Avoiding the Rebound

By Robin Ellis

I am certain we all remember our first love, whether it ended happily or disastrously. I personally have memories of assuring everyone that we would marry, have a dozen children, and live happily ever after in our home, with rocking chairs on the porch and a white picket fence surrounding our little slice of heaven. Well…not so much, which was in actuality a good thing, since we were teenagers at the time. Knowing so little of the world when the relationship ended, I went through a short – very short – period of believing that my love life was over forever, at the ripe old age of eighteen. In less than a month, another boy asked me out and I leapt headfirst into a new relationship, ignoring my still bruised and battered teenage heart. When I introduced him to my always sweet and kind grandmother, she was more reserved than usual. I questioned her later and she told me simply, “Honey, he is your Rebound Boy.” I was rendered speechless. I wanted to argue but Grandma knew me well and also carried more wisdom in her pinky finger than I had in my entire body. Sure enough, Grandma was right.

A rebound relationship can be defined as one that begins shortly after a previous relationship has ended, but prior to tying up all of the emotional loose ends that are waving in the wind. It makes sense. Break-ups can be heart-wrenching experiences that carry side effects such as depression, loss of self-esteem, and roller coasters of negative feelings…all of which need to be resolved before a person can truly move on. It is typical to want to seek comfort in someone new, but is this healthy? A rebound relationship is nothing more or less than a distraction from evaluating what went wrong and what you need from a future partner. When you are in the midst of a rebound, the relationship has absolutely nothing to do with you and the new person. It is still all about the ex, whether you realize it or not. So why jump into the rebound? It could be to simply take your mind off your pain. In many cases, it is all about revenge and sticking it to the ex! These reasons are unfair to the new person as they are basically being used as a tool.

How do we know if we have leapt into a rebound relationship? Ask yourself a few questions. Are you clinging to someone you normally wouldn’t? Perhaps you are now dating someone who, while perfectly nice, you have absolutely nothing in common with him. How often are you talking about your former partner? Even if it is in an insulting manner, that person is still obviously on your mind. How long has it been since your previous relationship ended? If it was serious and ended less than three months ago, you are probably looking for someone to help you deal with your break-up. Once you get to the point of being over your previous partner, you may realize that you are over this new person, too. They served their purpose and you don’t need them anymore. That sounds cruel, and it is, but many of us do this unconsciously, not intending to hurt someone.

To avoid such a toxic relationship, it is vital to take the time to grieve your loss before moving forward. Your heart’s wounds need to heal before you can gain the discernment to choose another possible partner. Come to understand why the relationship did not work, accept your own mistakes, learn and grow…and only then take the steps involved in moving on. This is appropriate for any relationship that ends. Losing a friend can be more painful than losing a romantic partner at times. Instead of jumping into a coffee date with a new “BFF,” deal with the feelings involved in losing your friend. Otherwise, you may end up in the same old pattern, like a hamster running in its wheel. Whether it is a friendship or a romance, heed this quote by Jonathan Carroll: “You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover’s arms can only come later when you’re sure they won’t laugh if you trip.”