How To Know If It’s a Rebound Relationship or Real Love – 6 Effortless Ways To Distinguish Between the Two
“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
Deciphering whether or not you are in a rebound relationship or truly in a lasting, loving relationship can be challenging. There are some themes that continue to show up when a person is in a rebound relationship in my clinical practice.
These have included, but are not limited to:
- You find this new person annoying for relatively small things or conversely, they’re like a drug and you just can’t get enough of them
- If you’re still talking with an ex in an effort to find closure
- Your thoughts seem consumed by what this ex is doing without you or somehow you find a way to continually bring them up in conversation
- Difficulty making a decision on your own
- Being very physically connected, but not really emotionally present
- Not introducing them to your friends
- You’re always comparing them to your ex
- You ignore the possible red flags that your friends can clearly see
- If the relationship is being used as an analgesic to dull the loss of a past relationship
When there is real love, there is an ease present. It may not be perfect, but it feels right.
There is no hiding of your flaws and it feels safe to be vulnerable. There’s no feeling of needing to change something or anything about the person that you love. It doesn’t feel like you’re shoving a square peg into a round hole. You no longer think that “maybe someone better will come along.” You think about planning a future together. You find someone who compliments you. You don’t have a need to be “completed”.
It is important to process after a relationship has ended.
Experiment with new interests. Take yourself out on some dates. Take an art or dance class. Traveling alone can be so freeing. Cultivate a closer, more positive relationship with yourself. You cannot end the relationship with yourself.
In time, the pain of ending a relationship will fade. You will still have to look in the mirror. Get comfortable in your skin. Be sure that you know the person who is staring back at you with love, genuine curiosity and gentleness.
Julissa M. Almonte, LCSW, MT-BC – www.jpinspiretherapy.com
Rebound relationships are those that happen after the ending of a romantic relationship in a considerable short period of time.
You may want to ask yourselves if the man is in a rebound relationship or in it for the real deal.
If you find yourself dating a rebounder ask yourself these questions:
- Is he showing emotional attachment or is it pretty clear he is filling a void?
- Is he showing anger and hostility towards his ex? If so, it is pretty clear it is a rebound relationship because he is clearly still in love.
- How is he showing you emotional attachment? He may not be and that indicates he is trying to just get over the other woman.
- Does he have marked fear of being rejected by you and doing everything to prevent it.
Men who are on the rebound aren’t doing so out of spite but in attempt to heal past wounds.
A rebound relationship doesn’t mean he can’t be emotionally available to you; however he is trying to substitute what he lost. Be on the lookout for narcissists who bound from relationship to relationship in an attempt to fill the void of the previous relationship. It will only cause you more heartache.
Rebounders usually seek to find women who give them the attention they crave (usually for an ego boost). If you are giving more of your time to him than he is to you, this isn’t a relationship being built on love.
Men who are not good candidates such as meeting all of your criteria on that job application need not apply! If he is out for a one night stand every time he contacts you—it is only a rebound. He is purposefully not being emotionally available. All he is attempting to do is boost his emotional strength and get over his feelings while hurting yours. Time to move on!
Here are some other clues the relationship is a rebound:
- He is emotionally available and then he isn’t.
- The connection is totally empty or totally too deep.
- He has ex fixation and you are on that ride!
- He is totally wanting a long term relationship but you’ve only known each other a week.
Danelle Hollenbeck, M.S., LMHC – www.empathycounseling.com
Most partners who commit to each other intend for their relationship to last and to grow deeper over time.
Sadly, many do not. More often than not, one partner wants to leave while the other is still committed.
When an intimate relationship that was once sacred ends unevenly, both partners often suffer, albeit in a different way.
The partner who still cares about his or her prior love is likely to feel guilt and remorse for causing pain to the other. He or she might, out of respect, intend to refrain from dating right away, but, too often, a new relationship is at the crux of the reason for the premature ending of the other, and that period of grace doesn’t happen.
Those emotional triangles tend to lengthen the grief of the partner who has been left behind.
If that partner didn’t want, or didn’t expect, the relationship to end, he or she may be demoralized or diminished by how the relationship ended and is often buried in self-doubt, feelings of failure, and fear of new love being forever elusive.
Broken hearts and damaged self-esteems can easily drive abandoned partners to seek new relationships while still grieving the loss of the others.
Thus, the motivation emerges for a rebound relationship.
In this age of more sequential monogamous commitments, relationships tend to start and end more often. And, even though relationship seekers are more willing to see the ending of one relationship and the beginning of the next one less as a measure of failure, they still ache for true, long-lasting love.
When each hopeful relationship end, that dream takes a dip, leaving the dreamer susceptible to the dreams of another.
If you are the partner suffering the heartbreak of a lost relationship, you are extremely vulnerable in the dating world. Your need to find a substitute partner to help you through your sorrow can easily mask your good judgment as to whether that person will still be what you want later. You won’t want to tell your current partner that you are still missing you ex, but you just can’t be fully open to that new commitment when the past holds on.
Patients in these situations often say things to me like,
“He’s still stuck to me all over. I keep comparing this new person to the one who still owns my heart. I’m trying with everything I have to just be in the moment, but the past haunts me every day.” Or,
“I find myself saying things to my new date that are totally inappropriate. We haven’t even been dating a month, and I know I’m making myself too available and telling her how amazing she is. I hope she doesn’t get it that she’s in competition with that ghost in my mind.”
If you’re still hurting over your lost love, you may think your new relationship is just between you and your current partner.
It’s important to recognize that you’re dancing inside a triangle, going back and forth in your mind and heart between who you still wish you were with, and the person you’re currently involved with, comparing and contrasting every characteristic and behavior between the one you are with and the one who left you abandoned and bereft.
Yes, of course it would be absolutely better for you to fully heal before you venture out again.
You know that it would be better to hang out with people who truly love you, do things that regenerate you physically and emotionally, and participate in helping others. Those are the rational ways to heal more quickly.
Sadly, that is not what most human beings do.
Living in a state of loving and being loved is harder to leave behind, especially when the relationship has developed multiple dimensions amongst friends and family and a history of sacred moments. If you’ve recently lost that sense of being part of something bigger than self, you are likely to feel so lonely that any new relationship can look better than it will ultimately be able to sustain.
Some rebound relationships do turn out to be successful, but most do not.
People in grief cannot possibly be at their best. Even if they try their best to be present, open, and to fully engage with a new person, their hearts, minds, and souls, are preoccupied. They are also very susceptible to attracting rescuers, only to find out later they do not want to pay the price of indebtedness understandably asked of them later.
Also, a person getting involved with a broken and abandoned person runs the risk of being that temporary haven, often losing the person later to the ex-partner reentering the scene, or seeing their new love, now healed, wanting to move on.
So, what are the answers?
As many as there are individuals. There are just too many variables, and it turns out that each person has a unique response to his or her situation. Most often, people experiencing loss have practiced certain behaviors during other times of heartbreak that are unique to that person.
Under stress, most of us simply rely on what we’ve done before, even if it isn’t the best solution. “Learning to swim while you’re drowning” isn’t easy for most. Even though it is best to do what will make the next relationship better, people tend to respond in ways that are familiar unless they learn from the current loss and prepare for the next one.
All relationships end at some time, whether by the end of life, or the end of a relationship’s life, determined by one or both partners.
If people go into each new relationship determined to fully experience it while it lasts, stay open and courageous in taking risks and being totally authentic, and staying true to one’s own values and ethics, they are more likely to recognize whether a relationship is enlivened and growing, or beginning to deteriorate. They are also more likely to know whether they, or their partners, are still fully in the game, and to head off unexpected destruction before it gets going.
When relationship partners are comfortable enough with each other to talk about waning desires or interests, they may still have the time to repair and regenerate before the relationship ends.
If not, they are rarely surprised or unprepared when it does end. Those are the people who are most likely to not only stay friends after a breakup, but to help each other navigate new relationships with more success. Rebound relationships too often get in the way of the kind of healing that promotes ongoing and continuous success in learning how to create relationships in the future that are more likely to last.
I’ve written more than 100 articles for Psychology Today Internet Blogs. Some of the following may further help, but please feel free to peruse them:
Dating Man who is Separated but not Divorced
Should you Rush Into a Relationship?
How to End a Relationship When Your Partner Still loves you?
10 Questions to help you tell if you’re Ready to Commit
Touch and Go Relationships – Do they have to be Superficial?
10 Important Questions you should ask a potential partner
When is it time to let a Relationship go?
How can Romantic Love Transform into Long-term Intimacy?
Should I date this person again?
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
There may be no real way to know if the relationship you’re in now is real or a rebound.
And honestly, it may not matter all that much. If you’re happy and you feel the relationship is good for you and you are moving in the right direction, that’s all that matters.
The reason most people are worried about being on the rebound is usually that you haven’t finished with the last relationship and you’re bringing old problems into the new one. That is concerning.
So how do you know if you’ve dealt with your past?
The best answer to that question is another question:
- Are you all in?
- Are you really doing this new relationship with all of you?
- Are you ready to be vulnerable with another person at the risk of being hurt?
- Are you focusing your time and energy on this new relationship or do you still have one foot in the past and still check up on your ex on social media or through his friends?
Can you see a future here, or are you just getting by?
The answers to those questions will allow you to see what kind of a relationship you’re embarking on now.
Rebound relationships are great for a lot of reasons. Maybe you need to feel sexy and cared for but you’re not ready to take real risks again.
Maybe you’ve forgotten what it’s like to date because you were partnered up for a while.
Maybe you want to see what’s out there because you’ve never really explored that in the past.
Maybe you need a fun relationship with no strings attached so you can figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life and you don’t want someone else around who will influence that.
Real love happens when you’re ready for it.
And you’ll be ready exactly when you are – no sooner. If you have really finished with your past, you’ll be ready.
After a relationship ends, we often need time to reconsider decisions we’ve made.
It’s not unusual to discover that some of the goals you’ve been working towards no long make sense to you. You may develop a new career path or a new path in other areas of your life. You may realize you have been holding yourself back from doing things you previously enjoyed because your partner wasn’t into them.
It might be time to focus on you and who you are now with more experience and more ideas of who you’d like to be now. Starting a new relationship before you know these things is more than likely a rebound.
Be patient with yourself.
You may feel as if you’ve wasted a lot of time in your previous relationship and really want to get something going. Get going on yourself. Develop you instead of a new love. The new love will come when you have found a way back to yourself again.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
What is real love?
You can describe it as a feeling that you know you found Mr. Right. He has all the qualities you are looking for and you can be yourself and feel accepted. He makes you feel special and #1 in his life.
You share many of the same interests, values and philosophies that are important to you. You trust and respect him for being there and he is someone you feel comfortable talking to and sharing. That is real, true love.
The problem is that sometimes if you lose this love because of a breakup, death, divorce or other loss, you miss not having it.
So, the next person you meet becomes your surrogate love, to replace what you have lost. That is love on the rebound.
The key is to be aware of how much time you truly need before you get into another relationship.
- Are you ready to give of yourself again and risk being vulnerable to the “ups and downs” of this new partnership?
- Are you comfortable spending time with someone new when your thoughts are on your old love?
- Can you plan for the future with a guy who is not the love you lost?
These questions need to be addressed and if you are honest, you will see that you didn’t clear out the old baggage from your past before starting this new relationship.
After all, your previous relationship may have left you with some unresolved issues and anxiety, reducing your confidence. Ignoring the situation doesn’t work. It always comes back to haunt you. So, it’s time to examine your relationship to understand how the past is creating chaos in your current romantic life. It’s best to learn from your past… by not reliving it!
So, feel sad, angry, bitter, hurt, resentful or disillusioned, but acknowledge those emotions so you can work on getting past them.
If you suppress them, they will show up somewhere else and cause you problems.
When you identify your emotions and understand them, the triggers that elicit those emotions will no longer be charged.
In fact, you feel nothing at all, and that neutrality is good, if you want to move on to a new relationship.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Relationships are considered to be a “rebound”, when there has not been a sufficient amount of time between the new relationships and the old one.
Nobody has ever calculated what is a sufficient amount of time to wait before entering into a new relationship. Some people will tell you a year, some two years. There is no real consensus, probably because people differ and circumstances differ to such a degree that it’s hard to get a norm. Even if you did have a norm, it doesn’t mean that it will necessarily apply to you.
I think rather than a specified amount of time, it’s important to look at certain emotional markers in determining when it’s safe to get involved.
Most people would agree that using a new relationship to get over an old one is a recipe for disaster. Until you have really left your last relationship, not just physically but emotionally and intellectually, a new relationship has no chance to establish itself based on its own merits.
When you have recovered from whatever pain or anger you suffered from your last relationship, you can start thinking about a new relationship.
However, it’s not just the emotional fallout that you have to get over. You also need to examine the old relationship and try to identify what went wrong. It takes two people to start a relationship and it take those same two people to cause its demise. It’s so tempting to blame the partner, and sometimes he really does deserve a lot of the blame! However, you picked him and it’s important to know what factors went into making such a bad choice.
Anyone can misjudge a person; but when you’ve gone beyond a couple of dates and committed to that person, there are no accidents. Not figuring out your relationship dynamics leaves you vulnerable to making the same mistakes over and over.
While a new partner is and should be really exciting, you need to be able to think.
This is true of any relationship, rebound or not. Be honest with yourself.
- Do you feel ready to commit to a new partner?
- Do you have the insight you need to not make the same mistakes you’ve made in the past?
- Have you lived on your own long enough to know that you’re capable of doing it?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then it’s probably time to get back on that horse. Best wishes for a happy relationship future!
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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