Rebound Relationship: What It Is, Signs, Stages, Does It Work and More

Do you ever get an uneasy feeling about your new relationship? It’s fresh, it’s romantic, it’s exciting, and yet, there’s something missing.

There’s an uneasy feeling that accompanies the two of you on your movie dates, your nights out, and really, any time you spend together.

It’s possible that this troubled feeling is because this is a rebound relationship for your girlfriend. Or maybe, unbeknownst to you, this is a rebound relationship for you!

Either way, knowing how to recognize the signs of a rebound relationship, evaluate whether or not it has a promising future, and learn how to move forward is integral to your emotional health.

In this article, we will shed light on the elusive “rebound relationship”, signs you or your partner might be in one, different stages, and what to do about it.

What is a Rebound Relationship?

A rebound relationship is, in essence, any relationship that is a reaction to a former relationship that has recently ended.

One of the people involved in the relationship is still trying to recover and seek some form of closure after their previous relationship and they use a fresh relationship as one of their coping strategies.

While a rebound relationship can often be helpful emotionally for the “rebounder”, to the other end of the relationship, it is usually a less than ideal experience. They will feel emotionally neglected, confused, and in the end, unloved.

Oftentimes the recovery from a rebound relationship break-up is a long and arduous one and can leave you emotionally weak, distrusting, and with years of commitment issues.

Learning how to spot the storm before it has time to strike and construct a defense plan can help you avoid this pain.

How to Tell if She is Rebounding

Diagnosing a “rebound relationship” in its early stages can save you tons of heartache and pain. If she is the one rebounding, it may take a while for you to realize it.

During the initial stages of a new relationship, recognizing potential weaknesses or red flags is close to impossible.

You’re so focused on the novelty of it all that you will miss the lack of mutual desire and ignore any negative feelings that may be nagging at the back of your mind.

To tell if a new partner is rebounding, you have to be on your guard.

Signs of a Rebound Relationship

The following are a few key signs of a rebound relationship. This list isn’t exhaustive but in all my years of relationship coaching for men, these are the most common ones I’ve noticed.

1. She Wants to Move Quickly

Moving too quickly in any relationship is a red flag. When people move quickly in any area of life, things tend to break.

If your new love seems to be rushing things along, it’s likely this is a rebound relationship for her.

With her last relationship has come to an end just a few weeks ago, your new partner is trying to escape negative feelings from her former relationship as quickly as possible.

Here are a few examples of what I mean when I say moving on too quickly:

  • She “falls in love” quicker than normal
  • She is eager to make you guys official after only a couple of dates (even one at times)
  • She feels reliant on you for emotional support (but not for healthy, reciprocal love)

2. Your Relationship Lacks Emotional Connection

Relationships are built on connection, so if the connection isn’t there, what really is it?

When recovering from a past relationship and trying to move past the negative emotions and onto a new person, women will often seem disengaged.

While many of the normal signs of a healthy emotional relationship may be there, if you pay close attention, you will sense lingering feelings and emotional attachment to the past partner.

Here is what I mean:

  1. She feels closed off–it feels like there’s a wall between the two of you in every interaction and you just can’t quite figure out how to get over it.
  2. Your sex life seems off–people use sex as a form of relationship recovery. No matter the frequency of your sex, if the sex feels more like a ritual than a connection, you are likely just a Band-Aid on an open wound.
  3. It feels like she’s pulling away–she doesn’t pick up her phone, cancels dates, and leaves you frequently confused.

3. She Flaunts Your Relationship Publicly

It’s one thing to be proud of you and your relationship, it’s another to flaunt you publicly whenever she can.

Oftentimes, a rebounding partner who is struggling to overcome past heartbreak will tote you around like a trophy in an attempt to win back their ex, or at least make them jealous.

Telling the difference between reasonable pride in you and your relationship and excess public display can be difficult. More often than not, it’s something you sense rather than see outright.

If you ever feel like a show dog held aloft by your owner after winning the grand prize, something is amiss.

If it is really about you, public flaunting should make you feel special and wanted rather than flaunted.

If you ever feel like your girlfriend is more interested in the reaction of those around (specifically her ex) rather than your feelings, then you are nothing more than a trophy or a chunk of bait to lure back an escaped fish.

This may be something that happens in public in real life, or on social media. Early on, she may post excessive amounts of pictures of the two of you with gushing captions that feel a bit overboard or too early.

Realizing that you are nothing more than a trophy can be a massive blow to your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and ultimately, your mental health.

4. She Constantly References Her Ex

Recovering from the sudden termination of a long-term relationship is never easy.

There will always be lingering pains from the last relationship or previous partner that makes moving on a process, to say the least.

With this in mind, a certain amount of reflection and discussion about this recent relationship is only to be expected.

As a loving partner, you should understand that helping your girlfriend get over this breakup is just a part of building a lasting and healthy relationship.

That said, excessive reflection and referencing of the ex can be a tell-tale sign of an unhealthy rebound relationship.

Here is exactly what I mean:

  • You feel as if you’re constantly being compared to someone. This may not always involve direct reference or naming of the ex, but rather a general impression that you’re being measured on an invisible scale–and worse, you’re losing to your invisible opponent.
  • You feel a sense of bitterness over their ex. These will often manifest in angry jabs or sudden outbursts directed at this past partner. While you feel you should be happy because she seems to look upon them in distaste compared to you, the comparison in the first place is a sign of a rebound relationship.
  • They always want to talk about their ex. Like I said above, discussion and reflection are necessary, but only to a certain point. Once it gets frequent enough, it becomes a red flag. She’s still hurting from her last relationship.

Stages of a Rebound Relationship and What They Mean

So, you know how to recognize rebound relationship signs now, but how do they usually unfold? Is there ever hope for your rebound relationship or do all rebound relationships end?

In this next section, we’ll discuss the stages of the typical rebound relationship–how they unfold, how to meet your emotional needs, and when to seek professional advice.

1. The Meeting

All relationships start with a meeting.

The difference with rebound relationships is the meeting is something that progresses rapidly. Their initial interest is sudden and unexpected and they’re ready to “get serious” extremely quickly and turn this tiny flame into a full-blown romantic relationship.

As a man, this is often an exciting thing at first. You’re like, “oh wow, she really likes me.”

Because of the rarity of this, most men will willingly dive in, ignoring any red flags that could be indicative of a rebound relationship.

2. The Honeymoon Stage

“The honeymoon stage” starts right after the meeting. Arguments are few and far between and you ignore any potential issues or signs of weakness in the relationship.

The “honeymoon stage” in rebound relationships is easily mistaken for that of any relationship.

So can you tell the difference? Yes, you just have to pay close attention.

Everything is a bit uneasy. She feels sexually invested, but rarely emotionally invested. Usually, it feels like the relationship is very one-sided.

3. The Gradual Realization

What usually follows the honeymoon phase is a gradual realization that you’re in a bit of a mess.

You start to realize that this isn’t a committed relationship or a serious relationship at all, but rather a salve.

You start to recognize unhealthy relationship patterns and you start to realize that this is a reactionary relationship.

You start to realize that your relationship is going nowhere and you start wondering why you’re even there in the first place.

4. The Breakdown/Decision

After you take an honest look at the relationship, it usually breaks down.

You realize that you’re being taken advantage of and things usually go downhill from there.

You regret it, you get upset, and eventually, you break up. Or, you decide to move forward.

How to Tell if You’re Rebounding?

So, up to this point, we’ve discussed cases where your partner is rebounding and you don’t know it.

But what about you?

How can you tell if you’re the one rebounding, and if you are, is it always a bad thing?

Being able to recognize when you’re emotionally vulnerable and could be potentially rebounding can save you and your partner tons of heartache.

Most experts will say that all rebound relationships are bad, but from our experience with hundreds of clients, we don’t completely agree.

Most are bad and should be avoided, but to say “all are bad” is a bit overboard.

Sometimes, a rebound relationship can be a helpful way to get over emotional damage and can be an insightful experience after a hurtful relationship.

However, your partner needs to be fully aware of your vulnerable mental state.

If you try to keep your feelings to yourself in an attempt to avoid hurting them, it will end poorly.

Can a Rebound Relationship Work?

The big questions: can rebound relationships work, or are they always destined for failure?

While they can work, more often than not, rebound relationships will end quickly.

However, in rare cases, it is possible to turn a fleeting rebound relationship into a healthy long-term relationship.

A successful rebound relationship will always revolve around one word: communication.

Both ends of the deal have to be able to acknowledge the dangers of the relationship and be willing to proceed anyway.

You and your partner have to know that one or the other is rebounding and choose to stay together nonetheless.

From experience, rebound relationships have the potential to turn into the most successful relationships if both parties help each other process and move forward.


So, you’re in a rebound relationship, you’ve acknowledged it, and you’re looking to move forward.

You know how to identify a rebound relationship (whether she is rebounding or you are). You know how to sense if you’re being used and how the relationship will likely unfold.

Hopefully, you know how to avoid such relationships in the future or approach them with enough intentionality to avoid a painful end.

My goal in writing this article wasn’t to simply tell you what you’ve done wrong and send you on your merry way. Coaching guys who’ve been through breakups and diagnosing just as many rebound relationships, our highly-trained coaches are experts in knowing what to do.

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