By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW
Getting involved in a rebound relationship is a risky proposition. If you’re feeling lonely after a divorce, it’s easy to fall for someone before you’re truly ready to begin dating again. So it makes sense to explore the reasons why rebound relationships should be avoided. However, rebound relationships can serve a purpose and be healthy if both parties go into the partnership with clear boundaries and they’re on the same page.
First, let’s consider the fact that divorce is painful and people usually experience a variety of emotions including confusion, anxiety, anger, regret, betrayal, and sadness. Some people would argue that a rebound relationship is a good way to get past some of these feelings and can give the newly divorced person a boost of endorphins and elevate their self-esteem.
However, most experts believe people who are newly divorced probably aren’t ready to jump into a long-term committed relationship. The chance of a rebound relationship having long-term potential is slim. Truth be told, there are many reasons why it rarely ends well.
Let’s start with my own experience. As a newly divorced woman with two school age children, I fell headlong into a rebound relationship with unrealistic expectations. The person who I dated was also recently divorced and neither one of us had healed from our divorces. Needless to say, we were both vulnerable and in need of a little ego stroking – but not ready for a committed relationship. We were simply too needy ourselves.
In my case, I saw the potential for a long-term relationship and was heartbroken when it ended. For many reasons, this relationship was a painful reminder that most rebounds don’t last. What I learned the hard way was to take it slow and to give myself time to heal from my divorce.
While most rebound relationships don’t do any permanent harm, they can postpone the recovery process and don’t allow a person time to consider their contribution to their divorce. In fact, it can be an easy way out of dealing with emotional pain – an essential part of healing. Escaping by means of a rebound relationship can prevent you from gaining self-awareness about the reasons your marriage ended and the lessons you need to learn from it.
7 things to consider before entering a rebound relationship:
1. Rebound relationships are typically short-term and usually don’t allow the newly divorced person time to process the end of their marriage and grieve it. Rebounds can complicate or delay this process.
2. Newly separated and divorced people are usually feeling pretty lonely, needy, and vulnerable so are probably not ready to engage in an intimate relationship.
3. The timing is probably off. Consider this: even someone who might be a good match for you in the future probably isn’t a good bet now. One or both of you simply needs more time to heal. As a result, the relationship may end abruptly – leaving damage in its wake.
4. A breakup can temporarily damage your self-esteem and it’s important to build your confidence before you enter the dating world again.
5. Learning to deal with loneliness is part of the grieving process and essential to discovering who you are post-divorce. Regaining a sense of self can give you the confidence you need to move forward and make wise decisions in your next relationship.
6. If you’re eager to remarry, consider that the divorce rate is over 65% for second marriages. One of the main reasons is that people date too soon after their breakup and end up picking a partner who has similar characteristics to their ex.
7. Rebound relationships can be fun but you may be relying on your new partner to fix some of your problems. Be careful! Looking to your new love for validation is risky business.
Overall, most experts advise against rebound relationships because newly divorced people need time to recover from their divorce and any “ghosts of the relationship” that need to be dealt with. Put simply, we need to put these ghosts and past memories in their proper place so that we can be fully available for a new relationship.
On the other hand, dating several different people casually can give you the opportunity to figure out what type of partner you need to thrive. Trying out new relationships can be less risky if both partners have realistic expectations and don’t see the partnership as long-term. If you go into a rebound relationship with your eyes wide open, you stand a better chance of recovering more quickly if it ends badly and you are less likely to repeat any dating disasters. Being cautious as you proceed into the dating world post-divorce will serve you well in the long-run!
I’d love to read your comments on this page. Be sure to order my new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome The Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.”