On The Rebound?

Here’s how to tell if it will backfire on you.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Here’s how to tell if it will backfire on you.

Just out of a relationship but in the arms of another already? We’re not here to judge. But what if your rebound brings you more heartbreak than comfort? Adora Wong finds out how you can tell if it’ll crash and burn.

I’ve been in several rebound relationships. Most of them provided comfort during the darker days but fizzled out after a couple of months. One, however, evolved into a proper relationship and we were (largely) happy together for two years. 

But there was one that completely backfired on me —the inadequacies of the relationship accentuated everything that was good about the one I had just gotten out of, so I ended up missing my ex more than I should have. But how do we tell if a rebound will do us more harm than good? 

It’ll backfire when… 

According to Jean Chen XM, a psychotherapist at Relationship Matters: “It can backfire if you’re trying to get some major things that you lacked in your previous relationship out of it.”

“Let’s say you need a partner who is financially responsible and verbally expressive, and your previous boyfriend was financially responsible, but not verbally expressive. You’ll probably look for someone who is articulate in your next relationship.”

“However, if your new partner is unable to control his spending, the relationship will backfire because you still don’t have both of your needs met. This may make you miss your ex and wonder if the breakup was a mistake.” 

Her sentiment is backed by Cindy Leong, Chief Dating Coach at Divine Connect. “When your new partner doesn’t match up to your previous one, you may end up missing your ex even more,” she says. She points out that you also risk driving your new partner away when you expect them to fill the emotional gap too quickly. 

Your rebound relationship can also backfire if, in a bid to do things differently, you go out with smeone who is the opposite of your ex. 

“Let’s say your previous boyfriend had a job that took up a lot of his time, so you intentionally choose someone who is able to spend more time with you at home as your new partner,” says Jean. “This may not be something you actually want in the long- term and can cause friction.”


It can be good for you if… 

In an article for Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Dr Mary C. Lamia notes that a rebound relationship can lessen the hurt, shame and pain of a break-up. “When a person loses a connection, it is through connecting [with a new person] that recovery can take place,” she says.

She adds that, contrary to popular belief, your new relationship doesn’t necessarily have less value than the previous one. In fact, it can prove to have far greater worth than the previous relationship if more of your needs are satisfied.

However, she warns of possible pitfalls. For example, if you still harbour anger and resentment towards your ex, it “may interfere with the attachment to [your new partner], as well as put [him] in the uncomfortable position of competing with the ghost of what remains of the past relationship.”

So you’re aware of the risks, and have decided to get into a rebound relationship. Does it matter that you and you ex just called it quits last week?

“It’s not about the period of time between your previous relationship and your new one,” says Jean. “What’s more important is that you no longer want to be with your ex—that you know what you need from a relationship, and that you recognise that your feelings for your new partner are new and unique."