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Adults in Rebound Relationships: A Narrative Inquiry

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 3254 words Published: 4th Apr 2018

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  • Adrienne Maie C. BactolSushmita G. De Leon
  • Kyle Marie S. CayabanMa. Fatima G. Isanan

Everybody has heard of rebound fling. This type of relationship comes immediately after ending the previous relationship. Rebounds are usually not based on love, rather it is just a way for people to relieve themselves from the loneliness and hurt they felt from their break-up. They are dubbed as “rebound” relationship which reflects a common perception that they are somehow unique or different from a non-rebound relationship.

According to Brumbaugh and Fraley (2014), “A rebound relationship is commonly understood to be a relationship that is initiated shortly after the end of a significant romantic relationship—before the feelings about the former relationship have been fully resolved.” The statement represents a commonly held negative view of rebounds. In sum, the consensus is that a rebound relationship is a band-aid that will distract us from dealing with unresolved emotional issues related to our previous relationship. A band-aid that can only stay in place temporarily and when ended, it still reveals an unhealed wound.

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People who lately experienced a breakup may gain from engaging through their emotional distress particularly by means of reflection and considering a new relationship (Marshall, Bejanyan, &Ferenczi, 2013). People rely on the representations of their former partners in finding a new partner to guide the way they relate to others (Brumbaugh&Fraley, 2006). However, according to Spielmann, MacDonald and Tackett (2011), ex-partners perceived as having high potential for meaningful connection are especially difficult to get over when current or future partners fall short in satisfying needs for intimacy and closeness. But, focusing on a new relationship options – either a new partner or an optimistic outlook on relationships – decreases attachment to an ex-partner for anxiously attached individuals (Spielmann, MacDonald, & Wilson, 2009). On the other hand, according to Spielmann, Joel, MacDonald and Kogan (2012) ex-partners may be used in a substitution process to strengthen belongingness needs when new relationship gets sour.

One reasonable way that may facilitate the process of letting go is to enter into a new relationship (Spielmann et al., 2009). But it does not necessarily mean that the benefits provided by this path in getting over the previous partner outweigh the cost. To this point, there is little empirical evidence of strong costs to rebound relationships. Indeed, Wolfinger (2007) argues that divorce and time-to-remarriage statistics provide no supportive evidence for rebound-related problems. Conversely, Brumbaugh and Fraley (2014) made an empirical research about rebound relationships, their research suggests that finding a new partner is beneficial compared to those people who remain single after the relationship has ended, and people who waited longer to start their subsequent relationship has lesser welfare than people who begin their relationship quickly who also had better view of themselves. They also found out that, people who begin their relationship immediately might found some resemblance between their previous partner and new partner. Lastly, one reason that people enter into a rebound relationship is to make vengeance to their previous partner and to vent their fury.

Relationship Termination

It is important to know and understand about rebound relationships from which it has develop. Relationship termination was associated with increases in psychological distress as well decreases in the way that individuals rate their satisfaction with life which represents a significant stressor (Rhoades, Kamp Dush, Atkins, Stanley, &Markman, 2011). In addition, Marshall et al. found that people who had painful breakups may allow other people to grow and be resilient, cleverer, and may have higher processing of cultivating themselves as an individual. They also established that different attachment styles of person can contribute to development of the person after the relationship has terminated.They concluded that a person who has a broken heart and suffered the most has the possibility to encourage themselves to have an optimistic transformation. On the other hand, it appears that avoidant individuals appear to feel they have less to lose in highly intimate relationships, and as a result expect less pain when the relationship ends (Spielmann, Maxwell, MacDonald,&Baratta, 2012).

Relationship termination states that it is commonly depressing even for the person who initiated to end the relationship (Rhoades et al., 2011). It is typical to go through a period of grieving after terminating the romantic relationship. During this period, people may experience sadness, anger, and sometimes even challenging anxiety (Chung et al., 2003). People also often experience profound loneliness after losing a partner (Moller, Fouladi, McCarthy, & Hatch, 2003). Certainly, serious consequences may arise if the relationship termination was a divorce; such as custody arguments andmonetaryneeds(Wickrama, Lorenz, Conger, Elder, Abraham, & Fang, 2006).

With these, other than the immediate effects of a relationship loss, the loss of a partner can have a broad impact on life despite the fact that the majority of the conclusions connected with breakups are undesirable but some could be positive.In addition, relationship termination, specifically whenunanticipated, is known to hitthe thought toward oneself and self-respect. Amongst the best methods for repairing this, is to prove that the person is worthy and equipped for effectively getting new partner (Campbell, Trapnell, Heine, Katz,Lavallee, & Lehman, 1996).

In fact, Tashiro and Frazier (2003) states that individualimprovement is common following breakups. After you leave your previous partner, it may allow you to increase a new feeling of autonomy or change undesirable behaviors and ways of thinking. Research shows individuals who are intimate relationship have lower dynamic social lives than single individuals (Gerstel&Sarkisian, 2006). In sum, if the past partner was a poor match or had an unfavorable effect on one’s mental well-being, the individual may be more satisfied and adjusted without the partner in his or her life.

Rebound Relationships and Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are employed by individuals in attempts to resolve difficulties or manage their internal or external demands that are challenging to their psychological resources (Bouchard &Theriault, 2003). In addition, Choo, Hatfield and Levine (1996) state that “men tend to use emotional distraction or dampening techniques following breakups, involving such things as burying themselves in work or sports to forget or ignore the pain resulting from the recent breakup”. Therefore, men will try to avoid the negative thoughts or emotions that are correlated with therelationship termination by focusing their attention elsewhere, which suggests the possibility that mencould also easily distract themselves by means of another relationship. Also, men have a tendency to be more defenseless, stunned, or disappointed when social terminations happen. They have been found to handle the closure of a sentimental relationship more difficult than women, and also been found to have stronger emotions of pity and depression (Demaray, Malecki, &Rueger, 2008). Men are mostly engage in direct unwanted behaviors such as showing up at their ex-partner’s home. Women, on the other hand, are most likely to engage in less direct unwanted behaviors such as leaving phone messages (Haugaard& Seri, 2003). According to Shimek and Bello (as cited in Hill, Rubin &Peplau, 1976), women are most likely to initiate the breakup than men do. It could be assumed that women have experienced less emotional violence and distractions. Women get to be aware of social issues sooner than men do, which permits them to plan for the certain and leave men unexpected revelation. Women tend to start stalking and consistently striving to restart the relationship by their ex-partners as more unreasonable than male. This then introduces theidea that men could be more likely than women to enter into rebound-type relationships after relationshiptermination as a way to redirect themselves away from the negative emotions associated with the recent break-up.

However, one longitudinal investigation of undergraduate students examining the forecasting error found that the participants who had finished a two-month romantic relationship, majority part of them reported enhanced prosperity after ten weeks. These changes were more unusual in people who reported being really infatuated with their partners or who had a hard time in pursuing dating another person (Eastwick, Finkel, Krishnamurti, &Loewenstein, 2008). In fact, researchers have discovered variety of indicators for emotional recovery after a breakup which assimilate affection for the previous partner, as well as length of the past relationship, attachment style and situational factors, such as proceeded contact with the ex-partner. They have not given a specific and prudent time allotment to serve everyone (Locker, McIntosh, Hackney, Wilson, &Wiegand, 2010). Locker and colleagues (2010) also found that the shorter length of past relationship and quickness of returning back to a relationship were identified with enhanced social adjustment when assessed alongside with a variety of situational factors including social support. In other words, rapidly engaging in another relationship is more powerful in elevating a return to positive adjustment and relational recovery than more customarily acknowledged systems such investing time with family or companions. In addition, engagement in a new relationship also seems to allow the individual to prevent depressive states often associated with social exclusion (Allen &Badcock, 2003).

Potential Functions of Rebound Relationship

The period after a separation might be challenging for some individuals. Entering into another relationship may serve to help with some of these difficulties. One possibility is that individuals may utilize rebound relationships as an adapting coping strategy or asintend to distract themselves from painful emotions. Another possibility is that individuals may use rebound relationships as an approach to support fearlessness to demonstrate themselves or others that they are desirable. Dating another person may give a way to divert interest from these negative feelings. Research proposes that individual breakups can reduce thought toward clarity, making them feel less sure of whom they are.(Slotter, Gardner, &Finkel, 2010).Dating another individual may help to reaffirm one’s thought toward oneself and give approval that one is attractive and deserving of affection and consideration from others. Frazier and Cook (1993) found out that the main consideration in recovering from a relationship termination is confidence. Hence, if individuals might benefit that the relationship proves to be self-affirming to oneself they are more encouraged to try another relationship.

Moreover, rebound relationship may be a way for filling a gap left by the previous partner, whether emotional or practical. Maner, DeWall, Baumeister, & Schaller (2007) discovered that feelings of attachment can unconsciously change from an old relationship partner to another person when there is some level of similarity between two people (Brumbaugh& Fraley, 2006). For other people, it may be more overt and helpful if the person found a partner to fill what is left behind by the previous partner. Therefore, for the purpose of vengeance, some individuals may enter into another relationship.People often elicits anger who experienced relationship termination (Sbarra& Emery, 2005), and it could be frustrating when one did not admit the separation(Perilloux& Buss, 2008).

In expressing their fury, individuals may be interested by making vengeance or by striking back and making their partner feel jealous through finding a new partner. They may be moreover motivated to show to their previous partner that they do not need to bother him or her, or to make it to the point that the previous partner is not essential anymore (Brumbaugh& Fraley, 2014).

Current Study

As such, we know little about what kind of people are likely to be involved in rebound relationships or what functions these relationships might serve. Moreover, it is not obvious whether such relationships are necessarily “misguided” in the way they are portrayed in popular culture. In fact, studies of relationship scripts suggest it is normative to enter new relationships even prior to thedissolution of the old relationship (Richard, Datteri, & Lord, 1998).

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Since there is very little research that touches on the pros and cons of rebound relationships or thevalidity of the claims typically made of them, the present study will aim to know the stories of adults who are in the midst of rebound relationship. It aims to understand how they coped emotionallywith their previous relationship, how they describe their present relationship and howother people view their present relationship. The present study will also shed light to a deeper meaning of rebound relationship; whether entering a new relationship, and the timing of doing so, will be beneficialor detrimental to one’s new romantic relationship.

The current study will aim to answer the question, “What is the story behind rebound relationships of adults who are in the midst of it?”

It will answer the following specific questions:

  1. “How did you cope with your previous relationship?”
  2. “How do you describe your present relationship?”
  3. “How do people view your present relationship?”


Research Design

We will be using a narrative inquiry on this study. We will ask adults, who are in the midst of rebound relationship, to narrate their stories. We chose narrative research design, a qualitative research design, because according to Barrett and Stauffer (2009), “narrative inquiry looks at individuals’” experiences and beliefs through the stories they tell. It also provides complementary knowledge: in-depth description, understanding,and clarification of lived experience, with attention tospecifics and complexity (Polkinghorne, 2005). Narrative research design is also a lens into how humans understand their lives within particularcultures and time. The process of telling, recording, and interpretingpersonal life stories can be a poignant vehicle in understandinghow we create meaning of our existence and is well-suited toresearch professional practices (Hoshmand, 2005).


The participants of this study will be ten rebounders who are in the midst of rebound relationship for a span of three months and above. Participants must be 21 – 40 years old. They shouldhave entered into a new relationship right after ending their previous relationship (at most, a month). Participants will be selected through a snowball sampling method. According to Oliver (2006), snowball sampling is type of non-probability sampling in which the researcher starts by distinguishing an individual saw to be a proper respondent. This respondent is then asked to recognize an alternate conceivable respondent. The process is repeated until the researcher has gathered sufficient information. It is now and then called `chain letter’ sampling. Snowball sampling might be a helpful strategy in research concerned with conduct that is socially unsuitable.


In this study, we will find a participant using a snowball sampling. We will find participants by asking our families and friends if they know someone who is in the midst of rebound relationship. After selecting possible participant, they will narrate their story about being in a rebound relationship.

The data will be collected through an in-depth interview. The sources of data will come from the audiotapes and transcripts of the interviews. During the interview, there will be an interviewer, an observer on participants’ behavior, note-taker who will take down notes of the important answers from the participants and a person who will record everything. After collecting the data, the transcripts and the notes during the interview will be encoded to the computer. There will be backup copies that will be stored in a separate location. To maintain confidentiality, in encoding transcripts and audio recordings, participants will be given a number. Also, audio recording will be destroyed after the study.

Data Analysis

After we gathered the information; we will listen to the recorded audio a number of times. Next, we will transcribe the information and we will carefully read it numerous times. Then, we will summarize the gathered information. All of the content that will address the research questions will be included. Also, the ideas and wordings of the participants will be rephrased at a minimum. We will chart and discuss the information from the narratives of the ten rebounders. Afterwards, we will come up with meanings and eventually, will lead us to themes that will answer our research questions.

Data from ten adults in the midst of rebound relationship will be analyzed using thematic analysis; thematic analysis is a method for identifying, analyzing, and reporting patterns (themes) within data. It minimally organizes and describes your data set in rich detail (Braun & Clarke, 2006). With this, we will replicate Braun and Clarke (2006) method. This method will be using six phases; 1.) familiarizing yourself with your data which includes taking notes or marking ideas for coding that we will then go back to in subsequent phases; 2.) generating initial codes which includes production of initial codes from the data;3.) searching for themes which re-focuses the analysis at the broader level of themes, rather than codes, includes sorting the different codes into potential themesand beginning to examine codes, and consider how different codes may combine together to form an overarching theme;4.) reviewing themes which includes two levels of reviewing and refining themes. Level one will include reviewing at the level of the coded data extracts. Level two will consider the validity of individual themes in relation to the data set, but also whether the candidate thematic map“accurately‟ reflects the meanings evident in the data set as a whole; 5.) defining and naming theme; we will then define and further refine the themes that we will present for our analysis, and analyses the data within them; 6.) producing the report, this phase will start when we already have a set of completely worked-out themes, and we will include the final analysis and write-up of the report. After forming the themes, it is important that the analysis will give concise, coherent, logical, non-repetitive, and interesting account of the story the data will tell – within and across themes.


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