The rush for a new crush drives many newly divorced individuals to jump into a relationship at the first opportunity. However, after the initial excitement wears off, misgivings can lead to self-scrutiny, with questions such as, "Is this a rebound relationship? Is it doomed to fail?" While it is not necessarily negative to get into a relationship soon after divorce, there are certain hallmarks and signs that can let you know if you are simply in love with being coupled once again -- or, if your feelings are the real thing.
Whether a divorce was desired or not, the breakup of a marriage can leave a person feeling detached and floundering but wanting to gain stability. It is common for the newly divorced to attach to one of the first available partners to fill the emotional void left from severing the marital relationship. However, idealizing the new partner is a sign of a rebound relationship, and it results from the urgent attempt to reconnect, says Nathan Feiles, L.C.S.W., in "Are Rebound Relationships Doomed?" When the flaws inevitably surface, a rebound relationship can find itself in trouble.
Grief and a sense of loss or guilt often accompany the dissolution of a marriage. To manage these uncomfortable feelings, dating can provide a distraction. The excitement of a new relationship creates powerful chemistry that can cause euphoria. But when a date is a panacea for aching emotions -- instead of genuine interest in a compatible romantic partner -- confusion and frustration, which are hallmark signals of a rebound relationship, set in. Although socializing can help heal a broken heart, dating on the rebound can lead to further stress and depression, advises Lena Aburdene Derhally in "The Dynamics of Grief When a Relationship Ends."
Dating a new person while still angry toward your former spouse can indicate that you are in a rebound relationship. It takes a certain amount of attachment to feel anger toward someone. This attachment can interfere with the healthy development of a new relationship. Anger is a stage of the grief process, and it takes time to heal from grief. Moving on and forming a new relationship can speed up the process -- as long as you proceed with caution.
A relationship on the rebound doesn't need to end badly. In fact, when you are aware of your vulnerabilities -- and you use caution in moving forward -- a new relationship can help you get over your ex-spouse and establish a new life. However, don't expect permanency from your new romantic partner, recommends Jennifer Nagy, Ph.D., in "Five Reasons to Have a Rebound Relationship Right Now!" Instead, make certain that both parties enter the relationship "knowing exactly the boundaries and intent of the relationship. This is the only way for a rebound relationship to be healthy and productive for both the divorcee and the new partner." In some cases, over time, a rebound relationship turns into a positive, long-term commitment.