A rebound relationship is a relationship we enter right after or soon after our breakup to suppress or escape our pain and feel less lonely or to make our ex jealous, get our revenge, and prove to them how much better off we are without them.
For these reasons, it’s not hard to assume that rebound relationships are shallow, short-lasting, and toxic. But despite that being the prevailing societal notion, it’s actually not always true. Well, except for the “short-lasting” bit… About 90% of rebounds don’t last. But what is always true is that there are stages to a rebound relationship. (1)
These stages are the same for both the dumpers and dumpees. And it’s beneficial to be aware of them and to understand them. Doing so helps you become more aware of where things can go wrong in your new relationship, enabling you to better prepare for those potential turbulences.
And if you’re someone who wants to get back with an ex who just got into a rebound, understanding the stages of a rebound relationship helps you figure out what they’re going through or could go through. These insights then enable you to more accurately predict whether or not you have any chance of getting them back.
Do rebound relationships ever work out
Even though a rebound relationship often forms prematurely and, as I pointed out earlier, with the wrong intentions, it has the potential of turning into a real relationship. And while the odds are slim, it’s not to say it is impossible.
But consider not dwelling on this question too fiercely. As I’ve argued in a previous article, getting into a rebound relationship is often worth it regardless of how it unfolds.
Because whichever outcome it reaches — whether it fails or lives on and turns into a real relationship — it will serve as a valuable experience you can learn from and consequently better your love life, as well as a means by which getting over an ex becomes easier.
The Stages Of A Rebound Relationship
Below, I’ll go over the stages of a rebound relationship, examine their anatomy, and point out what you can expect in each. And while these stages can take on a few different forms, they’ll likely take the five-part form as presented. At least that’s what I found through my research.
1. The Pre-rebound Stage
The first stage of rebound relationships begins when you get pushed into vast freedom by the absence of your ex. As a result of this freedom, you usually start seeing other people, as in, romantic prospects.
Some people start dating out of excitement, and others out of anxiety, neediness, and the fear of missing out on new experiences. As you’d guess, the former leads to a real relationship and the latter to a rebound relationship.
The dumpee and the dumper also have somewhat different reactions during this stage.
If you’re the dumpee, you’ll have a more challenging time coping with your breakup compared to the dumper, and you’ll, on average, grieve longer and more intensely.
Conversely, if you’re the dumper, you’ll stop grieving much faster, and the overall process will be far less intense than the dumpees. There’s even a chance that you’ll actually feel relieved and elated now that your relationship is over.
2. The honeymoon stage
After you date for a whole, you usually settle down with someone. When that happens, you reach stage two of a rebound relationship — considering that your new relationship is, in fact, a rebound — called The Honeymoon Stage.
The Honeymoon Stage lasts anywhere from 6 months to one year, and during it, you’ll be unable to get enough of your partner. You’ll crave talking, cuddling, kissing, and fucking all the damn time. You’ll overlook their flaws and exaggerate their strengths. You’ll constantly feel euphoric and hyped, and overly-passionate.
Thus, your relationship can quickly start going downhill. Disagreements and arguments bubble up. Resentment flows in. And you suddenly end up in the next stage of a rebound relationship — reality and conflicts.
3. The reality and conflicts Stage
This stage of a rebound relationship is pivotal. During it, you’ll finally experience some much-needed dose of reality.
You’ll start considering if your new relationship is suitable for you. You’ll begin to discern your partner’s flaws and imperfections and start making rational judgments about whether or not those flaws and imperfections are something you can live with or not.
As the name implies, this stage often leads to conflict. And this conflict usually plays out in two ways: you resolve or accept it or amplify it.
If you resolve or accept it, you also need to stomach that the same conflict will probably keep repeating and thus will keep needing to be resolved or accepted for your relationship to last and stay fulfilling. Such is the nature of romantic relationships, after all.
But if you fail to put up sufficient boundaries and only amplify your conflict, you risk launching yourself into the fourth stage of a rebound relationship.
4. The Nostalgia And Comparison Stage
The fourth stage of rebound relationships marks the point where you start comparing your new partner with your ex. A hallmark of it are thoughts like:
- “OHMYGOD, my ex was also a loud chewer.”
- “My ex was never so ill-tempered. Maybe I’m with the wrong person…?”
- “He walks and talks like my ex. I don’t like that.”
- “She has the same body shape as my ex. I love that!”
- “My ex would react in the same way in this scenario.”
- While there’s nothing wrong with comparing your new partner to your ex, and while everyone does that from time to time, it is wrong to keep doing it until you begin to reminisce and miss your ex frequently.
If that happens, the intrusive thoughts that keep swirling around your mind often get infused with growing resentment toward your current partner. You begin to think, “Why can’t you be more/less like my ex!” If you’re going through something remotely similar, it is undoubtedly a bad sign for your relationship and its future.
Another trait of The Nostalgia And Comparison Stage is that the more disagreements you have with your partner, the more you’ll contemplate leaving them and getting your ex back, from which point you’ll move to the last stage of a rebound relationship.
5. The epiphany Stage
This final stage of a rebound relationship plays out in two radically different ways.
You either conclude that your relationship is toxic, that you’ve committed to your partner for all the wrong reasons, and that you’ve settled, or that your relationship is healthy and has the potential of becoming something serious and lasting.
Depending on your conclusion, you either decide to break up with your partner or you stay and double down on building a relationship with them, at which point a couple of interesting things occur.
First, your love becomes unconditional — you don’t need them to be or act a certain way in order to love them. Second, you begin to form an emotional bond capable of keeping you together in spite of thankless circumstances: logistics, war, illness, etc. Third, your partner becomes a part of your identity and thus a source of immense meaning in your life.
What Everyone Gets Wrong About The Stages Of A Rebound Relationship
There are three things many people assume about the stages of a rebound relationship:
- That they’re different than the stages of a non-rebound.
- That one progresses from a former stage to the latter without deviations.
- That each stage can be measured in terms of how long it lasts.
Not only are these things untrue, but they only complicate what is essentially a very simple matter. Here’s the truth behind each of these false assumptions.
1. The stages of a rebound relationship are no different than the stages of a non-rebound
For context: Rebound relationships go through 5 stages — Pre-Rebound, Honeymoon, Conflicts And Reality, Nostalgia And Comparison, and The Epiphany — and non-rebound relationships go through three — Lust, Attraction/Obsessive Love, and Attachment.
At a glance, one could easily say the stages of a rebound relationship and those of a non-rebound are not alike. But when you observe the chemicals our brains releases in each stage and the behaviors we display because of those releases, you’d quickly see the similarities.
During The Honeymoon Stage, the chemicals released in our brains are mainly dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The resulting tendencies are obsessive happiness, rumination, and a naive disregard for our partner’s incompatibilities.
These are the same attributes one experiences during The Attraction Stage. (2)
During The Epiphany Stage, the chemicals released in our brains are mainly oxytocin and vasopressin. The resulting tendencies are forming a deep friendship with our partner and the awakening of a less intense form of love that also happens to be often unconditional.
These are the same attributes one experiences during The Attachment Stage. (3)
During The Reality And Conflict Stage and The Nostalgia And Comparison Stage, things get a bit messy.
To my knowledge, these two stages are a transitional period to the final one: Attachment when it comes to non-rebounds and Epiphany when it comes to rebounds. The way you look at it doesn’t really matter. Every couple will have fights and compare their partner to their ex at some point. (4)
As you can see, the stages of a rebound relationship and those of a non-rebound relationship aren’t so different, apart from the first stage. And even then, one could argue that it’s up for debate, for lust is the common denominator regardless of the type of relationship you’re getting into. (5)
2. The Stages Of A Rebound Relationship Aren’t Linear
Like the stages of a breakup, the stages of a rebound relationship don’t unfold linearly. You don’t suddenly go from The Honeymoon Stage to The Conflicts And Reality Stage. You shift between the two for weeks or even months until you eventually settle down in the subsequent one.
Likewise, you can also revert to any previous stage at random. For example, in only a matter of weeks, you can go from The Epiphany Stage to the Comparison Stage and then back to Epiphany.
You can even be in two stages of a rebound relationship at once or adopt elements from two or more of them.
For instance, you could be in The Honeymoon Stage but still have countless arguments with your partner.
3. The Stages Of A Rebound Relationship Don’t Have A Time Period
I know everyone is obsessed with tracking how long each stage of a rebound relationship lasts, especially the people who want their ex back, but can you just shut the fuck up for a second.
It’s different for everyone.
Some people could stay stuck in a certain stage for weeks. Some people for months. Other people for years. Nobody has the timelines for each stage of a rebound relationship figured out. So don’t dwell on the topic.
And while we’re at it, disregard any “studies” on timelines of rebound relationship stages from the “get your ex back” gurus. They probably haven’t made any study as they claim and are just blowing fake hope up your ass, so you buy their ex-recovery products.
Fake hope as in, “Your ex’s entire rebound will last only X months! So just wait. They’ll leave their partner and you’ll get them back in no time. Even better, buy my shit and prepare yourself for when that moment comes. Blah, blah, blah…”
Don’t Take The Stages Of A Rebound Relationship Too Seriously
If you’re suddenly bickering with your new partner, it doesn’t mean that you’re in a later stage of a rebound relationship and that your relationship won’t work out. The whole thing could mean absolutely nothing.
And if you’re someone who wants their ex back, but are worried that it’s going to be impossible because they’re at a particular stage with their new rebound partner, know that it may not be as big of a deal as you think.
Relax. Be grateful that a breakup is the only problem you’re dealing with. And know that your worry is fleeting. Whatever is stressing you out now will cease to exist once you stretch your life’s timeline far enough. Be patient.
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