On the rebound: focusing on someone new helps anxiously attached individuals let go of ex-partners

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2009 Oct;35(10):1382-94. doi: 10.1177/0146167209341580. Epub 2009 Jul 22.


The present research demonstrates that focusing on someone new may help anxiously attached individuals overcome attachment to an ex-romantic partner, suggesting one possible motive behind so-called rebound relationships. A correlational study revealed that the previously demonstrated link between anxious attachment and longing for an ex-partner was disrupted when anxiously attached individuals had new romantic partners. Two experiments demonstrated that this detachment from an ex can be induced by randomly assigning anxiously attached individuals to believe they will easily find a new partner (through bogus feedback in Study 2 and an ease of retrieval task in Study 3). This research suggests that for anxiously attached individuals, focusing on someone new can be an adaptive part of the breakup recovery process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Courtship / psychology*
  • Culture*
  • Dependency, Psychological*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Object Attachment*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Young Adult