By Sara Utsugi
Why we rebound and so many other productive things we can do instead.
Find the podcast version of this article here!
First off, let's define rebounding as, “relationship-like acts when freshly out of a relationship and/or before emotionally ready for a relationship.” That can mean kissing, hooking up or actually getting into another relationship. You can rebound a day later, or you can rebound a few months later--there is no timeline. If you’re not over your ex and are with another person, you’re probably rebounding.
I know that although we know rebounding is bad, almost everyone feels tempted to rebound. Because of this, I went around and asked friends if they’d ever rebounded and if they had, why. After asking around, I think it comes down to three main reasons:
Debunking "Rebound Logic"
The Angry Rebound
The first time I rebounded, I was mad at my ex. He had quickly gotten together with another girl, and I felt the need to prove that I was okay. I wanted to make him feel as bad as he was making me feel, so I acted without thinking and rebounded about a month later. The problem with rebounding out of anger and spite is that the motivation and reasoning is illogical. In the end, rebounding only hurts you. Chances are, your ex might find out and be upset for a minute, but then he’ll move on. In fact, if you’re trying to make your ex jealous, rebounding only further solidifies your breakup. However, the main reason for not rebounding out of anger is the fact that it hurts you and sets you back in your healing process, not them.
The Lonely Rebound
I’ve also rebounded because I was lonely and sad, and this is probably the rebound I regret the most. See, when sadness is the rebounding motivation, it means we’re looking for happiness and comfort; the exact opposite of what a rebound gives. Rebounding feels great in the moment. For that period of time before reality hits you, you feel wanted and loved again. But I want to propose the concept of “rebounders remorse,” a concept that one of my friends suggested. It’s that instant, gut regret that you feel immediately after a rebound. It’s the realization that you messed up, but at that point, it’s too late to take it back, and now there’s another layer of hurt to process and move on from.
The Rebound in Denial
And finally, there’s the rebound that happens because we think we’ve moved on, but really, we just did a good job of suppressing our feelings. Been there. Done that. After a breakup, you want nothing more than to be back in that safe, warm, fuzzy relationship place where all is well and your heart is happy and light. Another friend pointed out that when you’ve been dating someone for a while, it’s difficult to adjust back to life on your own. You’ve grown into a routine that includes having a boyfriend, so the automatic response is to find another guy to fill that hole. The problem with this reaction is that you can only suppress your feelings for so long before they bubble up and lead to another breakup. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to be in a healthy relationship until you’ve fully processed and healed from your previous heartbreak. A rebound-relationship isn’t fair to your new dude, and it definitely isn’t fair to you.
What to do besides rebounding
When we rebound, we are avoiding reality. We’re running from one temporary comfort, one temporary fix, one temporary high to another. We’re putting a bandaid over a tumor rather than choosing to remove the cancer in our lives. Instead, we need to actively choose to hurt a little more now rather than break in the future. Accept that you have a broken heart that need to be mended before you get back into the dating game.
The day after my breakup, I set the goal to stay single for a year. None of my friends believed me since they knew my dating history, but I knew that if I wanted to finally find the healthy relationship that I knew I deserved, it would be necessary for me to learn to be a whole on my own. I ended up staying single for almost two years, and it was the most gratifying thing I’ve done--the best thing I could’ve done for myself. It was hard, but I am thankful for the clarity I had to actively decide to stay single.
Look under the hood of your heart.
I am an advocate for self-love and self-awareness. When I went through my breakup, I experienced over a year of rollercoaster-like seasons and emotions. I was broken, sad, angry then pissed. I hated men. I longed to be loved. I questioned who I was, my purpose, my existence. I sought comfort in exercise, food, boys, books, this blog--everything but myself. I refused to turn inward and seek acceptance from myself because it was easier not to. I knew that to look under the hood of my seemingly uncontrollable emotions meant digging up old junk. It meant sifting through “how did that make you feels” and “why do you think you did thats”. But it wasn’t until I finally took the time to learn about myself that I finally began to love myself.
Reflect and write.
I constantly journaled and took time to reflect inwardly. Like I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, sometimes journalling is the best form of therapy. It takes all of our swirling thoughts and puts them in front of us where we can begin to see what’s really going on in our heads.
Share your story.
I began opening up to friends and talking out loud about the hurt I experienced. I remember feeling so embarrassed by my breakup, not wanting to tell anyone the true ugliness of it. I had to remove the smiling face I faked and accept that it was a part of my life that yes, I wasn’t proud of, but no, it didn’t define me. Instead of hiding, I began writing about it on this blog, sharing my story with all of you.
Speak truth into your life.
I spoke truths into my life like: You are worth more. You deserve love. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Remove any toxins.
I removed the cancer in my life like toxic relationships and unnecessary stressors. These are things that can cause you to search for temporary fixes and highs without thinking about the possible repercussions. When we’re stressed or living in an unsupportive environment, we’re quicker to revert to old (dating) habits.
Set new goals.
I began setting goals for my physical, spiritual and emotional journey. I wrote down my steps to getting there and a timeline for achieving these goals. They gave me something to look forward to and channel my energy towards.
Once I dealt with the junk in the past, I made the decision to only look forward. Rebounding places another hurdle in your road to healing, so look forward and keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t settle for anything, especially not a relationship any less than amazing.
I want this article to be more of a discussion, so PLEASE comment down below and tell me your thoughts on rebounding. I think everyone handles a breakup differently. For some, rebounding seems like the obvious dumb choice, but for others, rebounding seems like the one thing they need. I want to know your thoughts on the topic: Have you rebounded? How did it make you feel? What do you wish you did instead or what did you do instead? As always, I'm wishing you the best from behind the screen.