Dating after divorce or after a breakup can be really challenging! How do you know if your new relationship is a rebound relationship? “I should be healed by now,” you say to yourself. “I just want to move on.” You think about him. The ex. Maybe he has someone to share his new apartment. You’re certain he’s already moved on without you. Discouragement and hopelessness creep in even more than you actually realize. In defeat, you sit on the side of the metaphorical road towards healing. Due to your seeming lack of progress, you decide to take matters into your own hands. That’s when the Rebound Bus pulls up. Yes, the Rebound bus… It’s shiny, new and attractive. It promises a quicker route to your promised healing.
What begins as innocent confiding, turns into flirtatious late-night text exchanges which inevitably grows to palpable sexual tension between the two of you. And once your mutual attraction is physically expressed, you have already settled-in on the bus.
“Rebound Guy” is probably nothing like your ex. He suddenly makes you feel attractive, cherished and yes, even sexy. Everything you’ve been craving for the last how-ever-long is finally in your exchanges with Rebound Guy. You need it. You need him.
The rule-follower in you probably knows that you are not ready for a real relationship. So, you decide to keep it quiet. Rationalization and defensiveness attempt to justify your uncharacteristic behavior, not to others, because no one would know, but to yourself. The relationship you once loved just ended in flames, so who’s to say this won’t work? Maybe it will! Maybe Rebound Guy is the guy of happily-ever-after’s.
The fact that you are secretly on the Bus only magnifies the lust between you both. You and he blaze through stop lights, caution signs and even your own better judgement. At any moment you can pull the cord to indicate you want to get off of the bus. But at each mile marker you slip passed physical and emotional boundaries you never thought you would go.
Feeling hopeless, feeling inadequate and feeling unchoosable, you sit on The Rebound Bus. After all, he is making your healing feel a little more bearable. Being with him helps you forget that you are still broken. Maybe this is moving on?
As the Rebound Bus drives down the road, you surrender to the lullaby of the appearance of safety. A narrative begins to form in your mind, and you start to believe it:
“Your marriage wasn’t right. Maybe this is.“
“God wants you to be happy.“
“You deserve to feel this good.“
“This is going to help you get healed faster.“
“This is hope.“
Yes, you begin to convince yourself that this is hope. That this new man is hope for your future. But is it really?
Listen, friend. I fell for it too. I fell for the Rebound bus. Before I knew it, I swiftly arrived at the location I never thought I’d be at with a man who wasn’t my husband. A relationship, and particularly a sexual relationship without the security of monogamy is dangerous, and I’m not that brave! I finally ended the relationship with absolutely no idea that it was a rebound until much later.
Maybe you have gotten out of a serious relationship or a marriage and you find yourself thrown into something new with someone new. Is it a rebound? I have compiled a few signs for you to identify if your new relationship is a rebound relationship:
- You are Trying to Forget Your Ex
I get it! You just want to forget about the guy who hurt you so bad! After all, everything reminds you of him. Maybe if you get into a new relationship you won’t think about your ex so much. This is actually a sign that you’re not over your ex yet. That’s okay! You will be. EVENTUALLY.
Here’s the thing, you loved that person for a reason. That’s why it hurt so badly when they rejected you/cheated/broke their promise/etc. When you love someone, your heart is open to them. Thinking about them continually is completely normal and definitely makes sense. But entering into a new relationship with this mentality that you just want to forget about your ex is actually using this new person as a distraction. Yes, you’re using them. It’s a form of manipulation and it’s not okay. You’re grieving. Keep grieving. Keep healing and in time you won’t be thinking about him as much. I promise.
- You Want to Make Your Ex Jealous
Maybe your ex is flaunting around a new lady on social media or in front of your friends (or even just in your imagination). That hurts! Receiving attention from someone is not a bad thing in and of itself. But it may be a rebound if…
- you’re hoping that your ex will be jealous of the new guy in your life and suddenly want you back.
- you’re hoping that he will have a change of heart and realize how much he’s missing out on by being with you.
These could be a sign that this is actually a rebound relationship.
- You Just Want to Feel Better
Divorce (and even a breakup) is extremely painful! The toll that grief takes on your health emotionally, physically and mentally cannot be discounted. You just want to feel better! But using a person to feel better can be an unhealthy form of self-medication. Medicating your pain with the comfort of someone else’s body and/or heart is a form of manipulation. There are helpful coping mechanisms for healing from a breakup, but running to another person is not one of them. Read this Psychology Today article about it.
- You Want to Receive Validation that you are Attractive, Desirable, Wanted, etc.
After being rejected by a loved one, and especially cheated on, it’s a normal experience to struggle with self-esteem and body image issues. Comparison can be a huge issue after infidelity! When you begin to seek out someone to tell you or show you how wonderful, beautiful, desirable you are, you can begin to rely on the words and actions of someone else to prove your value. And as we know, the actions, opinions and approval of others are not always lasting.
When (or if) the time is right to date again, that individual should absolutely make you feel good about yourself, desirable and beautiful! But I want you to get to the point that you already know how amazing and valuable you are without someone else telling you!
Allow me to advise you to seek support and encouragement from a professional counselor or therapist in your self-esteem recovery and overall identity. Your value and worth must be firmly rooted in Jesus – in who God says you are, rather than what others say you are!
- You Think About Your Ex Even in the New Relationship
It’s totally normal to have flashbacks and to think about your previous relationship, even after you’re fully healed from the breakup. But if it’s happening constantly, it may be a sign that you’re not over that relationship. If you’re in a new relationship with a new person and you’re finding yourself thinking about your ex a lot, take time for yourself! Take a break from this new relationship. If it is right and if this new guy is “the guy,” the relationship will come back around later. Focus on your healing first!
- You Know the New Relationship Won’t Go Anywhere
“I know it’s not going to last, but I’m not ready to settle down again anyway.”
“I just want to have some fun.”
Have you found yourself saying something like this? Don’t hear me wrong, when you start dating after divorce, you don’t need to get remarried right away! But if you’re just looking for a little fun with a guy (or multiple guys) this could be a sign of a rebound relationship.
- You are Hiding the Relationship (or Aspects of it) From Your Inner Circle
Are you hiding this relationship from people you trust? Maybe because you also resonate with number six, you don’t want to include your friends or family in the relationship. I am not suggesting that you need to share every detail of your new relationship with your close friends. But if you’re feeling you need to hide this relationship, it’s possible you’re feeling shame about the relationship in general. Ask yourself why that is. It could be because you’re not ready for this new relationship and because it could be a rebound.
There you have it. My seven signs that your relationship could be a rebound. You may have noticed that none of these include an actual timeline from how long after a relationship ended. Maybe your serious relationship ended a week ago, or maybe it ended 10 years ago. A new relationship could still be rebound. It’s also possible to enter into a new relationship really soon after a breakup and it can end up being a really healthy and positive relationship.
After ministering to women (and men) healing from divorce for over two and a half years, I’ve met hundreds of individuals and heard so many stories in live events, The Reclaimed Community, and my Online Course. A continual theme I see, and one I know personally, is the story of the “Rebound Bus.” In far more than half the individuals who entrust me with their process, I hear a version of this painful tale. Many have actually said that ending the rebound relationship was more painful than their divorces! Maybe you have walked it too. If you have, let me know! I’d love to hear your story and support you if I can.
Number one take away: Before entering into a new relationship, do the hard work with God first! Then, when you begin dating, he will lead you. Psalm 37:23 says this, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Apply this to your new dating life and He will direct your steps.