Following a painful romantic break-up, some people enter into a new relationship almost immediately, often with less-than-stellar results. Dating too soon after an emotionally charged break-up is known as a rebound relationship, and is almost always considered a bad idea for all parties involved. A person on the rebound may have great difficulty distinguishing between the old romantic partner and the new one, for instance.
Whenever a romantic relationship ends, whether amicably or painfully, both parties should allow themselves to go through a real grieving process before pursuing new relationships. In essence, there has been a "death" of a valued relationship, and few people can recover from such an injury in only a few days or weeks. While the prospect of dating someone new, especially someone who has been kept off-limits during the old relationship, may sound like a cure, it rarely ends well.
Another problem with rebound relationships is motivation. Some people who feel victimized or humiliated by a bad breakup may feel the need to start a new relationship simply to prove they are indeed over the old one. This action is often primarily directed at former partners, either in an effort to generate feelings of jealousy or to remind them of what they gave up. Neither tactic is a particularly healthy reason to pursue a relationship, and the new partner is not always as understanding or conspiratorial as one might hope.
There are times when a person may feel he or she has fully recovered from a break-up and is truly prepared to re-enter the dating scene, but this may be a premature assessment. If a new relationship starts too soon after a painful break-up, the new partner may become little more than a sounding board for all of the negatives intended for the former partner. Constant comparisons to a former boyfriend or girlfriend can be a sign of an unhealthy rebound relationship, as well as the careful avoidance of almost all dating venues associated with the former relationship.
Because there will almost inevitably be a new relationship following the dissolution of an old one, it is important to recognize the difference between a new healthy relationship and an unhealthy rebound one. Much like a widow or widower, a spurned partner may want to establish a reasonable hiatus from dating until he or she is emotionally ready. Personal counseling may also help prevent someone from entering into a shallow or unhealthy relationship until his or her self-esteem has been fully restored.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to seek out companionship following a painful break-up, but individuals owe it to themselves and their new partner to make sure the new relationship is based in reality, not a ghost in the machine.