Ah, the rebound relationship. Too often, it's "out of the frying pan and into the fire."
Why are we so vulnerable when a serious relationship ends? Why do we sometimes jump right into another? Are we most susceptible to do so after divorce – and how can we protect ourselves from moving from one heartbreak to another?
The rebound relationship can be dangerous territory for the newly divorced woman… or man. We may be feeling insecure when it comes to our self-worth, our sexuality, and our value on the “secondary dating market.”
We may not look before we leap, or we imagine feelings that aren’t reciprocated. We may cling to an unhealthy new relationship because we haven’t yet healed from the old. So we need to understand what the rebound relationship is all about.
Definition of the Rebound Relationship
When you’re on the rebound, it is assumed that you are...
“psychologically incapable of making reasonable decisions regarding suitable partners due to emotional neediness, lingering feelings towards the old partner, or unresolved problems from the previous relationship.”
In other words, the rebound relationship is characterized by some or all of the following:
- Brief period since the breakup or first emotional relationship since the breakup
- Transference of unresolved feelings since the breakup
- Emotional vulnerability, desire to be distracted from pain, belief that one love cures the pain of another, fear of being alone
And don’t forget – you may have taken the time you need to learn from your mistakes and grieve your terminated marriage, but what if you’re dating someone who is newly divorced? Pay attention to whether or not you are the rebound relationship for the person you’re involved with.
Signs of the Rebound Relationship
If you’re looking for specific signs of the rebound relationship, here are some of the top indicators that should give you pause and encourage you to take your time:
- Expecting your new romantic partner to be your “knight in shining armor”
- Expecting your new partner to make up for the shortcomings of the last
- The relationship is moving too fast: too much, too soon
- Feeling yourself caught up in falling in love, as a way to mask the pain of breakup
Again, be sure to note if the person you’re seeing is on the rebound – recently divorced or out of a long-term relationship. Personally, this is one of the reasons that I learned to date those at a similar stage in the post-divorce process.
Newly divorced? You might benefit from dating someone who also has the need to talk about what he has recently been through. Four years down the line? The last thing you want is to rehash old grievances that you’ve put into a broader perspective over time.
My Rebound Relationship Experience
In my own experience, I’ve lived several “transitional” relationships. In other words, I was gradually learning from and distancing myself from destructive traits in the men I attracted and the familiarity that I felt in dealing with them.
Not long after I began dating after divorce, I found myself in love with a man who could not have been more different than my ex. His fine qualities were all I allowed myself to see, as I threw myself into a relationship that had serious issues.
But I was hungry for his attentiveness. I was blissful in his capacity for emotional intimacy. I fell hard and fast, and was heartbroken when the relationship ended, though I knew it had no long term future. Yet I remain grateful for the lessons I learned – and, that we did not rush foolishly into remarriage.
In other words, “heartbreak” won’t kill you! You can and will love again after divorce, but vulnerability can certainly encourage distorted judgment.
Can the rebound relationship become something solid and endure? It certainly can happen, but you need to take the time necessary to be sure it’s more than momentary magic or a tempting transition.