Two people sitting across from each other at a table, holding hands. There's a rose and two glasses of wine on the table.
Illustration by Marta Pucci

Can Rebound Relationships Work?

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
7/18/2022
Last updated:
8/1/2022
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
7/18/2022
Last updated:
8/1/2022

TL;DR

  • Break ups happen for many reasons so it stands to reason that different people will feel very differently after the event.
  • Check in with how you're feeling after your split. If you're mentally healthy and emotionally strong then a rebound could be just the fun and escapism you need.
  • If there are unresolved issues, it is important to take time to work through them and re-find yourself before embarking on another relationship. Otherwise unhealthy patterns are likely to recur. 
  • If you choose to enter a rebound relationship, make sure to check in with how you're feeling regularly and ask yourself whether you feel comfortable about the way things are going.

 How many times have you said, “Oh no, it’s too soon,” when a friend has embarked on a new relationship, seemingly just days after their previous relationship has ended? How often have you been right? How long has it taken before that rebound partner has disappeared and the tears have started again?

Rebound relationships get a bad rep. And perhaps rightly so. But is it always the case that they are doomed to fail? Or might there even be times when rebounding is actually a good idea?

How do you feel after the break-up?

Break ups happen for many reasons, so it stands to reason that there are a multitude of ways you might feel after the event. If the relationship was fraught with conflict towards the end and you’re left with unresolved feelings of anger or resentment, it is wise to work through these before you try to move forwards. Similarly, if your ex ended things and you are still harboring feelings for them, you should try to work through these before finding a new partner.

Importantly, if you developed insecurities because of the way your former romantic partner spoke to you or acted towards you, it can be difficult to create a healthy relationship with someone else until you have learned to love yourself again. So perhaps in this case it’s time to focus on self-love and care for a while.

It's not all doom and gloom though. If you check in on your mental health and emotional state and you are feeling secure after your break up, then there’s every chance a rebound relationship might be completely fine.

Pros and cons of rebounding

There are definite positives and negatives when it comes to rebound relationships.

Rebound relationships: the downsides

When you come out of a longer term romantic relationship, no matter the reason for the break, it’s important to spend a little bit of time working out what part you played. Even if you initially feel the split was completely your partner’s fault, it’s worth thinking about your reaction to the situation, how various interactions played out and whether there are any learnings to be had. That way you can start to improve various aspects of your communication skills which will only make things better in the future.

If you don’t take this time to think through and acknowledge any contribution, perhaps even entering into a new relationship to avoid dealing with things, it’s likely the pattern will continue. If you are using the new relationship to cover up dealing with this and acknowledge what you contributed, it’s likely the same things will happen in your new relationship. Patterns tend to recur unless we consciously unlearn them and seek to do better.  

Our advice would be that regardless of how the relationship ended, even if you think you’re fine, it’s important to spend a little bit of time coming back to yourself. Remembering who you are. The amount of time required might vary depending on relationship duration, but it’s a good time to concentrate on you.

Focus on yourself, re-find hobbies you may have lost along the way, take work opportunities or start your own side hustle. Think about what you really want from life and then hopefully, when you go into your next relationship, you’ll be in a much better place.

Try not to rush these things, an unhealthy rebound relationship will not help anybody.

Rebound relationships: the upsides

There are times when a rebound relationship can actually be really helpful. If your break-up was particularly difficult for you, perhaps it was your partner’s choice for example, a fun, non-serious rebound could help to distract from what might be a painful time.

As long as you’re honest with potential partners about what you’re looking for, there’s nothing wrong with seeking a little fun and escapism in the short term. You never know, realizing that there are others who find you attractive might even help to improve your self-confidence. And it might help you build confidence and new skills sexually, too.

Just make sure that your new partner knows you’re just out of an intimate relationship and you’re just up for some fun, and no-one will get hurt. Then make sure you take some time to reconnect with you as well. Be selfish for a bit – see how much good it does you.

Give yourself time to process and think

The main thing when it comes to rebound relationships is to not go in blind. Give it plenty of thought and make sure you understand the importance of keeping your emotions in check.

Ask yourself, “Am I doing this for the right reason?” and “Do I feel comfortable?” at all stages. By checking in with yourself regularly, you’ll be able to avoid any pitfalls of rebound relationships.

And if at any point the answer to these questions becomes “no”, value yourself, get out of the new relationship or perhaps take a break.

Learn About Relationships and Yourself
Take the free assessment to find out what you could improve in your relationship and sex life.
take the assessment