Monkey branching vs rebound: 10 ways to tell the difference

The terms monkey branching and rebound are often used interchangeably. They have some similarities; both can cause a lot of pain around the time of a breakup, but there are some core differences too. 

So to clear up these misconceptions, in this article we’ll look into monkey branching vs rebound; the differences. Let’s jump (pun intended) straight in!

In monkey branching…

1) Your partner finds someone else BEFORE you’ve broken up

Even if your partner hasn’t officially entered a new relationship while you’re still together, they’ve certainly got it planned and ready to spring into action the moment you guys break up. 

This is monkey branching. 

Lining up the next partner before the current relationship is over. So, why don’t people who do this wait for things to be officially over before moving on?

Most of the time this behavior is down to:

  • Having low self-esteem and suffering from insecurities. They’re likely to avoid ever being alone. 
  • Having a bad moral compass and lacking in integrity. They don’t care about doing the right thing and respecting their current partner.
  • Always wanting the next best thing. They don’t value their relationship, so when the grass looks greener elsewhere, they don’t hesitate to move on.

And in most cases, people who monkey branch tend to be serial branchers – they’re likely to have jumped from relationship to relationship with plenty of overlapping. 

It might seem like they just can’t be single – they need to have a relationship at all times to validate themselves. Unfortunately for their partner though, it’s not always clear that their loved one is already on the hunt for someone new. 

But, there are some signs to look out for – read on to find out what they are…

2) You’ll see signs that suggest your partner is monkey branching 

If your partner is monkey branching you, there will be some subtle, and not so subtle, signs that will give away what they’re up to

The most obvious signs include:

  • Always being on their phone
  • Having dating profiles or apps 
  • Being evasive and secretive when they go out 
  • Having had multiple relationships in the past with no cooling down period in between breakups 

And some of the less obvious signs (which don’t necessarily scream monkey branching at the first glance) include: 

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  • Acting cold and distant with you 
  • Being hesitant to meet your family and friends 
  • Accusing you of cheating (projecting their guilt onto you)
  • Gaslighting you (making you feel crazy when you confront them about their odd behavior)
  • Changes in their routine – new hobbies and interests that don’t include you 

You may also notice your partner flirting with others, even in front of you. Any opportunity they get to meet someone else is an opportunity they won’t want to miss out on. 

This underpins the basic respect deserved in a relationship. 

But, when someone is in the habit of monkey branching, they’ve already lost respect for you and the relationship. 

They’ve already moved on and put their feelings for you in the past…

3) Your partner is already over you before you split up

You may think that some of the actions and behaviors above are quite extreme, how could anyone do that while still in a relationship, right?

Well, the truth is people do, and mainly because they’ve moved on from their partner before even breaking up with them. They lose feelings for their partner, and that’s the reason they act cold or disinterested. 

It could also be that they can tell the relationship is failing. 

They know it’s only a matter of time before things end because they don’t believe that anything is going to change for the good. So they start the moving on process to get a head start. 

You might be wondering, “So why don’t they just end it then?”, and the reason is that they dread the thought of being single and alone.

Rather than healthily process their feelings after the breakup, they prefer to distract themselves by being thrown straight into a new relationship. 

This is something monkey branchers’ and rebounders have in common – neither spend the time addressing their feelings or processing them. The difference is that they do it in different time frames. 

4) There’s no waiting period before the next relationship 

Your partner has just broken up with you. 

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Even as soon as the very next day, while you’re nursing a broken heart, you start to see pictures of your (recent) ex with someone new on the scene. 

How on earth could they have moved on so quickly? What if there was still a chance between you guys to reconnect? 

All of that flies out of the window with a monkey brancher. They don’t see the need to wait after a breakup, no matter how serious or hurtful it was. 

As I mentioned earlier, this is because they’ve already moved on long before you got the memo that the relationship is over. 

So when it comes to diving into a new relationship, they’re ready for it (or so they feel). 

This can feel like a punch to the stomach for their partner, who is only just starting the heartbreak process and can’t comprehend how the other has moved on so fast. 

5) It’s considered a form of cheating 

If you found out that your partner was chatting someone else up behind your back, how far would it have to go before you considered it to be cheating?

This comes down to the individual and their take on cheating. For some, flirting or messaging someone else is considered to be disloyal and unfaithful behavior. 

For others, the line is crossed when something physical takes place. 

Now, in monkey branching, this can vary. 

Some “monkeys” will only emotionally cheat on their partner by texting others, whilst others might actually go out there and start up a physical relationship with someone else.

I think we can agree that in either sense, they intend to find a romantic connection outside of their current relationship, which isn’t just or fair to their partner. Dealing with infidelity on top of a broken relationship is a lot for anyone to deal with. 

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The truth is, monkey branching is a toxic behavior. 

Those who do it pay no concern to their current partner, who is innocently continuing with the relationship unaware their partner is actively searching for someone new. 

And quite often, they’ll lie to the new partner too. They might say they’ve already split with their partner, or that their partner treats them badly and that’s why they’re secretly looking for a way out. 

Rebound, on the other hand, is when…

1) Your partner finds someone AFTER you’ve broken up

The key difference between monkey branching vs rebound is that a rebounder jumps into a new relationship straight after their previous relationship has finished. It’s usually not premeditated. 

As we’ve covered, a monkey brancher will seek this new relationship before splitting up with their partner. It is premeditated. They’ve planned to hook up with someone else. 

If your partner has quickly delved into a relationship days after you’ve broken up (even hours later) it’s usually because they’re hurt, confused, and desperate for company.

Just like monkey branchers, they might suffer from:

  • Codependency. They form unhealthy attachments and reliance on others. They may end up in toxic, unhappy relationships just to avoid being alone.
  • Low self-esteem. They lack self-worth and tend to have negative views of themselves. They don’t believe they are enough when they are single.
  • Insecurities. They lack the confidence to be single and independent. They don’t believe they can make it alone. This is a characteristic of having low self-esteem.

These factors could be the reason why your partner, no matter how cut up they are about your breakup, has sought comfort in the arms of someone else. 

With that being said, they may also feel that rebounding with someone else will help them get over you faster, a claim that could be true in some cases.

2) There aren’t signs that your partner will rebound after you break up

As opposed to monkey branching, there’s no way to know beforehand that your partner will jump into a new relationship as soon as you’ve broken up. 

This is because the rebounder hasn’t planned on finding someone else. They are usually the ones who are dumped in the relationship (but not always, it can be either or both). 

It works like this:

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The dumpee tends to rebound because the dumper has already moved on before they ended the relationship. 

If the dumper hops straight into a relationship after the breakup, it may be that they were monkey branching all along! Or, that they too are rebounding. 

So this is a key difference in the monkey branching vs rebound debate – you may be able to tell your partner is preparing their next relationship whilst still with you. But you’ll rarely foresee your partner rebounding so quickly. 

Now, with that being said, if your partner has rebounded numerous times in the past with previous relationships, this could give you some indication as to how they deal with heartbreak. 

Even more so if your relationship results from them rebounding with you, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you if they do it again. 

3) Your partner isn’t over you, even though they’ve found some new 

When a rebound happens, it’s because your ex is still attached to you

In a monkey branching situation, it’s clear your partner doesn’t have the same feelings for you anymore because they’re already investing their emotions into their new relationship. 

But in the case of a rebound, there’s a good chance the rebounder is still an emotional wreck, reeling from the breakup. 

They’re on a roller coaster of feelings, and they haven’t even begun to process their heartbreak. 

So why do they get involved with someone else so quickly after their relationship has ended?

As well as craving for comfort and affection to soothe their pain, they’re also searching for consistency

If you’ve been in a relationship for many years, and then suddenly find yourself alone with no one to talk to, spend time with, or check in on you, it can feel very bleak. 

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This change to routine can throw a person off course, and sometimes it’s the company they miss more than the actual person (their ex). 

And that’s why they rebound. 

It takes the sting off the breakup, and even though they aren’t healthily processing their feelings, in the short term it makes the rebounder feel a little bit better.

4) A rebound doesn’t always happen straight away 

A monkey branch relationship will usually take off straight after the breakup. The partner may move straight from their ex’s house to their new partner’s place in some cases. 

And of course, this can come as a great shock to the partner left behind. Feelings of betrayal, distrust, and self-doubt can creep in. At this point, the other partner will want to know how their ex knows this person and how long they’ve been in contact.

It becomes obvious that their ex had someone else lined up, and had probably been emotionally (and/or physically) cheating on them. 

A rebound, though, can happen at any point after the breakup. 

A month or two after the relationship has finished, your ex might randomly meet someone at a bar, hit it off, and spend the night together. That might be the extent of it. 

Or, it could turn into a rebound relationship, whereby they start seeing each other regularly. Even at this point though, it’s likely your ex still isn’t over you, hence why it’s still considered a rebound. 

But on the other hand, your ex might meet someone at a party the next day after breaking up, spending very little time before seemingly “moving on”. 

In both cases, the rebound is used as a distraction from facing their true feelings. Even if your ex feels like they’ve got strong feelings for their new partner, they’re probably still suppressing their heartbreak. 

They’ll probably pretend they’re over you, trying hard to convince themselves in the process. 

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They feel like if they ignore it for long enough and focus their attention on their new love interest, those emotions will eventually fade away. 

Unfortunately, though, that’s rarely the case as feelings don’t just vanish into thin air, they need to be acknowledged and dealt with. 

5) It’s usually not considered cheating 

In most situations, the relationship is firmly over. The rebounder has lost hope that they’ll make up with their ex, or that they’ll wake up from this bad dream to find out none of it happened in the first place. 

They’re at rock bottom. They meet someone who pays attention to them, makes them feel good, and takes their mind off their heartbreak. So they go along with it.

But it can’t be considered cheating if both partners agree that the relationship is over. 

On the other hand, monkey branching can be considered as playing away, because the monkey brancher starts courting someone else before ending the relationship. 

So when it comes to rebounding, even though it might hurt to see your ex dating someone else, they have the right to move on, even if they’re not doing it for all the right reasons. 

In many cases, rebound relationships don’t work out. But, there are always those miracle stories of finding true love straight after a devastating breakup. 

If the two are highly compatible and genuinely grow to have feelings for each other, your ex may slowly end up replacing you with their new partner. 

Final thoughts on monkey branching vs rebounds:

Hopefully, the differences between monkey branching and rebounds are clear now. 

Monkey branching happens before the end of the relationship. A rebound happens once the relationship is over.

In some cases, monkey branching can be a rebound situation, but a rebound is never a form of monkey branching. 

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Now, while rebounding isn’t always the most effective way to deal with heartbreak, at least it doesn’t come at the cost of cheating on your partner. 

Monkey branching, however, is far more questionable. 

To take the time to pursue someone else while you’re still playing house in your current relationship is cruel, and while it might make the “monkey” feel better, it can leave their partner feeling incredibly hurt and betrayed. 

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