If you read my blog with any regularity, you know I always advocate the same root principle: There are always rules, and there always exceptions to them. This framework is a good one overall because it allows for flexibility. And it alludes to the fact that some situations should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis rather than sticking to an all-or-nothing rule. When it comes to rebound relationships, they usually do not work and, hence, should not be encouraged or recommended.
However, there are circumstances in which a rebound relationship might work. To begin, let’s define the term. This type of connection is one that you start right after another one ends. Perhaps it’s been a few days or a few weeks since the breakup, and you jump straight into a new relationship with someone else.
Like I said, there’s a slim chance of it making the distance, but are there certain circumstances that give it a shot to be good and healthy? Take a look at these exceptions below and ask yourself if you think a relationship in this situation could actually work for you.
The previous relationship was short-ish.
If you were in a relationship with someone for a few months, it may be okay for you to start another relationship soon after. A few months isn’t nothing, but it’s not a matter of years. If you ended a longer relationship, it is crucial that you take time to be single or else you will almost certainly repeat the same dysfunctional patterns because you haven’t had the time or space to repair your part of the problems. (Keeping it real, we all engage in dysfunctional behaviors in a relationship.)
The previous relationship ended amicably.
I cannot emphasize this point enough. Believe it or not, some relationships actually end amicably. Many relationships, on the other hand, end in a firestorm of drama, as if orange construction cones and a “danger” sign surround the ending. When a relationship ends with hurtful insults, shouting, or lots of crying or bitterness, it’s a sign that this relationship has taken a very negative toll on both of you.
Even if you are the one who wanted to end it, you must understand that you, too, bear a bit of a scar after experiencing the tornado of one or both partners’ negative emotions. However, if your past relationship ended in a drama-free way where you both acted like actual grown-ups, you might be able to get into another relationship soon after because you aren’t weighed down by a raft of negative feelings.
You wanted the previous relationship to end.
This issue is less straightforward so I will describe this scenario as clearly as possible. If you didn’t want a relationship to end and it did, it is a bad idea to start a rebound relationship. Why? Because your self-esteem and your feelings overall are going to be vulnerable, and you are understandably going to be looking for reassurance or romantic rescuing.
The problem is that you are going to need to feel wanted and cared for so much that you will often overlook a basic question: Is this someone I am going to want to be with months or even years from now? Sadly, most men and women in this situation just want to find a new relationship STAT to self-medicate and heal the hurts caused by the previous person ending the old relationship. However, if you left the previous relationship with decent self-esteem and a level head, and you feel hopeful about finding a better relationship, you might be able to make a rebound relationship work.
Before you get serious…
Rebound relationships are not ideal and I don’t recommend them except in a few isolated situations. But if your last relationship was a short one that ended amicably, you may be able to be one of the few people that makes an exception to the no-rebound-relationship rule. Be cautious and remember that you should never feel rushed to find a relationship. A good relationship will come when you feel relaxed and positive.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.