Have you ever had a rebound? After a breakup, have you ever had a well-meaning friend say something like: “You should just be single for awhile”?
When the thing that you want the most in the world is to either get back together with your ex or have a happy relationship with someone new, those words grate like nails on a chalkboard. It can feel like the most important thing in the world is finding someone new or getting your ex back to fill the void.
As downright irritating as the statement “you should just be single for awhile” is, I’m going to explain why avoiding a rebound relationship is the best thing that you can do for yourself in the wake of a breakup.
I have a friend who I’ll call Amy. Last month, Amy decided to dump her boyfriend of three years, who I’ll call Mark.
Over the years, Mark and Amy have had a fairly happy relationship, but over time Amy began to notice that Mark’s motivation level was well… non-existent.
At one point, they broke up for a month because Mark told Amy in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want to marry her. After Amy told him it was over, Mark panicked, groveled and Amy took him back.
Fast forward to today, 2 years later.
Mark and Amy moved in together 5 months ago, and it just hasn’t felt right to Amy. Over the summer, Amy met a co-worker who we’ll call Dave. Something about Dave’s work ethic and motivation made Mark’s lack of personal goals and commitment to her obvious and glaring. As the months wore on, the comparison was so striking that Amy’s feelings for Mark began to falter. That’s how she got to the point where splitting with Mark seemed like the best choice.
Immediately after the breakup, a relationship with Dave blossomed— with Dave even helping Amy move her things out of the apartment she shared with Mark.
Dave and Amy have been hanging out nonstop ever since.
When asked about his feelings for Amy, Dave is positive but also very hesitant. After all, this woman just left a three year relationship. It’s not exactly Dave’s dream scenario, but Dave has watched closely to see if Amy handled her breakup with integrity, and as far as Dave’s concerned, she has.
Dave and Amy didn’t share so much as a flirtatious glance until after Amy ended it with Mark.
That doesn’t keep Dave from feeling a strong sense of caution about the new relationship. Amy seems off balance and he’s spent a few nights now letting her cry on his shoulder.
Simply put, her tears over Mark aren’t exactly a siren call to him— but it’s been awhile since he’s dated anyone and he’s a little flattered at how excited Amy seems about him. Dave has also mentioned feeling a powerful connection to her and really enjoys her company when she isn’t soggy-faced.
As far as Amy is concerned, all systems are go for a relationship with Dave. Despite being younger than her, Dave seems like her dream guy. She’s started clinging to him like a barnacle on an ocean cliff, complete with excessive Facebook commentary on Dave’s page, bragging about him to her friends and family and a full-on new relationship roll-out.
At this point, Amy has pretty much thrown caution to the wind and jumped in with two feet.
While the relationship with Amy and Dave could work for a while, here’s why their budding rebound relationship is on shaky ground already, and the real reasons you should stay single for a while after a breakup.
1. Natural “in a relationship” behavior begins way too soon.
Instead of going through the usual courting phase, Amy has just created an “instant boyfriend” relationship with Dave. Dave isn’t feeling great about it— and isn’t on the same page yet.
Rebound relationships follow an unnatural timeline. Since the recently broken up person hasn’t had the opportunity to be single, their “in a relationship” behavior simply transfers over to the new person. Without courtship, there isn’t a sense of newness or mystery. And that’s a mistake because the warp-speed seriousness is often a turn-off to the other person.
2. There is no time to process your feelings about the breakup and choose someone well suited to you.
Rebounds don’t give you the chance to evaluate what happened in the failed relationship since the new relationship takes priority. People run toward whatever they were lacking in the failed relationship without taking the time to evaluate what they really want.
With Dave and Amy, she’s excited about his work ethic and the fact that he’s a nice guy, but hasn’t thought about how he’s significantly younger than her and they have virtually nothing else in common.
3. The rebound puts a pause button on your personal growth.
When you don’t take the time to deal with your grief about failed relationships, the pain doesn’t simply vanish. It’s still there, waiting for a time to force you to process it and work though it.
This leads to a grass is always greener scenario where after the rebound relationship falters, people potentially want to run back to their ex who they now see with rose-colored glasses.
4. Puts pressure on the new person you’re dating.
The other person in a rebound relationship feels the full effects of your sadness over the failed pairing with someone else. Sometimes dealing with the negativity, like Dave letting Amy cry on his shoulder is just too much for someone else to take.
5. Potential for you to act clingy.
Transferring all of your “in a relationship” behavior over to someone new, like Amy has with Dave doesn’t work for a few reasons.
One of them is that you don’t have the rapport yet with a new person that you had with your ex.
If you do all of the same couple-y things that were a habit in your old relationship with your new flame, it’s most often a turn off for the new person since even though you’re used to doing all of the same couple things you would have done with your ex, the new person might not be used to that.
It’s like introducing a wild animal to a domesticated one. It’s hard to take a person who has been free and single for a while and immediately make them part of a couple without significant growing pains.
6. Your breakup can make the new person feel like your relationship is on shaky ground (and it is).
While Dave watched closely to see if Amy would cheat on Mark (and she didn’t), this hasn’t kept him from wondering if simply finding someone new is how Amy handles all of her relationship problems.
The phrase, “The way you got them is the way you’ll lose them” comes to mind.
Watching the aftermath of your breakup leaves the door open for new person to wonder if you’re really ready for a serious relationship or if you’ll cheat on them in the future instead of dealing with problems.