Is It A Rebound Relationship Or The Real Thing?

Are you moving on, or do you want to make your ex jealous?

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Can a rebound relationship last? Here's how to know if it's a rebound or love, according to experts.

Rebound relationships can feel like the real deal, especially since they come at a time when you could use a distraction, aka right after a breakup. They take you from feeling alone and sad, to giddy and connected. But it can be tough to tell if it'll fizzle out, or if the rebound will turn into a long-term relationship.

While there is no real timeline that relationships need to follow, it is important to be self-aware about your dating habits and really evaluate why you’re entering into a new one. Are you lonely, or do you genuinely feel ready to form a new connection? Are you moving on, or do you just want to make your ex jealous? Is it a rebound relationship or a real thing?

Before you get too caught up in your feelings with a new love interest, licensed clinical social worker Laura J. Brito says you’ll want to consider what’s motivating you to jump into a new relationship. “We tend to crave connection, especially after a long-term or emotionally deep relationship, because it feels like the loss of your partner left a void,” she tells Bustle. “You may yearn for others' attention because it may validate that you are still desirable.” So prior to committing to a new relationship that may run a very short course, it’s crucial to be honest about where your emotional health is truly at after a breakup. Below, experts define the idea of a rebound love and how to know if it will last.

What Is A Rebound Relationship?

So what exactly is a rebound relationship? Well, for one popular example: Look at Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson. "Rebound relationships are intense, quick relationships that pop up after your other relationship is over," Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle. "They seem to move really fast and usually have a familiarity to them that is reserved for long-term relationships."

That's why, even though you just got out of a serious relationship, and have only just met this new person, you may find yourself falling for them, spending every night with them, and maybe even making serious plans for the future. "It's like when you and your partner break up after a lot of drama, and suddenly they are marrying the next person they meet or moving in with them inside of a month," she says. "These relationships tend not to last, but can be intense and are usually based on the previous relationships — making yourself feel better, for example."

And that brings up another trait common among rebound relationships; the fact they often happen before you've grieved the end of your old relationship, or given yourself time to be ready to date again, and instead are just looking for a quick way to feel better.

Signs You’re In A Rebound Relationship

If you had a really tough breakup and found yourself dating someone else shortly after, it might be a rebound — especially if you haven’t given yourself time to deal with the pain. "Emotional pain is processed the same in our brains as physical pain, so we often find [a breakup] unbearable, much like a massive migraine or a bone break or sprain," Estepha Francisque, LCSW, LISW, therapist and executive director of Forward Ethos Counseling, tells Bustle. "In the same way we have an immediate urge to relieve these physical pains, we often rush to relieve emotional pain as well, even unconsciously."

Another thing to note: If you’re used to toxic cycles in your dating life, Brito says that those have the potential to carry into this new connection. “You may also feel excessive worry or stress when contemplating spending time with the new person,” she explains. “It may not be the new person at all but rather you’re still hurt about the loss of your ex and are not ready to move on.”

That said, a new relationship can be fun, and you might not be thinking too clearly as you enjoy this new person's company — all things you can certainly do if it feels right, and if it's working for you at the time. But if you're looking for a relationship that'll last beyond those first exciting days, you'll eventually want to step back and see if it has a few other qualities.

How To Know If A Rebound Will Last

The first sign you may be able to stick together? Effective communication, Francisque says, which includes being able to stand up for yourselves, validate each other's feelings, and assert your wants and needs. It's a good sign if the relationship isn't just about having fun 24/7, but about truly connecting and respecting each other.

You might also notice a feeling of genuine intimacy, including sharing deep thoughts, insecurities, hopes, and dreams, Francisque says, as well as sense that you're becoming a real part of each other's lives. Instead of just having a fling, "you find that time with your new partner is becoming an increasingly integral part of your life and schedule," she says, and you want to keep that going.

It's also more likely things will last if you were really and truly over with your ex, long before the breakup. If that was the case, it probably means you had time to process what went wrong and grieve that loss, Trombetti says, thus preparing you for another relationship fresh out of the gates.

It'll help if you were the one who did the breaking up, too, since it's always easier to move on when you aren't feeling hurt, surprised, or abandoned. "It's not to say it doesn't hurt you to end the relationship, but you have come to terms with it," Trombetti says. And that might put you in the right head space to move on with someone else.

For some, moving on quickly can be beneficial — it just takes a whole lot of self-awareness. “Dating soon after a breakup may help us to heal, as long as you are open about where you are in your emotional journey and honest about how much capacity you have for relationships,” says Brito. This honesty shouldn’t only be internal, either. It’s only fair to communicate where you’re really at to your new partner, as well.

Only you will know for sure how you're feeling, and why you sought out this new relationship. But if you notice positive signs, like a genuine connection and good communication, and if you're in it for the right reasons, it very well may have staying power.

Studies referenced:

Lumley, M. (2011). Pain and Emotion: A Biopsychosocial Review of Recent Research. J Clin Psychol.


Laura J. Brito, licensed clinical social worker

Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking

Estepha Francisque, therapist and executive director of Forward Ethos Counseling

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