Many retroactive jealousy sufferers are embarrassed about retroactive jealousy, embarrassed by how they feel about their partner’s past.

In today’s video, I wanted to share a little story talking about how I used to be embarrassed about retroactive jealousy, and how I overcame it–and how you can do the same.

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: Before I get into my story, I’ll just mention that a lot of people are embarrassed about retroactive jealousy.

People who struggle with retroactive jealousy mostly suffer in silence. They don’t seek the help they need, they don’t talk to people about it.

Instead, they look to answers in dodgy internet forums at 3:00 AM, and that kind of thing. They never really get the help they need, because there’s just not wanting to talk about it at all.

They are embarrassed about their situation and they just hope this problem will sort itself out on its own, which unfortunately it usually does not.

I get messages from people on Facebook or Instagram sometimes, and they say, “I want to follow you. I love your work, it’s really great, but I don’t want anyone to know that I’m following you.” Because I’m linked to retroactive jealousy.

And I try not to take offense to these people because I understand where they’re coming from, because I used to be the same way.

When I published my guidebook Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy back in 2013, I published it under a pen name because I didn’t want anyone to know this was me, that I was the retroactive jealousy guy, that I struggled with this issue that put me through such hell for so long,

I was embarrassed.

And then about eight months after I published the book, I was eventually persuaded to put my real name on the cover, put my real face on my website, start making YouTube videos and all of this.

And the main reason I did it is because I I felt like this issue needs a face, it needs a name. It needs someone other than faceless, shady internet marketers.

Someone needs to come out and talk about this because it’s important.

And I know thousands, and thousands, and thousands of people are suffering. And I know that I have something really valuable to offer these people.

This is also why I agreed to do the big BBC interview back in 2018, where retroactive jealousy was on the front page of BBC News. And my website proceeded to blow up for about 24 hours.

And I think the main reason that happened is there was amazing sense of relief among people, who could say, “Oh my God, someone’s actually talking about this. I’ve suffered from this for years. And this guy on BBC can relate to what I’m going through and what I’ve been through in the past.”

But before that, years and years ago, right after I decided to come out as “the retroactive jealousy guy,” and put my real name out there, and put my real face, and put my real name on my book, I still had some trepidations about it.

And a big thing I thought about was, “Oh my God, every woman I date for the rest of my life is going to Google my name, find all this stuff and she’ll know that I’m the retroactive jealousy guy.”

This is probably not going to be great for Zach’s dating life. I was single at the time. And I was thinking about this, obviously.

And I remember I went out to lunch with a woman who I had dated in the past. We’d been together in the past, but now we were just friends and just hanging out, talking about our lives. And so I told her the whole story about my retroactive jealousy, and now I’m putting my name out there and everyone’s going to know, and blah, blah, blah… What’s this going to do to my dating life?”

And she looked at me and, without missing a beat, said:

“Zach, the book is called Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy.”

And immediately I understood, I got it.

The fact that I struggled with retroactive jealousy once upon a time, that’s not embarrassing.

And what’s more, the fact that I’ve actually put in the work to overcome it, the fact that I really owned my problem is the opposite of embarrassing. That’s something to be proud of, I think.

My friend realized that, and by the way, since then every single other person in my life (including women I’ve dated) has said the same thing. They’ve all thought my work is cool. They’ve all thought, “Wow, that’s actually really interesting and impressive.”

It’s been either impressive or a nonissue that I once struggled with retroactive jealousy, and I put in the work to overcome it.

People are interested in your story, and your journey, and your evolution and the fact that you can own a problem that you have and then put in the work to overcome it.

That’s something to be commended, I think. That’s something to be proud of.

What would genuinely be embarrassing is if I wrote a book called, Struggling with Retroactive Jealousy and Doing Nothing About It. Or Living with Retroactive Jealousy. Or Blaming Retroactive Jealousy on My Girlfriend. That would be embarrassing.

But confronting a problem you have and owning it and putting in the work to overcome it? That’s something that you can really stand tall and own and say, “I did this.”

I’m not alone, of course. There are a lot of people out there being very brave, putting their names and faces on this issue and really owning their growth.

And even if people aren’t public about it, I get lots of emails from people who write, “Please don’t share this email, don’t share my name.” And that’s totally cool, I completely understand.

But even those people, they have something to be proud of, because they’re owning their issue, they’re taking action.

Even if they’re still slightly embarrassed about retroactive jealousy, they’re not letting themselves be defined as a victim.

They’re owning their choices. They’re owning their direction in life. They’re moving forward. And I think that’s really cool, I think that’s something to be proud of.

For anyone watching this, who’s taking any action whatsoever toward owning their problem, owning their choices, and deciding to take the steps to move forward, I don’t think you have anything to be embarrassed about.

I think you have a lot to be proud of, and I salute you.

Click here to learn more about getting past your partner’s past, and overcoming retroactive jealousy.


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.