{Single Saints} The Rebound Relationship

I’ve been back in the dating scene for about a year now (after waiting 8 months after my divorce), and in that time I’ve learned quite a bit. But the biggest lesson of all has been how to recognize when I’m dating a rebounder. The first time I dated one, I had no clue. I was new to the dating scene. I didn’t recognize the signs and didn’t know the right questions to ask. Let’s just say it didn’t end well. The second time I dated a rebounder, I knew he had just been dumped, but I thought he was a nice guy, so I gave him a chance. That didn’t work out either. 

So, in an effort to spare some of you the heartache that I’ve experienced, I present you with 5 signs you are the rebound guy or girl:

1. They just broke up with their ex. Yes, this is an obvious one—and therefore one you should be hesitant to make exceptions for. A question to always be asked on a first date should be, “When was the last time you were in a serious relationship?” Depending on his or her response, proceed with caution. You should also consider how serious the previous relationship was. Are we talking boyfriend or girlfriend? Maybe a few months ago is fine. Ex fiancée? I’d give it six months, minimum. Recently divorced? They probably need at least a year to get their head on straight (speaking from personal experience). 

2. They want to rush things. Or, conversely, they move at the speed of molasses. My first rebounder nearly smothered me when we started dating. He asked me out for every night of the week and texted, called, and Facebooked me several times a day—a sure sign a rebounder is using you as a distraction or to fill some kind of void. I experienced the other extreme with rebounder #2. We dated for nearly three months, but it never progressed emotionally or physically. In that entire time, he never even held my hand or kissed me goodnight. (I know, I know. I should have bailed a long time ago. Live and learn.)

3. They don’t really try to get to know you. Like I said, rebounder #1 seemed totally into me at first, but I soon realized that he rarely asked questions about my life, my likes or dislikes, my hopes and dreams. In reality, he didn’t make any effort to learn what makes me tick. Rebounder #2 didn’t make any effort either. He was too busy talking about his ex.

4. They are critical of you. Rebounder #1 showered me with compliments at first, but it suddenly switched to a constant barrage of criticism that left me dumbfounded. I finally realized he wasn’t over his ex fiancée and that he was directly comparing me to her. He couldn’t appreciate who I was because all he could see is who I was not—his ex.

5. They tend to “show you off.” If your dates—especially early in the relationship—consist of large social gatherings like dances or parties, beware. There is no better way to scream, “I’m over my ex!” than to show up with a new squeeze for all your friends (and quite possibly your ex) to see. There’s a good chance he or she is intentionally trying to create a buzz. The rebounder might also be trying to claim you as exclusive property by making sure everyone sees you are “with” him or her.

If you suspect you are in a rebound relationship, trust your instincts and don’t ignore the warning signs. Take it from someone who knows, it’s no fun to be someone’s consolation prize.

Now, on to the rebounders. I confess I don’t have any personal experience as a rebounder, so the following list comes from what I’ve learned by dating them or talking to friends about their rebound relationships. If you’ve recently gotten back into the dating scene after a breakup, here are 5 signs you are rebounding:

1. You have started dating, but you still look for ways to see your ex. You show up to events you know he or she will be at, and you invite your ex to social gatherings you are planning or attending. Bad sign. Rebounder #2 once intentionally did not invite me to one of his parties because he told me he was hoping his ex would show up. Yeah, that’s when I finally called it quits.

2. When you’re with someone else, you don’t focus on that person. Instead, you find yourself wishing you were with your ex. You’ve just hiked a beautiful mountain trail with your date, and all you can think is, “I wish my ex was here to see this.” If your mind is constantly wandering with memories of your ex, then why are you with this new person? (See #3 above.)

3. You constantly compare the new person you are dating with your ex. This new person isn’t crazy about volleyball—something you enjoyed playing with your ex. And what’s up with the constant need to discuss current events? If you aren’t open minded enough to appreciate what someone new has to offer, then don’t bother. (See #4 above.)

4. You would feel like you’re cheating on your ex if you kissed or held hands with someone else. Your heart still belongs to your ex, and in a way, you are still trying to prove your devotion by remaining “faithful” to him or her, even if your ex has moved on. 

5. If your ex asked to get back together, you would do it in a heartbeat. If you know this is true, then game over.

It’s unfair, unrealistic, and selfish to expect someone else to help you get over your ex. If you can’t see your past relationship for what it was—a learning experience—then you need more time to heal. Do everyone a favor and wait a while longer before diving back into the dating pool.


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Jessica Carter is a recently divorced mother of two. In her late thirties, she is learning to navigate the mysterious world of LDS midsingles.

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