“Oh no—I’m their rebound.” It’s no denying that most of us have come to this conclusion while dating someone new at one point or another—after all, rebound relationships are quite common. But should you automatically discount a connection with someone just because they didn’t date a few people before you after getting out of a long-term relationship? Not necessarily, says Mary Lamia, PhD, a clinical psychologist and a psychoanalyst. “Time between relationships is not necessary for psychological well-being,” she says. “People need connection, and moving on can help you get over what has to be left behind.” In some instances, not only will you help this person move on, but you’ll also fall in love with each other in the process.
What Is a Rebound Relationship?
A rebound relationship is a relationship entered into shortly after a breakup, typically before the feelings about the former relationship have been resolved.
But since that’s not always the case, we’ve outlined the nine telltale signs you’re in a rebound relationship that isn’t going anywhere below.
The Pace of the Relationship Is Fast (or Slow)
Rebound relationships usually happen at two different speeds—super slow, as in you’re almost moving backward, or at warp speed, as in they’re telling you they love you after five dates. In the first instance, it’s apparent that the person you’re seeing has been hurt or just isn’t quite ready to put themselves out there again. The second case means that they so badly miss being in a relationship that they are skipping important parts in the process of dating like getting to know you first.
The Conversation Is Surface-Level
Sure, you’re having plenty of conversation, but it’s always superficial. You discuss what you did this weekend—you even ask them about how they grew up—but it never veers toward you and how you’re fitting into the picture. This is how they make sure you’re entertained but keep you at arms’ length in the process.
They Use Sex as a Distraction
Physical attraction is normal, but if the conversation starts veering into the “serious” category, do they start putting the moves on you? That person could be using sex to distract you from realizing that they’re not letting you in emotionally. Snap out of it a bit, if so, because the hormones released during sex may have you falling hard for someone who isn’t available right now.
You’re Not Like Anyone They’ve Dated Before
Most of us have a “type,” but after a breakup, sometimes you go for someone who doesn’t have any long-term potential in your eyes (this way you can’t get hurt, right?). "This is the classic “one night stand”, or “one-week stand”, or “six-month stand” scenario. You’re dating someone new, and despite some positive experiences, you know that, deep down, your partner is “mister/miss right now” rather than “mister/miss right,” says professor Preston Ni.
Do they mention plans and then fail to follow through? Sometimes everything is fine, and then a few weeks go by, and they’ve fallen off the face of the earth. This may be because they were into the idea of a relationship, but they just weren’t ready. And when they’re not ready, you can’t change their mind.
They Don’t Want To Commit
Rebound relationships can sometimes veer toward the “when it’s convenient for them” situation. If you’re constantly working around their schedule or only hear from them on their terms, get out now. Additionally, if you bring up the idea of defining the relationship and they freak out, it's probably time to move on.
The Relationship Climate Is Hot and Cold
When someone’s not over a past relationship or fling, they can feel conflicted. This can impact your connection in the sense that when they feel needy, they’re all about holding your hand, and when they’re unsure, they start acting standoffish. "A clear sign of a rebounding relationship is when one calls the new partner mostly while feeling sad, lonely or empty. Conversely, one might forget or neglect the new partner when happy," Ni says.
This constant toeing the line and not knowing where you stand is definitely not fair to you. You should be with someone who wants to be with you—and feels good about your relationship status—100% of the time.
They Talk About Their Ex
Do they talk about their ex a lot (or ignore the topic completely)? If they’re constantly bringing up their ex and things they used to do (or you find out that they’re taking you to some of their old haunts), it’s time to say goodbye. "The rebounding person may still miss the former relationship, and find oneself thinking about the ex, even while interacting with the new partner," Ni explains.
The other thing to be wary of is if someone decides to ignore their breakup completely (as in, they never bring it up). They might never say how they’re feeling and don’t address when they need some space.
They're in Contact With Their Ex
Unless it’s to coordinate exchanging their things, this just isn’t a good sign. The third stage of grief is bargaining, and a lot of times people coming out of a long-term relationship will reach out to their ex with hopes of getting back together. You don’t want to be part of a love triangle, so be cautious.