Do you still love your ex-girlfriend, but are in a relationship with someone else? Congratulations, you’re experiencing a rebound!
A rebound is when you start dating someone after breaking up with your ex before you’ve taken the time to fully heal from the loss of your previous girlfriend. Rebounds are extremely common when you’ve experienced a particularly traumatic breakup that’s causing grief.
This goes doubly if you don’t have much relationship experience yet.
Plus, rebounds happen before you have time to emotionally process everything, you often don’t have adequate time to reconcile your feelings towards your ex.
If you often find yourself wondering why your current girlfriend doesn’t measure up to your ex-girlfriend, or you find yourself spending time with your girlfriend and wishing it was your ex, you are stuck in a rebound.
Rebounds are especially confusing because they can cause so much heartache, but if you look at it in the right light, a rebound can teach you a lot, if you let it.
Before you’ll be able to learn from your rebound however, you’ll need to address the situation at hand.
Is your current girlfriend a rebound?
Chances are, she is.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is if your thoughts being continuously clouded by your ex. Are these thoughts making it impossible to focus on your current girlfriend?
You can answer yes to this question if you’re thinking about your ex-girlfriend more than 50% of the time while you’re with your current girlfriend.
If the answer is yes, stop. It’ll be hard, but you need to break it off with your girlfriend. You’ll only cause more pain to the both of you. Giving her false hope will only add to the emotional burden you have to carry on a daily basis.
You should also break it off if you can’t think of any credible reason, you’re with your girlfriend. Men who aren’t used to handling emotions will often start dating right after a relationship ends. They’ll usually pick the first girl that falls into their lap, whether the two are compatible.
Their new girlfriend unwittingly becomes their therapist. They might not actually share anything in common besides sex, and time spent together.
I’ve lived it several times. Take my word for it – you’ll be better off splitting up with her if any of the above are true. It will save you months of recovery time.
We’re told that as men we need to bottle our emotions up, but that’s so far from the truth.
Part of growing as a man means being honest with yourself about your emotions and allowing yourself to feel them completely. You can’t heal it without feeling it. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that allowing yourself to be emotional is weak!
Just as well, don’t let your current girlfriend become your emotional sponge. While a man should be allowed to feel his emotions fully, a real man doesn’t use others to relieve himself of emotional burden.
He allows the feelings to manifest, and then dissipate and then reflects on why he felt as he did.
Why rebounds can hold you back
All too often, rebounds delay the actual process of healing after a breakup. If you look at men and women who are constantly jaded about relationships, you’ll notice a pattern.
They jump from relationship to relationship without ever fully giving their feelings a chance to run their course. Over months and years, these feelings begin to slowly compound and manifest outwardly as bitterness.
People that fall into this trap will never be able to experience fulfilling relationships because they never developed a process for handling these emotions in a positive manner.
You don’t want that to be you. It will make future breakups harder and delay emotional maturation that will carry over into every area of your life.
Rebounds hold you back because they don’t give you a chance to process your emotions alone. Part of healing from a breakup is allowing yourself to be alone. It’s impossible to process your feelings while you’re trying to juggle another person’s wants and needs.
You need this time to reflect on what went wrong in your relationship. If you don’t take the time, you’ll never be able to get better as a boyfriend and as a lover. Without seeing your shortcomings, you are bound to make the same mistakes.
A rebound is just indecision – and choosing to be decisive makes you happy
You might think it’s easier to stay with your current girlfriend, even if you still love your ex-girlfriend.
However, your brain is lying to you. It’s trying to be risk adverse. It doesn’t want to lose the temporary security that your current girlfriend provides.
Your brain is falling prey to short-term thinking. By keeping your girlfriend around and not giving yourself the chance to heal, you’re setting yourself up for long-term insecurity in your relationships.
You don’t want to repeat this process over and over again, do you?
Although the choice to end the relationship may be hard, by being decisive, you’ll make yourself happier overall.
Professor Dan Gilbert’s landmark research into happiness illustrates this best. Gilbert argues that the paradigm of choice is the enemy of what he calls “synthetic happiness” which is happiness we create through our thoughts.
For example, he ran an experiment at Harvard where photography students took 12 pictures, and eventually decided on the 2 that were their favorite.
Gilbert then asked the students to give up one of their pictures to keep the other.
Half of the students were given an offer to exchange their picture for the other one within 4 days, while the other half were told the opposite, that once they chose one picture, they wouldn’t be able to swap for the other.
Half of the students in each group were then asked to predict how much they’d come to like their choice 3 days later, while the other halves were sent home, and then surveyed about how much they liked their choice 3 days later, and then again 6 days after that.
The half that was surveyed before leaving predicted that they would like their choice slightly more, with the irreversible subset being slightly higher than the choice subset.
However, when this was compared to the group that was surveyed 3, and then 6 days later a shocking discrepancy jumped out.
While the group that had made the irreversible choice maintained much higher levels of satisfaction in their choice at day 3 and 6, the subset that had the choice were strongly dissatisfied with the choice they had made, both at day 3, and at day 6.
The experiment’s second piece then offered a new group of students the choice of a photography class where they could keep the two photos for 4 days before choosing, while the other course would only let you choose one.
66% of those surveyed wanted the course with a choice.
In other words, your brain thinks it wants choice, but being given too much choice makes you unhappy.
Now let’s apply this to your current girlfriend. Right now, your brain is telling you that you should keep both, even though that freedom of choice is actually making you less happy, and taking away from your recovery.
Letting go of your ex-girlfriend by letting go of your girlfriend.
To release the strong emotional attachment, you have to your ex-girlfriend, you can’t use your current girlfriend as a band-aid. You’re going to have to cut her loose in order to really start your recovery in earnest.
Be upfront with your current girlfriend. This is your chance to take control of the narrative surrounding your life.
Tell her that you aren’t emotionally ready for a relationship, and that she should find someone who can actually return her feelings.
It’s going to hurt, I’m not going to lie to you. But ultimately, you’re doing her a favor by freeing her to find someone who can actually reciprocate her feelings.
After she walks away, make a commitment to not find anyone until you can clearly say that you don’t miss your ex anymore. Once the illusion of your ex fades away, you’ll be able to see and appreciate the good in other women.
In other words, you’ll be able to have a girlfriend and love her, without the clouding thoughts of your ex in the back of your head.
Learning from your rebound
While rebound relationships are not emotionally productive during the relationship, they can be very developmentally good after.
For instance, my first rebound relationship taught me the importance of leading a woman during a relationship. It also taught me that women valued dominance.
Think about how you behaved during your relationship. Were you emotional and needy? Or were you muted and aloof?
How did she respond to the way you acted?
Journaling during this period was what really helped me to see dozens of insights about relationship dynamics. If you’re as into personal growth and development as I am, this exercise will help you.
Write a page or two about how you acted during the relationship, and why you acted the way you did.
Then, write about her. Try to answer questions including:
- What did you like about your relationship?
- What could have gone better?
- Was she reacting to you? Or were you reacting to her?
- How did she respond to how you acted?
- Who liked who more?
As you do this, you’ll begin to notice patterns. Little insights into the ways you behave and the way women act in response. Of course, what you learn will vary depending on you.
But I promise, if you do the exercise you are guaranteed to learn at least one memorable insight that will make the entire process worth it.