Are You Having A Rebound Relationship?

rebound relationship

Wise Readers,

How can you tell if you’re in a rebound relationship—or a more permanent one?  What do you *mean* to him—or her?  And how can a guy know he’s really the only one a woman is seeing?

Read on!


From Interplanet Janet: —Am I Just A Rebound Thing To Him?—

How can you tell if a guy is rebounding? I’m dating a man newly out of a relationship, not a marriage but a serious relationship, and I don’t know how to tell whether I’m a rebound relationship to him.

Duana’s response: How To Tell If You’re In A Rebound Relationship

Dear I.J. (cute name!),

I don’t know how you’re going to tell, for certain, whether you’re in a transitional relationship right now, either. Certainty isn’t often available, in the lab or in life; science is about odds, but rarely can it specify what will happen in an individual’s scenario.

Simply waiting to see what happens is fraught with risks to your time and emotions if it doesn’t work out. But let’s see if we can at least get you close to a better guess.

In general, despite stereotypes to the contrary, men like getting and being married/committed. Of all the men who remarry—and most do—half of them do it within three years of the divorce. This would hint that at least half the divorced guys who will ever re-wed are actually pretty serious about finding the right one and making a commitment, and that they aren’t so into the playing-the-field thing. After all, it’s usual for couples to date for one to two years before marriage, so if the norm is remarriage in three years, that leaves about one year to find someone new (exception: the men who already found someone new pre-divorce), and two to court and re-nup.

What about that other half of marriage-minded guys, though? Well, they’re taking longer to marry again, but still, it’s unclear whether they’re having multiple transitional relationships, or are avoiding relationships altogether for a while, or are deeply ambivalent about taking vows, or haven’t found the right one yet, or what.

Which kinda guy are you dating? First off, what has he *done*? The best predictor of what any one of us will do in the future is what we’ve done in similar past situations—the Law Of Psychology. What people will do really isn’t that big a mystery. Just find out what they’ve already done, and there you’ll see your odds spelled out. If this guy has rebounded between serious relationships before, expect that he’s doing it again; if not, not.

Second, pay attention: What does he say? If he’s saying things about not wanting another commitment, or needing time before he gets serious again, etc., believe him. That could indeed be a sign that this relationship with you is temporary or transitory; he wouldn’t say those things if he were sure about choosing you.

Third, note his non-verbal behavior. What does he do? Studies show that women are usually focused on many non-verbal signs that a guy is committed to them. These signs are many and varied and individual. Does calling before he comes home mean a lot to you—and does he call? Has he asked to meet your parents, and proudly introduced you to his? Has he spoken of a future together? Has he asked for emotional and sexual exclusivity? Has he bought you jewelry, or some romantic gift that shows investment of time, money, and heart?

Finally—but perhaps most vitally—how do you *feel*?Women’s evolved psychology is finely attuned to signs that a man is or isn’t willing to commit; it’s literally a decision that could have meant life or death for a woman and her kids in the ancient past, and so it’s an area where our brains are clued in. It’s likely that this knowledge of how ‘safe’ a guy is, commitment-wise, is going to come to you *emotionally* far more than linguistically or logically. Emotions pre-date language, after all; emotions keep animals alive, and they’re here to help keep us alive as well.

So if you’re feeling uneasy about this man, then there may indeed be something to feel uneasy about. Look at his words and actions, yes—they’re constantly telling you his commitment level. But don’t overlook your own feelings in the process. They’re there for a reason, and that reason is to save you.

I hope that helps. Ultimately, the one person who can tell you whether someone is rebounding or unlikely to commit is you. Watch what he says, what he does, what he’s done in the past, and how you feel. Your answer is there.




From Vincent: —If A Guy Is Serious, Shouldn’t He Just Propose?  (Don’t women need to date around until then?)—

Hi Dr D.
I was in the “getting divorced” mode for a long time. I let my morals get in the way and thus did not cheat. I wonder at times if I should have, especially since my “wife” and I lived apart. I did finally make the leap and am very happy now.

Being the guy, trusting the woman that they are newly “in love with” is not married or attached to others is very difficult. I suspect the attached woman would still lie, or avoid the issue. Which leads me to the woman’s side. I believe you mentioned in an earlier article that women are best served by dating around and not committing to one man “until a ring is on her finger”. It seems the guy’s, Dan’s in this case, only real way of knowing is to actually propose if he is serious. Until that time, he should use whatever clues he has about his date, and continue to date around himself and not worry so much about the details, unless the potential husband is armed of course.

Duana’s response: —Too Risky! Ask for The Divorce Papers—

Dear Vincent,

Thank you for your note. Sounds like you were in one of the ‘strangers under one roof’ couples. Turns out, that’s one of the biggest predictors of divorce; Gottman found that couples who were yelling at one another were likelier to stay together than those who had come to a point of living separate lives. And affairs are often a symptom of a marriage that is ending, more than a cause. It’s laudable that you resisted that temptation, in my opinion, but understandable why some might cave in. When people are lonely (especially when women are lonely, actually), they often start looking for some companionship somewhere.

I’m glad you brought up the point about when women should stop dating around. I don’t recommend waiting all the way until engagement before a woman will be exclusive with one man, but based on the research, I do find it advisable for women to date around until the following things have occurred:

—-The man has said and shown through his behavior that he is in love with this particular woman;
—he has said point-blank that he wants exclusivity and is offering himself exclusively to her (monogamous dating—not necessarily engagement);
—the woman feels at a gut-level that he is being truthful.

Also, I don’t advise women to lie about whether or not they’re still seeing others; they should *tell* the men that they *are* still dating around.  Not only is it honest—it has the advantage of providing a tipping point that gets rid of the players and keeps the stayers in the running and more committed than they were before.


So if Dan were to wait until engagement to know if a woman were already committed, that could cost Dan some serious heartbreak, time, and money. That seems a lot to ask of him, especially since he’s had a lot of pain around this issue already. Instead of taking that large risk, (and given his luck and the fact he’s dating online—where people can and apparently do say any danged thing), Dan might be much better off simply saying something before the first date is even set with a supposedly-divorced woman:

“I’ve dated a few women who told me they were single, when really the divorce was still in progress; it made me not trust them, and unfortunately, it also means I’m a bit gun-shy now. I’d like to get to know you better. Can you show me proof that your divorce has finalized?”

Some women will be huffy about that, but after all Dan’s been through, that might be much preferred to getting burned by The Lying again.



All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., and LoveScience Media, 2012.

The author wishes to thank the scientists and sources linked in the article: John Gottman, the U.S. Census Bureau, and former sources linked at the relevant LoveScience articles that have gone before.
© Copyright 2014 Duana WelchPh.D., All rights Reserved.
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