When a relationship breaks up, especially an intense one, the partners are left in a state of immense emotional turmoil. The one who has been “ditched” suffers the most, and often harbors a sense of betrayal and hurt. They are left feeling extremely angry and experience deep pain. Such a break up is also a great blow to their self esteem. This is when, in order to forget the pain of rejection, they hurriedly enter into a new relationship with someone else.
This new relationship is not a very good idea. It is usually begun without the gradual emotional bonding that a good relationship needs in order to survive. Without giving themselves time for their wounds to heal, they rush headlong into something that doesn’t have the sturdy foundation that a successful relationship deserves, and requires. Such a relationship is usually begun very quickly – shortly after the break up of the previous one. In it, the rejected partner seeks to restore their shaken self-esteem.
At first, a rebound relationship seems to be a great idea, and appears to fulfill their emotional needs. The new partner is, or at least tries to be, very understanding and supportive, and helps to heal the pain that the previous break up had caused. The person on the rebound feels satisfied at their decision to rush into the new relationship, and does not realize that it is a transitory state of affairs. A rebound relationship usually turns out to be a short-time affair, as the partner soon realizes.
Since such relationships are hurriedly begun, with no regard for the compatibility of the partners, they usually do not have the potential to grow into something with a future. The one on the rebound picks a new partner indiscriminately, who only fulfills their short-term emotional needs. Once their old wounds have gradually healed, and they have been able to move on, they no longer find the rebound relationship necessary. They then realize that their new partner is not really the one for them, and seek to break off the rebound relationship. Naturally, the one at the receiving end of it suffers the same sense of betrayal and abandonment that the other had experienced before. This is very unfair to them, since they had been there for the suffering partner in their time of need. They feel used, and justifiably so.
29-year-old Tara, an advertising professional, recalls her college days.
“I was in a relationship with one of my classmates, for three years. Towards the end of our college life, he began to act increasingly cold and formal with me. When I asked him straight out, one day, what was going on, he told me that our relationship was at an end, because he had met someone else. I was devastated. I was so emotionally involved with him that I couldn’t imagine living without him. I was left shattered when he walked out of my life. The pain and loneliness was unbearable.
One day, I met a guy who was a friend of a friend, at a party. Within two weeks of getting to know each other, we began an affair. At first, it was smooth sailing – balm to my wound. But as the months passed by, and I got over my ex, I began to realize that beyond satisfying my immediate emotional needs, especially with regard to those that had been strengthened by my break up, I did not need, or indeed, want him anymore.
This went on for a month or two, and I felt increasingly suffocated by my new boyfriend’s intensity of feeling, possessiveness and his demand for my time, which I was not willing to give him. It was quite clear that he was very emotionally attached to me, and this made me uncomfortable. I realized that he was not as important to me as he deserved to be, and all I had wanted from him was emotional support for immediate relief, not as a long-term partner.
Part of my uneasiness rose out a feeling of guilt, for having used him – I admitted to myself I had – and for having to leave him in exactly the same way my ex had left me. I had moved on, and now, I wanted to find a new partner who was more like me - there was hardly any compatibility in my rebound relationship. It was difficult leaving my new partner, but I had to do it, for the sake of my own future. I know it was selfish on my part, and so I regret having acted in haste in getting into a new relationship, reducing myself to the level of my ex, in the process.”
Tara’s is not the only such case. Thousands of young people go through the same phase. 35-year-old Rajiv was at the receiving end of a rebound relationship, and bitterly regrets having gotten into it in the first place.
“I fell in love with a girl who was my colleague at office. She had a boyfriend, who was also our colleague, before me. After he broke up with her, she went into intense depression. I had always been fascinated by her, and took this opportunity to ask her out. To my surprise, what I had expected did not happen – she actually agreed to go out with me. I did not realize then that she was on the rebound, and that she didn’t actually harbor any romantic feelings for me.
We dated for a year and a half or so. But it wasn’t fated to last, as I should have realized much earlier. She broke up with me on the grounds of having made an error of judgment in choosing me as a partner. I was shattered, and angry. I had just been her shoulder to cry on.
More than her, I blame myself for the entire thing. It was my error of judgment, more than hers. It’s been years now, and I still haven’t been able to get over her. I haven’t been able to get into a different, more satisfying relationship with a better partner. She is now happily married, with a family of her own. But I’m still alone, at the age of 35. It’s still her I think of, though I know she doesn’t deserve it.”
Rebound relationships may provide temporary solace and emotional comfort, but very few actually develop into something more sincere and honest. Instead of jumping at the first opportunity after a bad break up, it would be so much easier for both parties if the person on rebound gave themselves some time – as long as it may take – to heal their wounds and settle their thoughts, before making room in their heart for someone new. Instead, they attempt to fill the gap left by the previous partner with a new one. Every person we love holds a special and unique place in our hearts. We need to respect that, and realize that one person cannot fill the place of another.