How to Spot a Rebounder — The [Fairer Se]X Files
You know that scene in 'The Hunger Games,' when the glass tubes that each teen warrior is protected by retract, and every blood-thirsty child begins either a frantic retreat toward the safety of the woods, or an aggressive dash towards the cornucopia filled with supplies, despite the danger? That's kinda what it's like being newly-single.
Those of us who choose to run for safety end up spending a lot of time alone or with friends, nursing our wounds and engaging in self-reflection. We emerge as better, more balanced people, with a clear idea of what we are looking for. Wait, that never happens.
Freshly-plucked from a cozy love nest and dropped into the harsh reality of being alone again, the newly-single person is perhaps the most dangerous breed of human in the world. During the time immediately following a break-up, it is a (made up) scientific fact that our brains turn to mush. We make dramatic changes to our lives, to assure ourselves that we've made the right call. Sometimes we become social networking over-sharers, too, which is always mortifying in hindsight. (See above.)
If we were smarter creatures, we'd probably lock ourselves in a room for a few months after ending something, until we were ready to re-enter polite society. But you know, that gets boring. Enter: "The Rebound."
At different points in our lives, we are looking for different kinds of relationships. When we're in a healthy place, we seek out people who are healthy too. When we're hurting, we tend to find people who are hurting too. (I mean honestly, who else is at the bar at 2am on a Tuesday night, besides the guy who just finished crying in the bathroom after finally deleting her number?) This is all pretty standard and manageable -- The problem comes about when you are interested in a relationship, and you come upon a rebounder.
Here's the tricky thing: rebounders have no idea they are in the process of rebounding. As I mentioned above, they are temporarily very, very stupid, and have no sense of self-awareness. A rebounder will present as a charming, confident, charismatic person with a full life and an open heart. Don't get it twisted: they're probably just a little hammered.
Having met my fair share of rebounders, I've developed a tool-kit to help you identify them quickly. These five tips can help you spot them whether you're looking to avoid them or looking specifially for someone emotionally unavailable, because come on, sometimes we are!
Remember, though: Should you meet a rebounder at a time when you're looking for love, be kind. Give them a hug, a pat on the shoulder, a DVD of 'The Notebook,' and set them free. They're on a journey, and it's going to be very, very uncomfortable to watch. We've all been there.
How to Spot a Rebounder:
1. During small-talk, they attach the words “right now” to their answers.
Example: “Where do you live?” “I’m staying at my friend’s apartment in Bushwick right now.” –or-- “What do you do?” “I’m working at a newsstand for right now.” This implies transition, which is fine obviously, but it also indicates insecurity. Life transitions are good, they bring about growth and change. Insecurity and floundering? Not so good.
2. You notice (or they tell you about) a recent dramatic change in their physical appearance.
You've seen her in the bar a few times, but you almost didn't recognize her with her new, platinum blonde hair and/or gigantic, still-healing tattoo. The male version of this is a sudden aquisition of a “Cool guy leather jacket.” You know what I mean; it’s probably slate grey, has a rounded collar, slim-fitting and a little moto-euro. Both of these characters are most likely "not sure if they're renewing their lease, right now."
3. They talk about being young a whole lot, even if they’re not really very young.
When someone in their thirties keeps dropping cliches like “the world is our oyster,” or "we're so lucky to be young and living in a city like this," they most likely finished sobbing their eyes out directly before heading to the bar. Be gentle.
4. They have a lot of brand new hobbies or interests.
If she recently discovered that she loves designing shoes, she's really telling you that her ex-boyfriend hated how much room her shoes took up in the closet. If a man tells me that he recently ended 7 years of vegetarianism, he's really telling me that his ex was a vegan and she cheated on him. These people are working on binary relationship logic, where all 0's in their life code must become 1's -- Stand back and wait for them to figure out that there are other numbers available. Avert your eyes.
5. A lot of the people with them are new friends.
If their "buddy" buys them a drink and calls them by the wrong name, it's a good bet that they are running with a new crowd, which means the dust hasn't settled in their own life yet. They'll figure it out -- stay out of it, they don't need another new friend.
It's important to note that sometimes dating a rebounder is exactly what you need; we're not always in a place where we can begin a healthy relationship. Sometimes dating a rebounder also helps you transition out of your own rebound, and that's great too -- but communication is key. Being open about what you want is the best way to get it, after all. Talk, dudes!
Jackie Mancini is the associate editor of GuySpeed and an unabashed lover of large breasts, porno, foul mouths and loud music. Her childhood diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is most likely responsible for her current position as the only female employee of a men’s website. Her column ‘The [Fairer Se]X Files’ appears every Wednesday. You can read more of her work here, and you can also follow her on Twitter.