If you’ve been hurt by a past relationship, it can be tempting to jump into a new one as a way of moving on. But is that always the best idea?
Some say rebound relationships can provide a sense of comfort and security in the short term, while others believe it’s not worth getting into since it’s doomed to fail and usually doesn’t last very long.
So, how long do rebound relationships last? Are there ways to make it work?
Here are insights from experts to keep in mind:
Todd and Diana Mitchem
Certified Therapeutic Relationship Coaches, Peak Relationship Center
A few weeks to months; don’t expect these to last long
We define rebounding as spending time with a temporary partner, most often in the case of divorce or separation, dominantly for sex. This can vary based on our clients, but typically, people leave a past relationship and head into one very quickly, seeking to purge the past relationship.
While these can work out, the psychological literature is clear that most do not.
Here are our top four tips for identifying and getting the most from these relationships:
Think hard if you really want this and what is the purpose
The first tip we give people as they exit a long-term relationship is, “What are they looking to do with the next quick turnaround or rebound situation?”
- To talk to someone?
- To complain about their ex?
- A combination of all three, which leads them to purge the old relationship?
By defining the purpose, an individual can determine if they truly want to go after a quick situation or if it would be smarter to work on themselves, heal their past and become more aligned with who they truly are before engaging in a new relationship.
As a note of caution: If the purpose is to hurt your past partner, we would advise against it because in the mix is the emotional and physical well-being of the new person.
Keep in mind that these are typically short—very short—encounters
Regardless of your reason for the romance, a rebound relationship is, as it sounds, a quick bounce onto other things. Don’t expect these to last long, a few weeks to months.
These fail to last on average, psychologically speaking, because when you exit a relationship, trauma, healing, and growth need to occur. Much like a physical injury, you need time to heal the most affected parts of yourself.
And like a physical injury, let’s say in soccer, you would not simply drop the sport, pick up a new sport and see what happens if your leg was broken.
Your romantic life is the same. Picking up a new partner before you heal does not last because the wounds are still open. So do not be surprised when the whole thing crashes fast.
Instead, we advise you to think more about healing. Just like the broken leg analogy, you may be moving onto a different team someday, but you won’t be much good to them if you are still a broken mess.
It’s not the new person’s job to make you feel better or to heal you. That’s your job alone. Take time to analyze yourself and your relationship patterns, and heal the trauma of the breakup.
If you do engage in a rebound, take notes
This may sound crazy, but these short-term relationships do have some benefits if you decide to take the plunge.
You can learn much about the kind of rebound partner you picked:
- Were they the opposite of your previous one?
- Did they like to take more or less risk?
- Was the sex better or worse, and why?
- Who did you become in this relationship?
- What did you like about them at the moment that you had not experienced before?
These relationships are transient overall, but they can teach us much about our choices, purging, and needs when it comes to a better partner in a more stable future.
Technology can make rebounds end faster and feel worse
The human race has become more commoditized than ever. With rapid-fire hook-up dating apps, people are now generally always on the prowl for the next better deal.
They may be on a date with you today, and while you get up to go to the restroom, they are swiping left and right until you return.
This is not personal; it’s a condition of the terrible culture we all created, where you can be quickly traded up or down. But this rapid-fire culture has made the rebound time in a relationship often last shorter than in the past.
These relationships last one to three months before the invention of dating apps
Before the invention of this kind of technology, research taught us that a rebound could last up to six months, but more likely one to three.
It could last a weekend, a night, or a week now
Now, studies have a difficult time mapping the timeline largely because a rebound could be a weekend, a night, or a week-long series of rebounds with different partners in the spirit of “living your best life.” There is little rhyme or reason to the timing any further.
Be prepared; you could be hot and heavy with someone this weekend, and they are off next weekend with two more people each weekend night. It’s not personal, but if you are not careful, it can be deeply painful.
It depends—more severe issues require more care and time
We really should start with, “Should you even be in a rebound relationship?”
In my book, “Good Together: A Journey Through Relationships,” I identify five types of minor relationship patterns:
Pastime: Someone to while away the hours with
In pastime relationships, we are looking for someone to spend time with. Someone who we enjoy being with, who also enjoys being with us. Time spent doing the things that give us pleasure and comfort.
Healing: Someone who will tend to our wounds, either directly or indirectly
In healing relationships, we are looking for someone to nurse us back to health. Broken hearts, or disappointments, come from all sorts of life situations: From losing a loved one, including family and friends, to a general feeling of being disconnected.
Experimental: Someone to experience new things with
In experimental relationships, we are looking for a sense of adventure and someone to share those adventures with. We can’t learn new things if we aren’t experimenting, and we can’t grow if we aren’t learning new things.
Transitional: Someone to accompany us on a mutual journey
In transitional relationships, we are looking for someone who can relate directly to what we are going through because they are going through many of the same things.
- “The only constant in life is change.” – Heraclitus
- “When you are finished changing, you are finished.” – Benjamin Franklin
Avoidance: Someone to distract us from those things we can’t or don’t want to deal with
In avoidance relationships, what we are looking for is someone who won’t push us in a particular direction but, instead, someone who will simply allow us to exist as is.
So, where does a rebound relationship fall in all of this?
Rebound relationships have a specific purpose. They are one part healing, one half part transitional, with a possible dash of avoidance.
In a rebound relationship, someone, either you or your partner, is going through a healing process. And in some cases, both of you are working on healing.
For example, people going through a divorce, for instance, tend to gravitate toward other people going through a similar thing.
The healing process itself is a transformative process. Again, one or both are transitioning from a place of distress and suffering to a place of reassurance and ease. Healthy transformations, such as healing, don’t happen without active participation. The patient must be extensively involved in their own recovery.
In addition, although a rebound relationship may have an element of avoidance, care needs to be taken not to subvert the healing process itself.
In other words, if you are using a rebound relationship to distract from and avoid recuperation, then all your future relationships will be subjected to the same illnesses as your previous relationship.
Caution: Bad conventional wis-dumb ahead
Maybe you have heard that in order “To get over someone, you need to get under someone else.” Simply jumping into yet another relationship will in no way alleviate the pain of the previous relationship. This is the essence of avoidance.
If anything, this type of relationship is likely to reinforce the frustration and angst of the failings of the previous relationship. You will be bouncing from one rebound relationship to another with no end in sight.
The rules of rebound relationships
To be honest, I feel that it is preferable not to have rebound relationships. These types of relationships can hamper the healing process by allowing us to avoid facing our own issues.
Relationships are difficult enough without the added complexities of reintegration. We must wage some wars on our own, in our own ways, and on our own terms, without dragging others into our various battles.
In an ideal world, we could all heal before transitioning into our next relationship. Or, at the very least, we would actively work on healing.
After all, if we haven’t taken the time and expended the effort to determine the cause of the demise of our last relationship, we aren’t likely to be able to spot those issues in our next relationship.
In other words, we can’t improve what we aren’t aware of, and we will
keep making the same mistakes until we recognize our patterns and willingly change them.
To be clear, having an accountability partner, a counselor, a therapist, or a support mechanism is not a rebound relationship. Those are people who facilitate our healing without crossing the boundaries of intimacy.
All relationships have their own set of rules. There are:
All members of the relationship need to have a good understanding of what is expected of them and from the relationship. So, everyone in the relationship needs to know both what is allowable and what is unacceptable in the relationship.
In rebound relationships, values tend not to be a major concern. Values are for deeper, more serious relationships.
Too often, people are parties to a rebound relationship without knowing it. That puts them at a disadvantage and opens them up to being manipulated—you think that you are in a long-term serious relationship, only to find out that the other person is using you to get over their ex.
This is another reason why I am not a fan of rebound relationships. However, if all the participants know the situation and consent to the terms, and if there are no Florence Nightingale or savior delusions, then rebound relationships do have their place.
So, the real question is, “How long does it take to heal?” I believe that we all already know the answer to that: “It depends.” More severe issues require more care and more time.
Likewise, more effort at rehabilitation on the part of the injured party tends to speed the recovery. Healing doesn’t look the same for all of us.
Rebound relationships last until either the patient is healthy or until the caregiver can’t give any more.
It will last more than a year if we’re willing to work on the wreckage and past hurts
The heartbreak resulting from a partner’s death or the failure of a relationship is painful. Very few of us know how to process through that pain, and instead, we look for ways to just feel better.
A new relationship delivers the distraction of new, exciting feelings that, at least temporarily, bring relief.
The downside of trusting a new relationship that comes too soon after heartbreak is that we may be bringing unresolved grief and other issues with us into our new love.
The baggage from the past begins to show up only after the initial excitement begins to wear off. That’s why “rebound relationships” are well known for not lasting long.
Unless we’re willing to fearlessly look at and work on the wreckage and past hurts, it’s rare for a rebound relationship to last for more than a year. Then the failure of the rebound relationship adds to the pain of the original loss and only postpones our recovery.
Why we get into rebound relationships
Refusal to learn from previous failures
If we leave a relationship simply because “it isn’t working” without any attempt to examine why it isn’t working, the same mistakes are inevitably made in any future relationship. That’s why second and subsequent marriages have higher divorce rates than a first marriage.
Several clients in a second or more marriage have told me that if they’d learned the communication and conflict management skills earlier, the first marriage might have worked well.
This is why it’s critical to be willing to examine oneself and exchange unhealthy communication habits for effective skills that nurture a relationship.
There was not enough recovery time
Statistics indicate that without counseling or a support group, it takes roughly four to seven years for one to recover their balance after the loss of a spouse through death or divorce.
Most persons remarry within two years, complicating the adjustments needed in the new relationship with unfinished business from the first loss.
I’d been widowed thirteen years before meeting my late husband, whose wife had died only nine months before we began dating. I was very aware of the short length of time and knew he really hadn’t completed his grieving for his late wife.
Consequently, when he was depressed on a date, I understood. Even after we married sixteen months after his late wife’s death, there were days when he was swamped with grief. I didn’t worry and didn’t feel threatened that he was still grieving her loss.
I think that our scenario was unusual and wouldn’t have worked for most couples.
We put effort into making our relationship work:
- Learning to listen with the intention to understand
- Communicating with “feeling” words rather than accusations
- Speaking with respect 24/7
It wasn’t easy by any means—exhausting—and at times, we were ready to quit, but we were willing to learn some new anger management skills.
We called a “time out” on ourselves that allowed us to vent away from one another, come back together, and continue resolving conflict respectfully and lovingly.
It was worth every effort for the prize of a happy, lasting marriage.
Relationship Expert | Teacher | Writer | Founder, Feel Fully You
You can’t put a time limit on it
That often happens—people just dare to break up. Then, instead of connecting with themselves and paying attention to their feelings, they immediately go for another relationship we call, in this case, “rebound.”
After a breakup, the emotions usually stay high; you feel the pain and face the problem of identification.
You used to identify yourself with being in a relationship, being a partner, and then you are no longer with that person. It is a kind of a death of an identity: “I’m no longer a wife. I’m no longer a partner, but I’m Amy.”
In this situation, sometimes people go straight into another relationship; it helps them to get more endorphins and feel better. Falling into another relationship is a kind of glossing over the pain and the grief of having lost another partner.
But most rebound relationships fail because people haven’t taken enough time to be with themselves, to analyze the previous relationship. After the breakup, that’s usually the time to be introspective and start thinking about your needs.
There are a lot of myths and labels about breakups. One example is that people sometimes want to put limits on the time they need to recover: “I need to be alone for three months, and then I will start dating.”
But you can’t put a time limit on it.
It depends on the person and the situation
Some people may need four years, and some may need five weeks to go through all the emotions—all the feelings. It depends on the person and the situation.
For example, if you have been married for 20 years and your wife dies, three months to recover might be very few. In this case, this rule of staying alone for three months will not work.
Start dating again when you feel you are ready for it
It is all about our own feelings. So my advice is to start dating again when you feel you are ready for it.
And here is an interesting point: You should never forget that there are a lot of benefits of being single, too.
Being single helps you learn yourself and answer many questions:
- What do you love about yourself?
- What are the things that you enjoy doing?
- What are the things that you can do for yourself?
- What are your needs in the relationship?
Do self-care and self-love
Take yourself out for dinner, take yourself to a movie—сombine all these self-care things and spend time with yourself. The more you love yourself, the more your partner likes you.
Self-love is the energy that you give off. Like attracts like.
Licensed Holistic Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Wisdom Within Counseling
These are short-term and don’t last too long
Rebound relationships are often a relationship that is short-term, hot and heavy, and doesn’t last too long.
Usually, people find themselves wanting different things shortly after a rebound relationship has started. Thus, making it a rebound versus a long-term commitment.
It gives you emotional security for a short period of time
A rebound relationship gives you the feeling of emotional security, but it is usually for a short period of time until the person you are with:
- Realizes they don’t want a committed relationship.
- Is moving or something causes the need to stop the connection.
Maybe you find out the other person is not being committed, playing you, and you realize it’s just a rebound.
Rebound relationships can be anywhere from two weeks to three months
Unfortunately, there is heartbreak associated with rebound relationships as, usually, one person is hoping for it to turn into something more serious, while the other person is just looking for something casual or a friend with benefits.
Talk with a therapist to help you overcome your past relationship
Talking with a therapist can help you overcome your past long-term relationship without feeling attracted to the next person you see you walking down the road because, deep down, you don’t want to be alone.
Rebound relationships are usually rooted in wanting to feel better rather than bringing a complete and whole self to a new relationship and starting slowly to foster a friendship.
Rebound relationships can help you understand what you truly need in a future relationship
Rebound relationships can help you understand what you truly need and want out of a future relationship, even if the rebound relationship doesn’t work out long-term.
You can gain a sense of clarity about the type of commitment you want and the needs you have from a long-term romantic relationship.
Be upfront and honest about what you need
Take the time to let someone know what you are looking for upfront and be honest about what you need to prevent heartbreak from a rebound relationship.
Hasmik Karapetyan, PMHNP, MSN, RN
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Gloria Detox and Rehab Center
It may vary from person to person
Rebound relationships are not uncommon and are often a part of the healing process for many people. They are also an opportunity for people to learn more about themselves and their partners.
These relationships are often seen as a way to get over someone and “move on” with your life. Some people who have been told they’ll never find love again take this opportunity to find it in a rebound relationship.
A rebound relationship is generally one that happens after the couple has broken up or called off their dating.
It can be short-term, long-term, or sometimes a lifetime
The duration of the rebound relationship may vary from person to person; it can be short-term or long-term or sometimes become a lifetime. But mostly, it is often a temporary phase in the process of working on one’s self-esteem.
Rebound relationships differ from the first relationship in many ways. In contrast to the primary relationship, the rebound is characterized by a lack of real intimacy between two people that, when worked out, becomes or leads to a long-term relationship.
When one person realizes they are not really interested anymore
Still, there’s this case when the former relationship was often an intimate and long-lasting type of relationship, while the latter is usually just a quick fling or connection that ends as soon as one person realizes they are not really interested anymore.
But when these two people became more integrated and connected to each other, the relationship will turn into a new level of interaction.
Ketan Parmar, MD, MBBS, DPM
Forensic Psychiatrist and Mental Health Expert, ClinicSpots
Rebound relationships usually last from three months to one year
Rebound relationships usually last anywhere from three months to one year. This period of time will likely be shorter than your last relationship because you are usually trying to distract yourself from your breakup with your last partner.
You might also be trying to prove to yourself and the world that you are capable of finding someone new after your breakup.
There are, however, people who date the same person they broke up with and have successful relationships with them.
You don’t have to date someone new and different after a breakup if you don’t want to. You can get into a rebound relationship if you want to distract yourself from your last breakup and move on at your own pace.
Here are some tips for a rebound relationship to last:
Relationships that come after a breakup are tricky to navigate. If you’re just getting over a breakup, you probably don’t want to jump headfirst into another serious relationship.
You can set some parameters for yourself to ensure you don’t rush into things and make the same mistakes you did with your last partner.
Communicate with each other
You may be looking for a new partner to help you get over your old relationship, but that doesn’t mean you don’t owe them an explanation. Make sure you are completely honest about the state of your feelings so that they don’t waste time trying to “win you over.”
Don’t try to rush things
Take your time if you are dating a new partner while you’re still healing from your last breakup. Don’t try to rush into anything physical just because you feel like you “should be doing something” or because your partner is expecting it.
“Rebound” relationships are often rushed, so don’t allow yourself to be pressured by your own desires for haste.
Be kind to yourself
It’s common to put pressure on yourself to “get over” your ex and move on with your life quickly, but you don’t owe anyone anything, least of all yourself.
Take the time you need to heal to open yourself up to a healthy relationship in the future.
Remember that you deserve love
It might be easy to feel like you don’t deserve another chance at love after ending a relationship, but don’t let that thought get to you. You deserve love, no matter what.
Legal Specialist, Adamson Ahdoot LLP
It’s unusual if it lasts more than six months
Rebound relationships last however long it takes someone to get over a bad breakup.
A rebound relationship bridges the gap between heartbreak and being ready to date seriously again. Someone doesn’t want to be alone after a bitter breakup but is also not emotionally ready to dive into a new relationship.
So the rebound mate is someone they can hang with, sleep with, and go places with during the interim.
It’s usually challenging to be that rebound person. If there is a mutual understanding that it’s not serious and you’re just there to have some fun and date casually, then it’s probably fine.
But if you’re clinging to the hope that the relationship will get more serious, it will end in a disappointing fashion for you.
Rebound relationships can last for weeks or months. I’ve seen them last more than six months, but that’s unusual. They aren’t recommended for most people:
- The only one who benefits in any way is the person whose heart is on the mend.
- The other person is nothing more than a therapy mate, someone to help the other avoid loneliness while they recover from a bitter breakup.
Don’t be the person who thinks you can convince the person you’re with that the rebound relationship can stretch into something more profound. You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.
Communication and Relatability Expert | Chief Dating Expert, Match
Rebound relationships last around seven months
Research indicates that typical rebound relationships last less than a year, with an average of around seven months.
While rebounds are often sought to relieve the pain of a breakup with distraction, they are not usually built on a foundation that can lead to a healthy relationship.
It’s essential that after a relationship ends, both parties take the time to heal to prevent making similar mistakes in a future partnership.
In a post-pandemic world, we now realize more than ever the importance of a quality relationship, and moving on from a rebound may be the required step to finding a serious connection.
CEO and Founder, Dragonfly
This question is dependent on the impressions of the people involved
Getting into a rebound relationship right after a breakup is common and can be caused by a variety of factors.
These reasons include:
- One’s emotional state
- The reason for the breakup
- The severity of the breakup
However, it has been observed that rebound relationships don’t last long, either due to uncertainty about the partners’ equation with each other or for various other reasons.
The question that arises now is, “How long does a rebound relationship last?” This question has no fixed answer and is dependent on the impressions of the people involved in the relationship.
Among the numerous possible answers to this question are:
For as long as it takes to heal and let go of the past
A rebound relationship could be a way for someone to heal and feel loved again, especially after a painful breakup. Their desires for a partner, listener, and admirer are best satisfied by entering into a relationship without much thought.
They believe they can quickly forget the past if they avoid the feelings and memories associated with the previous relationship and focus on a new partner.
Until one realizes they will never be emotionally available to their beau
After a failed previous relationship, one may rush into a rebound relationship only to realize that they will never fully commit to it.
This realization may take months before they can move past the pain of the breakup. When they finally realize it, they will feel guilty and may be afraid of breaking their partner’s heart.
This will force them to confront their partner and say that he or she will never be emotionally available to the person because they rushed into a rebound relationship.
Until one discovers a new coping mechanism
Rebound relationships are frequently the result of an inability to find a coping mechanism.
People often believe that loving someone else is the best way to get over someone. They forget that this is just their need to feel like they are progressing when, in reality, they are stuck in denial.
Instead of dealing with the emotional pain that comes with a breakup and addressing the issues, they find a partner and seek temporary refuge in their arms to get over their ex.
When they discover a new way to cope with the breakup, they no longer believe that continuing the rebound relationship makes sense, and thus the breakup.
When they realize they hastily entered the relationship to make their ex jealous
After a breakup, one of the partners may move on quickly and commit to a new person. This may add salt to the wounds of the abandoned lover, who will attempt to do the same to make their ex jealous.
This ‘making my ex jealous’ game encourages them to be in rebound relationships to appear to have found love when all they want is to catch their exes’ attention.
When their partner realizes they are being used as pawns, such relationships end in a breakup.
Not all rebound relationships are doomed to fail
Not all rebound relationships are doomed to fail. Some of them may end up in a happily ever after in which both partners find everything they were looking for in their rebound partner.
Relationship Expert and Founder, Dating Iconic
It lasts for about three months—some last for about a year
A rebound relationship, in simple terms, occurs when you get into a relationship with someone new without getting over your last relationship.
This relationship is mostly built based on unresolved feelings from the recent relationship, inability to move on alone, and sometimes it is done to spite your ex.
Typical signs of a rebound relationship:
- It is purely physical; there’s no deep emotional connection.
- You are insecure about their actions and are constantly worrying if they mean well to you.
- You don’t want to show them to your friends or family, but you want your ex to be in the know.
- You are in love with the idea of being liked.
- You are constantly seeking validation for your feelings rather than actually loving them.
- You don’t trust them.
- You get bored after a while.
A rebound relationship lasts for about a month or three months—some last for about a year. The chances of it lasting longer becomes slimmer as time goes on.
Attachments mostly foster rebound relationships from the last relationship and infatuations because your mind may trick you into thinking you really like the person when, in fact, your feelings may not be that deep.
You just want to desperately get rid of past feelings.
Once the feelings wear off, you begin to notice the differences between you and the person, things you were too blinded to see because you were not in the right emotional state to handle being in yet another committed relationship.
Rebound relationships leave you feeling empty as time passes because you realize it’s primarily physical and sexual. You’re not healing from trauma or pain from the current relationship.
It is running away from your pain to heal completely. However, this doesn’t always happen all the time because your new partner is always at the receiving end of your insecurities and unhealed pain.
How to make a rebound relationship work
For a rebound relationship to transcend into something serious and long-term, both parties should:
- Be willing to work on their issues.
- Heal from whatever trauma they got from their past relationship.
- Be willing to work together with total trust in each other.
- Constantly check up on each other.
- Most importantly, fall in love with each other rather than the attention or the acts of being liked.
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