You’ve met a great guy. He’s charming, confident, and seems absolutely smitten by you. And if you’re being honest, you’re smitten by him, too. There’s just one problem. He’s fresh out of a long-term relationship.
If you’re dating a man who is new on the market, you’re in a high-risk position for heartbreak. Men, more than women, are susceptible to rebound connections following a breakup. While women typically have girlfriends with whom to share feelings and confide in – for most men – that was the role his girlfriend played. In her absence following a breakup, men long for a compassionate female ear when he realizes his “bro’s” simply don’t do the job.
You need to figure out sooner, rather than later, if his feelings for you are real, or if you’re just the rebound filling an ex-shaped hole in his life. Here are the top 15 indicators you’re a rebound, and that he’s more interested in having your temporary companionship than he is in building something long lasting.
1. His breakup was less than 3 months ago, or his separation was less than 6. Above all, if he got out of a major relationship (years+) within the last few months, or if he and his wife separated within the last 6, you’re likely a rebound. The more shocking or unexpected his breakup, the more this rule stands true. Men (on average) don’t handle breakups in the medium term as well as women. Research has shown they look back on serious relationships with a more positive/grass is greener perspective and have poorer coping strategies in the short-term (seeking other women to confide in) to help them absorb the pain. Note that ‘separated’ doesn’t apply to divorced men, who have usually taken years to finalize their divorce and are well past rebounding.
2. He complains to you about her. Is he always bringing her up to you, complaining about her negative traits and how much she messed him up? If he’s complaining to you (without you asking), it shows he still carries resentment towards her (and therefore strong feelings) and is in no position to date you seriously.
3. She broke up with him – OR – his breakup came suddenly. In most breakups, emotional disconnection between the couple begins well before the actual breakup. If he did the breaking up, it was likely something he was grappling with for months before finally pulling the trigger, meaning he’s several steps ahead of her in the grieving process. If this is not the case, if the breakup came suddenly (for example, she cheated on him and he found out) or if the breakup was her doing (he had no prior warning), he begins the grief process from step zero. If so, he’ll need much longer (many months, as opposed to weeks) before he can invest his feelings healthily into a new woman.
4. He’s always talking about the things he loved about her. It’s nice for someone to have a positive attitude of their ex, but it takes no rocket scientist to realize that, if he’s constantly rambling about how amazing she was, you’re playing second fiddle. Dial back your investment and keep things casual.
5. He openly compares traits between the two of you. When he’s complementing you on traits that are ‘just like his ex’, be warned. If his breakup was recent, it’s likely he’s looking to replace those traits and things he loved about his ex with the next woman exhibiting similar traits. He’s not there for you. He’s there for your ex-like traits and the feelings he gets from them.
6. He’s hesitates on any form of commitment. A man on the rebound wants the feelings of being in a relationship, but when it comes to sealing the deal, he won’t want to commit. Why? Deep down, you’re not the relationship he wants. Making things official means it truly is over with his ex – something he hasn’t come to terms with. Until he can fully accept his breakup, he won’t be ready to commit to you.
7. He wants a label, even on social media – FAST. This is the opposite (and rarer) pattern to the one above, only occurring in men whose pain levels are very high. He hurts so much over losing his ex that his instinct beyond all logic is to get into another relationship. This is an attempt to remind himself (and his ex!) that he has value and – temporarily – take away some of his tremendous pain. If you’re experiencing this, you’re with a rebounding man, who needs to spend time on his own.
8. He downplays the importance of his previous relationship. If he acts as though his relationship with his girlfriend of three years that broke up 8 weeks ago was nothing, it should be cause for concern. A real man can recognize the importance and significance of a major relationship in his life, even when it’s over. Downplaying what was obviously a significant relationship is a sure sign he’s running from his pain and lying to himself about being ok.
9. He’s always in relationships (i.e., He’s done this before). Does he have a history of less than 2-4 months between every significant relationship he’s had? If so, odds are, he’s at it again, and you’re next in line to help him avoid single life.
10. He tells you you’re better for him than his ex. When a guy on the rebound wants to replace feelings he misses, he’ll push his new ‘relationship’ quickly to where it emotionally resembles what he had with his ex. A surefire sign he’s doing this is the comment, “You’re so much better for me than her because of xyz”, despite a total disproportion in the amount of time he’s spent with you, relative to her. If he pulls this one out after a messy breakup and a few short dates with you, time to back off. You’re the rebound.
11. There hasn’t been a ‘no-contact’ period. If he hasn’t given himself proper time away from his ex, ongoing emotional entanglement is certain. Any relationship without kids or other baggage should have a period where the couple goes no contact to emotionally detach from their identity together, even if they become friends later. If kids or other issues are present, conversations with the ex can be kept occasional and professional, still allowing both partners time to grieve and reform their identities outside of the relationship. If he broke up with his ex three months ago, but has been chatting regularly with her since, he’s in no place to build emotional intimacy with you.
12. Your relationship is mostly physical. It’s passionate, exciting, and the sex is incredible. But if you’re honest, the dating side – getting to know one another, being romantic and vulnerable – is very much lacking. When things with a recent ‘breakupee’ are more physical than emotional, there’s a very good reason. He’s rebounding.
13. He’s a long term friend of yours. Amidst all the things men miss following a breakup – one catches them by surprise. A comforting, feminine presence in their lives is something whose absence few men realize the impact of until they find themselves without the comfort they so took for granted.
To feel it again, men will look to the easiest source of feminine comfort they have at hand. The most obvious – long-term female friends. If you’re a friend and his interest only sprung up following a breakup, assume he’s more interested in the comfort of your presence than he is in you.
14. He shows jealousy towards her (or you). If he’s still jealous of his ex – wanting to know what she’s doing, who she’s seeing, following up if she’s dating again – he isn’t over her. Back off and give him time to work through his feelings first. He may also exhibit jealousy towards you. If it’s still early and he’s already getting knarky about what you do with your spare time and what your ‘male friends’ intentions are – it’s likely he’s trying to control you as a response to the pain of losing his ex. This is especially true if she cheated on him. Keep things casual if you notice this one.
15. Your gut tells you that if she called him wanting to give it another shot – he’d say yes. Even in the early stages, if you can’t trust a guy not to jump ship the moment a ‘better opportunity’ comes along, what sort of relationship do you have? This applies to any guy, but especially one who had a recent breakup. If you feel like he’d up and leave the moment the ex presented herself, you’re better off beating him to it.
Men on the rebound are looking for many things. A friend. Support. Someone to distract them from their pain. What they’re not looking for is a loyal, fulfilling relationship with you. You can meet their needs, but they won’t be able to meet yours. Slow things down, don’t date them exclusively, and if you have to, walk away to give them the space they need.