by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Author, Attorney, Podcaster, Media Commentator, Motivational Speaker, and Creator of the World's Most Successful Breakup Program. 

  • Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You (Hachette Book Group 2009)
  • Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup (Hachette Book Group 2015)
  • Getting Past Your Past Workbook: The Definitive Workbook to Emotional Healing, Health and Happiness (La Bella Vita Publishing 2012)
  • GPYP Power! Affirmations (La Bella Vita Publishing 2019) 

Breakups can get messy. Rebounds don’t have to.

People always think, because of my Mean Lady reputation, that I am going to automatically frown upon rebounds. That is not necessarily true. Rebounds can be a part of post-breakup life and they have to be talked about. 

In Getting Back Out There, I explore bumps in the dating road I call “The 5 R’s.” (see the YT video here)

One of these R’s is Rebounding.

Many go through a bad breakup and soon seek solace in a new relationship long before they are ready. That’s the classic rebound. But while “rebound” is usually perceived negatively, it’s not always a negative experience. It’s true that things rarely go perfectly when you’re on the rebound; most people are aware of this fact. The “rebound now, pay later” mentality does exist—and it can be a desirable situation for someone who has been made to feel unattractive, unworthy, or unwanted by someone they had cared for.

Even if you’re not ready for a new relationship, you may find that a short, whirlwind romance is just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes a rebound is a response to being left for someone else. You want to know that you’re still desirable—and not dead yet. So while it’s not an optimal solution, it often presents itself as a temporary fix.

As a therapist, I have always found it difficult to talk someone out of a rebound. [As a lawyer, however, I do stress to divorcing clients that having a relationship while going through the legal dealings can be detrimental to their case.

If you are going through a divorce, discuss the situation of seeing someone while still legally married with your attorney. You must know the possible ramifications of being involved with someone while going through legal proceedings. I have seen several people lose the upper hand in a case because they insisted on announcing their new love interest to the world while still being legally married. Depending on your state, your judge, your ex, and your ex’s attorney, this can have a very unwelcome impact. Tread carefully.]

It is sometimes hard to know for sure if you’re actually on the rebound, especially if some time has passed since your last relationship ended. It’s also hard to know if someone you’re seeing is on the rebound. If either of you is just weeks out of a relationship, it most likely is a rebound—but people can still be rebounding months after a breakup, so an upfront conversation is a necessity when you start seeing someone exclusively.

If your breakup left you feeling unattractive and unworthy, it is fine to go out and garner attention from eligible singles. Be flirty and have fun, but understand that is what you’re doing, and don’t lead someone down a path you’re really not ready (or willing) to go down with them. It’s important to be honest with yourself about where you are and what you can handle. If you’re only ready for flirting, that is fine. If you’re only ready for a physical fling, that’s fine, too. Just be sure that you’re being honest and accessing your partner’s honesty as best you can. These are difficult conversations to have, but even if you’re having superficial fun, they can become very necessary.

If time has passed and you’ve done your post-breakup work, you may think that your time for rebounding has passed. That is not necessarily so. You could be holding onto residual hurt and anger—and projecting your ex’s foibles onto your new partner—months, even years, after the breakup. If you haven’t worked through all your feelings about an ex, you run the risk of rebounding unawares and potentially screwing up your life and someone else’s. Working through the Getting Past Your Breakup program is how you heal your heart and reboot your life, but it takes time (see the link below for how to work through the program). You may also benefit from GPYB counseling (go to this link) or a GPYB boot camp (Note: Feb 14 is the next Advanced Boot Camp and Feb 21 is the next Basic Boot Camp. For information, please email here).

Sometimes it’s not clear, even to you, where you are in the healing process and the readiness process (another of the 5 R’s). It’s okay to be upfront about that—in fact, it’s preferable). A person has the right to move along if your lack of clarity doesn’t work for them. If you have any inkling that you’re rebounding, or not really ready for a serious relationship, let others know that. You may run the risk of losing a budding relationship, but it’s better than being unfair to someone and hurting them down the road. A healthy person takes responsibility for their emotional state and the way it could possibly impact others now or in the future.

As always, be sure to take children into consideration. If you have any inkling that you or your new partner is on the rebound, do not introduce this person to your children or yourself to theirs. Children should never be involved in a rebound situation. If the relationship evolves into something more, you can talk about child introductions. You don’t have to make dramatic pronouncement either that you’re on the rebound or just looking for fun, but set expectations early on. It’s not only fair to both of you, but it helps everyone protect their long-term interests. If you choose not to have a conversation, understand the consequences of just letting it roll.

As I talk about in the 5 R’s video linked above: sometimes it works out like it did for one client: She described to me a wild make-out session in the back of a New York City cab a few weeks after her ex left her for a much younger woman. She had been sobbing in her apartment for weeks until friends dragged her out. Over dinner a younger guy started chatting her up and they wound up dining and dancing in Greenwich Village. They shared a cab and a hot ride uptown making out like high-schoolers. Then she bid him goodbye. This one night helped her get the confidence to get back out there, giving her reassurance that men still wanted to be with her. With that deal sealed, she pulled back and concentrated on her healing and became well enough to eventually reconnect with a long-ago love, the one that got away. They are now happily married.

Other times, a rebound does not go as well: A man met a charming woman on a ski weekend and despite the fact they lived 300 miles apart, they had a whirlwind romance and within a couple of months, he moved 300 miles to be with her. But he had no idea she was on the rebound—she had broken up with her boyfriend of four years the weekend before they met. And, as soon as this man moved in, she lost interest—and realized she wanted her ex back. He had given up a good job and a nice home, and severely ticked off his ex-wife because he was no longer there for their child. Not having the money to move back, he settled for a second-rate job and long nights alone drinking in a shabby apartment. His life nosedived for a very long time over one wrong move. He eventually pulled himself together but it could have been avoided had he asked a few questions before making such a big move for someone he hardly knew.

If you have a rebound and don’t handle it completely correctly, don’t judge yourself as lacking—and don’t try to force something you’re not ready for. Keeping your side of the street clean may just involve accepting where you are now and being honest about that.

The most important thing is that you are honest with yourself and others. Sometimes, a rebound gives us the spring in our step that has been missing for a while. It can be a bridge to something more substantial, and an interim solution to breakup blues. It’s only a problem if it keeps us from doing the work we need to do in order to heal from a breakup—or when we’re not honest with others and we wind up hurting someone who cares for us. Rebounds are not necessarily right or wrong. They could be right for right now if entered into with all eyes open and expectations appropriately set. No matter what, make sure you’re taking care of yourself and being responsible with your feelings as well as those of anyone you’re getting involved with.  

The Voice of GPYB

The Mean Lady Talking Podcast

ALL GPYB Resources

GPYB on Social Media

Pins, Memes, Audiograms

GPYB Quotes on Good Reads

GPYB Newsletter

If you think this post would help someone,

please use the Social Share buttons below to share: