A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything.

– Robert Heinlein.

CONSIDER THIS QUESTION for a moment: if you were completely comfortable in your own skin, and completely confident about your abilities as a lover, would your partner’s past bother you so much? Almost certainly not.

It was a humbling and painful moment for me when I realized that I wasn’t as self-assured and confident as I thought I was. Throughout the most intense periods of my retroactive jealousy, I told myself that I was bothered by my girlfriend’s past because I was so much better than her past lovers. I had the attitude of…

How could she degrade herself to be with them? I’m the best!

But as I dug deeper into the roots of my suffering, new questions began to appear:

If I really am the best, why does the fact that she had previous lovers bother me so much? Shouldn’t I simply smile, satisfied with the knowledge that I really am the best lover for her? After all, she’s here, isn’t she? She isn’t clamoring for anyone else. She’s demonstrated complete devotion to me, and our relationship. I’m the best… aren’t I? So why does her past still bother me so much..?

My logic began to cave in on itself. I was not nearly as confident and self-assured as I thought I was. It pained me to admit it, but there was indeed a part of me that was threatened by her past lovers. When I realized this, I began to develop a new type of confidence, however: I began to commit myself to change, and, little by little, I began to believe in my own ability to change. Which reminds me: you must believe in your ability to change if you want to get better.

Discard any nonsensical self-talk that tells you that you’re too stubborn, too stuck in your ways, too wedded to your beliefs to change them. You’re reading this book, aren’t you? I’d say that qualifies you as someone who is willing to grow, and challenge their own beliefs. And you need to believe in your ability to change because I can guarantee that retroactive jealousy is slowly killing your relationship, and your partner’s attraction to you. I write from experience.

Permit me to generalize for a moment: women are attracted to confident, self-assured men; comfortable in the knowledge that they are constantly growing into the best man that they can be.


You may think it silly, but think about Bond, James Bond, for a moment. Do you think James cares about his partner’s exes? If you’re not a fan of 007, think about any man who many women admire, famous or otherwise. Were they plagued by retroactive jealousy? Even if they were, would they make efforts to confront and deal with it, or would they simply stay a victim? What do you think?

Confidence is a universal turn-on. As women are drawn to confident men, men too are drawn to confident and self-assured women, free of anxiety about “not being the best” lover, wife, or girlfriend.

Intense jealousy telegraphs intense insecurity

… And this is not good, because insecurity will destroy your partner’s attraction for you. If you are constantly worried about something your partner did in the past, or might do in the future, not only are you not really living, but you are also conveying a subconscious message to your partner, which is “I’m threatened by just about every other person out there.” Not exactly sexy stuff.

Would you want to be with someone who is constantly threatened by every other man or woman on the block? Probably not. Jealousy is a universal turn-off, and the more that you can move on from your jealousy and demonstrate self-assuredness and comfort in your own skin, the more your partner will be drawn to you, and the more confident you will become.

It becomes a healthy cycle of demonstrating confidence leads to attraction and affection from your partner, which leads to yet more confidence; healthy for you, your partner, and the relationship. Your sex life in particular will reap the rewards.

Make no mistake: every romantic relationship is governed by attraction; that raw and primal force of emotional chemicals that compels us to continuously pursue, seduce, and make love with our partners, and forfeit all other worldly pleasures just to spend time with the object of our affection. In the words of former dating guru David DeAngelo, “attraction is not a choice.” Similarly, not being attracted is not a choice.

Which is to suggest: no matter how much your partner loves you, no matter how much they care about you and the relationship, they will not be able to help being turned off by your jealousy and insecurity, whether they admit it to you or not. And when your partner’s attraction fades, so too does the strength of the bond you share with them.

The sooner you face the fact that your retroactive jealousy will, sooner or later, destroy your partner’s attraction to you and kill the relationship, the more you will realize the urgent need for you to get over retroactive jealousy, and start growing into the best self that you can be.

**This articles contains excerpts from my guidebook, Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy: A Guide to Getting Over Your Partner’s Past and Finding Peace. Click here to learn more.

Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.