Following a separation or a divorce, often one finds themselves looking for love once again. Some individuals grieve the loss of their last relationship slowly, while others will rush into another relationship almost right away. These “rushed into” relationships can be defined as “rebound relationships” meaning that they are taking the place of a lost relationship in a short amount of time following a separation or divorce.
So why do some individuals rush into rebound relationships? Why wouldn’t they want to fully grieve the loss of their former relationship and move through all the feelings, thus coming through the other side free to fully love again? The answer is simple, after a divorce one tends to feel emotionally raw, confused, anxious, depressed and therefore vulnerable. In this state of vulnerability, and being driven by so many other feelings, the easiest way to dampen these emotions is to fling ones self into something else to focus on. Presto, we now find ourselves in a rebound relationship. These relationships often also come with the small hope that the new relationship will pick up where our last relationship may have left off.
How does one know if they are heading towards being in a rebound relationship? There are several signs that pose a warning that you may be in a relationship that isn’t right for you. For example, being in a relationship where you compromise your needs, values, morals standards, attraction or principals. Rebound relationships are notorious for one “settling” for something that isn’t right for them. I once counseled a client named “Anne” who would downplay the fact that her new lover was an active alcoholic. After many excuses made by Anne, she came to the realization that her new mate wasn’t a good match for her and was in fact more trouble than being single. Anne needed to learn how to be comfortable in her own single skin and realize she didn’t need a relationship to be whole or happy.
Another sign you are in a rebound relationship is you find yourself in a relationship with an individual that you don’t share alot in common with except a sexual relationship. Eventually, these relationships fizzle out because of the loose connection and being emotionally invested can get someone very hurt. Although it may be tempting to get into another relationship quickly after a divorce, using other coping skills to grieve through the loss of your relationship and move through the pain is a much healthier way to move forward permanently.
Moving forward after a divorce can be painful, so many emotions and the ups and downs can be so disruptive to your life, your work and your parenting. There are several helpful ways to keep yourself balanced, and to avoid falling into a rebound relationship. These first can include getting plenty of rest, being emotional can be very exhausting. Making sure you are eating regularly and taking care of yourself physically. Also, using a coping mechanism to get your feelings out can be very helpful coping skill. Examples of this can include talking with a psychotherapist, journaling your thoughts onto paper or speaking with a trusted loved one or friend about how you are feeling. Getting the emotions out of you can be helpful for reducing stress, depression, tension and anxiety.
Finally, it is a good idea to take some time away from being in a relationship after a separation or divorce. Often times individuals rush into love relationships before they are ready because it gives them a focus and they don’t have to be single. The truth is that one needs to feel good about themselves and know what they want from their next relationship in order for it to be successful and to avoid another painful breakup or worse, another divorce. The current statistics show that 4 out of 5 people that remarry within 1 year of a divorce end up getting divorced again! You must tell yourself that being single is very healthy and a good opportunity to get to know what you are wanting from your next love relationship. Plus, being single will afford you extra time for your children, your work, your family and friends. Embrace being single as an opportunity rather than a disaster or burden. Plus, if you decide not to get into another relationship again, you will have successfully created a meaningful and multifaceted life for yourself where you have learned how to make yourself happy and meet your own needs.
In closing, while rebound relationships may seem harmless and even maybe a good idea to move you through feeling emotionally raw, they are really a recipe for failure. In order for a new relationship to be successful, one must be emotionally available and have grieved the loss of their previous relationship. Although being single may initially be uncomfortable, learn to tolerate and cope with these feelings in order to save your heart for the right relationship, not the first one.
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