How do I know if I’m in a so-called “rebound relationship?”
There’s really no easy to use litmus test to know whether you’re getting involved again too soon after the breakup of a relationship for reasons that have more to do with finding emotional help in “getting over” your ex than anything else (otherwise known as a “rebound relationship”. But there are some questions that you can ask yourself: Were you generally feeling comfortable, safe and happy on your own, day in and day out, without a primary relationship in your life before you became involved again? Do you tend to go straight from one relationship to another without a break? Do you tend to only leave one relationship if you have another waiting in the sidelines? Are you afraid of being alone? Have you ever spent a considerable period of time in your life by yourself, without a partner? Do you have what we may call a “balanced life”, that is, one filled with a support system consisting of friends, family, as well as hobbies that you enjoy, satisfying work, and even a religious or spiritual life (if that’s something that’s important to you)? What do you think of people you know who are not in a relationship – do you feel sorry for them or feel some level of pity or shame for them? These are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself in order to help you answer the above question.
The healthiest relationships are based on the desire to enhance two lives through love and acceptance rather than a desperate or overwhelming need for someone else to make us feel whole. So the question is: what drew you into your present relationship? Were you doing well emotionally before you met? The so-called “rebound” relationship exists where ones motivation for being involved is based primarily on a distraction from the pain of loss rather than on the primary desire to join, love and be loved, and enhance each other’s lives, rather than a dependency-based relationship where one feels they wouldn’t be able to survive without a partner. This is important: know that relationships are addictive and that, like all addictions, it hurts when they end. Often we’re preoccupied and obsessive about them and don’t know what to do with the sadness, the grief, the pain. But, as with all addictions, the pain will diminish over time. Time heals. So does God/Spirit or whatever your call your Higher Power.
This is not a black-and-white issue, however. All relationships have some element of dependency because it’s part of the human condition to find someone to connect with and rely upon in part, and at times. So if you feel a deep and abiding love for someone and the feeling is mutual – and where your relationship is not all or even almost all based on sex (often the culprit of creating a false sense of connection via the dopamine released by the brain, in which case a red flag should go up saying, “BEWARE”) – you may be in the beginnings of a wonderful, healthy relationship, even if it is somewhat early following your breakup. And if you feel some level of dependency or comfort in having a partner again, that is not a reason, by itself, to conclude that you are necessarily involved prematurely. So some level of dependency is entirely human and not at all bad. It’s all a question of degree.
A new relationship can easily provide that distraction from the pain of separation from an old flame, thereby apparently blunting the discomfort somewhat. However, it’s not real healing. Because when we distract ourselves from our pain, such pain persists.
The adage “What we resist persists” is instructive here. And sometimes distraction can be a form of resistance. So the classic “rebound” relationship is not healthy and indeed is generally only postponing the healing that must eventually take place. However, since we are all different as are our circumstances, what may be enough time for one person to “get over” a separation may not be enough for someone else. It’s quite a personal thing. For some, it may be a few months or even weeks (depending upon a lot of factors including the length of the former relationship, whether it was live-in, etc.) and for others it could be a year or more. Sometimes we are grieving and healing even before a break-up technically occurs. So we can’t always measure the grieving and healing time from the date of separation.
The only place to look for the answer is in your heart. Connect with your primary motivation for being together now. Is it based on fear (which is a state of contraction)? Or is it based on a state of expansive love and connection, which is a higher vibrational frequency (meaning love that is not first and foremost dependency-based)? Only you can answer that question in the stillness of your heart. If it feels right based on the above, Mazel Tov (i.e. Congratulations). Try to learn your lessons from your last relationship and be grateful.
However, if your answer is that you don’t think you’d be able to survive the pain of your breakup and the loss of your ex without this new relationships, very, very strongly consider putting your new relationship on hold, seek out the help of a therapist, counselor or coach, assemble your support network upon which to lean on and from which to get emotional support, develop and cultivate those hobbies and avocations you’ve always wanted to, and work on yourself. Yes, that’s right – be courageous enough to put your current relationship on hold until you’re strong enough to be more independent, healed, and emotionally present. If your present relationship really is strong enough and meant to be, it’ll be around when you’re stronger and ready to be involved again romantically. Have faith in that. T chances are that if you don’t collect yourself and build up your own strength now, this current love affair may very well not last, because relationships heavily built on dependency are not healthy and usually cause rifts, fights, angst, drama, and often result in another break-up. So be courageous, kind and loving to yourself.