Taking a break to recover between relationships is often common sense advice.
But although it seems risky, new relationships can be nourishing spaces to find healing and growth. A rebound shouldn’t always be taboo—connection might be exactly what you need after a bad experience in love.
Most of us can recall emerging from a disastrous relationship feeling emotionally raw, vulnerable, and disconnected. Looking back, I’ll admit I made some pretty crazy choices for partners, ignored all the red flags, and found myself at rock bottom more than once.
All the self-help books and well meaning friends I consulted talked about taking time to process the pain. They encouraged me to enjoy the single life, reclaim my own identity, and focus my energy toward my business and hobbies.
When I ignored their advice and proudly revealed my new partner to the world just weeks after a previous relationship finished, the averted eyes of my friends and family pretty much said it all. I could almost hear that taboo word—“rebound”—being whispered under everyone’s breath.
Of course it can be a huge mistake to jump from relationship to relationship as a strategy to avoid the inner work we need to do. It’s true we can feel so misaligned, confused, and sore that it can be hard to identify what we truly want.
But I also believe that there’s healing power in connection and that we can learn valuable lessons from rebound love that help us move on. If we’re fortunate enough to find someone with whom the conditions are right, a rebound can be exactly what we need. Just like the word suggests, it can help us bounce back.
I’m glad I didn’t shy away from rebound love because of the fear of taboo. Here are three reasons why my rebound relationship helped me feel stronger, more open, and more secure after a breakup and why there’s powerful learning and growth in the experience of new romance.
I needed to remember that it’s okay when we’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
A rebound relationship that’s fueled by chemistry and passion can very nicely reinforce the truth that there are “plenty of fish in the sea.” I learned that just because I was not to my ex’s taste at the end of our relationship, it did not mean that I was totally unloveable or unattractive.
The experience of being desired by somebody new alleviated the false beliefs that come up when we feel rejected, like we’ll be alone forever, that it’s difficult to find partners, or that we’re too damaged to engage with partners in mutually rewarding ways.
Although a rebound relationship may be short-term, it can stop us believing that everyone else on the planet will see us from our ex’s negative perspective, and this can be a valuable wake-up call post breakup.
I needed to practice implementing boundaries.
When we’re not taking a relationship too seriously because we don’t want intense commitment or the connection is new, it’s easier to establish and reinforce boundaries that we’d forgotten in previous longer term relationships. I rediscovered power with my rebound lover that I’d given away long ago in my relationship with my ex, and a more secure sense of self emerged that felt just like the “old me” coming home.
I experienced my new partner’s boundaries too, without taking everything super personally and compounding my own wounds. We need to experience connection with healthy boundaries to make our future relationships mutually rewarding and safe. I’ve reflected that this is something I could only ever process intellectually on my own—there’s no real substitute for hands on experience.
I needed the healing power of intimacy and touch.
When we emerge from the battleground of a painful breakup, we can crave loving, appreciative touch and I believe that this is all too often dismissed as a sign we’re seeking external validation or distraction. My rebound relationship offered me a valuable experience of sexual intimacy on my own terms that had been missing with my ex partner.
There’s no shame in enjoying the physical and emotional benefits of touch for increased well-being and a confidence boost as long as we remain safe, sane, and consensual. There’s definitely something in the magic of rebound sex that helps us consolidate our new beginnings and protects us from the urge to go back to an unsuitable ex just because we’re lonely or seeking comfort.
Of course, rebound relationships based on a need for revenge, an obsessive desire for attention, or the false hope that all our problems will be solved are never a great idea. But if we’re open to the healing, learning, and growth that rebound relationships can offer and we can engage with a new partner on mutually healthy, respectful terms, enjoying a new connection doesn’t need to feel like a taboo.