It’s a common belief that rebound relationships won’t last long. But is that true?
I’ve been on both sides of the fence before. I’ve split from exes who have jumped straight into something new. Needless to say, it doesn’t feel good and I was secretly praying it would fail.
But I’m also in a relationship now with a guy who broke up with his ex just days before we met.
I’m not only writing this from personal experience. I’ve been digging into research to find out what scientific studies actually say about rebound relationships.
How long do rebound relationships last?
We’ll cover everything you need to know in this article.
How long do rebound relationships last? 9 things you need to consider
1) It depends on the motive
One of the most significant factors in how long a rebound relationship will last is the underlying motive for starting the relationship in the first place.
And this isn’t always so simple. People can jump into a new relationship straight away after a breakup for all sorts of reasons.
Some of the most common are:
- Escapism to avoid the pain of their breakup
- To fulfill emotional or practical needs after the loss of the previous relationship
- As a confidence boost
- To get revenge
- Because they genuinely like the new person
Breakups (even amicable ones) are usually emotionally messy and can leave a lot of feelings to process. It can be tempting to find a replacement relationship in order to avoid having to do this.
One study found that after a breakup, the feeling of social rejection can motivate people to quickly find someone new. Basically, it makes us feel better about ourselves.
Whilst another concluded that some people entering into rebounds might be unconsciously attaching their feelings for their ex onto a new partner. This is especially true if the ex and new partner share some similarities.
If there is a lot of anger around the break-up or someone has an anxious attachment style, focusing attention on a new partner can be a way to deal with it.
If someone jumps into a new relationship right after a breakup for so-called wrong reasons it might be less likely to work out.
They could be looking for a temporary bandage to deal with the pain they feel. They may be looking for someone else to fix their heartbreak to avoid the hard work of doing it themselves. They may be looking for a more pleasant distraction than mourning the loss of their previous relationship.
They may be unconscious of their motivations at the time. But if the new connection isn’t based on genuine affection and attraction, it will likely struggle to survive.
2) It depends how quickly it develops
Any relationship that moves insanely quickly can be a red flag. The same goes for rebounds.
That’s why the intensity and speed at which the relationship develops can play a part in how long it will last.
There is some truth in the school of thought that the quicker it burns the sooner it’s likely to fade.
As therapist Maria Baratta points out in Psychology Today you cannot rush the getting to know each other part:
“Dating is about trying to figure out if the person is for you. And that takes time. Some people will say that they “just know,” but many have been wrong. And that can hurt. Love and chemistry matter and real love will be there regardless but all too often, what is mistaken for love is instead, the want and determination to call something a relationship when it’s not.”
Do rebound relationships move fast? They certainly can do, particularly when they are being used as a replacement for an ex.
But they aren’t necessarily all quick-moving.
I mentioned in the intro that I am currently in what could probably be called a rebound relationship. But we took things very slowly.
We were conscious of not rushing to label things as a “relationship”. We took a long time getting to know each other.
We didn’t introduce each other to our friends until after around 6 months of dating, and neither were there even any overnight sleepovers at each other’s houses until about 6 months in.
Basically, we were really conscious about each and every step along the way to make sure it wasn’t rushed and it felt right.
Full disclosure: We’re currently about 10 months in. And although things are going well, I guess only time will tell if this rebound will last.
But it could be argued that rebounds which go in “all guns blazing” are more doomed to fail. The implication is there hasn’t been enough time and consideration gone into developing the relationship.
So if someone seems to be acting head over heels right away for someone new after a breakup, it could be that they are deluding themself.
3) It depends if there are unresolved loving feelings for their ex
Unresolved feelings after a breakup are very likely. So perhaps it’s more about the extent of those unresolved feelings.
If someone feels like they’ve got unfinished business with an ex, then they are less likely to be ready to move on with someone else.
Whether they were the one to end the previous relationship can also make a difference.
Often the person who does the breaking up has had more time to contemplate their feelings. They have already reached the conclusion that things are over before they inform their partner of the decision.
Emotionally they may have checked out of the relationship way before the breakup. This can make it easier for them to move on sooner.
But for the person who had a breakup thrust upon them, they didn’t have time to mentally prepare for it.
The length of the relationship and how committed the relationship was is also likely to play a part.
The longer you have been with someone the harder it is to quickly sever all emotional ties. A 10-year relationship is obviously not the same as dating someone for a few months.
Some rebound relationships fall apart because one person isn’t truly over their ex, which makes it very difficult to show up fully in the new relationship and meet their new partner’s needs.
But on the other hand, sometimes the “dumper” was already over their ex way before they actually plucked up the courage to leave the relationship.
4) What would an expert say?
While this article explores the main things to consider if you’re wondering how long a rebound will last, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice specific to your life and your exact situation…
Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations, like rebound relationships and navigating breakups. They’re a very popular resource for people facing this sort of challenge.
How do I know?
Well, I reached out to them a few months ago when I was going through a tough patch in my own relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
5) It depends on how well they are processing their previous breakup
The underlying unifying hallmark of rebound relationships is avoidance.
The big difference between a true rebound and just getting into another relationship very quickly after a breakup comes down to this.
The former is all ultimately about avoiding grief, loss, and feelings they don’t really want to face.
Whereas the latter can happen sometimes when you just happen to meet the right person very soon after a split.
So how long a rebound will last can depend on how much someone has processed the emotions and lessons from their former relationship. Or whether they are using a new relationship to avoid doing so.
Signs of avoidance might be trying to erase an ex from their mind, and acting like they don’t exist. Or not allowing themselves to feel or express the inevitable sadness of a breakup.
They may go overboard in public displays of how happy they are in their new relationship. Almost as if they are trying to convince themselves.
More healthy signs that they are processing feelings about their breakup is if they aren’t afraid to talk about it. It seems as though they are accepting what happened in order to learn lessons.
Rather than ignore those emotions, they are trying to do the internal work.
6) It depends on how strong the current relationship is
Sometimes people enter a rebound relationship hoping to find something better than what they had before.
It’s the common problem — thinking that maybe the grass is greener on the other side.
And it can seem to be for a while, as we get hit with all those feel-good hormones that are common in the beginning stages.
But of course, no relationship is perfect. And so once they leave the honeymoon period with this new person, cracks can start to appear.
If it is a rebound and based on little else than a pleasant distraction, this is often when it will start to fall apart.
The honeymoon period differs from couple to couple. But it tends to last months rather than years.
Relationships that go the distance always depend on strong foundations of compatibility.
This is still what matters most, and will make the difference between whether it is a rebound or a real relationship.
If two people work well together, then a rebound doesn’t have to end. If the couple shares similar values and goals and have compatible personalities, then it can go the distance.
The reason rebounds can fail is when jumping into something new was a knee-jerk decision.
Rather than being based on compatibility or a genuinely special connection, the new relationship was more about convenience.
So after a while, the connection undoes itself.
The person who was only seeking comfort or a distraction wakes up and realizes that they don’t actually want a shared future with this new person.
7) Rebounds are a way of moving on
There has been a cultural narrative around rebounds that paint them in a bad light.
I already told you that I’ve had exes who started dating new people straight away after our breakup. And I know just how crushing it feels.
When you are struggling to move on from your ex, it is really painful to know that they are trying to.
But whether we want to hear it or not, ultimately rebounds can be a successful way of moving forward after going through a breakup.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to turn into a serious relationship.
But research does show that a post-break-up relationship can even be the best thing for us.
Studies have suggested that dating again straight after a split can help to boost confidence and self-esteem.
Researchers discovered that participants who were single for a shorter amount of time healed faster from their breakups than people who waited before getting into another relationship.
“Analyses indicated that people in new relationships were more confident in their desirability and had more resolution over their ex-partner. Among those in new relationships, the speed with which they began their relationship was associated with greater psychological and relational health. Overall, these findings suggest that rebound relationships may be more beneficial than typically believed.”
At the end of the day the very fact someone is entering into a rebound relationship is still a sign that they want to try and move on from their past relationship.
8) Research suggests rebounds don’t necessarily fail any more than any other relationship
Do rebound relationships ever work out? Yes, they do.
This will either come as good news if you’re currently in one, or bad news if your ex is and you are counting the days until it fails.
I read quite a few articles claiming that rebounds last anywhere from a few months up until a year. But none of them actually cited any evidence for these figures.
In fact, they seemed plucked out of thin air by so-called experts or purely anodal.
Although we commonly say that rebound relationships don’t last, the truth is that very little scientific research has examined the consequences of quickly beginning new romantic relationships soon after another has ended.
And the small amount of research that has been done points to the opposite of this commonly held belief about rebounds.
Rather than being doomed to fail, it would seem they stand about the same chance of lasting as any relationship does.
For example, one study looked at how much time had passed after a divorce before getting into a new serious relationship. They found no link between how long people waited and how long the second relationship lasted.
Another study looking at rebounds concluded:
“The negative implications of rebounding could be a figment of our collective imagination. Indeed, it is possible that the benefits of being in a new relationship outweigh the costs for many people, both in the short and long term”.
I know that makes very uncomfortable reading for anyone currently watching an ex enter into a new relationship. But as the next consideration on our list points out, it’s time to put your focus elsewhere.
9) Does it truly matter how long it will or won’t last?
I poured my heart out to my therapist about my painful breakup, made even more gut-wrenching by my ex’s speed at moving on.
Only weeks after moving out of our shared home, he was with someone else. It felt like a betrayal. It made me feel as though what we had together didn’t mean that much to him.
She listened patiently before reassuringly letting me know that it was unlikely to last between them.
That was 9 years ago. They are still together, married, and have a baby.
If that fills you with horror because it wasn’t what you were hoping to hear about rebounds. I’m genuinely sorry.
But the truth is always more complicated. And the truth about rebounds is that people are individuals and so there are no strict rules.
It totally depends on so many factors.
Most relationships follow the same pattern of failure, rebound or not.
There’s the honeymoon period. Then real life sets in which can lead to conflict, unmet needs, and the potential demise of the relationship. Or a couple can work through any issues they have and stay together.
If you are in a rebound relationship, what really matters is the quality and strength of your connection.
If you are painfully watching an ex start a new relationship from the sidelines, then know this:
I know that it is hard. But your healing, your future, and your emotional processing are what matter most right now.
Whilst it might feel like it is important to you whether or not your ex’s new relationship will work out, it can quickly become a red herring.
What happens after a relationship does not diminish the time you and your ex shared together.
But the best place to focus your attention is on yourself, and not on what they are doing. One thing that helped me was something I learned from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê.
He taught me that the way to find love and intimacy is not what we have been culturally conditioned to believe.
As Rudá explains in this mind blowing free video, many of us chase love in a toxic way because we’re not taught how to love ourselves first.
So, if you want to be happy in love with someone else, I’d recommend starting with yourself first and taking Rudá’s incredible advice.