In today’s video, I’m going to respond to the question: “How do I convince my boyfriend to confront his retroactive jealousy?”

Read or watch below to discover if you can convince a boyfriend to confront retroactive jealousy.

Zachary Stockill: I received a comment recently on a YouTube video from a young woman whose boyfriend is struggling with retroactive jealousy. And the comment read: “My boyfriend is struggling with retroactive jealousy. How do I convince him to get help?

Unfortunately, I’ve received some variation of this comment hundreds of times before in my email inbox. Frequently, the partners of retroactive jealousy sufferers write to me, asking me how to convince their partner to take some action to change to confront their retroactive jealousy. 

In today’s video, I’m going to offer a very pointed and direct response to this question. I think you’re going to want to watch this video if you’re either a retroactive jealousy sufferer, or if your boyfriend or your partner is struggling with retroactive jealousy, and they aren’t really taking any action to improve their situation. 

Okay, so your boyfriend is struggling with retroactive jealousy, and you want to convince him to get help. Here’s something that I have learned over almost 10 years now, as a full-time coach, as one who’s been on hundreds and hundreds of coaching calls, thousands of email consults, and all kinds of people asking me this and other questions.. 

You cannot convince people to do anything that they don’t want to do. You can’t force people to change. 

retroactive jealousy

And I say that as someone who makes videos about encouraging people to change and helping people change, through online courses like “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast” and books and one-on-one coaching and all the rest. Obviously, personal transformation, people changing, is something that I’m extremely interested in. 

But I can tell you: over 10 years, I have never tried to convince someone to change. I’ve helped people who have come to me wanting to change themselves. If someone comes to me and says, “Zach, I’ve hit rock bottom with retroactive jealousy,” or “I’m excited about changing, I’m ready to change;” great. I’m very excited about that. Let’s get to work. Excellent. 

If someone comes to me and says, “I’m not sure if I really need to change,” then it’s like, “okay, that’s fine. Keep doing whatever you’re doing. And if you’re finding that what you’re doing is not working, and you want to change, then come back to me, and we can talk.”

The point is you cannot convince people to do anything that they don’t want to do. And that includes your intimate partner. You can’t convince your intimate partner to do anything that they don’t want to do themselves. Sometimes you can encourage them temporarily. But that’s going to have serious ramifications down the line. 

Because if your partner agrees to do something that they don’t really want to do deep down, that’s going to lead to all kinds of resentment and bad feelings down the line. And that’s ultimately their fault. 

They agreed to do something that they didn’t want to do, leading to all kinds of drama and resentment. 

But fundamentally, you can’t try to convince them to change. It’s a recipe for disaster in long-term relationships. 

So that’s my most important message to you in this video. You can’t convince anyone to do anything, at least over the long term. And even if you can encourage them temporarily, that’s going to lead to all kinds of bad things down the line.

I will also say, as I often do, to the partners of retroactive jealousy sufferers: take care of yourself first

Unfortunately, some retroactive jealousy sufferers engage in all kinds of spousal abuse, whether it’s emotional abuse, sometimes physical abuse, or sometimes psychological abuse. The point is:

If your partner is struggling with retroactive jealousy, take care of yourself first. 

If necessary, remove yourself from that situation. Keep yourself safe. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re being subjected to abuse. 

Now that that’s out of the way: one thing I will mention when it comes to, shall we say, influencing the behavior of people we love… And this is something I learned from the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson. A very, very good piece of advice, if you want to encourage your partner to do more of something that you like; something that’s good for you and good for the relationship…

When they do this thing that you like, notice it and make sure they know that you appreciate it. Call it out, specifically. 

To give you a simple example: let’s say your boyfriend has been struggling with retroactive jealousy for a while. And then after a week of nonsense and fights and drama and all that fun stuff, let’s say you go out for an evening, and it’s a really peaceful night. You go out and have a nice dinner somewhere, and it’s peaceful and calm, and he’s in a good mood, and you’re joking with each other. And then you have great sex or whatever. It’s just a good night. Make sure he knows that you appreciated that night. “Hey, honey, I really enjoyed last night. It was so calm, and so chilled out, and no drama. And I really had a great time. So thanks for that.” You’re noticing it, you’re calling it out. 

Specifically, you’re calling out the things that you appreciated. You’re letting him know, explicitly.

People long to feel appreciated. I can’t stress that enough. People long to hear “thank-you;” to be appreciated for the things they do for others. To be appreciated for who they are as people.

Some people might look at this and say “that’s manipulative!” No. It’s simply about sharing appreciation. 

Because far too often in life, people do things for us and we don’t share appreciation. And that has negative consequences. 

So if someone is doing something that you appreciate, genuinely, make sure they know about it.

A personal example: I’ve been doing this work for a long time. Every single time I receive a YouTube comment, or an appreciative email, or a review on Amazon, people thanking me, it puts a smile on my face. Every single time. I always appreciate it, even though I’ve heard it maybe thousands of times before. It still means a hell of a lot to me. 

retroactive jealousy

So make sure you notice and appreciate things in your partner that you would like to see more of.

And if they express an interest in getting help for overcoming retroactive jealousy, in sorting this issue out, in investing in personal development, or whatever that looks like for them, make sure you notice and appreciate that. Don’t go over the top with it. Because that will probably make them feel like you’re trying to manipulate them and force them to do something, again, that they don’t want to do. 

But make sure you notice that and appreciate it. Call it out. 

Say “I think that’s a great idea. I think that’d be great for our relationship.”

“You know, I really appreciate that you’re taking ownership of this and that you want to work to make things better for both of us. That means a lot to me as your partner.” Obviously, word it in a way that makes sense for you and the way you speak and communicate. But if your partner takes some interest in healing from RJ, be sure to notice that and call it out.

Aside from that, I’ve created some other resources for the partners of retroactive jealousy sufferers and some advice for you on how to best sort of deal with this problem as your partner works to overcome it themselves. 

And a final note, I hope this isn’t kind of a downer, but it is necessary:

Some people, some retroactive jealousy sufferers, just don’t want to change, for a variety of reasons that I could spend an hour talking about. I won’t do it here. But unfortunately, the bottom line is some people are so married to their self-loathing or their confusion or their moral confusion, or their stubbornness or whatever, that they just don’t want to change. 

Some of them watch the videos on my channel. I’m not exactly sure why because I’m interested in facilitating change. But anyway:

Some people really don’t want to change. And sometimes, walking away is the only option. 

So hopefully that isn’t you, but it does sometimes happen, where someone is not going to take ownership of this problem and put in the effort to beat it for good.

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, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.