Rebound relationships

Rebound relationships are when someone rushes into a new relationship before they've fully processed their break up. There are risks involved in rebound relationships, but that doesn't mean they're doomed to fail.

What are rebound relationships?

The classic take on the rebound relationship normally involves someone rushing into a new relationship before they’re ‘over’ their ex - effectively replacing the old partner with a new one, whilst feelings for the old partner have not been resolved. They might still be thinking about their ex, or wanting them to notice that they're in a new relationship.

Are rebound relationships risky?

Popular opinion says rebound relationships are destined to fail: that the new partners will eventually realise they have nothing in common, or that it’s just too unstable a foundation to build anything substantial on. It may be that they chose the new partner only because they are so different from the previous one.

Are rebound relationships doomed to fail?

It’s hard to deny ‘rebound relationships’ can come with various risks.

The biggest risk is that the new relationship is simply being used as a way of avoiding emotions and feelings bound up in the previous one - that, by finding a new partner quickly, the person in question is trying to avoid the pain of breaking up and the sensation of uncertainty that can follow. The problem here is that these feelings often have a way of working themselves out anyway - and that can create instability in any new relationship.

Another risk can come from the way in which rebound partners tend to be chosen. While the popular perception of rebound relationships is that the person in question chooses a new partner at random, the actual pattern can be more problematic. It’s not uncommon for them to choose a partner who is very, very similar (either physically or personality-wise) to their previous one - or someone who is totally opposite.

Both outcomes can be fraught with their own difficulties. Choosing someone similar may mean the person in question is trying to work out unresolved issues with their previous partner - finding a similar partner with whom they can relive and ‘correct’ these experiences. This is an unwelcome burden for the new partner to face, and usually an unpredictable way for these issues to find resolution. However, choosing someone totally different can mean the person in question ends up with a new partner who isn’t particularly suitable for them - meaning events often take a turn once the initial ‘honeymoon’ phase is over.

However, as with many things, when it comes to relationships, it doesn’t pay to be too prescriptive. Rebound relationships can come with risks attached, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doomed to fail.

As many of us can attest having witnessed the newly developing relationships of family and friends and indeed our own, occasionally what some might describe as a classic ‘rebound relationship’ turns into a strong and loving partnership that lasts many years.

The truth is it can be really hard to predict what will work. A partnership that looks great on paper might not go the distance in real life - and vice versa. So, instead of drawing up hard and fast rules for what people ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ do, we might instead ask ourselves certain questions before arriving at a decision.

What to do if you think you might be in a rebound relationship?

If you think that you might be involved in a ‘rebound’ relationship, or are thinking about starting one, you might like to consider the following:

  • How do I feel? This can be a complex ask - especially when you aren’t feeling any singular emotion at any given time - but it can be useful to try to get a sense of where you’re at in regards to your previous relationship. Are you experiencing confusing feelings and emotions? Do you feel you may be acting out of hurt or anger?
  • What do I want? Again, this can be a perplexing decision-making process, but just thinking about it may begin to help you move towards an answer. Is there a direction you want to head in next? Conversely, is there a direction you don’t want to move in?
  • What would I say to someone in my position? Sometimes it can be useful to step outside yourself and consider things in a more objective fashion. If you were to have a conversation with yourself about what’s happening, what would you say?

How we can help

If you’re looking for support with your relationships, we can help. We offer a range of ways to speak with a trained relationship expert including ongoing counselling, 30 minute web and phone chats, and one session therapy.

Find out which service is right for you


How you can help

Have you found this advice helpful? Make a donation to help us reach more people and continue supporting the nation’s relationships:


Can't afford to donate? We understand. Instead, we ask that you leave us a 5 star review on Trustpilot.

Leave a review


Join our newsletter to get relationship advice and guidance straight to your inbox