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Previous research suggests that romantic relationship dissolution diminishes self-concept clarity, leading to emotional distress. However, people can overcome breakup and move on from relationships, yet little is known about how people recover from reduced self-concept clarity. The current research examines relationship rekindling (desiring to reestablish a relationship with an ex-partner) as a method of navigating and restoring self-concept clarity post-dissolution, as well as who is likely to engage in this process. We posited that those high in attachment anxiety would be more likely to desire and attempt to rekindle a relationship following breakup, and they would do so to resolve self-concept confusion. We tested these hypotheses retrospectively (Study 1) and concurrently (Study 2) by measuring past and present rekindling desire, self-concept clarity, and attachment. Across both studies, results indicated that attachment anxiety predicts relationship rekindling, and this association is mediated by self-concept clarity. Taken together, these results suggest that individuals with high versus low attachment anxiety are more likely to desire and attempt to rekindle a dissolved relationship as a way of resolving self-concept confusion after a breakup.
Cope, Morgan A., "Putting Me Back Together by Getting Back Together: Relationship Rekindling Resolves Post-Dissolution Self-Concept Confusion in Anxiously Attached Individuals" (2018). Psychology Summer Fellows. 8.