactly college age…but the subject stays the same whatever age you are!

    • I guess that every age has it, but the older you are the more crucial it gets to find a long-term relationship and not wasting any time…

  10. This is a well-written post on rebound relationships. After 2 years of a very, very long distance (1,400) relationship which included engagement and 2 visits, my love, the love of my life entered into one within a month of us initially taking a break. We met in grad school and became best friends before we began dating. We communicated several times a day and made decisions on the various important issues: finances, sex, having children–we’d decided not to, religion–we’d decided to respect each other’s different beliefs, and lifestyle. I’d been diagnosed with severe depression and during this time, he went from assuring me we were still going to get married and that he was there for me to a situation with a friend of his. When I first heard about her, I was immediately suspicious: a young mother, recently divorced and flirtatious with him in-person and on his Facebook Wall. I trusted him even when he told me he’d been physically affectionate with her and that he loved her as well. I trusted him even when he liked the love songs she posted and was calm but shocked, telling him to tell her to realize that they were disrespectful to me, him, us, and our relationship. She replied that she meant no harm and was being funny and mischevious, that she was re-evaluating (what, I never knew since she nor he ever revealed it). She didn’t post anything else although I was sure that chats were going on. I still trusted him and one afternoon after she and I chatted-via-comments on a photograph of his, the photograph disappeared. I started to not trust either person. My trust came back when I visited him for 10 days. We spent a lovely, loving visit together although he acted very suspiciously when her daughter, a friend of the nieces, showed up outside the house as the 4 of us were coming back from downtown. He rushed us all inside and refused to let the girls play together; he requested kissing time and I refused, shook up, confused.

    I’ve been in weekly-plus therapy to try to deal. Both of us entered into depression and suffered from stomach and sleep problems. One chat, he gave me the reasons for us not being together and they were excuses. What hurts me the deepest is that because certain plans didn’t pan out he gave up on me and he told me that, ultimately, our goals and expectations were different. He didn’t specify and I was too hurt to reply. He and I are still friends on Facebook. I’ve gone into NC 3 times and he’s contacted me every time. I haven’t been on Facebook for 3 weeks and I found out that he sent me 2 messages, 1 saying that if I was lonely, I could send him sexy photos without unintentionally hurting the other and the other saying to take care and hoping that my semester is going well. I replied to the semester one being very upbeat and asking him how his writing and teaching are going and replied that we’d have to discuss the sexy photos. I don’t know what to say to him. Any advice? I talked to a cousin about it and she said that if he were truly happy in his situation, he wouldn’t ask for them. I don’t know. My heart still hurts. I also don’t know why he tells me that he still loves me and is apparently so into this girl. It also hurts me that his mother–we’re also friends on Facebook and she approved of me, was demonstrative with me–hasn’t contacted me to see how I’m doing or what I’m doing. I miss him and I don’t know what to do.

    • Thanks for your comment. I wish there was an easy answer I could give you. All I know is the the heart is going to stay involved until it is too painful. So, either things work out and get better or this guy will continue to hurt you and you’ll eventually make the choice to break things off. It sounds like a very complicated situation. If you still have hope that things are going to work out, then it is very difficult to just walk away. Hopefully if you continue to be straight forward and honest with him, then he’ll do the same for you. Good luck!

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