If there’s one thing we’ve learned from years of watching celeb relationships unfold, flourish and disintegrate, it’s how to spot a phony one. We love, love, love a cute celeb couple, but you better believe we can sniff out a rebound like we were genetically engineered for it—often before the actual couple figures it out (brag).
How do we do it? We’re so glad you asked—because while we’re obsessed with stars finding love, we also enjoy it over here in the shade. So we’ve compiled a little guide to judging if a couple is built to last or a flash in the pan just looking to prove something. Here are the 10 ways to spot a celebrity rebound.
1. They write mushy TMI songs about each other
There is a storied tradition of celebs breaking up and then writing passionate love songs about whoever their next new fling is—what better way to prove you’ve moved on than to inextricably link this person to your professional life? There are some really good songs out there inspired by singers’ SO’s but if the rest of us are asking, “Does he even know enough about her to write a song?” (@ Cody Simpson), it’s probably just for show.
Take Taylor Swift for example. Her short-lived romance with Harry Styles seemed to begin and end on that afternoon at the zoo, but that didn’t stop her from writing “Out of the Woods” and possibly several other songs about their short-lived romance.
Stick to the John Legend method and write ONE really good song about your partner, then we’ll talk.
2. They spread their “love” all over the internet
If you’re really about building a good relationship, you don’t need to broadcast it all over social to prove that you’re TOGETHER and IN LOVE. Pete and Ariana did it and look where they are now. We’re also keeping an eye on Channing Tatum and Jessie J.
The most concerning couple on our timeline at the moment though is the newly minted Codiley (or Mody?). Miley Cyrus and Cody Simpson have not only been spreading PDA all over Insta and Twitter, they’ve also been getting real messy on Miley’s Insta stories calling out her ex, Liam Hemsworth, like it’s a paid anti-endorsement. Just cool it, guys, you’re not fooling anyone.
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3. There’s WAAAY too much IRL PDA
Online PDA is one thing (we can mute that stuff) but IRL PDA is big red flag. Again, if you’re truly in this thing for the other person, you don’t need to flaunt the fact that you touch their lips with your lips on the regular.
There are a ton of contenders (Ariana/Pete, Miley/Cody, Camila/Shawn) but the Most Awkward Public Make-Out Award probably goes to Pete Davidson and Kate Beckinsale from the photo that will go down in internet lore as the ultimate third-wheel scenario. You remember the one—when Pete and Becks were macking hard while Antoni Porowski sat next to them with a look of deep concern on his face? *shudder*
Antoni really deserves better than this. pic.twitter.com/YxMZxOSPqe
— Stacy Lambe (@sllambe) March 4, 2019
4. They get matching tattoos
How do you prove your everlasting devotion to the person you just met? Get their name tatted on your bicep. Oh wait, nope, that’s not right. There are definitely couples who get supes adorbs matching tats, but if they’ve been together for less than a year and choose to permanently ink their new lover’s name on their skin, it’s probably a hat-tip to the temporary nature of their union rather than an actual demonstration of their affection.
Like the infamous reality TV/sports pairing of Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom. Lamar and Khloe got together just three months after he and Taraji P. Henson broke up. The couple then got married a month after meeting and got matching tats a month after that. They divorced four years later and had to do some painful ink edits.
5. They’re moving way too fast
We’ve all seen it—a new couple who’ve individually just experienced heartbreak, have to prove they’re able to move on with someone new so they force themselves to speed through the beginning stages of a relationship, straight to the wedding day. You’re not proving anything to anyone by putting a ring on it in the first few months.
While it obviously happened with Khloe and Lamar (see above), our most recent cultural example is the beloved Pete and Ariana relationship which burned as fast as it did bright and started less than a month after Ariana and Mac Miller called it quits. Pete and Ari started dating, moved in together, adopted pets, got engaged, got matching tattoos, did all the PDA, broke up and Ari had a super-successful breakup album all in the span of a year. It’s textbook.
6. They’re being too vocal about how great the relationship is
When you’re so desperate for people to know you’re together that you’re willing to jump up on a couch or wear a tank top with your GF’s name on it to prove it… we have a situation. We get it if you’re excited about a new relationship, but it just comes off as deeply disingenuous if you have to keep talking about it (and literally wearing it on your shirt).
We know Tom Cruise would actually go on to have kids with Katie Holmes, but Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift? Not so much. That tank was a cry for help, Hiddles.
— ELLE Magazine (US) (@ELLEmagazine) July 5, 2016
7. They seem like an odd match
Ever read a new celeb coupling and immediately think, “How the heck did they even meet?” Who better to have a quick rebound thing with than someone who shares none of the same social circles and hangout spots? It works for us peasants and it works for celebs too.
Like in the case of the bizarre and blessedly defunct coupling of Justin Bieber and Kourtney Kardashian. While the two never formally confirmed it was more than friendship, Kourt was veeery coy to the point of confirming it just with her eyes. This was post-Selena for Justin and post-Scott Disick for Kourtney, so we’ll let you interpret that as you will.
— Us Weekly (@usweekly) January 16, 2017
8. Their lives overlap too much
Rebounding with someone you work with is ill-advised if convenient. Who better to just slip into a relationship with than a person you already spend a bunch of time with at the office? It’s all too common for actors who star in movies together to then start relationships, especially if they’re just coming off of one. Sadly, once they’re not contractually obligated to spend 12 hours a day together, the thing tends to fizzle and we get to dab another square on our Celeb Rebound BINGO card.
Take Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn—they appeared in The Break-Up together in 2006 just after Jen’s divorce from Brad Pitt. That relationship lasted all of a few months.
9. They can’t decide if they’re on or off
When two celebs are together-then-not-together-then-together again and again, we just can’t buy it as a viable relationship. Do you actually like this person or are they just the closest warm body after you’ve been hurt? That’s the question we were all asking Katy Perry when she started dating John Mayer post-Russell Brand breakup. The two singers were on-again-off-again so many times we lost track. Sometimes relationships just happen like that, but other times, they’re signs of a rebound in the truest sense of the word.
10. The age difference is just a little too much
Hey, you don’t have to be exactly the same age to find love (Exhibit A, Exhibit B) but when the age difference means one person could be the other’s parent, there’s likely cause for concern—doubly so if the start of the new relationship coincides with a breakup and any of the above warning signs. They’re both clearly trying to prove something—whether it be about wealth, maturity, youth, etc.—and once that’s done, what do you have left? One person explaining how the internet works while the other talks about the Great Depression?
Take Scarlett Johansson’s fling with Sean Penn shortly after her divorce from Ryan Reynolds. Scarlett was 27 at the time and Penn was 51—that’s a 25-year gap. The relationship lasted only six months and now Scarlett is engaged to comedian Colin Jost and Penn is dating 27-year-old Australian actor Leila George (interpret that for yourselves).
— Putu.Us (@PutuBeauty) September 12, 2015