What Happens in Rebound Relationships?

Rebound relationships aren't doomed, and can breed long-lasting partnerships.
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You've just broken up with your ex. Or your partner has. Either way, the two of you are together despite the recent ending of the last relationship. Rebound relationships have a bad reputation, says psychologist Mary C. Lamia, Ph.D., in the article "'Rebound'' Relationships." You may wonder whether the partner on the rebound is truly emotionally available and/or they're simply using the new relationship as a stop-gap for their loneliness and neediness. Yet, not all rebound relationships are doomed to fail. Instead, they might prove to be even better than the previous relationship.

1 One of You Can't Let Go

If the break-up was particularly bad, the person on the rebound may continue to feel resentment and anger towards their former partner. This means that they continue to be tied to their ex, says Lamia. This is likely to hurt the rebound relationship as it prevents a new attachment from former. It also will make the new partner unhappy that they have to compete for affection and unsure that the relationship is going to work. They may fear that their boyfriend or girlfriend is only dating them out of need nor out of genuine attraction. This type of scenario tends to be poisonous for a relationship.

2 Idealization

Idealizing your new partner is routine in a rebound relationship, advises psychotherapist Nathan Feiles in the article, "Are Rebound Relationships Doomed?". The rebounder may act as if their new boyfriend or girlfriend is perfect creating a feeling of euphoria in both partners. This happens because the rebounder is seeking stability after the unhappiness of a breakup. He or she ends up deeply attaching to the new partner to achieve this stabiulity. When the idealization fades away, the relationship usually hits a snag. It's then time to re-evaluate the relationship and see if it needs to be slowed down, worked through, or given up.

3 Lack of Resolution

The euphoria of a rebound relationship usually keeps the unhappy feelings of the rebounder at bay for a time. But a rebound relationship is usually reactive. The partner jumps into the new relationship to avoid processing or resolving the emotions surrounding the break-up, namely disappointment, sadness, and hurt. Once the euphoria of a rebound wears down these emotions will inevitably surface and create unhappiness without the new relationship. At that point, the rebounder may have to deal with why his or her previous relationship went wrong and how he or she can grow from it -- else the destructive dynamic will end up repeating in the new twosome. The rebounder may need space to deal with these emotions or want to return to the previous relationship to work on it. Perhaps the rebound simply needs to be slowed down -- it depends on how healthy the new relationship is.

4 Healing

Not all rebound relationships are doomed. Instead, new research from Spielmann, S., Macdonald, G., & Wilson, A., 2009 suggests that connecting with someone new helps along recovery. The new relationship may actually be valued far more than the previous one, especially if both partners feel greater satisfaction and fulfillment. The research forwards the idea that relationships don't need breathing room between them and instead moving on quickly can help you get past your ex via forging new ties. It's still important for the rebounder to discuss their emotions surrounding the break-up with their new partner. This way, the new partner avoids unnecessary anxiety as to whether their boyfriend or girlfriend is still attached to their ex. Communication keeps the focus on the new relationship, builds trust, and promotes healing.

Alana Vye is a Canadian writer living abroad. She had a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Toronto and has worked in online marketing and publicity. She's also an avid traveler who has visited Asia, Europe and Central America.