The experience of breaking up with a long term lover is perhaps best summarized in one of Michael Jackson’s most immortal lyrics: ‘Bad. Really really bad.’ Sooner or later, pretty much everyone on the planet feels the grim pangs of heartbreak, and we all deal with the pain in different ways.
Some of us jet off into the sunset and are never seen again, except via envy-inducing social media updates of exasperatingly perfect beaches. Others prefer the tried and tested ‘gym membership, fresh haircut, Thursday evening speed dating at the local sports bar’ route to recovery. Some, however, do not bother with all this ‘self discovery’ and ‘personal growth’ hogwash, instead opting for good old rebound relationships. But why is this, and which rebound relationship signs should you look out for?
Let’s start at the top – what is a rebound relationship?
A rebound is a new romantic relationship that begins in the immediate wake of a break up, often before feelings regarding the previous relationship have fully subsided. Rebounds will usually occur around six weeks after the initial break up. They are less committed initially, though will often progress quickly as the heartbroken party seeks to quickly recapture and replace the level of intimacy they had with their ex.
Rebounds are not a new concept; in fact, the term dates back to the 1830’s, when author Mary Russell Mitford wrote that there was “nothing so easy as catching a heart on the rebound”.
Okay, so why do people have rebound relationships?
Going through a break up is frequently listed among the most distressing events an individual can experience in life, with ‘divorce’ near the very top of the Rahe Stress Scale.1 There have been several influential studies into people’s reasons for beginning rebound relationships, and they bear similar fruit.
The loss of a partner (regardless of who ended it) causes a huge disruption to a person’s social circle and support system. Swiftly filling that void with a new person is a natural way to numb the pain. It’s a simple enough idea, in theory – every time you feel a longing for your ex, just give your rebound a call instead and allow them to distract you.
In shiny new rebound relationships, the infatuation/honeymoon period that usually occurs during the first few months naturally offsets the negative emotions that arise with the implosion of the previous relationship. That’s not to say that a rebound will erase any negative feelings about a previous relationship, but rather that it masks them, like a liberal dousing of deodorant in place of a shower.
The ending of a relationship can be a huge blow to self confidence, and there are myriad studies into this aspect of break ups alone. It’s only common sense – if you’ve just been hurled out of your apartment, and the person you thought was the love of your life has begun merrily emptying your drawers out of a second story window onto the front lawn, it’s to be expected that your ego is going to take a knock.
When a person’s confidence is low, stepping outside with a new partner is a way of showing themselves and the world that they are desirable, and regaining what Austin Powers would call, their ‘mojo’.
Research has shown that break ups can temporarily muddy people’s self perception, causing them to feel less sure of who they are, and where they fit into the world. Quickly finding a new partner allows people to avoid the struggle of facing up to this sudden gap in their persona, and is consequently a much easier choice than taking the time and effort to learn who they really are when flying solo.
Have you ever been introduced to a friend’s new partner, only to find that their new beau looks uncannily like their ex, almost like an ex 2.0? This is a tried and tested phenomenon; that feelings of attachment can transfer from an ex to a new partner unconsciously, when the two people in question bear a degree of similarity. If you’re not over your ex and meet someone who strongly reminds you of them, it may not take much of a push for you to fall into their arms.
Yes, it’s true, people do initiate rebounds to exact revenge on their ex. Break ups have been found to elicit anger, which in turn becomes a desire to ‘get even’, and consequently it’s not unheard of for rebound relationships to be born out of a straight-up desire for cold blooded revenge. A word of advice for the world’s unwillingly dumped, out for vengeance: haven’t you read Moby Dick? Don’t do an Ahab. Back away from the harpoon. Nobody wins here.
What are potential rebound relationship signs?
Rebound relationships definitely don’t always end badly; while some start from a place of emotional unavailability, many can outgrow the circumstances they began in and can develop into lasting, healthy relationships. However, if you have a creeping suspicion your new partner might be with you purely out of a desire to get over someone else, here are a few rebound relationship signs to look out for.
- Rebound relationships move at an odd pace
Your partner tells you they love you within a fortnight, suggests moving in together within a month, and yet despite all the large-scale displays of affection, you feel that you’ve never truly taken the time to get to know one another. If this is the case, it might be that your partner is trying to hurry things along to get back to where they were with their ex.
- They are strangely keen on public displays of affection
If every second of your time together is instantaneously uploaded onto their social media, and you find yourself being towed along to parties and public events (especially where their ex is in attendance), it could be a sign that they see you as more of an ego-bolstering trophy than a lover.
- They way they treat you fluctuates
One day, they’re never off their phone, idly watching television, casually batting away your earnest attempts at conversation. The next, they’re calling you up at 4am begging for your company, declaring their undying love, and desperately clinging to you through the night like a shell-shocked limpet. If this yo-yoing is a regular occurrence, there’s a good chance there’s more going on than meets the eye.
- They talk about their ex… a lot
This one is arguably too obvious to mention but, for the sake of complete clarity: if your partner won’t stop yammering about their ex, they are not over their ex. Regardless of whether they are singing their praises, discussing the differences between the two of you, or cursing them to oblivion, the fact remains that they are constantly thinking about their previous relationship, which doesn’t bode well for the outcome of your current one.
What should you do if you’ve spotted all the dreaded rebound relationship signs?
If you’ve surveyed the situation and your inner Sherlock has deduced that you are, in fact, essentially a mannequin with the face of your partner’s ex printed out and taped on, it may well be time to walk. However – that’s not to say that true love can’t grow from turmoil.
Rather than jump to any conclusions, if you feel your new partner is harboring fugitive emotions for their ex, the best approach may be to sit them down, mention the rebound relationship signs you’ve noticed, and ask them what their real intentions are. It’s always a good idea to communicate first, before you begin burning your partner’s clothes in a pyre in the backyard.
Now you’ve that you’re aware of the potential hazards of rebound relationships, perhaps you’ve decided to search for a partner who is a little further removed from the tendrils of heartbreak. If that’s the case, EliteSingles is a good place to start!
EliteSingles editorial May 2017
If you have questions about rebound relationships, let us know below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org