Do Rebound Relationships Ever Work?

Break up And Loss | | Expert Author , Counseling Psychologist
Updated On: June 13, 2023
Do rebound relationships ever work

Dealing with the heartbreak of a past relationship is not very different from dealing with the loss of a loved one. It can truly feel the same. When a relationship ends, you go through the seven stages of grief, even if you are the one who pulled the plug. Sooner or later, you have to deal with a gaping void in your life and feel the need to fill it up with a new relationship. A fling, a casual hookup, a transitional relationship after divorce, or a no-labels relationship – anything that can numb the pain of the heartbreak seems like a good idea. However, before you take the plunge, take a moment to ask, “Do rebound relationships work?”

Jumping into a relationship too fast, hopping on to a new one before you’ve grieved and truly overcome the baggage of the past is what’s commonly referred to as relationship rebounding. And the worst thing about this temporary fix is that not only does it fail at alleviating the pain of the previous breakup, but it also brings more pain on account of being with someone you may not be emotionally invested in, and the eventual end of that connection.

Despite knowing the fate most rebound relationships are met with, it can be hard to resist the temptation when you feel consumed by the pain of heartbreak. The prevalence of these relationships begs the question – do these relationships work, how long after a breakup is considered a rebound, and usually what happens when a rebound relationship ends? In this article, Anushtha Mishra (MSc. Counseling Psychology) with a specialization in trauma, relationships, depression, anxiety, grief, and loneliness, helps us find answers to these.

What Is Rebound Relationship Success Rate?

While it is true no statistics can accurately predict the future of any relationship or if rebound after breakup actually works, research done to understand rebound relationship psychology does offer some insight into human tendencies and behaviors in such situations. When you’re fresh out of a relationship, questions such as if rebound relationships even work, what are the rebound relationship stages, or how long do rebound relationships last on average, aren’t unfounded.

It is only natural that you’d seek refuge in the certainty of statistics and figures to protect your already-skinned heart, falling head over heels for someone new. So then, how often does a rebound relationship work? Well, the statistics on the success rate of rebound relationships aren’t encouraging.

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  • Do rebound relationships work? Research indicates that 90% of rebound relationships end within three months
  • How long does the average rebound relationship last? According to a source, they last between one month and a year, barely making it past the infatuation period or the honeymoon phase that usually starts in the first two months of dating
  • Can they help you get over someone? There is research to support the argument that rebounds help people get over a breakup sooner than those who deal with heartbreak all alone

So it brings us back to asking a lot of questions about whether rushing into a relationship is the right way to start the healing process or whether is it one of the red flags. Like any other aspect of human interactions and relationships, the answer to whether rebound relationships work is also complex and multi-faceted. The simple answer is sometimes, yes, and most often, no. But we should look into the rationale for both. Let’s see when do rebound relationships work and when do they not.

When Do Rebound Relationships Work

So, your heart is broken, you miss your ex badly, and along comes this gorgeous person who wants to give you attention and love and reminds you of what a new beginning feels like. You are tempted to find a new relationship after a long-term relationship. The saying, “The best way to get over somebody is to get with someone else!”, is ringing in your head at this point.

You are now officially questioning, “How long should you stay single after a breakup?” and you are not even considering any of the dangers that a rebound or double rebound relationship of yours can bring with it. You just want to go into this, guns blazing. You, my friend, are about to rebound and rebound hard with this new person

Before you do, it’s a good idea to reflect on the question: Does rebound after breakup ever work? While there’s enough evidence to support that a rebound relationship usually crashes and burns like a doomed spaceship, is there any evidence that suggests otherwise? Let’s dive into it to find out.

Related Reading: Things To Consider Before You Start Dating Again After A Breakup

1. You find support to deal with heartbreak

New research in the field of rebound relationship psychology states that these relationships might work because they can be helpful as a coping mechanism for dealing with heartbreak and moving on to a new relationship. These relationships, even if fleeting, can become a source of strength and comfort fulfilling your emotional needs, in a difficult time. They can help you get over your ex by boosting your self-esteem and reassuring you about the possibility of finding love again.

2. They bring you the comfort of intimacy

Why do some rebound relationships work? It’s for this very reason. One of the things that people miss the most about being in relationships is physical intimacy. Having had someone to hold close to and call yours, being alone can be hard. When two people are in a rebound relationship, they find someone to fill the void left by their former partner. The feeling of emptiness after a sudden breakup can be all-consuming and to stop feeling that way, you may find yourself drunk dancing in a bar hoping to make out with someone.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, it is still you seeking a rebound to feel a sense of intimacy. You may not want to label the relationship with that person yet but you do get someone who will hold you close. That itself is a wonderful feeling, especially when you’re still dealing with the loss of the breakup. It can leave you wondering, “Is it a rebound relationship or real thing?”

Maria, a 29-year-old interior designer, who has had a similar experience, shares, “I was the rebound girl for him (he chose to go out with me because of his ex who started dating 3 months after separation) for almost four years. The sexual chemistry between us was fiery and that made me stay. He was a guy who rushes into a relationship but the comfort of the intimacy brought us together.”

3. You find a partner to lean on

A rebound isn’t typically the way to form an enduring new relationship. But for a fleeting moment, you fancy the idea that you have a partner who can help you cope with the tumultuous time you are going through. Even though you should not go around and try to treat your rebound as your therapist, having someone you can share your feelings and have an emotional connection with definitely helps.

Whether it’s crying to them after work or just getting slushies and sitting in a parking lot, people find that a rebound relationship can indeed bring them a lot of comfort even if it’s just been a few months since the breakup. Also, unless it’s their first relationship (ouch!), your partner will have insight into the post-breakup feelings and can offer you support when you most need it.

Related Reading: How To Get Through A Breakup Alone?

4. You become invested in the relationship

A relationship with a new person can be a good distraction, and may even turn into a long-term relationship eventually. It may be rare – in fact, it is very rare but a rebound relationship can work out in the long term if you want it to. But that happens only when you become emotionally invested in the new partner and go through all the rebound relationship stages together headstrong. 

Do rebounds make you miss your ex more? Give yourself enough time to reflect on this and if the answer to this question is no, then you have the first key ingredient of making the rebound successful with an authentic emotional attachment. A few signs you can look out for in yourself to assess this are,

  • You are prioritizing the relationship
  • You feel content
  • You both have developed certain levels of trust
  • There is personal growth

Slowly but surely, you can build a strong, lasting relationship on this foundation.

When Do Rebound Relationships Not Work

The rebound relationship success rate is minimal but not nil. They exist for a reason, and for them to serve their purpose, they must be handled in the right spirit and manner. So, what are the keystones of a rebound that can help you cruise through one?

But when the delicate balance of these elements goes out of the window, it becomes one of the reasons why rebound relationships don’t work. That’s when you need to start pondering the dangers of a bounce-back relationship. Here are some scenarios where a rebound relationship does not work:

1. You’re not being fair

A new relationship can be a wonderful experience, it truly is. It can help you heal and make you feel whole again. It might even make you believe in love again! But all that can only happen if that’s what you truly want. Do rebounds make you miss your ex more? A majority of people answer that question in the affirmative. That itself is a sign that you’re still not over your ex and most probably don’t want to be over them. In this situation, you’re being unfair to yourself and your new partner.

John, who was deeply in love with his girlfriend of two months found out recently that she is still not over her past relationship and has decided to cut ties with him. He disappointedly says, “I was a rebound guy and got dumped. It wasn’t fair for me and it affected my self-esteem.” Needless to say, these situations lead to a host of issues that your rebound will not be able to weather.

Related Reading: 8 Ways To Fix A Broken Relationship With Your Boyfriend

2. You’re projecting past issues

Does a rebound relationship help you move on? Do rebound relationships work? Well, not if you’re jumping into a relationship too fast loaded with the baggage of your past, and can’t help projecting your issues with your ex on your current partner. This definitely is one of the six stages of monkey branching and is also considered one of the major red flags in a relationship.

To make a rebound truly work, you have to free yourself from the clutches of your past. And that’s usually harder to do when you haven’t worked through the emotional trauma of the breakup. Some signs that you are projecting past issues onto your partner are,

  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Overreacting
  • Often comparing
  • Repeating patterns

Since you’ve just gotten out of a relationship and not even taken the proper time to heal from it, it is especially challenging to not let your past experience hurt your present relationship. That is why, it is advised that even when in a rebound relationship, you try to take it slow. There’s no need to start saying “I love you” too quickly or meet each other’s parents. Otherwise, it just might be a disaster waiting to unfold.

3. One of the reasons why rebound relationships don’t work is you’re going too fast

You break up, you find a new partner, you start dating, you commit, you’re now exclusive and before you know it, you’re thinking about your future with this person. If a rebound progresses at such dizzying speeds, where you are rushing into a relationship and jumping from one relationship to another, it is bound to crash and burn at some point.

At this point, instead of wondering, “Do rebound relationships work?” or “Do guys marry the rebound girl or vice versa?”, you need to ask yourself why you’re diving straight in when you’re barely over your ex. When you move quickly from one relationship to a new relationship, the baggage spills over.

When that happens, a rebound relationship is doomed to fail. Even if you get into a rebound, take the time to resolve your past feelings and prepare for a future before taking any unsustainable leaps, which you know you will not be able to commit to anyway. 

Rebound relationships and more

4. You’re looking for a replacement

Your new partner is not a replacement for your ex. And they never will be. A rebound relationship is doomed to break your heart even more if you’re seeking a replacement for your ex rather than a partner to embark on a new journey with. If you’re always comparing your current relationship to your last one, your present partner to your ex, and checking boxes where one fares better than the other, then you’re not ready to move on from a broken relationship and the rebound will be short-lived.

Owing to this, many people even find themselves in double rebound relationships, hurting themselves and making the same mistakes over and over again. If you do tend to do that, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and reassess what you want from your life. A rebound relationship might bring you fleeting excitement but if you are looking for a relationship that lasts, or a serious relationship, this is not the answer. Dealing with your feelings is what sets you on the healing process.

Related Reading: 5 Shocking Rebound Relationship Stories You Must Read

What Happens When A Rebound Relationship Ends?

When the rebound relationship comes to a sudden and abrupt halt just after a few months because of the reasons stated above, you find yourself confused for a while and then reach out for a tub of ice cream to cry over your second breakup in six months. Yes, it sounds harsh but that is indeed the very truth. Cinderella is back from the ball, into her jammies, and weeping in her bed because the fairytale of the perfect relationship is over. You come back to reality and ask yourself, “How long do rebound relationships last on average?”, and you conclude, not long enough.

It’s heartbreaking, it really is, but now is the time that you finally realize that you perhaps have been fooling yourself all along. Did you really want to be with this person? Or did you get carried away in the fun of it all? It is probably the latter. And that’s what hurts most when the rebound relationship is over. That you had been lying to yourself instead of dealing with your emotions more truthfully and constructively.

Key Pointers

  • Rebound relationships may help you forget about your ex in the short run, but can have dangerous consequences in the long run
  • Your emotional baggage from the last relationship will often spill over in the rebound relationship
  • Rebound relationships make you dive in too fast into a new relationship, which often only ends in a disaster
  • It is better to deal with your feelings honestly than to use someone else as an escape
  • Do rebound relationships work? They barely ever do. Even if they will, it will be for a short amount of time
  • Taking time for yourself and exploring your feelings after a breakup is the best way to deal with it

Some rebounds are brief and fleeting and some may give you your longest, most sturdy relationships. So does a rebound relationship ever work? Only if you are very, very lucky. Too many people end up getting hurt and too many Instagram accounts get blocked in the process. If you’re having a rough time understanding how to get over heartbreak and move on, it is always more helpful to seek professional help from a therapist. Luckily for you, Bonobology’s skilled panel of counselors is only a click away.

This post was updated in June 2023


1. Why do rebound relationships feel like love?

A bounce-back relationship or a rebound only feels like love because you are so desperately seeking that love and the idea of a happy relationship. After a breakup, the need to be comforted is high and one is unable to deal with the void that comes with being single. That’s what draws people into rebound relationships.

2. Do rebound relationships help you move on?

Maybe in 1 out of 10 cases. More often than not, the dangers of rebound relationships are far greater than the benefits. Initially, since you end up spending all your time with this new person in a brand-new relationship, you fall for the lie that you are moving on. But soon enough, the dream will end and you might realize that that was not true. However, it’s important to note that not everyone feels the same way. Idiosyncrasies of experiences play a huge role.

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