Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 251–265 | Cite as

Rebound Sex: Sexual Motives and Behaviors Following a Relationship Breakup

  • Lindsay L. Barber
  • M. Lynne CooperEmail author
Original Paper


The present study used a longitudinal, online diary method to examine trajectories of psychological recovery and sexual experience following a romantic relationship breakup among 170 undergraduate students. Consistent with popular beliefs about rebound and revenge sex, having sex to cope with distress and to get over or get back at the ex-partner were elevated immediately following the breakup and then declined over time, as did the probability of having sex with a new partner. Also consistent with popular lore, those who were “dumped” by their partners were more distressed and angry and more likely to have sex to cope and to get back at or get over their ex-partner. Finally, individuals who reported having sex to cope with negative feelings or to get over their ex-partner at the beginning of the study were more likely to have sex with a stranger and to continue having sex with new partners over time. Results were discussed in terms of widely held but largely untested beliefs about rebound and revenge sex.


Romantic relationships Breakup Psychological recovery Sex motives Rebound sex Revenge sex 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Ohio Department of Public SafetyColumbusUSA

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