1. You MUST judge your new partner as a whole person, not in contrast to your ex. After breaking up, we tend to feel the sting of our ex’s negative attributes more strongly than ever, and there’s the temptation to look for the absence or opposite of those attributes in a new partner. That’s fine, since learning from past relationships is a healthy thing, but it’s also possible that in seeking your ex’s opposite, you forget about your ex’s positive attributes and overlook their absence in your new partner, because you’re so excited the “He won’t be jealous like my ex was” or “She won’t be needy like my ex was” and so on.
In deciding whether to pursue a rebound relationship, focus on the positives of your past relationship(s) as well as the negatives. Learn from both. It may be more difficult to dwell on the positives because it might make you feel nostalgic, but those are the things you’ll miss once the excitement of the rebound effect has passed. You need to make sure those things are there in order for the rebound relationship to survive.
• Example: Jake and Lisa break up, and one of the main reasons was because Jake was financially irresponsible and it was something they constantly argued over. Shortly afterwards, Lisa meets Tim, who budgets his money, pays himself first, and is saving for retirement. Lisa’s thrilled, because she’s learned that being able to see eye to eye on money matters is critical for a relationship. She’s sure that money would never be an issue between her and Tim, and in focusing on this she doesn’t notice that Tim is indifferent towards her painting career, whereas Jake was supportive and even inspiring at times. She jumps into a relationship with Tim and finds, after some time, that Tim thinks her painting is a frivolous waste of time, and doesn’t want her to spend money on art supplies because that money could be put in a mutual fund, and so on and so forth.
• If it was clear your prospective reboundee was really into you long before you broke up, consider the possibility that s/he is only attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable (and thus will lose interest in you once you fall in love with him/her). S/he probably also has no regard for other people’s feelings (namely your ex’s) if s/he was hitting on you while you were involved with someone else. Would you really want to invest in a relationship with someone who overtly pursues relationships with men or women involved in committed relationships? If you don’t think it would work out in the long-run, don’t waste your time just because you feel lonely and someone is obviously interested.
Get feedback from people you trust. Remember that your judgment is likely to be clouded after a breakup, so if you can rely on the recommendations of good friends who have known your prospective reboundee for a long time, you will be more likely to choose a partner you are going to be compatible with.
Tell your new partner that your old relationship is OVER. And mean it. Emphasize that the breakup is final, you believe it is for the best, and you are ready to move on. This may save you weeks of confusion, and the potential distrust that could build up if your prospective reboundee thought you were pursuing him/her while in a committed relationship, or even in a relationship that was still salvageable. If you have any doubts about your break up, about whether you would take him or her back, then do not pursue a rebound relationship. You might still have feelings for your ex, and maybe you always will, but there comes a point where you know it’s over.
• How to Follow Your Intuition – Listen for your “inner voice” to tell you when you’re ready to move on.
• How to Get Closure – For if you have “unfinished business” with your ex.
1. Be respectful and discreet when talking about your ex. This is difficult to do, because most people are obsessed with their ex after a breakup and want nothing more than to talk trash (or in some cases highly) about him/her. Also, you are extremely likely to come across as angry and resentful, or broody and obsessive, which would (and should) scare a quality prospective reboundee off. Find a therapist and trusted friends to complain to instead.
• If your prospective reboundee asks why you broke up, tell him/her that you decided your ex was not right for you, or that you had differences you could not resolve. If prodded further, explain that it is still painful to talk about, but you feel like it is for the best, and you would be happy to talk about it later once you’ve had a little more time to process everything.
• If your reboundee presses you about your feelings about your ex, be honest and admit that it may take some time to lose those lingering feelings of attachment (this shows you have a heart), but reassure him/her that you feel confident that it will happen (and perhaps is happening already). If you want to really reassure your reboundee, tell him/her that you would never consider dating your ex again, even if you were single. Emphasize the ways you and your reboundee are compatible. Of utmost importance, remind your reboundee that you are making (and are committed to maintaining) a clean break with your ex (or mutually agreed upon boundaries if there is shared custody of children).
1. Realize that you will have a tendency to dive in faster than usual, while she/he will have the tendency to hold back more than usual. Meet him/her half way by taking things as slow as you and your reboundee can stand to, while still building your romantic relationship. Drop little hints on a frequent basis that you are interested in both a close friendship, and a romantic relationship. Be open to (and pursue when appropriate) opportunities to get to know each other better, but also make sure to spend time apart (this will give you more time to get over your ex, and will allow your reboundee to appreciate you more and feel safer going forward–see the next step).
• If your prospective reboundee is an old friend who really likes you, s/he will probably take a few weeks to observe you and make sure s/he is not going to get his/her heart broken, then s/he’ll grow impatient, fear losing this opportunity that s/he has been waiting so long for, and throw caution to the wind by letting you know s/he is interested by some means or another. Be patient, enjoy the crush and anticipation, but don’t continue to excuse what seems like your prospective reboundee’s lack of interest after a month or two has gone by without anything more than a sympathetic or friendly gesture on his/her part. Once you’ve allowed yourself to realize that the interest is probably not mutual, choose another safe prospective reboundee to pursue, or invest more in your platonic friendships until better romantic prospects come your way.
Use the time you have by yourself to take personal responsibility for your part in the dissolution of your past relationship, and work toward developing qualities and skills that will help you to be a better partner. For example, if your ex complained that you never listened to him/her. Practice what you’ve learned with your prospective reboundee. Whether you tell your reboundee about your self-improvement efforts, or simply show him/her through your words and actions, s/he is likely to conclude that you are someone who is willing to put in the work that is necessary for sustaining a long-term relationship. This will go a long ways toward alleviating his/her fears about getting involved with someone who recently experienced a breakup or divorce.