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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 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 utterly dysfunctional. But despite that being the prevailing societal notion, it’s not always true. Well, except for the “short-lasting” bit… About 90% of rebounds don’t last.
But what is true (somewhat) is that there are stages to rebound relationships. These stages are identical for both the dumpees and dumpers. And understanding them helps you become more aware of where things can go wrong in your new relationship, enabling you to better prepare for certain challenges ahead of time. (1)
Or if you’re someone who wants to get back with their ex, it helps you figure out what they’re going through (or could go through) in their new rebound relationship, which makes you able to better predict whether or not you have a chance at getting them back.
The Stages Of A Rebound Relationship
Below, I’ll go over the stages of a rebound relationship, examine their anatomy, and point out what behaviors and quirks a person can expect in each. And while these stages can take on a few different forms, they’ll likely resemble the following outline.
1. The Pre-Rebound Stage
The first stage of rebound relationships begins when a person gets pushed into vast freedom by the absence of their ex. As a result of this freedom, they usually start dating.
Now, some people start dating out of excitement. Others out of anxiety, neediness, and the fear of missing out on new experiences. The former leads to a real relationship and the latter to a rebound relationship.
The dumpee and dumper also have somewhat different reactions during this stage. The dumpee will have a more challenging time coping with their breakup, and they’ll, on average, grieve longer and more intensely. Whereas the dumper will stop grieving faster, and the overall process will be far less intense than that of the dumpees. There’s even a chance that they’ll feel relieved and elated now that their relationship is over.
2. The Honeymoon Stage
After a person dates for a while, they usually settle down with someone. When that happens, they reach stage two of a rebound relationship — considering that their 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, a person is unable to get enough of their new partner. They’ll crave talking, cuddling, kissing, and fucking all the time. They’ll overlook their flaws and exaggerate their strengths. They’ll constantly feel euphoric, hyped up, and passionate.
Sometimes this person will become so obsessed with their partner that they’ll start losing sleep and appetite and find themselves with an ungodly amount of intrusive thoughts about them. These tendencies can quickly become toxic and lead to codependency, jealousy issues, impaired sexual performance, and thinking of the new partner as a “soulmate.”
Thus, a relationship can quickly go downhill during The Honeymoon Stage. Disagreements and arguments can bubble up. Resentment may flow in. And a person suddenly ends 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, a person experiences some much-needed dose of reality. They’ll consider if their new relationship is suitable for them. They’ll begin to discern their partner’s flaws and imperfections and start making rational judgments about whether or not those flaws and imperfections are something they can live with.
As the name implies, this stage often leads to conflict. And this conflict usually plays out in two ways: a couple resolves and accepts it, or they amplify it.
If they resolve and accept it, they also need to stomach that the same type of conflict will probably keep repeating and will keep needing to be resolved and accepted as long as the relationship lasts. Such is the nature of romantic relationships.
But if a couple fails to express their concerns and put up sufficient boundaries, the conflicts amplify. And as a result, they risk launching themselves into the fourth stage of a rebound relationship.
4. The Nostalgia And Comparison Stage
This stage marks the point where a person will start comparing their new partner with their 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 unhealthy with comparing a new partner to an ex, and while everyone does it from time to time, it is unhealthy for a person to keep doing it until they begin to reminisce about their old relationship and obsessively miss their ex.
If that happens, the intrusive thoughts that keep swirling around a person’s mind often get infused with growing resentment toward their current partner. These people start to think, “Why can’t you be more/less like my ex!” This is undoubtedly a bad sign for a relationship.
Another trait of The Nostalgia And Comparison Stage is that the more disagreements a couple has, the more they’ll contemplate breaking up. And the more a person contemplates breaking up, the more likely it is that they’ll progress into the last stage of a rebound relationship.
5. The Epiphany Stage
This stage plays out in two radically different ways.
A person either concludes that their relationship is toxic, that they’ve committed to a partner for all the wrong reasons, and that they’ve settled, or they conclude that their relationship is healthy and has the potential of becoming something deeper.
Depending on the conclusion, a person either decides to break up, or to stay and double down on building an actual relationship. At this point, two interesting things occur.
A couple’s love becomes unconditional — they don’t need each other to be or act a certain way in order for love to flow freely. And they begin to form an emotional bond capable of keeping them together despite thankless circumstances: logistics, war, illness, etc. In other words, it’s at this stage that a rebound can potentially turn into a real relationship.
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 beliefs 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 not much different than those 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 argue the stages of a rebound and those of a non-rebound aren’t 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. (2) (3)
The only time things get a bit messy is during the third and fourth stages of a rebound, which mark the transitional period between the middle and final stages in the context of non-rebounds. Yet, there are theories out there that make sense of even these sorts of anomalies. (4)
2. The Stages Of A Rebound Relationship Aren’t Linear
Like with breakup stages, those of a rebound don’t unfold linearly. You don’t suddenly go from, say, 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 one.
You can also randomly revert to any previous stage. For example, in only a matter of days or weeks, you can go from The Epiphany to the Comparison Stage and then back to Epiphany.
You can even be in two stages of a rebound at once or adopt elements from two or more of them. For instance, you could be in The Honeymoon Stage but still weirdly have countless arguments with your partner, which are the hallmarks of The Conflicts And Reality Stage.
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 for months. Others for years. Nobody has the timelines for these stages figured out, so don’t obsess about it. It’s just not worth it.
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 and that your relationship won’t work out. The whole thing could mean absolutely nothing. It may just be a temporary obstacle that will resolve itself in time.
And if you’re someone who wants their ex back but are worried that that’s going to be impossible because they’re in a particular stage with their new rebound partner, and things are supposedly going great, know that it may not be as big of a deal as you think. Your ex may still come back eventually.
What I’m ultimately saying is, relax.
Like with the stages of getting an ex back or breakup stages, there’s not much science behind these sorts of theories. So don’t look into it too much. You don’t have to, nor will it change anything. Whatever worries are stressing you out now will inevitably cease to exist once you stretch your life’s timeline far enough. Until then, focus on things you can actually control.
Additional Resources For Learning About Rebound Relationships
- Fuck The Signs Your Ex Is In A Rebound Relationship: learn why the signs your ex is in a rebound relationship may not mean anything and what you should do instead of focusing on them.
- How A Rebound Relationship Can Save Your Life: an article that reveals why a rebound relationship is not always a bad thing regardless of how it works out.
- My Radical Re-Attraction Course: an interactive video course that teaches you how to get back with your ex, filled with additional information on the stages and psychology of rebound relationships.
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