Why rebound relationships are not a good idea

Why rebound relationships are not a good idea

A rebound relationship as most of us know is a short-term, commitment-free relationship that people may get into soon after breaking up from a previously long-term relationship. Urban Dictionary, one of the most significant representatives of popular culture in cyberspace, shows some interesting definitions for a rebound, such as:

  • Going from one relationship to the next right away to avoid the pain of a breakup
  • Hooking up with someone shortly after being dumped (by someone else) so that you still feel wanted.
  • A rebound is someone who you date/go out with to keep yourself busy and you use him/her to keep your mind off your ex who you still have feelings for.

We all know at least one person, if not ourselves, who went through a phase post break up where they were on a rebound. And to state the obvious, rebounds may not last – as they aren’t meant to!

There are a number of possible reasons as to why rebounds happen, or are tempting at least. Here are a few:

  1. Uncertainty & anxiety: Rebounds help people avoid uncomfortable feelings about the loss of a relationship that was once significant. These uncomfortable feelings include the anxiety of a sudden uncertainty that looms large over one’s vision of one’s own romantic life.
  2. Instantaneous gratification: Rebounds can be instantaneously, if also temporarily, rewarding, because they help you escape that very looming sense of uncertainty.
  3. Filling a void: Soon after the end of a relationship, many people find themselves immediately getting into another for the simple need to have someone to love and get love from, constantly.

While these reasons or causes to find one’s self in a rebound are very subjective and even valid because they provide a sense of relief in the midst of pain and loss, needless to say, the relief is temporary and not necessarily healthy. You may think you’re busy distracting yourself with a new partner (and the accompanying excitement and hope), but sooner than later, those uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, grief, anger and regret are likely to catch up on you. Similarly, you may also start to realize that your need to constantly be with someone sprouts from fears such as that of being alone and having to deal with the realities of life all by yourself.

On the other hand, being with someone on the rebound can have a similar set of repercussions. Supposing you are with someone who has only recently gotten out of a relationship, you may or may not be certain that your partner is really over their ‘ex’. But while you’re with someone who is on the rebound, you’re probably of the view that when your partner is finally over their ex, you would be rewarded for your support with a real relationship. The catch here is, in this process of waiting and hoping, you are avoiding your own feelings too. Besides, being in a relationship of this nature is also dangerous because your partner may perceive that you possibly cannot be serious about this relationship because you’ve been OK with their “preoccupation”.

So, what do you do to avoid the rebound trap?

If you are just out of a relationship that was once significant, there are a few things you could keep in mind to be able to recover the loss in a healthy way. The first, as usual, is awareness. Understanding and knowing that the ending of a relationship is an emotionally taxing experience, and that it has its own cycle of grieving is an essential step towards recovering from it.  This also includes giving yourself the time to recover. The time you take to completely recover may depend on how long the relationship lasted, and the intensity of the experiences within the relationship.

Most importantly, whether you’re the one who is just out of a relationship, or are seeing someone who is, avoiding this trap comes essentially by asking yourself some important questions.

If you find yourself gravitating towards ‘distraction’, or wanting to be someone’s distraction, it might help to ask yourself if you’re trying to fill some kind of a void by jumping into something you don’t really care about, or something that’s unrewarding.

  • Are you distracting yourself with someone because it is too painful to face the loss and regret?
  • Is this sense of escape worth risking someone else’s feelings and expectations?
  • If you’re with someone who is making you wait till they are over their ex, is this ‘wait’ helping you escape some of your own insecurities about yourself?

Asking yourself such questions is never easy, and is most likely to be as painful as going through a break-up itself. But these questions are just as likely to direct you towards the awareness of what these needs are, that you’re trying to fulfill through a pseudo-relationship. And the awareness, as cannot be reiterated enough, is probably the most essential ingredient in making a complete and healthy recovery from the loss of an old relationship.