Ask a Guy: How Can I Avoid Being the Rebound? post image

Ask a Guy: How Can I Avoid Being the Rebound?

I started dating a guy that I met online.  The date was actually really great – I was definitely into him and he showed every indication of being into me (the way he looked at me, the things he said, etc.) At one point, he mentioned that he’s really stressed right now because he just broke up with his girlfriend of 10 months a couple weeks ago. I was really confused because I thought he really liked me!

From the beginning of this he’s texted me almost immediately and held conversations.  Now it’s been two days and I’ve heard nothing from him.  I really like this guy and feel there’s a connection, but I’m afraid that if I pursue this I’m going to end up being the rebound no matter what I do.

Is there a way I can have a relationship with this guy without me becoming the “rebound”?

I thought about your situation and there are a few things I wanted to touch on in my response.

First, you mentioned that he was very stressed after having broken up his relationship of 10 months a couple of weeks ago.  You followed that up with, “I was confused because I thought he really liked me.”

Maybe I’m missing something here, but his recent break up with his girlfriend has nothing to do with whether or not he likes you. Just because he’s recently gone through a breakup or mentions that he’s stressed doesn’t mean that you don’t have something good between the two of you.

I do understand your concern though about being a rebound.  This is one of those conversations that I hear people talking about all the time.  “Oh, she’s just a rebound,” “She just broke up, she’s looking for a rebound,” etc. etc. In reality, what really is a rebound?  I mean, let’s think about this…

I mean, we all get the basic premise.  Someone breaks up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, they immediately date someone else and then somehow it falls apart or becomes a bad situation. But let’s really look at what’s happening here: You’ve got two people who have been dating for a while.  They’re used to each other, they expect the other one to be there and their day-to-day lifestyles are intertwined.

When a relationship ends, there are all sorts of loose ends and areas of life that end up changing (depending on how closely connected these two people were.) The rebound happens when the guy or girl doesn’t address the loose ends and just seeks out another relationship to “shortcut”  getting their life back into the order it was in before.

I’m not just talking about finding a replacement girlfriend who can cook as well as well as the last one or is willing to do the same things with you the last one was.  I’m talking about the process of the guy (or girl) looking inside themselves and recognizing the areas that are still raw… and then working them out.

When a breakup happens, I think we all like to kid ourselves into believing that we’re OK and we have things all worked out… no healing needed.

I know I’ve had breakups where I thought I was OK after a period of time, but the truth is I wasn’t fully back to 100% until a full year later.  It wasn’t like I was sulking in a corner for a year, but I would catch myself 6 months after the breakup thinking about “unfinished business” or “loose ends” that still bothered me.  The bulk of the healing happened within the first month and a half (and probably would have happened quickly if I had just acknowledged that I needed time to work everything out in my head and lifestyle.)

My point in all of this is that it’s up to the guy to work his issues out. There’s no way to shortcut this for him or for you – he needs to do it himself. Now, I’m not saying that there’s no way you can start dating him.  And I’m not saying that if you start dating that he can’t work things out.

But I will  caution that if you start dating him only two weeks after he broke up with a girlfriend of 10 months, you run several risks:

1)  You risk that instead of working things out in his mind and making peace with the breakup, he will retreat from thinking about his stuff and perpetually be wrestling with his thoughts and unresolved issues.  As long as you are in the relationship with him, he will be able to distract himself from dealing with the issues he really needs to deal with.

2)  You risk him running back to his ex.  When a guy hasn’t had a good amount of time to work out his issues, it’s very likely that he’ll go to the ex-girlfriend for one reason or another.  The main reason is that while he’s distracting himself with a new relationship, the unresolved stuff is eating away at him.  He’s not going to bring that stuff up with you, but he might feel that if he talks with his ex it might lead to some inner-resolution. And that’s a slippery slope…

3)  You risk turning into his scapegoat, quasi-therapist or shoulder-to-cry-on while he works out his issues. I don’t mean to make this guy out to be a basket case, but if he was messed up from his break up, it’s a very good idea to stand back (far back) and let him work out his issues.  If something looks like it’s going to explode, it’s good to stand far away.

I know this might sound kind of disappointing, but trust me, it’s better you really think this through now before you get deeply entrenched in a relationship with someone who hasn’t worked their stuff out yet. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy, or that you aren’t good enough or even that you aren’t good together.  Chances are, you probably do have some real chemistry together.

Still, the fact remains that if you get involved with someone who hasn’t worked out their issues, there’s a very good possibility that it will lead to a long, drawn-out, confusing roller-coaster of relationship drama that will not end pretty. Hate to be blunt, but that’s the most likely scenario if he has a lot of unresolved issues from his breakup (or baggage, or loose ends, or whatever you want to call it.)

If you can manage to step back gracefully and give him lots of space to really, truly work out his stuff, maybe in a month or two he’ll have it completely worked out and you two can start something on a virtually clean slate. You would have to be patient and really disciplined to give him that space, but it’s much much better than going through a relationship where you’re competing with the ghost of an ex.

Hope it helps,

eric charles

Written by Eric Charles

I'm Eric Charles, the co-founder and co-editor of A New Mode. I love writing articles to help people free themselves from suffering and have clarity in their love life. I have a degree in Psychology and I've dedicated the last 20 years of my life to learning everything I can about human psychology and sharing what gets people out of struggling with life and into having the life they really want. If you want to contact me, feel free to reach out on Facebook or Twitter.

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Pretty much everything I’m going through. I really like the guy I’ve been talking to. I hate that we have pasts in life but that’s unavoidable. I don’t want to feel unimportant after talking to him for so long :( I like him too much. I want to wait to see that things can work out but honestly I feel like I didn’t set certain boundaries in the beginning. Because of that I feel he doesn’t see me as important as her and I am tired of beating myself up! Plus he kinda shuts down when I ask him how he feels so it leaves me guessing what I mean to him. I feel like that’s not much and I will be forgettable which is horrible!

Reply July 20, 2019, 10:29 am

Michelle C Williams

So I have deep feeling for this guy who is going through a recent breakup. He spends large amounts of time with me and is treating like I’m his woman. We both have strong feelings for one another I think he is a great fit for me. Flaws and all. He openly shows his concern and affection for me and everyone sees it. We are both are mature adults and despite everything he is going through it doesn’t affect our bond and relationship. I told him recently exactly how I feel because I don’t want to be strung along. So I told him. That I would not wait around and see how this plays out. We spend all of our free time together, so I basically told him that in the future that out time will be cut short because my most valuable thing I have is my time. So he can step up or let me pass him on by. I refuse to stand still and let him work out his situation in life only to be disappointed that he chose to get back with his ex. I’d rather let him go and live my life. I really want this man. He makes me feel really good. Relaxed comfortable and I don’t want to lose him. What should I do?

Reply May 17, 2018, 12:47 am


I started dating a woman who just broke up with her boyfriend. Well to be honest after a 2 yr relationship he dump her without explanation and got himself another girl. I’m having the hardest time on being patient and frankly sometimes I feel like I’m just a rebound We have been dating for almost 2 months and trying to give her time but it’s really hard. I’m scared because I don’t know where it might end.

Reply February 27, 2017, 4:23 pm


I’ve been with a man for officially a year. I know for sure he is trying to get back with the mother of his child. He has said it here and there throughout the year. He blew so hot and cold with me. But lately way more cold. He said he left her because she’s basically a virgin and her lifestyle doesn’t suit his. But obviously this is either lies or he just wants to get his family back no matter what. I have feelings for him. I think he somewhat cares about me, but obviously not more than her. We were suppose to go to the movies last night, but then he tolde he was at her house yesterday taking care of his son as the whole family is sick, and now he just wants to chill at his home and isn’t up to being with me. He’s done this a lot, its not the first time he goes there and then our plans are canceled or I don’t hear from him. He drinks a lot and him and I have a lot of sex. I have feelings for him but I am tired of crying. Right now I don’t know what I should do. Just stop talking to him even when he texts or just keep telling him I’m busy or sick until he maybe staight up asks me. I don’t know what to do next. I hope I hear from someone

Reply November 21, 2016, 8:22 am


You need to leave him!!!!!! If you haven’t already. DUMP HIM! NEXT!!!

Reply December 24, 2016, 4:30 pm

Irene Rebada

This helps a lot! I have the same situation with you though they’ve been together for over 1 yr sooo yeah. I know what to do now. Thanks for this!

Reply September 28, 2016, 9:54 pm


We back up and to day he talk to me and he say do you love me I say I don’t want to talk about that

Reply July 7, 2016, 1:08 am


I’m engaged with someone who actually works on ship. its already 5 years we know each other. He return to land for 4 months, 3/4 of his time he spends with his car and his friends, he comes late at night. sometimes I FEEL I’M FORCING HIM TO GET MARRIED. many times we discuss on that but never makes any differences always the same.
i don’t know what to do. should i continue in this relationship or should i leave him.

Reply April 3, 2016, 2:37 pm


This all rings so true for me. I’m in the painful space right now of trying to give someone space to work out their issues with their recent ex, despite the fact I am pretty sure I will lose him the process. But I can’t see any other way through this – it’s my best chance I guess. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and horrible and makes me feel like crap. So thanks for your stories everyone, nice to know I’m not alone!

Reply November 30, 2015, 1:38 pm


Recently, I met a guy who has a kid. We hit it off pretty great and we were together. He and the mother of his baby broke up 4 months ago -very recent. His ex at this point was in DR for 2 weeks. We decided to give us a try and everything was going well. We texted, called, hanged out etc. All of a sudden, he stopped responding to my texts and calls, so I left him alone. He then reached out a couple of days ago saying that: “if I have not written back to you it’s not because I’ve forgotten you and trust me I never will. I was talking to my mother and the family of the mother of the baby and we decided to give us another opportunity for the sake of the children . I didn’t know how to tell you and I was ashamed. I hope we can still be friends and know that I am here for whatever you need.” I responded by saying that: “thank you for letting me know. I totally understand and I hope everything turns out well. Of course we can still be friends and I’ll be here.”

The issue is that I really want to talk to him, but I respect his relationship with the baby mother. I don’t want the baby mother to misinterpret anything, but I do have feelings for him. I haven’t texted him since he sent me that message on Tuesday, but I really want to talk to him. I want to let him know that the reason I haven’t texted him is because I want to be respectful of his relationship, but again at the same time I do because I have feelings for him. Should I just let him be and give him space? I’d like to talk to him just as a friend, but I don’t want the baby mother to think wrong about it.

Reply May 2, 2015, 2:21 am


Ok, so its a bit of a long story, but basically I worked at waitrose and I met a guy who I was really close with and he introduced me to someone (just in a friendly way). This guy was called Luke, and we had a bit of flirty banter, but I don’t think it was much. Turns out the guy who introduced me to Luke actually liked me, but we fell out over it (and i regret that hugely). Luke then had a girlfriend called Emma who I also knew and was friends with. They have broken up and Luke has started to get back in touch with me (I think he was really devastated about it!) I gave him advice and tried to help him through it and we have now talked for a couple of weeks, basically every day! I think I might actually have developed feelings for him, but he’s at uni now so I don’t know if there is any point in me telling him or how I would say it?? Sorry if this is really vague, I’ve probably left loads of info out!

Reply February 2, 2015, 9:44 am


This is painful. I went out with someone who said he was glad it was over. Months later…he told me he was hurt…and not over it. It was painful. No matter what a man says, he needs time. Spare yourself some pain. It really hurt.

Reply January 5, 2015, 7:03 pm


So I’m a late forties guy, who officially separated with wife of 22 years about 6 months ago. We have 3 kids. When I found out she was cheating and lying…I was upset, but it was more sadness and anger at the betrayal of trust and the lying.
Thinking long and hard….I realized we had emotionally separated years before.
I recently met an amazing woman, with whom I have an unbelievable connection. I enjoy everything about her, she excites me…makes me want to be a better person for her. Thing is….she is worried that she is the “rebound girl”.
I get it…and worried at first that maybe I was blind to my own issues. The last thing I want to do is hurt someone.
I looked at so many sites…doing a self-analysis…and concluded that I’m not on the rebound.
I am having a hard time clearly explaining this to the new love in my life. I don’t compare her, I want to do new, fresh things with her…things I didn’t do with my Ex. I want to experience different things. I want to travel to new places, and embark on endeavors that are unique to us. I love the idea of joining with her family.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that THERE ARE NO HARD AND FAST RULES!
Each relationship needs to be judged on its own merits. So…dig a bit deeper…don’t just stop a potentially rewarding relationship easily!! It’s not the quantity of time between relationships…it’s more complex than that.
Just my 2 cents…

Reply December 7, 2014, 1:23 pm


Thanks for that comment R, you’ve made me feel a lot better about the guy I’m seeing. I knew he was separated when we started dating, didn’t realise the separation was only a couple of months prior to that though. I’ve been seriously concerned that he hasn’t given himself time to process the split, but he specifically stated that they had been emotionally separated for years and they just tried to stick together for the children. He’s not done anything at all to make me feel he isn’t invested in our relationship, it was purely all of the advice saying “don’t date a guy that recently separated” or “if they’re only just out of a relationship you’re almost certainly the rebound girl” that was making me doubt. Hearing that you and your lady are going through the same process and that you are certain she isn’t just a rebound relationship gives me hope that me and my guy can make this work – or that at least we have as much chance as any other couple.

Reply February 9, 2015, 5:17 pm


Hi R – Curious how the relationship from 2014 worked out. Still together?

Reply November 7, 2017, 7:07 pm


Very good article.

Reply July 30, 2014, 7:49 am


Thank you for this article! I wish I would have read it months ago.

I met a guy 2 months after his gf dumped him. They were very serious, in their mid 40s. He was separated from his wife of 10 years, but not yet divorced. She resented this and while she did move in with him, it was what ultimately ended their relationship. (She had been out of the country when she ended it, via instant messenger).

Our relationship was a whirlwind. Great chemistry. We saw each other constantly and he seemed really happy. I know I was. My only concern was about the exgf… was he over it? Did he still love her? He said he loved her, but was not “in love” with her and was falling in love with me. However, about two months into our relationship, I discovered texts between them. During the 2 weeks we broke up, they went to counseling together. He came back to me, assuring me he loved me, and that she was venting about their relationship and he told her she needed to get closure. We had another fabulous 2 weeks, then when I was looking for reassurance, he told me that he wasn’t emotionally available and said “yes” when I asked if he was still in love with her.

We had no communication for a month until I asked to talk to him, to better understand what happened. We met for dinner. He said he was not in love with her, but loved her. He said he still loved me and I was an important part of his life, and that “it” was not a rebound, and that he had been falling in love with me, that it was real, but he hadn’t dealt with his feelings from the breakup. He said he was taking “alone time” to work on himself, per his therapist and friends, and that he wasn’t looking to get back together with me or her. Later in the conversation, he admitted he has seen her, has spoken to her, and will continue to see her because he likes her. He even admitted sleeping with her only 2 weeks after we broke up! Yet, he won’t admit to me they are together.

So… what happens after the rebound, when I am the one with the broken heart, doing the work to grieve our brief relationship? Is he thinking about me at all? Was it real? Would this have happened if she hadn’t come back? Was he obligated to try to fix things with her, because she dumped him? If they are together, will it last? My friends think their relationship will fail, and that he will come back to me. They just hope that by that time I am over him. How do you know if a guy is ready for a relationship after the breakup? Any opinions on all of this?

Reply April 5, 2014, 11:46 pm


So true…I have recently gone through this and the underground kill power might be out of your thinking…

B said “And let me tell you, it’s often a short, sudden surprise to you that is absolutely devastating.” above, – absolutely. He suddenly burst out for some reason I am not aware of. And later I figured out somehow I get in between him and his ex. And truly…it is an issue that is not even IN your relationship but someone else’s….

Reply July 20, 2012, 9:24 pm


Back away. Far, far away.

I found myself in this scenario a few months ago with a guy who thought he had worked through his past issues. I wish I would have had the courage to say, “You know, I think there’s some good stuff here, but I think you need more time.”

Instead, all the time I thought we were creating a solid relationship, he was quietly working through his issues until it came to a point when he needed space. And let me tell you, it’s often a short, sudden surprise to you that is absolutely devastating.

Fortunately, I was able to encourage my guy to seek out counseling so, at the very least, he won’t hurt someone again like he hurt me.

And here’s the end result: You get a relationship that didn’t have time to form, a person who is broken, and a big ol’ question mark of what the future entails. I’d still like to date this guy, but he needs time and, sadly, I just don’t know how it will shake out.

So if you encounter the rebound potential, back off for a bit and then give it another go. Trust me, you don’t want it to end out like it did for me because then you’re dealing with issues in your relationship that weren’t even *in* your relationship.

Reply July 3, 2012, 4:10 pm


The thing is, I’m not the rebound. I’m the first one. First for everything if you know what I mean. I think because it was summer it was ok to be together all the time but when school came around I believe there was a lot of “you’re whipped” and “you never go out with us anymore,” essentially smothering him. It’s hard to give him space when we live in a small town and his mom and my mom are close friends. Even his aunt and sister. As a matter of fact I watched her kids yesterday in a pinch. He texted my friend yesterday asking for my moms number saying that she hated him but he had proof that I was talking to other guys the last time we were together. I wasn’t, it was after, but he has done that too. My friend said why does it matter if we werent together and it didnt happen when we were together? Then he said nevermind, i thought about it and i dont want the number. Should my mom text him and see what he wanted or wait for him to come to her.

Reply July 3, 2012, 6:25 pm


I’m in the same boat as B. He decided we need to b friends. Which I don’t like but I need to pull out now before I get hurt.

Reply September 8, 2016, 8:52 pm


I have been on a few dates with a guy, lets call him C – I always knew he had only just broken up with his ex girlfriend but at that moment in time, I thought it a safe bet … I was dating someone else and wasn’t sure where it was heading. It turns out that relationship went no where … but I had got on with C really well and had a lot of fun … He has never slept with me (but we have kissed a lot), always said his head was not in the right place and he didn’t want to hurt me … he told me last night a little more detail, how he had jumped straight into a safe bet relationship with A, the girl he has just split up from. She was a lot younger and he knew there wouldn’t be the need to commit … but they were together a long time and he has been hurt, thats clear.
He says that when he split from A, he actually started to feel the loss of the relationship before – in all that time he had never let himself come to terms with it.
I know he likes me, thats clear because he doesn’t want to hurt me … but I know he has a lot of working things out left to do … I am willing to take a step back, but I’d like your advice about how to do that in the best way.
He kisses me when he sees me and until the other night, when I made the mistake of choosing a chic flic which reminded him of his ex (!!!) he text me every day and was acting really keen. I know he is trying to work things out … I don’t want him to push me away in the mean time, so how can I strike the right balance.

Reply December 9, 2011, 6:10 pm


my situation is a little different. No long distance, but we have been broke up for 8 months. Every 6 to 8 weeks he comes back, either texting or talking and flirting with me when we run into each other, which leads to texting. He has another girl in his life that he never made clear to anyone he was dating. This started about 3 months ago. He has been with me in some form (talking, hanging out, even slept together twice) 3 or 4 times since they started dating. Keep in mind that he always is the one who contacts me, even before she was in the picture. He came back for good a few weeks ago and then after 2 weeks decided to leave again. This time I told him not to come back. I hear though, through others, that he has been talking to her again. I don’t know if this is because I have finally said to stay away or because he really would rather be with her. I love him and do want him back, but not like this. Maybe it is time to move on? I just can’t decide if he really loves me.

Reply June 27, 2012, 1:40 pm


thanks for all your efforts and srina. you are doing a great job keep it up really benefit coz i understood somethings i wasnt clear about.
i`ve been doing most of the right things without knowing im such a good girl ha.
u and sabrina canmake a perfect couple, r u 2 sth or nothing.nooo just curiosty
great day.

Reply October 19, 2011, 8:02 am


what if he opens his mail daily and texts daily once then suddenly stops .i havent called to ask him why and i wont. is he not interested or is busy …. for continuous 5 days and more. thankss

Reply October 19, 2011, 7:51 am


I was in a relationship with a guy for almost a year. I have a daughter so it moved rather quick.. I moved in with my friend with my daughter and this guy was her roommate. On top of that we worked together but thing progressed and worked out great.

We all moved out of the apartment we were sharing. He moved back to my moms with me. Soon we decided to stay at his parent until we got our own place. Things stayed great between us even though life was rocky for both of us. My daughter stared calling him “dada”. I thought it was meant to be.

As soon as we got our apartment things when downhill. It was probably the strain of the financial stress and being together ALL the time. Working together and living together. I could see that we were more likely to argue.

I still loved him so much and wanted to be with him but we finally met his breaking point I guess. We moved out of our apartment. We still work together and for a few weeks we still keep contact and remained our relationship to a minimum. Then all of a sudden I feel like I’m completely erased.

We are servers btw and he’s the only male server there. Its an advantage and disadvantage for him. He’s was back in fourth with being civil and ignoring me. Its so hard for me bc on top of that I have to hear my daughter ask for him.

So now I see him flirting with a girl we work with. It breaks my heart. I haven’t been back to work in a few days bc I feel like I’m losing my self to this. I don’t understanf how someone can move on that quickly (3 weeks) from having a mini family to just a fling. I mean don’t get me wrong, this girl seems sweet and she’s pretty. I just want to know if this is real for him or if he’s just rebounding. I feel like I was left in the dust.

Reply October 8, 2011, 11:44 pm


What do you do when you decide to pull back and give him space to deal with his issues but then because you’ve done this, he just finds a girl who will give him a quick fix of what he wants (sex/random spurts of wanting to play the boyfriend card) instead of sorting himself out..and keeps me on the side as his “therapist/shoulder to cry on” whilst still flirting with me whenever he gets the chance…

This is about a guy who’s been in relationships for 6 of the past 7 years of his life…and wanted to move onto me and see me less than a week after he’d broken up with his ex-girlfriend of 3 years, but said he “wasnt happy for the whole last year of the relationship” and he “loves her as a best friend rather than a girlfriend”

Reply May 16, 2010, 1:23 pm

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