A rebound relationship refers to a relationship that someone leaped into right after (or soon after) their breakup, usually with the intent to suppress their post-breakup grief or feel less lonely and not necessarily because they adore their new partner.
For this reason, it’s not hard to assume that most rebounds are toxic, shallow, and short-lasting. However, despite that being the prevailing cultural notion, it’s not the case. Most rebounds actually help you rather than hinder you, despite their outcome, that is, if they last or not. But that’s not where the misconceptions around the topic end.
There are three other misconceptions about rebounds. And all of them are tied to the stages of a rebound relationship and how those stages pan out. But let’s before we dive in that let’s start from the beginning.
the stages of a rebound relationship
When I typed “stages of a rebound” into Google, I was inundated with a torrential downpour of content. And reading through all of it was a mixture of dull and nauseating, primarily because each blog post was just a carbon copy of another one.
Since I assume you don’t want to go through the same shithole I went through, I’ve done you a small favor. I’ve summarized everything you need to know about the stages of a rebound relationship. I even made you a slick table listing all of them. Please, thank me later.
Stage 1: Dinfatiuation/finding someone to rebound with
In this stage, the dumpee or the dumper is pushed into vast freedom due to their partner’s absence. As a result of this freedom, they usually start seeing other people they lust over.
People react to this stage in two ways. They either start dating out of excitement or out of FOMO and anxiety – because they miss having someone by their side. The former leads to a non-rebound relationship, while the latter leads to a rebound relationship.
Stage 2: The honeymoon stage
After a person dates around for a while, he or she usually settles down with someone. When that happens, they reach stage 2 of their rebound — the honeymoon stage. It’s a period where two people can’t get enough of each other, and according to recent studies, it lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.
The Honeymoon stage is also the equivalent of the attraction stage from Helen Fisher’s love theories. According to her, the intoxicating feelings you have for your new partner are created by three chemicals: norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.
Norepinephrine takes away your appetite, gives you the extra boost in energy, the surging heart, and the inability to sleep. Dopamine boosts your overall happiness and motivation. And serotonin increases the amount of obsessive and intrusive thoughts you have about your new partner.
Though these tendencies sound OK on paper, you can probably guess how they can also quickly turn toxic – they trick a person into thinking their new partner is far more compatible than they really are. Therefore they quickly succumb to labeling them “the one.”
After this happens, it’s all downhill. People begin to force intimacy and connection with their partner and start making identical mistakes that lead to their previous relationship’s downfall. Naturally, that kind of behavior leads to nasty conflicts — a.k.a, stage 3.
Stage 3: reality and conflicts
Stage 3 is often portrayed as the pivotal stage when discussing rebound relationships. In the scope of Helen Fisher’s Love theory, it refers to the transitional period between attraction and attachment.
Here, you begin to see your partner’s true colors and imperfections. So, judging if they’re a good fit for you becomes way easier. And like mentioned, an enormous component of stage 3 are arguments. When you’re faced with them things can play out in two ways. You can either resolve them or you don’t and move on to stage 4.
Stage 4: Nostalgia/comparison
Here, people begin to compare their new partners to their previous.
- “OMG, 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 with your ex – I mean, everyone does that – it is wrong when you keep doing it until you begin to miss and reminisce about your ex daily.
If that happens, the intrusive thoughts that keep swimming around your mind are often accompanied by a growing resentment toward your current partner. “Why can’t you be more/less like my ex!” This is undoubtedly a bad sign for your relationship.
And the more disagreements you have with your new partner, the more you’ll contemplate trying to get your ex back or leaving your current relationship. This elegantly brings us to the last phase of rebounds.
Stage 5: The beginning-end/The epiphany
This closing stage plays out in two simple ways. You either break up with your new partner (or they end things with you) or stay together with them and transposition to the attachment stage of love.
|Stages Of A Rebound Relationship|
|Stage 1: defatuation/finding someone to rebound with|
|Stage 2: The honeymoon stage|
|Stage 3: Reality and Conflict|
|Stage 4: nostalgia/Comparison|
|Stage 5: the Beginning or end/the epiphany|
THREE THINGS EVERYONE GETS WRONG ABOUT THE STAGES
1. The stages of a rebound relationship are no different than the stages of a non-rebound relationship. Don’t believe me? Here, I’ll prove it to you.
|rebound stages||non-rebound stages||released chemicals||resulting Behaviour|
|Stage 1: defatuation/
finding someone to rebound with
|Stage 1: lust||testosterone and estrogen||A Desire To Have Sexual Intercourse (Lust)|
|Stage 2: The honeymoon stage||Stage 2: attraction||dopamine,
norepinephrin and serotonin
|Obsessive and overly happy
Thoughts Of New Partner
Overlooking new partner’s flaws
|Stage 3: Reality and Conflict||transition between attraction and attachment||–||–|
|Stage 4: nostalgia/Comparison|
|Stage 5: the Beginning or end/the epiphany||stage 3: attachment (Only comes to play If a couple hasn’t broken up)||Oxytocin and
|friendship begins to unfold and Obsessive love is Replaced by Unconditional love|
As you can see, the output of certain chemicals to a persons brain and their behavioural patterns are exactly the same whether we’re talking about a rebound or not. The only noticeable difference is that if someone is in a toxic rebound, conflicts, comparisons to ex partners and thus a breakup tend to follow. Consequentially, the couple never reaches the attachment stage of their relationship.
To conclude: while everyone treats the stages of a rebound as something completely different from the stages of a non-rebound, the above table clearly shows that that isn’t true.
2. The stages of a rebound relationship don’t occur in the order presented. Similarly to breakup recovery stages, the rebound alternatives also don’t unfold linearly.
You don’t suddenly go from the Honeymoon stage to the Conflicts Stage. Instead, you shift between the two for weeks or even months until you eventually settle down in the subsequent one.
Furthermore, you can also revert to previous stages at random. Meaning you can quickly go from the last stage (new beginning/the end) back to the stage of the conflict.
To make these transitions even more confusing, try this mindfuck on for size: you can be in two stages of a rebound relationship at once or adopt from elements from two or more.
For instance, you can lay low in the honeymoon stage but still find yourself in countless conflicts and bickerings with your new partner, which if you paid attention, are the core elements of stage 3.
3. The stages of a rebound relationship don’t have a time period next to them. I know everyone is obsessed with tracking how long their or their exes rebound period will last, but can you just shut the fuck up for a second – no one knows the absolute answer to this. Every study I checked and every reader and client I talked to got wildly different results.
Therefore, relax, get some sleep, stop approaching relationships as a science project that you have to figure out the nuts and bolts to, and just see where life takes you.
However, keep this rule-of-thumb in mind while you’re exploring your new relationship: If you’re using someone to feel better about yourself, it’s best to let them go. But if that’s not the case — if you’re actually enjoying your time with your new partner — then keep exploring. See where it all takes you.
The bottom line is nobody has the stages of a rebound relationship all figured out, so don’t take them so damn seriously. If you’re suddenly bickering with your new partner, it doesn’t mean that you’re in stage 3 or that your relationship won’t work out. The whole thing could be nothing more than a fad.
And if you’re someone who wants their ex back, but are worried that that’s impossible because they’re at a particular stage with their new rebound, take a deep breath, and unwind. It might not be that big of a deal as you think.
Cover photo by Picture Perfect International
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