rebound relationship

A rebound relationship is usually regarded as a relationship that has been initiated shortly after a breakup with lingering issues from the previous relationship. The general assumption is that these relationships do not last as they were initiated as a means to get over the previous relationship.

Whilst this is mostly true,, it is not the entirety of the truth. Assuming that every relationship that began soon after a breakup is a rebound does not take into account the nature of the two “new love birds’ bond” with one another. That is usually the determining factor on whether or not the relationship will last.

Stages of a rebound relationship

Although a rebound relationship may begin immediately after a breakup, it does not mean that it has its own evolution timeline like that of relationships built without any “hidden agendas.” There are about five stages of a rebound relationship.

1. The Replacement

Breakups come with the pressure of moving on. We find ourselves wanting to move on as quickly as our exes if not quicker. The need to prove to the other person that you are no longer hung up on them anymore (even if you still are) sends us on a hunt to find a replacement. All of a sudden the people we did not look at in that way, start appearing more attractive. We are suddenly aware of all the people we could possibly date and build a love that is much better than our last.

This subconscious pressure will then have us falling head over heels over the first person to make us feel like our feelings are reciprocated. They will feel like the love we have always wished we could have. That one true love sent to give us the relationship experience of our dreams. This then becomes easily mistaken for love rather than infatuation and in no time, we find ourselves in a relationship with them.

The feeling of being found attractive all over again brings with it satisfaction. Unlike your ex, here is someone who wants you. Who finds you interesting and is willing to pursue something with you. They practically hold you in the best light which is the opposite of how your ex saw you towards the end of the relationship.

2. Intimacy

Because these relationships happen quickly, there is usually less time to build an emotional connection. This makes the physical connection the foundation of the relationship. Being high on infatuation, driven by lust, there is an establishment of your desire to feel wanted by someone else other than your ex.

You are seeking validation. You want to prove to yourself that you have it in you to find love and happiness outside of your partner. You want to receive the love you believe you deserve. This makes you interpret every ounce of physical attention you receive as redeeming love.

At this stage, you are using the other person as a distraction from the heartbreak that you experienced. You are not willing to cultivate an emotional connection as it may make you feel vulnerable and susceptible to heartbreak all over again.

3. Boasting

This is the climax of most rebound relationships. The constant showing off of this new relationship. Because the relationship was started for self-validation and to prove your ability to move on, there is a sudden itch to make sure that everyone bears witness to your amazing recovery.

There may be excess public displays of affection in spaces that you know mutuals from your previous relationship may see you and report back to your ex on your newfound happiness. Sometimes, you may go out of your way to make sure you ‘bump’ into your ex, so that they may see for themselves that you have “moved on to better.”

This is done to stroke the ego and again, feed into this narrative you are creating in your head, that you can move on and are no longer hung up on your ex anymore.

4. Comparison

Your suppressed feelings around your ex begin to come up. Anything that happens that reminds you of them begins to be a trigger to you. I know as human beings, we like to believe that we are different, but there are always mannerisms that a lot of people share. Thus, you may find that your new partner does things that remind you of your ex.

This becomes frustrating to you as you do not want to be reminded of the past and you start to react to them in unhealthy ways. This begins to create problems in this union that you felt was the heaven you wanted.

This may also start making you withdraw from the relationship. You do not want to invest in a relationship that reminds you of your ex. You don’t want the same experiences as the last time. This is when the cracks start to show in the rebound relationship.

5. The wake-up call

Having been triggered and reminded of the past you were trying to forget, you begin to realise that this relationship isn’t exactly what you thought it was. You start being honest with yourself and your feelings.

You are still hung up on your ex and this new relationship is not exactly what you thought it was or would be. This can send you into circumstantial depression as you go through the motions of sadness and heartbreak all over again.

This is the wake-up call that makes you realise that you are still hung up on your ex and may want to address those feelings.

When rebounds work

The above stages of a rebound relationship are not universal. They may start off similarly, but there are cases where true love actually blooms out of them.

Whilst research indicates that 90% of rebound relationships end within three months, there is a 10% that goes on to create meaningful and successful relationships. Some people find themselves with a rebound partner who is supportive and understanding of them, that they actually create a space for them to grieve and heal from the breakup. This begins to strengthen their bond to one another and enable them to explore this new relationship of theirs in a much more open and honest manner.

This refreshing approach that the new partner brings becomes the foundation of this relationship. The growing desire to help each other to get over this heartbreak may be a shared pain. The broken-hearted partner feels understood, validated and cared for whilst the new partner is exposed to a vulnerable and emotional side that makes them feel more connected to their partner.

These circumstances support the growth of a new relationship filled with compassion and care. The pain of a heartbreak barely lasts in an environment like this. And so, although the relationship may have started suddenly, under different circumstances, the approach in the relationship changes the dynamics completely.

The downside of rebounds

This is what a lot of people talk about. The 90%, that fail in their rebound relationships because they were never meant to last, to begin with.

Looking to replace your ex makes one aggressive in their approach. They want everything to be perfect. There is no room for mistakes. They are focused on correcting the mistakes of the previous relationship through this one.

This shows up in the manner they engage with their new partners. They may become too controlling because they want to manage the outcomes of the relationship. This becomes frustrating to their partners and starts creating problems within the relationship.

Eventually, as a result of the constant fighting and triggers, they come to a decision to call it quits because the relationship is evidently not working. This is usually when the ex realises that they are not over their past relationship and are still holding on to what it was.

Chances of reconciliation

It is common for people to reunite with their exes after a rebound relationship. If anything, most rebound relationships bring about an epiphany that one misses their ex more than they care to admit.

They provide perspective and are grounds for self-reflection. This does not mean that your ex will come back only because their rebound did not work. Sometimes, the rebound relationship reminds them of why they broke up with you and will choose to stay away from you rather than go through the same thing all over again.

There need to be factors that encourage them to want to reach out to you again and rekindle your relationship. How you handle yourself during the breakup, whilst they were in the rebound relationship also plays a role in your reconciliation.

Learning the secret on what to do if your ex is in a rebound relationship will help you manage the situation better, and I can help you with that. Get on a call with me or better yet, text me on WhatsApp: +44 7926 549390 so we can chat a little more about your situation.

Rebound and Attachment style

People have different attachment styles. A study showed that people with an anxious attachment style are most likely to get into a new relationship soon after a breakup. This is because they usually start sensing the breakup before it even happens, due to their anxiety, thus pushing them to “start preparing for the worst.” And so although the breakup might have happened a week ago, they would have probably started dealing with it a month or so before it actually happened. This makes it easier for them to get into a new relationship as quickly as the old one (officially) ended. Secure people on the other hand would hold out for a while and choose to take some time before getting involved in a new relationship. Taking time to understand what happened and deal with the emotions that come with it.

In this case, people with an anxious attachment style will find it easier to get over an ex by getting into a new relationship.

Drawbacks of remaining single


People who get into a relationship as quickly as one ends may find that their self-esteem is significantly high and would therefore tend to treat their new partners much better in comparison to their exes. This is because they are much more grateful to have this person in their life who seemingly saved them from the pain of the breakup. But over time, you would find that they would start to think about their past partner. They tend to start comparing their current partner to their ex. This may be because they got into the relationship with the intent of moving on from their ex and doing ‘better’ than them. And so they measure their current relationship against their previous relationship. Although they may think of their ex, over time, because they are being emotionally and physically stimulated, they are bound to form a new attachment to this person, which over time may bring them to a state of being completely over their exes.

Remaining single creates some form of stagnancy when it comes to moving on. This is because they are bound to have more time to reminisce about their past without the distraction of a new romantic partner. Whilst remaining single for a while may be great for personal development and rediscovery, it can get lonely and not having anyone may trigger one to think about the past. Leaving them hung up on their exes much longer than it may be healthy for their emotional health.


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Brumbaugh, C. C., & Fraley, R. C. (2014). Too fast, too soon? An empirical investigation into rebound relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(1), 99–118

Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., & Wilson, A. E. (2009). On the Rebound: Focusing on Someone New Helps Anxiously Attached Individuals Let Go of Ex-Partners. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(10), 1382–1394.