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14 ways to tell if you’re in a rebound relationship

My friend Amy asked me, “Ryan, how do I know if I’m in a rebound relationship?” Well, I asked her, “Amy, when was he in a relationship last?” And she told me that he just got out of a relationship. But that they were really interested in each other. Okay, well, I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance that things are going to work out here…

First, my experience with this…

Yes, I’ve been in a rebound relationship. But what I can say is that I’ve been the one to engage in it. Meaning, I jumped into a relationship thinking that it would help me get over the prior relationship that I was in.

Well, it didn’t really work out for me, unfortunately. I found myself hurting other people. And I didn’t really mean to. I had the best of intentions. To actually move on and try to find someone who aligned with me (emotionally).

But unfortunately, that didn’t work. And what I should have done is take the time to fully decompress from the relationship I was getting out of before engaging in a new one. That can be hard. But it’s really important to do.

I learned that I didn’t want to hurt other people in this process. And so, for me, it was crucial to do this.

Understanding the rebound relationship

You probably already know what it is—but in case you don’t know what a rebound relationship is—in short, it’s when someone is JUST GETTING OUT of a relationship and then decides they want to start dating.

What is a rebound relationship? And the timing of it?

What constitutes timing of coming out of a relationship that would make it a rebound? Well, generally, anywhere from one to three months is not enough time to fully decouple from a relationship that was anywhere from 6-months or more.

If the other person was in a relationship for longer (let’s say multiple years) then they’ll certainly need anywhere from 6-months to 1-year before the person they are starting to date wouldn’t be considered a “rebound.”

Related: What is an NSA relationship?

14 ways to tell you’re in a rebound relationship

—You might be in a relationship rebound if these things are happening:

1. The person just got out of a relationship

One of the best ways to tell is to simply compare your relationship with when the person last got out of one. Make sure to take a look at how long their relationship was. And then determine if it seems like an appropriate amount of time.

At the end of the day, you’ll still have to make the final determination. Ask questions to try and see if they’re fully decoupled from the relationship.

2. There’s no clear intentions about what the person wants out of the relationship

No clear intentions in the relationship are things like “an unknown” when it comes to the future. Do they want kids? Do they want to be married? If none of these are coming up in conversation, then it means they probably “just want to have fun.”

Probably avoid that!

3. They haven’t really said they want a committed relationship

A committed relationship is one that is built. It takes time. And the other person should know what it looks like. If they don’t—it means that they might be part of the problem.

There’s very little chance they’ll learn that with you. And you don’t want them to have to!

4. There’s a healthy attention to “affection” and nothing else

If they’re really focused on one thing—and we all know what that one thing is—then it’s probably a way of telling you’re in a rebound relationship.

Usually, a rebound relationship will be focused on that one thing! 😉

See also: Friends with benefits meaning

5. The other person hasn’t met your friends

The person you’re with has no intentions to meet your friends or people who are important to you. That’s a good way to determine that you’re in a rebound relationship.

Someone who wants to build a future with you is going to invest in you. And spend the time with you to learn who you are according to the people around you.

6. They haven’t met your parents or important people in your life

Meeting your parents is a big step forward in the relationship. If the person really didn’t show any interest in doing this (or doesn’t really plan to). Then you kind of have your answer for what type of relationship you’re in.

Most likely, you’re the rebound in this scenario.

7. They’re always on their phone or distracted

A distracted person (or someone who isn’t giving you their full attention) is someone who really doesn’t care much about you. They don’t have to be giving you their full attention ALL the time. But during important moments (like a dinner date), that would be ideal.

If they’re unable to give this to you—it could indicate that their mind is somewhere else.

8. Communication and alignment in the relationship isn’t really lining up

If the two of you can’t seem to get on the same page—that’s a strong sign that this could be a rebounder! Make sure that he/she seems very clear about how to resolve conflict, how to develop trust, and how to communicate with you effectively.

9. They haven’t really said they want to move forward

Someone who doesn’t say they want to move forward—is just someone who is having fun. Two people only get married and have committed relationships if they want to.

It’s not something that just magically happens.

10. They are pretty focused on hanging out with friends

When you feel like all they want to do is hang out with friends—then it could indicate this is a rebound relationship. You shouldn’t have to “pull” someone away from hanging out with friends.

Especially if you’re in your 30s or later years in life.

11. You feel like you’re “low” on the priority list

When that person makes you “low” on the priority list, that would be an indicator that the relationship is pretty “surface-level.” This is another strong way to determine that you’re in a rebound relationship.

A person who wants to be in a relationship (or someone who isn’t burnt out from their prior relationship) will have a lot of effort to start giving.

12. They never give a straight answer

Straight answers just never seem to come out of their mouth. When this is the case. And they just broke up with someone—then you’re definitely in a rebound relationship.

It shouldn’t feel like someone is always lying to you.

13. They might seem “hung up” on their ex

If they’re talking about them a lot. In a positive or negative way—that would be a strong indicator. You’re in a rebound relationship!

14. You aren’t feeling the connection

The connection will ultimately start to die off from these things. Meaning, distance will naturally start occurring between the two of you. If that person has no problem with putting distance between the two of you, then that’s a good reason to move on.

That relationship will never work.

Can rebound relationships work? I mean, maybe!!

Rebound relationships CAN work. But only if the two people who are engaging in them are really aware of what’s going on.

For example, if a person is coming out of a bad relationship—knows there is trauma—and asks the other person to help them through that trauma.

In that case, then the two people are there to support each other. And with open and honest communication, it can result in the two couples becoming incredibly close together. And potentially building a bond that will never be broken.

But it takes a lot of hard effort, commitment, and openness to truly achieve this.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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