Today’s video is for you if you still feel stuck with retroactive jealousy AFTER you’ve started taking the steps to beat it.

Read or watch below if you feel like you just can’t get over retroactive jealousy.

Zachary Stockill: Unfortunately, it is all too easy to feel stuck with retroactive jealousy. And even if you’re someone who’s putting in the work, you’re actively owning your problem, you’re actively taking steps each and every day to work through it… Even if you’re in that position, sometimes, some people still feel completely stuck with retroactive jealousy. In today’s video, I’m talking to you, if you feel stuck with retroactive jealousy, and you’ve already begun putting in the work to beat it. I have a few thoughts for you that I think you’re going to want to hear. 

Okay, just one more time to be very, very, very clear. This article or video is for people who have actively started putting in the work to beat retroactive jealousy. If you’re kind of dipping your toe in the waters of healing, this article is not for you. You’re certainly welcome here. I’m glad you’re reading or watching. But I’m not talking to you. 

In this video, I’m talking to retroactive jealousy sufferers who have had enough

They’ve hit that point where it’s like “Enough is enough. I’m going to figure this problem out. I’m going to solve this and move on with my life.”

can't get over retroactive jealousy

And they’ve actually started taking steps in the right direction, whatever that looks like for them. Maybe they’re working with me through one-on-one coaching. Maybe they’re working with another coach, maybe they’re working with a therapist, maybe they’re taking an online course, reading books

And a certain percentage of these people feel stuck. Maybe that’s you, you feel like you’ve confronted this problem, you’re ready to overcome it, you actually want to overcome it…

And you’ve actively started taking steps to beat it and you’re still feeling stuck. So what’s the deal? Why are you still feeling stuck? 

There could be a number of potential answers to that question. One of these answers could be that your partner’s past is actually a deal-breaker for you, by your own definition, not mine. 

I talk endlessly on this channel about values and deal-breakers and red flags because it’s important. I think it’s very important to sort those questions out as quickly as possible.

Frankly, most of the people who come to me realize that they’re dealing with irrational retroactive jealousy. You know, their partner’s past isn’t that crazy, there isn’t actually a deal-breaker in their partner’s past. And there are certainly no dealbreakers in the present; they completely trust their partner. This stuff is just about the past, it’s not really important.

There are other people who are kind of “in-between,” where they think there may be some red flags and deal-breakers in their partner’s past that they need to get to the bottom of.

This is a tougher problem to solve, but it’s still absolutely solvable.

And one of the best parts of my work is working with clients in this position, helping them get to the bottom of their values, asking them questions, and helping them work through this issue,work through their partner’s past and the values and the boundaries and all the rest. I really enjoy that.

But anyway, if you’re still feeling stuck with retroactive jealousy after you’ve started putting in the work:

There is a chance that your partner’s past is actually a deal-breaker. 

There may actually be glaring red flags, and you know, more red flags than a Chinese parade and all the rest.

Sometimes walking away is absolutely the right decision for everyone involved, as I talk about endlessly on this channel. So if you’ve started putting in the work, and you’re still feeling stuck with retroactive jealousy, it isn’t necessarily a values issue.

Instead, I’m going to propose an idea, if you’re feeling stuck with retroactive jealousy. I want you to just sit and think about it. You don’t have to give me an answer right now. You don’t need to leave a comment beneath this article now with your answer. 

But I’m just going to put a question out there. And I want you to just sit with it for a few days and think about it. 

My question is: what purpose is retroactive jealousy serving in your life? What are the potential benefits that you are getting out of retroactive jealousy? 

Okay, before you throw your phone or your laptop across the room in anger, please just hear me out.

I’m not trolling. I’m not trying to make light of your situation. I’m not trying to say retroactive jealousy is fun, and “you just need to think positively!” No, that’s not what I’m saying with this video. And I am saying this based on my personal experience, that frequently in life when I’ve been faced with a sticky kind of problem, the deeper I dig, I discover that this problem is solving some kind of purpose in my life. There is some kind of benefit to this problem. And that’s going to sound absolutely nuts to many retroactive jealousy sufferers.

Because I remember how hellish and torturous retroactive jealousy was. I remember that. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

But fundamentally, when you’re struggling with a problem in life, and you’re feeling stuck, and you’re feeling hopeless, and all the rest, ask yourself: What purpose is this solving for me? What purpose is this fulfilling in my life? To throw out some hypotheticals:

There’s a quote that I often think about by the American author, Steven Chbosky. And the quote is, 

“We accept the love, we think we deserve.” And the rest of that, quote, could be, you know, “… and no more.”

In other words: if we feel like we only deserve a certain amount of love, joy, sex, affection, or happiness, we may actively create barriers to keep the rest away. Because on the deep, subconscious level, we feel like we don’t deserve it. 

And if someone feels like they don’t deserve something, they will do everything in their power to prevent it from entering their life. And this can involve things like friends, or money, or sex, fame, whatever. If you have a goal, and you’re not reaching your goal, and you don’t know why, there’s a good chance that there’s a deep part of your subconscious that is keeping you from achieving that goal, because you feel like you don’t deserve it. 

So if you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, you’ve actively started putting in the work, and you’re still feeling stuck. 

Ask yourself: Do I truly feel like I deserve my partner’s love? Their affection? Do I feel like I deserve to be happy? 

can't get over retroactive jealousy

That is a terrifying question for a lot of people. And a lot of people will find that the answer is no. Maybe they feel like they don’t deserve happiness. Maybe they feel like they don’t deserve an incredible partner or incredible husband or incredible wife. Fundamentally, they may feel they don’t deserve that. So guess what? They do everything in their power to keep it away. 

So really think about this and see if that applies to you. It could be a bit of an eye-opener for you. It certainly has been for me in different periods of my life, when I had some goal that I was striving towards, and I was feeling stuck. 

It’s like, okay, “What purpose is this solving? Do I feel like I deserve the attainment of this goal?”

And sometimes, for me, the answer has been no. And that’s required a lot of unplugging from a lot of the background narrative in my head that wasn’t serving me; cultivating new beliefs, new perspectives. These are big topics. But the point is to start by simply asking the question.

Another hypothetical purpose that this problem could be serving in your life: 

Are you bored? Do you have big goals in your life that excite you and keep you energized and motivated and fulfilled? Is your life full aside from retroactive jealousy? Aside from your relationship?

Because if you’re not feeling motivated and energized and inspired by your partner, or your kids, or your job, or your town, or your hobbies and interests, whatever… If you’re living a life that you’re not entirely excited by, the purpose that retroactive jealousy could be solving in your life is energy and excitement and drama. 

This is why marriages of 25, or 30 years sometimes blow up. Because there’s been this creeping sense of boredom for decades. And eventually, one party feels like “I can’t take this anymore. I need something more in my life. I’m bored to tears.” So they create fights, they create drama, and they create an excuse to get divorced. This happens more frequently than you might think. 

And retroactive jealousy, as painful and hellish and torturous as it is, can be exciting, in a certain sense.

can't get over retroactive jealousy

It can create a certain sense of meaning and drama in your life, where maybe meaning and drama has been lacking for a while. Just a hypothetical, just an idea. But ask yourself if this doesn’t resonate with you.

And my last potential hypothetical if you’re feeling stuck with retroactive jealousy: are you using retroactive jealousy as an excuse to push your partner away because you’re genuinely unhappy in the relationship? Are you in a genuinely toxic relationship? Have you been miserable for a long time?

Sometimes retroactive Jealousy is a symptom of a decaying relationship, of your misery, perhaps, in a deeply unhappy, unsatisfying, unfulfilling relationship. 

So obviously, retroactive Jealousy is a perfect excuse to push your partner away. Or maybe you know, subconsciously, that this will compel them to eventually break up with you, whether it takes a month or six months, or a year.

As I often tell retroactive jealousy sufferers, and this gives me no pleasure in saying it, but it’s true: I don’t care how much your partner loves you…

Everyone has their breaking point. Everyone. Everyone in a relationship with a retroactive jealousy sufferer has a breaking point…

Where they hit that wall, and it’s like, “I can’t have another conversation about my past. I can’t keep being made to feel guilty and bad about things that happened 10 years ago…”

You know, that breaking point looks a little different for everyone. But everyone has their breaking point. And sometimes people who are unhappy in their relationship use retroactive jealousy as an excuse to push their partner away.

All of these are just hypotheticals. Just something to think about. But the main point of this video, if you’re feeling stuck with retroactive jealousy, is to ask yourself and be honest with yourself. What purpose could retroactive jealousy be filling in my life?

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.