7 clear signs you’re in a rebound relationship
Rebound or real love?
Whether you were in a 6-month relationship that you thought would go the distance, or a 10-year marriage that didn’t make it to 11, breakups are emotionally difficult. You may find yourself jumping into a new romance quickly and wondering if your rebound relationship can go the distance. Or, you may be terrified that you’ve fallen for someone on the rebound who doesn’t really care for you. “When you’re hurting from a past relationship and want to avoid feeling the pain, [and] you jump into another one right away – that’s a classic rebound relationship,” says relationship expert Audrey Hope. Rebound relationships are defined by more than just speed. A person who is rebounding may be trying to avoid their feelings about the breakup. Fixating on someone new is a great way to do that. “In a rebound relationship, there is no space and time to process the truth of the past love. The rebounder uses the technique of denial, plus moving on quickly, to stop their feelings. They might be moving so fast [that] they never stop to learn or grow from what was left behind,” Hope explains.
Your phone has become a lethal weapon
If you’re constantly listening for your ex’s special ringtone, or need to stop yourself from sending him/her/them text messages, that’s a red flag that you’re holding on and not ready to connect with someone new. “If you still have your ex’s number in your phone, you may be subconsciously holding out hope that they’ll reach out again. It may also feel too final to delete their number. Either way, keeping an ex’s number handy is a sign you’re still hung up on them, and not present in your new relationship,” says therapist Kimberly Hershenson. While it may be natural to hold on for a short time, this can be a sign that there are issues you need to work through before you can deeply connect with someone else.
If you think your new honey is a rebounder, their phone may also provide clues (but don’t go snooping, that’s just creepy). If their wallpaper hasn’t been changed since you’ve been together, and their ex’s face is still the one they gaze at every day on that screen, have a heart-to-heart conversation about the issue, and be ready to move on to greener (more available) pastures.
You’re being tortured by social media
The internet is forever, but that’s not such great news for relationships that end in the meantime. If your rebounding honey is spending more time sneaking peeks at their ex’s social networks than they’re having fun with you, that’s a clue that they’re rebounding, instead of falling. “If you’re checking your ex’s social media frequently, such as looking at their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts on a daily, or even weekly basis, it’s a sign you’re not over them. The need to see what your ex is up to should not be a priority if you are truly ready to move on in your new relationship,” says Hershenson. It’s common to peek into your ex’s life for a little while, but this behaviour, if it lasts longer than a few weeks, is a masochistic and toxic way of staying connected. It keeps the hurt alive, making it harder to move on.
It’s always happy hour
One of the more dangerous rebound relationship signs you must look out for is overuse of mind-bending substances. Sharing a bottle of wine is fun and romantic, but if every single date includes drinking, you may be in a dangerous rebound. “A rebounder may have new issues with substance abuse to keep the pain under wraps. They may need pills or alcohol, and this problem may grow. Watch for signs of drug or alcohol abuse that is way more than usual,” warns Hope.
Three’s a crowd
If your new love wants to keep their old love around, because now they’re ‘just friends’, you may want to put the brakes on the relationship. Ironically, this can also be a healthy sign that the old relationship is truly over. What you want to see is proof of the genuine healing of old wounds. This can occur only if time has passed, and the rebounder has put in the effort that self-examination takes.
Arguing with your partner is inevitable. But knowing how to argue constructively with your partner is healthy.
Your ex is the main topic of conversation
If your new love is starting to feel like your ex-love is haunting them, it may be because you never stop talking about them. This may take the form of how they ‘did wrong by you’, or how awful they were to you, with no introspection about your own role in the breakup. This type of fixation is a sure sign that you’re not truly in your new relationship and still need to process the old one. And if it goes on too long, you may be better off seeking the help of a therapist who can guide you and listen objectively. “If you or your partner think about your ex a lot, or talk about your prior relationship constantly, that’s a sign that there are unresolved issues, which need to be examined,” emphasises Dr Sinh.
You never ever mention your ex
If your former relationship is completely off-limits as a topic of conversation, this may also be a red flag of a rebound relationship. “The rebounder may never want to have an honest, heart-to-heart talk about their past relationship. They want to skip over the details, just move on, and live in the moment. To them, it is better to avoid, deny, and forget,” says Hope. If your past relationship is painfully tender to the touch for too long, you haven’t moved past it in a healthy way. This is a sure sign that you’ve got some emotional work to do before you can care for someone else.
Can it last?
So, are rebound relationships always doomed to fail? “Not necessarily,” says Dr Sinh. “If you find that you’re the one rebounding, it means giving yourself time to grieve and mourn your old relationship. This can be hard to do if you’re with someone else. If you really want to make it with the person you’re now with, then you have to work on the issues.” After doing the work, you may find yourself open to love, in a mature, lessons-learned way.
But, what if your partner is the one who is rebounding? According to Dr Sinh, “If your partner has just left a past relationship, and you want to make it work, give them the time and mental and emotional space to figure out what they want to do. This is not the time to pester them to make a choice or demand they ‘get over’ their ex. This requires a wiser, more practical approach of pointing out the issues to them, and letting them figure it out. If they can’t do that, despite your patience, maybe it’s time to move on. You really don’t want to be with someone who has one foot out the door.”
This article originally appeared on Reader’s Digest.