In Defense of Rebound Relationships

What They Are and How to Get What You Want from Them

What I’m about to say could cost my Lady Card. It’s on par with the type of blasphemous behavior that’ll get your buddies revoke your Man Card. Committing high treason against all womankind by condoning and encouraging rebound relationships breaks all 10 of the Feminists’ Commandments.

Look, I’ve been there. On both sides. I was a rebound. And I’ve had some. I don’t have a problem with them. Other women largely deny ever participating in (what some may call) such a demeaning notion. I don’t see it that way. But I wouldn’t go shouting out like the town crier either. My past is my business. And if it helps struggling dudes navigate the ins and outs of post-committal-non-committal life, then my Lady Card can stay gone for all I care.


Most members of my gender will deny that they’ve had or have been the rebound-ee in one or more rebound relationships all day long. Why do most chicks outright lie about it? Society places undue expectations on women. Double standards are to blame here.

Elite Daily once claimed, “Rebounding Is The Cruelest Thing Men Can Do To Women.” For as long as women are made to feel victimized, it’s going to have a stigma behind it. For crying out loud, women are often the rebound-ers.

Now, I get that there are instances in which men genuinely use women. They lead them on all the while their minds, hearts, and emotions are firmly locked on their exes. Playing with someone’s mind that way is vile. I would know! So if you’ve done that to someone, I’m here to vouch for the whole, “…cruelest thing you’ve ever done…” jazz being spot on.

Defining Rebound Relationships

When handled correctly, rebound relationships are different from the game playing crap I described above. (Again, seriously, it’s mean!) Rebound relationships revolve around expectations.

The term was officially coined in the 1830s by the English author and playwright, Mary Russell Mitford when she wrote, “…nothing so easy as catching a heart on a rebound.” Someone “on the rebound,” as it were, is believed to lack the mental fortitude to reasonably choose a suitable new mate due to their emotional baggage resulting from a breakup.

Generally, such relationships don’t tend to last long.

In 2006, a study out of Princeton University researched the “rebound effect” by conducting a study. The results? The scientists found no evidence supporting the existence such an effect. I’m not one to argue with science. But, I’ve lived it. It’s real.

When Rebound Relationships are Good for You

Relationships operate under the “The Consenting Adults” rule of thumb. As long as both people know what they’re getting into, what their expectations are, and what the relationship is really about, then, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing rebound relationships.

They can provide a broken heart with a much-needed distraction from the aches and stings of breakups. While it’s important to process discomforts due to the loss of an important relationship, taking a break from the depression can provide healing benefits.

Think about what the benefit is for your to pursue it. Then don’t hide or lie about your past. Be real about what you’ve been through and where you want to be. Be honest with yourself and your partner about what you’re after.

If you can learn to be happy in your own skin without having someone around, chances are you’ll probably benefit from a rebound. Generally, they aren’t a good idea until you’ve reached this stage of the breakup process.

When Rebound Relationships are Crap for You

Why do rebound relationships have such a bad rep if they’re helpful? Because people often hurt others as a result of their selfish need to medicate their internal, emotional pain. I don’t think anyone ever intends to hurt anyone. But in the first few moments of a breakup, all you feel is a deep longing for your former partner. It doesn’t go away easily.

People tend to get into rebounds full of emotional baggage. A dubious chain reaction begins when they dump their emotions on others only to split from them soon after.

Lonely? Get a dog. Rebounds shouldn’t be used as an excuse to have companionship. Consider the other person’s feelings. Being willing to explore helpful distractions can help, but be careful what you do to people!

Don’t expect rebound relationships to replace the person you lost. There’s only one you, right? And there’s only one love you lost. It will never exist again. Anything you have with anyone else won’t ever be like it. Don’t even try.

Disparities in the amount of energy each is putting into the rebound get felt and are sensed easily (especially by women). Don’t put in more than you’re willing to get back. If you feel that she’s putting in more than you are, and you’re not willing to meet her, say something about it. The last thing you should do is break someone’s heart.

When you enter into rebound relationships with expectations, you set yourself up for disaster. Think it through. Don’t adjust yours or make it okay for her to do so. Stick to your rules and maintain an honest dialog.

How to Pull Off the Perfect Rebound

Years of a love life well lived have taught me that there is indeed a right way and wrong way to have a rebound. It all boils down to expectations.

No matter how you meet your rebound, establish rules from the get-go. Don’t wait for the right time to explain who you are, and what you’re about. You’re not looking for (nor are you in any kind of mental state to deal with) a serious relationship. Say so!

Your rules should include an easy way to get out of the rebound when either one of you is ready. And it should be a no-feelings-hurt-and-I-wish-you-the-best kind of thing. Anything else, will only sour each of you and send you back onto the search for yet another rebound.

Be honest! <–Note the exclamation point. It’s important. Reveal some of your story. Talk about some of your drama. Rebounds are not who you unload on. Therapists and counselors are great for that. Your rebound should be someone you only have a great time with. No more.

Make clear your emotional unavailability. You just ended a deep and profound relationship. Even if you’re taking it well, you’re not in any state to pick up and try again. Don’t think or pretend you are.

See other people. Hang out with friends. But (HEED my words) be honest about it. Give the new gal in your life a heads up when you want to hang out. Make actual plans. Don’t pop up at her place expecting a booty call! Check in, and go from there.

When It’s Likely to Turn Into a Real Relationship

A message board I recently checked said that something like four out of five rebound relationships ends as quickly as it started. The remaining one in the group of five makes it the distance. While the odds are 80% not in your favor, there are times when it does happen.

The Spontanaety Myth is the belief that good, long-lasting relationships only begin spontaneously – as in when you’re not expecting them. I believe that. Every meaningful relationship I’ve had happened when I wasn’t expecting it. I won’t claim I was ready for anything that came after. But in the beginning, I didn’t think the new people I had met at the time (respectively) were going to be around any longer than a few months.

But I also forged a long-lasting relationship with someone I started a rebound with. We eventually married and built a crazy life together. But you already know that story.

They don’t last. It’s the nature of something that fueled by energy – energy from your split, from your sadness, from your strife. It’s a fire that burns itself out quickly.

Give it six months before you start looking. These are the ones that tend to make it. It doesn’t seem long. But truly, if you’re going to start a rebound, that’s the time to do it.

You might be on your way there if she’s matching the amount of energy you’re putting in. Don’t discount this as just a part of what you agreed to do if it’s been happening consistently. Give it a few months. Then, ask her about where she thinks you are. If you care that much about it, you’re not bored. That’s always a good sign.

Final Thoughts

Rebound relationships are a thing. They’re a thing you should think about. While they won’t do any more than mask your emotional pain, it’s a neat distraction. One you might need more than you know.

Your rebound won’t make you feel less lonely. And you’ll never replace your ex. Set your rules and expectations, and watch how much energy you’re putting in. Don’t agonize over anything. Jealousy won’t help anyone at this point. So be real about what you want. Then, let her explore what’s out there. If she should meet someone she’s entranced with, let go. And be nice about it.

If you’re willing to be honest, you’ll have a great time with your rebound. And you’ll help temporarily medicate some of your ache.

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