What you need to know before you get into a rebound relationship

If you find yourself in a relationship with a rebound, ask the hard questions.  

What you need to know:

Rebounders fear commitment. They keep on the fence. They are cagey. If you push them to commit, they will dilly-dally, put it off or postpone. You are not their endgame but a band-aid for their heartbreak

Desire is dating James. They have been at it for about four months, but she senses something is not right. She claims James is not fully committed to the relationship. She had been hurt before in a previous relationship that ended badly and does not want this one to fall apart too.

Unknown to her, James had just broken up with Jessica two weeks before he met up with Desire and he still has feelings for Jessica. He is secretly hoping that things will change and they will make up. He is rebounding and he does not even know it.

A rebound relationship is when someone forms a new romantic relationship almost immediately after they have ended a previous one. They are usually short-lived. Such relationships happen when people fear to be alone and want to fill the void quickly left by your previous partner. Some people have attachment issues that they would rather be in a bad relationship than not in one at all. It is an unhealthy dependency on others.

Some seek validation. They try to prove a point to an ex or themselves that they are fine and doing well despite the breakup. Others rebound to continue having their emotional and physical needs met. Rebound relationships are common and they can be hard to detect. Here are some tale-tell signs that your partner is rebounding: 

Fear of commitment

 A common characteristic of rebounders is that they fear commitment. They keep on the fence. They are cagey. Despite pushing them to commit, they will dilly-dally and put it off or postpone it as often as they can. This is because you are not their endgame but a band-aid for their broken heart.


The primary motivation for a rebound is what they will get out of the relationship not what they will give. While you are investing in the relationship to make it work, spending yourself and compromising even your bank accounts, their heart is invested elsewhere—in the ex’s. The moment they stop getting what they want, the relationship ends.

Comparisons to an ex

 An occasional thought about their former partner and the life they enjoyed may not hurt the current relationship. But if this takes up much of their time when they are with you, then they are rebounding. They tend to hold onto things that remind them of their previous partners such as photos or gifts they shared. They will talk a lot about their ex and even judge you not on your merit but on their ex. They seem to live in the past and enjoy it. They have never gotten over their exes.  

Trying to get back at their ex

If they seem to be preoccupied with hurting or revenging or stalking their ex, you are probably dealing with a rebound and this relationship will likely be toxic. This is different from someone who has healed from their ex inwardly and has moved on.  

Sex is a distraction

Healthy love relationships have central to them some degree of emotional connection and vulnerability. Rebound relationships on the other hand, will substitute this with sex because it is a cheaper and more convenient option that keeps the relationship going. Robert (not real name) shared that after he broke up with his girlfriend of three years, after finding out she was dating another man, “I went amok with several girls thinking in a bid to hurt her.  I was revenging on her, but I realised I was hurting myself and I could easily contract an STD.”  Things to do to avoid a rebound relationship: 

Take your time

To heal after the breakup up, face your emotional issues and confusions until they are fully resolved and closed before you get into a new relationship and commit. It may not be easy because you are you are nursing a breakup, but immerse yourself into something that will occupy your mind such as volunteering, taking walks, reading or hanging out with friends. 

Establish boundaries

A break up is leaves you sensitive and vulnerable. Be cautious and avoid any random hookups, especially with people of the opposite sex, who may be potential mates. Any conversations that may tilt you in the direction of dating again immediately, should be avoided. Certain spaces where you feel you might not be in control of your emotions 100 percent, should be avoided. Normalise enjoying your own company and discover yourself in new ways.

Break it off

Were you so fast in getting into a new relationship that you reeled in an incompatible partner and you now realise you are prolonging your emotional healing? Be honest with yourself and break off a rebound relationship.

Debbie suggests: “As a newly widowed mother of three children, I fell fast into this steamy relationship. My new boyfriend had no children, no responsibility and had a negative outlook towards life. I saved myself and my children the headache. It lasted less than two months.” If you find yourself in a relationship with a rebound, ask them the hard questions. You do not want to be used as a clutch for someone’s support after which they will throw you away.

Are rebounds necessary

 While most counsellors discourage rebounds, Vivian thinks otherwise. “Sam was what I needed after my separation. We met and spent time together talking about our failed relationships occasionally laughing at their idiosyncrasies and other times going off in the wild to just enjoy nature. We had zero expectations of a committed relationship from each other. I became more confident in myself and recovered my self-esteem.


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