In today’s video, I’m going to attempt to answer a viewer question: “How do I stop comparing myself to my boyfriend’s ex?”

Read or watch below to hear my response to the question, “How do I stop comparing myself to my boyfriend’s ex?”

Zachary Stockill: I was doing an Instagram Q&A recently. And I received a really interesting question from a viewer on this channel. “How do I stop comparing myself to my boyfriend’s ex? She’s living rent-free in my mind…”

So in today’s video, I’m going to attempt to answer this question. 

For the people here for the first time: the term retroactive jealousy refers to unwanted intrusive thoughts, often obsessive curiosity, and what I call “mental movies” concerning your partner’s past relationships and/or sexual history.

And sometimes, retroactive jealousy can translate into constantly “comparing myself to my boyfriend’s ex.”

So men do this, women do this, many retroactive jealousy sufferers find themselves comparing themselves to their partner’s ex.

It frequently astounds me, how frequently retroactive jealousy sufferers sell themselves short. Frequently, retroactive jealousy sufferers compare themselves to their partner’s ex, and find themselves lacking. This is a very common issue. I’ve received many comments like this from a lot of students in my online courses.

comparing myself to my boyfriend's ex

And in particular, a lot of my female coaching clients come to me with this concern.

So how do you stop comparing yourself to your partner’s ex? There are many ways to go about it. But I think a good starting point is remembering that famous quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I think this is true in so many aspects of life, whenever we’re comparing ourselves to someone else.

Whenever we compare ourselves to other people, we’re taking away from our own happiness.

The simple reality is, when we think we’re comparing ourselves to someone else, we’re not. Instead, what we’re doing is comparing ourselves to some kind of idealized vision of another person that only exists in our brains.

Even if we know the person pretty well, we’re not truly comparing ourselves to them. Because we don’t know them half as well as we may imagine we do.

It’s like comparing your daily life to someone else’s highlights on social media, which a lot of people do.

Some people see these influencers on Instagram, Facebook, or these other platforms. They’re posting all these incredible vacation photos, and they always look immaculate… We’re comparing ourselves to an extremely skewed portrait of this person that they’re presenting themselves as online. We’re comparing ourselves to a fantasy. 

And even if this person who you’re comparing yourself to isn’t on social media, you’re still comparing yourself to someone who doesn’t really exist. So that’s the starting point.

To be honest, I guess this question struck a chord with me for many reasons. But number one, for the past three years, I’ve been based on the island of Bali, Indonesia. And on the island of Bali, Indonesia, there are thousands of so-called “influencers.”

And they call themselves a coach, or they post pictures of all the beach clubs, and it looks like they’re living this incredible life… But the truth is, I could tell you stories about all these relationship and dating “coaches” and “influencers” who have absolutely chaotic lives and relationships. 

comparing myself to my boyfriend's ex

So I’m seeing this up close and personal in my life every day, how futile it is to compare yourself to other people.

I would also remind you that every single time you reject your boyfriend’s love, his reassurance, his affirmation, his affection… Every single time we reject love from our partner, we’re telling them “You’re a liar. I don’t believe you, trust you. I don’t accept this. You’re a liar.

And as I often say, and it gives me no pleasure to say it: everyone has their breaking point. I don’t care how much they love you. And I don’t care how devoted they are to you. I don’t care what they tell you. No one can bear being called a liar by the person they love forever. Everyone has their breaking point.

And if you keep rejecting your partner’s love, if you keep rejecting or questioning their reassurance…

Eventually, you will push that person away.

Another quote I think about all the time by Steven Chbosky: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

If we feel we don’t deserve someone’s love, we’re going to do everything in our power to keep it at arm’s length. To not trust it, and eventually, to destroy it.

And just once again, remember: you don’t know the full story. You don’t know the entire history of your partner’s past relationship. Or the entire story of your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend or ex-wife. You don’t know them. You don’t know their entire story. 

And I would imagine that you compare favorably to them in all kinds of ways that you’re probably not considering right now. In fact, I would be willing to bet money that your boyfriend has probably confirmed that to you, he’s probably told you that you compare favorably to his exes.

Because I get those emails all the time from retroactive jealousy sufferers, where their partner is giving them endless reassurance.

Over the course of our dating lives, we’re trying to find better and better fits for us. I don’t buy this narrative out there, that many people are just trying to “settle.”

Most human beings are not wired that way. They want to find better and better fits.

So regardless of the reason why your boyfriend and his ex broke up, there was a reason. And that’s important for you to keep in mind. They weren’t perfect for each other. She sure as hell isn’t perfect in any way, just like the rest of us.

So again, trust your partner and trust his choices. He’s choosing to be with you for a reason. There are solid, rational, reasonable, compelling reasons for him to do so. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be doing it.

The art of addressing your insecurity is an enormous topic, but just as kind of a baseline...

Don’t sell yourself short. Give yourself a little more credit. Trust your partner’s words, trust his affirmations, trust the love that he’s offering to you. Because no one can bear having their love rejected indefinitely. 

If you would like to connect with me and become another one of my retroactive jealousy success stories, you can click here to sign up for one-on-one coaching [Subject to Availability].

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.