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Can a rebound relationship work? Maybe.

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Ever heard the phrase, “the best way to get over someone is to be under someone else?” Well, that’s a rebound relationship in a nutshell. Finding out you’re in a rebound relationship can be very disconcerting for many reasons, not least because they rarely end well regardless of whether you’re the one rebounding, or the one dating them. Let’s look at what a rebound relationship is, the stages of a rebound relationship and why people enter them. We’ll also offer you some rebound relationship tips.

What is a rebound relationship?

A rebound relationship is one that starts before the person has emotionally healed from a previous one. It often begins shortly after the end of the relationship and is often a way to deal with the heartbreak that comes with a relationship failing. While rebound relationships might sound like a good idea, don’t expect them to end well. In fact, if you look at the rebound relationship timeline, there are different results on how long they can last.

What rebound relationships look like? 

Rebound relationships tend to have a few things in common:

  • They don’t last very long: Either the rebounder will come to their senses or the person they’re dating will
  • They don’t have a strong emotional foundation: It’s very common for someone who’s recently broken up to try and forget their ex by having sex with other people
  • They’re superficial: Sure, the sex might be great. But people on the rebound are rarely interested in actual connection

Wondering what the stages of a rebound relationship might be? There are usually five: attraction, intimacy, showing off, comparison, and finally disillusionment. And you can imagine what happens when a rebound relationship ends: heartbreak. 

Why someone might want a rebound relationship

People go into rebound relationships for all sorts of reasons, including loneliness, wanting to be distracted, or needing a boost to their self-esteem. They might, in some cases, want to make their ex jealous by showing they’ve moved on.

What kind of rebound relationship is this?

There are two kinds of rebound relationships, generally speaking – emotional, where the focus is on emotional intimacy, and physical, where the focus is, well, on physical intimacy. Neither kind is better or worse than the other, and both have about the same (small) chance of working out. 

Pros and cons of a rebound relationship

While rebound relationships are (almost always) doomed to fail, there are upsides to being in one. A rebound relationship can be a way of dipping your toe back into dating, something fun and temporary with no real commitment. It can also be a chance to learn from past mistakes and what you want in future relationships. A rebound relationship can be a good transition, giving you the opportunity to relearn how to be a boyfriend/girlfriend without pressure.

That said, the majority of rebound relationships fail for good reason. The short break means you’re likely not over your ex, nor have you had the chance to properly grieve. There’s also a strong chance you’re carrying baggage, which isn’t fair to your new partner. Rebound relationships can often distract you from the problems that led to the initial breakup – meaning that it’s easy to put off the work you need to do to make your next serious relationship a success.

Are healthy rebound relationships possible?

While the term ‘healthy rebound relationship’ might seem like an oxymoron, it is possible. The key is to respect your partner and be open and honest in your communications with them. It’s also important to be choosy; a rebound who is better than your ex can improve your self-confidence as well as help you get over them faster.

That said, rebound relationships have their reputation for a reason – it’s easy to make bad choices in the turmoil that follows a breakup. Watch for red flags and if your partner is manipulative or deceptive in any way? Leave.

How to increase the odds of your rebound relationship working

It’s true, many rebound relationships don’t work out – but that’s still a one in 10 chance that yours might. A study also revealed that a rebound relationship may be more beneficial than expected in some cases1 Some rebound relationship tips to increase the odds:

Take it slow                

According to Dr Seth Meyers, clinical psychologist and relationship expert, it’s important to “date slowly and carefully”. Going too fast can lead to a freak-out and possibly even a break-up. So if you want things to last, remember to slow it down.

Keep it in your pants

While rebound relationships are famous for being all about sex, Dr Meyers says “if there were ever a time to delay intimate activity, it should be when you meet someone who just got out of a relationship”. Sex too soon can lead to feeling like you’re being used.

Don’t push for exclusivity

When you’re dating someone who was recently in a committed relationship, pushing for monogamy immediately is a bad idea. Dr Meyers even recommends keeping your dating profile active and agreeing to casual dates until you get to know the other person better.

Types of relationships – Which one fits you best and how do you find it?

Dating can be a variety pack so we explore types of relationships, how to define yours and the general notion of a romantic relationship.

You deserve better odds of success

Rebound relationships are rarely a good idea, but in the right circumstances they can blossom into something deeper. As a rule, it’s best to wait until you’re emotionally healed – at which point there’s eharmony. At eharmony, you’ll find plenty of eligible singles all looking for the same thing you are – an authentic connection. When you’re ready, sign up for eharmony and take your first step on the path to real love.

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