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Follow-up relationships. You know what I’m talking about: the rebound.
Your relationship is pretty freshly over, but you already have a new partner.
While having this happen once or twice isn’t necessarily bad, when we get into doing this again and again, we might want to examine whether this is an unhealthy pattern.
Maybe we can look back and see that we’ve had pretty much only follow-up relationships.
Maybe we see that we have a habit of finding a new partner before we’re completely done with the old.
Maybe we’re the type of person finding that “amazing connection” with someone new just a few days after a breakup.
We might want to justify these types of behavior as normal. It’s just human nature, right? No one wants to be alone. But we really ought to consider our motives.
While anyone who secretly keeps a lover while in a relationship might be accused of being a cheater, this sort of repetitive one-to-the-other jump in relationships can reveal more than a desire for a side serving of pleasure. It’s often deeper than the surface-level itch for “variety;” it’s rarely actually about what we lack in a partner.
Often when we jump into rebound or follow-up relationships, we are actually failing to face a deep-seated fear.
Sure, a new and promising partner who quickly shows up after the breakdown of another relationship seems super appealing. With the desire to attach, we might perhaps come to believe that we’ve fallen in love again. It all happened so fast might be the kinds of words we hear coming from our mouths. At least we feel that way in the beginning. But only a few months later, almost predictably, the relationship with the new partner breaks down, too.
Sound familiar? Let’s take a look at some reasons we might be getting into this type of relationship loop.
We’re afraid of being alone.
In the subconscious, changes in life announce themselves first. Things rarely happen “out of nowhere” as we might often like to say. Essentially, in the back of our minds, we know something’s coming.
In these cases, a separation has already begun to take place on a soul level (or whatever you want to call it), and because we feel our relationship slipping away, we subconsciously begin a “search” for a follow-up partner as a precautionary measure taken so that we don’t have to be alone.
Not everyone can cope with being alone. And not everyone is immediately aware that this pertains to them. So the pattern continues because those who enter into a follow-up relationship for fear of being alone have chosen the wrong motive for a partnership. And they do it again and again.
As soon as we enter into a relationship again, our fear of being alone subsides, the feelings of “love” disappear, and we find ourselves eyeing someone else again.
>> Am I afraid to be alone?
>> What’s the longest I’ve stayed single on purpose, without looking for a mate?
>> Why is that?
We never sought or received closure with our past relationship.
The transition from one relationship to the next often means that there is no time to reflect and get closure on the old relationship. All attention is focused on the new and “shiny” relationship.
Some of us do this deliberately so that we do not have to deal with the problems of the old relationship.
Classically, this is an attempt to avoid repetitive internal issues at hand. If we just put a rug of a new relationship over the dust on the floor, everything looks nice and pretty; but the dirt is still there, which means we carry it into our new partnership.
The legacy issues continue to reappear and repeat themselves, and often, in these types of follow-up relationships, comparisons are made between the ex-partner and the new partner. That’s just not healthy.
>> Do I find myself comparing so-and-so to my ex?
>> What aspects of my last relationship haven’t I let go of?
>> What aspects of my current relationship am I trying to force?
>> What negative patterns keep happening in my relationship, and what is my responsibility in them?
We seek self-esteem through a new relationship.
Some people believe that their worth lies in who they are to other people. We cling to societal roles, and often feel that life lived in singledom is not as worthwhile as a life in partnership. Maybe we cringe a little when we have to say that we are whatever age and live alone. Our worth is often tied up in other people.
In this case, we jump into follow-up relationships because it helps us to “find” a sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. Often, however, once the honeymoon phase is over, and things “get back to normal,” we are forced to realize that self-esteem is not something that our partner can constantly give us.
As soon as our self-esteem falls to lower levels either we come to subconsciously realize it’s time for the next boost and move on, or our “provider” realizes that this is not something they can continually offer. Often, these partnerships end as abruptly as they began.
>> What are my insecurities in my relationships?
>> Where do I constantly feel like my partners are “failing” me?
>> What do these insecurities have in common?
>> What are action steps that I can take to build myself up where I feel low?
We use them as an escape route.
Some relationships are unhealthy and we know it. Maybe we’ve come to realize the affection is one-sided. Maybe we’ve come to see some unhealthy but not necessarily abusive characteristics—they’re a little too controlling for our taste, manipulative, or possessive.
We know it’s time to leave and we try to break away from the relationship, but when it comes down to it, either we wait to actually leave and are roped back in, or we just can’t bring ourselves to be that direct. Subconsciously, we know a new partner is needed. As soon as a new partner is in sight, the rest is history.
We cheat. This new partner, however serious or casual, serves as the footboard we use to step on and out.
>> Do I tend to be avoidant of conflict in my relationships?
>> Do I have a pattern of leaving old relationships because either physically or emotionally, I’ve entered into a new one?
So, how do we avoid these rushed follow-up relationships?
We need to be able to emotionally process both ourselves and our old partnerships. And to do that, we need to do the hard work of communicating with our partners and ourselves.
Discussions can take place with either a soon-to-be or an already-ex-partner to find balance and neutrality without bringing anger, hatred, resentment, and feelings of revenge to the table; those should be dealt with and examined on our own or with a therapist.
Because these emotions run after us and tend to remain present in new relationships, we must allow ourselves plenty of time alone before taking a new partner, and then plenty of time with a new partner to work on breaking old patterns within ourselves and within a partnership dynamic.
Listen carefully to your heart and always remain reflective. This is how we build strong and sturdy foundations.