Make A Rebound Work For You!

Recovering from a breakup doesn’t mean loneliness and disaster lie ahead. Here’s how you can find love again.

By Tracie Potochnik

ou were in love. Really in love. Already picked out an Olivia Cruise honeymoon in love. And then…you broke up. After countless pints of ice cream, you’ve started to poke your head out into the world, only to imagine people whispering: “Uh-oh, be careful of that one… totally on the rebound.” The dictionary defines “rebound” as: “to spring back on or as if on collision or impact with another body; to recover from setback or frustration.” Hey, that sounds great! So why do we think of someone on the rebound as
Don’t let other people tell you when you should be dating again.
being needy, lonely and — how to say this — horny? And why do we assume that rebound relationships are doomed before they even begin? The fact is that while rebound relationships can be disastrous, they can just as easily be healthy, helpful and even fun, if you follow a few guidelines. “When you’re on the rebound, you may find yourself more adventurous, more open-minded, more uninhibited, more independent and more yourself than you’ve been in a while,” says Kerry Colburn, coauthor of Rebound Rituals. Read on to learn how to make a rebound work for you.

Know what you want
Be honest — are you looking for some no-strings-attached fun to help you forget what’s-his-or-her-name, or do you need someone to treat you gently to help restore shaky self-worth? “Whatever the need is, being up-front with yourself gives you the tools to make healthy rebound choices rather than ones that will damage an already hurting ego,” says Rick Pimental-Habib, Ph.D., a psychotherapist specializing in gay and lesbian relationships and author of The Power of a Partner: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Gay and Lesbian Relationships. Plus, knowing what you’re looking for means you’re less likely to lead other people on (not that you care right now, but trust us, it’s good karma). Unless it’s cuh-lear-ly a one-night, lust-only hookup, tell the object of your rebound about your recent history and that you might not be ready for a serious relationship. Once you’ve achieved full disclosure, you’re good to go. “We’re all adults, and if the other person is willing to go forward, even if this person still hopes for something more, he or she knows the score and you have nothing to feel guilty about,” says Colburn.

Do it on your own time
Maybe you put your online profile back up before your ex was even out the door, or maybe you needed to wallow by yourself for a while. “Every breakup requires a different amount of time to bounce back,” says Jennifer Worick, Rebound Rituals’ other coauthor, who emphasizes that there’s no prescribed time for moving on. And what about those friends and family members who tell you it’s much too soon for you to be dating or that you should be getting out more? Dr. Rick advises not to let others “should” on you. “The ‘shoulds’ are really saying something about the person speaking, not you.” Just make sure you’ve taken the time to learn from your breakup what you want in future relationships, so you don’t race out there and recreate your last one. Which brings us to…

Rebound, don’t rehash
Humans are creatures of habit, and sometimes elements of your rebound relationship might seem awfully familiar. Steven Morell of Bucksport, Maine says, “The great love of my life, Daniel, was tall, thin, redheaded, athletic, brainy and wore Campers. A few
A rebound relationship might briefly put a spring in your step.
months after he broke my heart, I met Casey, a taller, thinner, redheaded, athletic guy in hipster glasses and Campers. I tried to tell myself I wanted to be with Casey because he was Casey, not because of any resemblance to Daniel, but it was a lie.” More disconcerting than a physical resemblance, however, is rebounding with someone who has the same negative personality traits as your ex. “Don’t repeat the cycle,” says Colburn. “Even if it’s just a fling, give yourself some new experiences by rebounding with a whole new person.” Doing so will open your eyes to other possibilities, get your ex out of your system by not using him or her as a measuring stick, and prevent you from feeling like you just hooked up with a second-rate version of your ex.

Give crush a chance
Common wisdom says that while a rebound relationship might briefly put a spring in your step, it won’t result in lasting love — but our experts disagree. Plenty of love stories begin with, “I was just out of a relationship and not looking for anything serious…” If you find yourself moving into something heavy, just check in to see what’s influencing your behavior. “Your ability to assess yourself and the situation might be impaired,” warns Worick. To help you tell the difference between falling for a person and falling for anyone so you don’t have to be single, Dr. Rick recommends relying on a tough-love friend who wants to see you happy but won’t just be a “yes man.” “Honest friends might not tell you what you want to hear, but listen if they think your behavior or choices are unhealthy,” he says. In the end, a healthy rebounding experience can provide insight into what you want from your next relationship, a stronger sense of self and a fun way to prove just how over your ex you really are.

Tracie Potochnik is a writer living in Providence, RI.
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