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7 Clear Signs You’re In a Rebound Relationship

If your Facebook page still says you're "in a relationship," but now it's with someone new, it may be a rebound. Check these signs to see if it's doomed to fail or potentially happily ever after.

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Rebound or real love?

Whether you were in a 6-month relationship you thought would go the distance, or a 10-year marriage that didn’t make it to 11, breakups are emotionally difficult (these breakup quotes can help you cope). You may find yourself jumping into a new romance quickly, and wondering if your rebound relationship can go the distance. You may, instead, be terrified that you’ve fallen for someone on the rebound, who doesn’t really care for you.

“When you’re hurting from a past relationship and want to avoid feeling the pain, you jump into another one right away—that’s a classic rebound relationship,” says relationship expert Audrey Hope. Rebound relationships are defined by more than just speed, however. A person who is rebounding may be trying to avoid feeling their feelings about the breakup they just went through. Fixating on someone new is a great way to do that. “In a rebound relationship, there is no space and time to process the truth of the past love. The rebounder uses the technique of denial, plus moving on quickly, to stop their feelings. They might be moving so fast, they never stop to learn, or grow, from what was left behind,” Hope explains. Here are 10 silent signs you have intimacy issues.

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Your phone has become a lethal weapon

If you’re constantly listening for your ex’s special ringtone, or need to stop yourself from sending them texts, that’s a red flag that you’re holding on, and not ready to connect with someone new. “If you still have your ex’s number in your phone, you may be subconsciously holding out hope that they’ll reach out again. It may also feel too final to delete their number. Either way, keeping an ex’s number handy is a sign you’re still hung up on them, and not present in your new relationship,” says New York-based therapist, Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. While it may be natural to hold on for a short time, this can be a sign that there are issues you need to work out before you can deeply connect with someone else. (Don’t miss the signs you’re addicted to your phone.)

If you think your new honey is a rebounder, their phone may also provide clues (but don’t go snooping, that’s just creepy). If their wallpaper hasn’t been changed since you’ve been together, and their ex’s face is still the one they gaze at every day on that screen, have a heart-to-heart convo about the issue, and be ready to move on to greener (more available) pastures. These other social media mistakes can also damage your relationships.

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You’re being tortured by social media

The Internet is forever, but that’s not such great news for relationships that end in the meantime. If your rebounding honey is spending more time sneaking peeks at their ex’s social networks than they’re having fun with you, that’s a clue that they’re rebounding, instead of falling. “If you’re checking your ex’s social media frequently, such as looking at their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts on a daily, or even weekly basis, it’s a sign you’re not over them. The need to see what your ex is up to should not be a priority if you are truly ready to move on in your new relationship,” says Hershenson. It’s common to peek into your ex’s life for a little while, but this behavior, if it lasts longer than a few weeks, is a masochistic, and toxic way of staying connected. It keeps the hurt alive, making it harder to move on. Your social media obsession may also enhance feelings of isolation, another downside to this behavior.

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You’re feeling rushed

Rebounders may seem to fall very hard, very fast, for someone new. As exciting as it may be to have someone love you, want you, and need you so much, if it’s not based on honesty, it won’t last. And this kind of rush is never truly honest. Love takes time. If your rebounder has fallen in love with you one week after meeting you, it’s probably not the real thing. “They have to have the relationship work and may lie and pretend to make this happen. What normally would bother a rebounder is now swept under the rug, and they wear rose-colored glasses. Issues that are serious are just washed away in the new reality of, ‘I am going to make this one work, no matter what!’ Serious issues in the current relationship will show up later,” explains Hope. This type of magical thinking may even lead to a bad marriage. “The rebounder may want to rush to the altar. They could be fueled by pain, or thoughts of revenge, so they may want to get serious much quicker than normal. Watch for this. Ask yourself: ‘Why do they want to rush this?'” she adds.

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It’s always happy hour

One of the more dangerous rebound relationship signs you must look out for is overuse of mind-bending substances. Sharing a bottle of wine in front of a roaring fire is fun and romantic, but if every single date includes drinking, you may be in a dangerous rebound. “A rebounder may have new issues with substance abuse, to keep the pain under wraps. They may need pills or alcohol, and this problem may grow. Watch for signs of drug or alcohol abuse, that is way more than usual,” warns Hope. Here’s the official word on how much alcohol is too much.

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Three’s a crowd

If your new love wants to keep their old love around, because now, they’re “just friends,” you may want to put the brakes on the relationship. Ironically, this can also be a healthy sign that the old relationship is truly over. What you want to see is proof of the genuine healing of old wounds. This can occur only if time has passed, and the rebounder has put in the effort that self-examination takes. These are the things you should never do when trying to get over a breakup.

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Your ex is the main topic of conversation

If your new love is starting to feel like your ex-love is haunting them, it may be because you never stop talking about them. This may take the form of how they “done you wrong,” or how awful they were to you, with no introspection about your own role in the breakup. This type of fixation is a sure sign that you’re not truly in your new relationship and still need to process the old one. And if it goes on too long, you may be better off seeking the help of a therapist who can guide you and listen objectively. “If you or your partner think about your ex a lot, or talk about your prior relationship constantly, that’s a sign that there are unresolved issues, which need to be examined,” emphasizes Dr. Sinh. These science-backed tips can help boost your confidence as you get over a breakup.

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You never ever mention your ex

If your former relationship is completely off-limits as a topic of conversation, this may also be a red flag of a rebound relationship. “The rebounder may never want to have an honest, heart-to-heart talk about their past relationship. They want to skip over the details, just move on, and live in the moment. To them, it is better to avoid, deny, and forget,” says Hope. If your past relationship is painfully tender to the touch for too long, you haven’t moved past it in a healthy way. This is a sure sign that you’ve got some emotional work to do before you can care for someone else.

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Can it last?

So, are rebound relationships always doomed to fail? “Not necessarily,” says Dr. Sinh. “If you find that you’re the one rebounding, it means giving yourself time to grieve and mourn your old relationship. This can be hard to do if you’re with someone else. If you really want to make it with the person you’re now with, then you have to work on the issues.” After doing the work, you may find yourself open to love, in a mature, lessons-learned way.

But, what if your partner is the one who is rebounding? According to Dr. Sinh, “If your partner has just left a past relationship, and you want to make it work, give them the time and mental and emotional space to figure out what they want to do. This is not the time to pester them to make a choice or demand they ‘get over’ their ex. This requires a wiser, more practical approach of pointing out the issues to them, and letting them figure it out. If they can’t do that, despite your patience, maybe it’s time to move on. You really don’t want to be with someone who has one foot out the door.”

Corey Whelan
Corey is a wellness and psychology writer based in New York City. Her work has been published by a wide variety of consumer sites, including Healthline, Verywell Health and Well + Good. Corey's groundbreaking in-person and online educational programs on family building have been covered by Newsweek, Time, Inc. and other outlets.