What should you do if the rebound becomes The One?
In her latest film Catherine Zeta-Jones falls for the first man she meets after her divorce, but for serial monogamists this isn't always a bad thing, writes Deirdre Reynolds
Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: you . . . oh, and have you met your neighbour, Mr Right?
You've forensically removed all traces of the sorry day he was born from your apartment, resisted the urge to drink and dial while rewatching The Way We Were with only a bottle of Merlot to snuggle up to, before badmouthing him to anyone who'll listen and getting the customary break-up makeover.
Now there's just one time-honoured stage left in getting over that ex -- the rebound guy.
By definition, he's the filler fella who's designed to make up for the, erm, shortcomings of your former beau before you fully brave singledom.
But what happens when your rebound guy turns out to be The One?
That's what Catherine Zeta-Jones is wondering in cinemas this weekend.
The Oscar-winning Welsh beauty (40) is back on the big screen with The Rebound, a sexy rom-com about a divorced mum who falls for 20-something nanny (Justin Bartha) after discovering that her husband has been unfaithful.
Despite being married to Michael Douglas for a decade, the role has led the actress to surmise that love after a break-up could be better than first time round.
"It's so great when you see these people finding love again, second time round," she says, "so many people say to me second time round's really the best."
"I don't really want to get there actually, but I think that's what both men and women can relate to. You will find love again if you put yourself out there to be loved and to love."
Unlike other rom-coms such as Bridget Jones's Diary, Zeta-Jones reckons the flick shows that women aren't the only victims of a shattered ticker when a relationship falters.
"What's enduring and what's universal to the piece is that divorce and the break-up of relationships don't just happen to women -- and the emotions that come out of that don't just happen to women," adds the star. "It happens to men too.
"Everyone thinks, 'Oh the divorced woman, OMG, she's got two kids, poor baby', but it happens on both sides."
But back to the rebound guy, doesn't falling in love with the diversion defeat the entire purpose?
It hasn't stopped a string of celebrities from blurring the accepted rules of bounce-back romance.
After splitting from long-term love Lisa Murphy, Riverdance superhoofer Michael Flatley (52) rebounded in style by wooing and wedding fellow dancer Niamh O'Brien in six months in 2006. The couple -- who shared the stage in Celtic Tiger -- had their own cub, son Michael St James in 2007.
Rebound queen Kelly Brook (30) was last month snapped snogging Glee's Mr Schuester, Matthew Morrison -- a week after finishing with English rugby hunk Danny Cipriani.
The serial monogamist model previously ditched cockney actor Jason Statham in 2004 for Titanic baldy Billy Zane before calling off their engagement four years later and hooking up with younger man Cipriani within a fortnight.
Meanwhile, her ex was caught enjoying a bit of rebound action of his own while out on the town with Lindsay Lohan in LA. Although, these days he'll have to settle for once-weekly supervised visits if he continues to court jailbird LiLo.
Elsewhere in Tinseltown, professional rebound guy John Mayer has welcomed such heartbroken honeys as Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jennifer Aniston into his arms -- temporarily, at least.
And Anne Hathaway could be on course to wed her rebound guy Adam Shulman, the actor with whom she found love after her split from conman fiancé Raffaello Follieri in 2008.
For both the dumpers and dumpees suddenly catapulted back on to the meat market, it's only natural to want to cushion the blow of being single again, says David Kavanagh of Avalon Relationship Counselling.
"Whatever about sex, lots of people are addicted to romance," he says.
"They break up with one person and then immediately have to find somebody else to fill the void."
"Depending on what you're trying to achieve from that new person, I think rebound relationships can be a good thing. For instance, if the rebound guy or girl is helping you to overcome an unhealthy relationship, that can be quite constructive.
"But if you're just bouncing from one self-destructive relationship to the next, then it's only going to make matters worse."
Allowing yourself downtime between conquests is key to differentiating the two, according to the relationship guru.
In other words, when it comes to studs of the human variety, contrary to wisdom you shouldn't always get back in the saddle straight away.
"We've all had a friend who tells you how their latest love interest is totally different from the last," says David, "while secretly you're thinking: 'Here we go again! How long is this one going to last?'
"We tend to define ourselves by the relationship we're in. When you break up with someone, it's important to take time out to find yourself again.
"Sure, rebound flings can be fun and the sex you have after you first meet someone is often amazing. But unless you address the issues that caused your last relationship to end, you could just end up in a vicious cycle -- dating the same person over and over again.
"There's no reason why your 'Rebound Guy' can't also be 'Mr Right'," concedes love doctor David. "It can be difficult to be open to the idea of lasting love when you've just had your heart broken, but who knows when Cupid will strike?"