This research explores how the experience of a jilt — the anticipation and subsequent inaccessibility of a highly desirable, aspirant option — influences preference for incumbent and non-incumbent options. We conceptualize jilting as a multi-stage process, which consists of a pre-jilt anticipatory phase that is initiated upon the introduction of an aspirant option and a post-jilt phase that is initiated when the aspirant option becomes inaccessible. We show that during the anticipatory phase, a process of denigration specific to the incumbent option is engendered. The subsequent jilt elicits a negative emotional response. During the affectively-charged post-jilt phase, preference shifts away from the now-denigrated incumbent option, yielding a jilting effect. In four field and laboratory studies, we establish this jilting effect, rule out alternative accounts, and discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of our findings.