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So there are probably lots of you (read: four) who have been subjected to a long and rambling explanation of how I feel about trading up. For those of you who have already heard this, too bad, listen again. đŸ™‚

But seriously, it came up again last night while a group of us were sitting at the bar (shocking, Rachel in a bar on a Friday night) and opinion was split, about half the table thought I was right, and the other half of the table said I was crazy. Which of course means they agreed with me but would never admit it.

What wouldn’t they agree with? That they pay any attention at all to whoever it is that their ex dates next. We all do it, if we can. And here’s why:

the next person they date reflects on you.

It totally does. Now I don’t mean the rebound (we’ll get there in a minute), I mean the next person that they date, that they invest actual time and interest in, that become the next steady thing. THAT person. The kind of person they pick reflects directly on how your ex felt about their relationship with you. Why, you may ask? Well I’ll tell you (duh). Because of the theory on trading up.

We all like to trade up. It’s a natural progress of life. Take your job. You’d never leave your current job for something that you like less, or paid less, or had worse hours. No, you find something better. Even if you get fired from said job, the next job you take for any length of time still has some aspect of it that’s better than your last job, or you wouldn’t take it. That job you take at the gas station to pay the bills til you find something better, of course, would be your rebound, and therefore doesn’t count.

Well why would a relationship be any different than a job? You spend about the same time and effort on each (or at least, you should).

So here is how it works:

You date somebody, and then you stop dating that somebody (for whatever reason)
Your ex then finds somebody new, who is just a little bit prettier than you, or has a better job, or lives someplace a bit nicer, or has a better sense of humor, something.
This is a trade up – there’s something that is a bit of a step up from you and is therefore acceptable as a next relationship.
Why does this matter? Because its an acknowledged process. You want to see that your former relationship partner has moved on to better things, because that means that they recognized the great parts about the relationship they had with you and want to continue that upward trend toward real happiness. That’s how it works.
You recognize that they thought highly enough of you to want to find somebody that can make them feel the same way they did with you, only a little bit more because you get kind of addicted to that nice feeling and want a slightly bigger buzz, which is good.
Your friends see that your ex respected you enough and thought well enough of you to trade up on their next one, and THEIR friends see that yeah, you were great, but this next one is just a little bit better in some way, which is great.

Of course, sometimes this doesn’t happen.
Instead what happens is that your ex dates the rebound. Which is just unnatural. Unless you’re Henry VIII and you marry them. Which is a perfect example of why you don’t marry the rebound. Silly Hal.

The whole point of the rebound is to be either as unlike your last relationship as possible to get over it, or just whatever you can possibly pick up in order to feel better about a breakup for a few weeks. They aren’t really your type, but they’re there and they serve a purpose. There’s no shame in a rebound relationship for either party, because its just a natural progression of how the relationship cycle works. But you don’t STAY with the rebound. Because no real thought is put into how its all going to work, you just jump in and grab something to run with.

If you date (or god forbid marry) your rebound, you’re not trading up. Well, most of the time you aren’t. Of course I accept the possibility that the world tilted one day and somebody ended up trading up on what was meant to be a rebound, but there are exceptions to nearly every rule and therefore we’re going to ignore that exception for the sake of this explanation.

Anyway, if you date your rebound, this is a direct reflection of your last relationship. What this states is that you didn’t think highly enough of your last partner to find somebody with any of those great qualities that you recognized before and expand on them just a little bit. It shows that you didn’t think that your last partner had anything good about them at all. It’s just plain disrespectful of that last relationship and your partner.

Granted, it doesn’t say great things about your ex either. It shows that they don’t have enough self respect to move up in the world. It shows that they didn’t feel that they were involved in a relationship that was worth anything, and who wants to admit that they were a part of something that sucked through and through? That’s just sad.

But lets be honest here, we don’t care how they’re feeling, we care about how it reflects on us. Now any mutual friends that you may have had look at your ex and their new squeeze and how its a rebound relationship that ended up at the altar, and they don’t see anything as great about what they have as what you had, but since they moved away from rebound to dating that must mean that your ex thought it was a trade up. So what’s wrong with YOU that your ex thinks that THIS is better? That’s really the crux of it. If a rebound turns into a relationship that must mean that they see that as a trade up. So what the heck did they think of YOU to think that THAT is better? It’s just insulting, really. To every party involved.

Sure it sounds shallow. It sounds shallow because that’s what it is. Not every feeling that a person has is required to be all deep and meaningful. You get to be shallow about stuff. That’s the fun part.

True, sometimes there’s a smug little feeling when you look back and see that they’re stuck with the rebound relationship instead of a real next person – because then you can decide that they’ll never do as good as you again. But that’s just a cover. Because why would they stay with someone who wasn’t better? So they think they’re in something better. Which is not only a little bit sad, but also just not right.

So remember, people. Trade up. Not only is it the natural progression of all things in life, it’s also a way to show respect not only to the people who used to be in your life, but also to yourself and your own relationships.

Plus, if you DO marry your rebound, don’t then get your mother to find your ex someplace out in public to sing the praises of said rebound to her in order to try and convince your ex that your rebound isn’t really just a rebound. Because we all know better, and really it’s just kind of sad for all parties involved. If you MUST marry your rebound, own it. There’s less to be ashamed of if you just come out and say, “Yes, this IS my rebound whom I’ve married, but I was lonely and they were available and I’m determined to pretend to be happy.” And then apologize. A lot.