Sufferers of retroactive jealousy tend to intellectualize their condition to death in an attempt to “get to the bottom” of their problem. This may involve relentlessly questioning a partner about their past, endlessly pondering the source of their condition, trying to “understand” why their partner made certain choices in their past, etc. etc.

In short: we think that thinking will be our way out.

We think the solution to our problem lies somewhere in our, or our partner’s, brain. We will receive that ultimate reassurance, or come to that elusive conclusion, or experience a cathartic “Aha!” moment and will finally be able to move on with our lives. We think we can cure retroactive jealousy through conscious thought.

I constantly warn sufferers of retroactive jealousy of the danger, and futility, of overthinking their condition. I used to fall into this trap, and I’m here to tell you that it produced nothing but anxiety and frustration.

So know this: you will never get to the bottom of your jealousy through conscious thought.

You cannot “cure” retroactive jealousy by thinking about it. It takes more than that.

Recognize that you cannot think your way out of every problem you have. Recognize that not every problem has a solution that can be described in words.

Recognize that there are solutions to our problems beyond our intellectual understanding altogether. Recognize that our “problems” are rarely such — most of our so-called “problems” are simply products of our overstressed, exhausted, and worried mind spinning out of control like a spoiled child; invented by our perpetually insecure ego in order to satiate itself, and prolong its meager existence.

Step fully into your body, and out of your brain, more often.

Breathe deeply. Smell the air. Take a walk and feel your entire body move along the path. Engage in any healthy activity — be it playing a sport, eating a good meal, drinking a delectable glass of wine, or having passionate sex with your partner — that takes you out of your mind and forces you into your body. Employ all of your senses. Give your brain a rest whenever possible; your health and happiness depend on it.

Along the way, don’t intellectualize your retroactive jealousy to death. Instead, work on yourself, and take actionable steps to overcome it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that “one day it’ll all make sense” — that, after a certain amount of consideration and analysis, your problem will be “solved” by your brain, and your jealousy will begin to dissipate. Know that although the source of your problem lies within your cerebral cortex, the solution does not.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that simply reading an article on this website will cure your jealousy — it won’t. It may provide comfort, guidance, and inspiration (or so I hope), but know that I cannot do the work for you.

I’m very proud of my video course, and I’ve received many appreciative letters from students. Thankfully, most of them know that going through the course and failing to put in the work will not bring much relief.

The ones who are benefiting most from my work are the ones who are putting my program into action…

… the ones who are taking steps to confront their insecurities, doing the necessary work on themselves, completing the exercises I recommend, and actively taking the power back.

If you read it, you know that my guidebook Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy is divided into two main sections. Part One: The Situation attempts to satisfy your desire to “understand” retroactive jealousy insofar as possible…

Part Two: The Solution is about three times longer than Part One for a reason: I am more interested in concrete, actionable solutions to this problem, rather than exhaustive explanations and understanding. Hopefully you are too. You have to do more than just read about this problem in order to solve it, no matter how much you want to “understand” it.

No matter how much you think you “understand” retroactive jealousy, your ego will always demand that you seek more answers, ask more questions, and spend more time pondering. Give your ego a rest, and recognize that not everything can be understood by simply thinking about it.

Stop trying to solve all of your problems with your brain.


Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in The Huffington Post, PopMatters, Mic, HuffPost Live, and many other publications. I'm also the founder of RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.