On this page you’ll find my answers to the most frequently asked questions people have emailed me since I launched this site back in 2013. If you’re brand new to my work, this is the place to start.

So, without any further ado…

What exactly is “retroactive jealousy?”

In a nutshell: the term refers to being bothered by thoughts of a partner’s past relationships and/or sexual history. Read this article to learn more.

My work, and this website, primarily deals with what is often referred to as “retroactive jealousy OCD,” which refers to constant, often obsessive thoughts and curiosity regarding a partner’s past.

Read more about the three different types of retroactive jealousy here.

I had no idea retroactive jealousy was actually a ‘thing.’ For years, I thought I was just nuts or something. Are you for real? People other than me really go through this?

In the past year alone, this little site has had over 100,000 different visitors from over 190 different countries. Thousands of people have bought and read my guidebook. And my online course has attracted over 700 students from all over the world.

So, yes. You’re probably not crazy. And you’re certainly not alone.

I’m not sure if I’m dealing with ‘retroactive jealousy,’ or if my partner’s values and my values are out of sync. What do you think?

At this point, that isn’t really important.

The bottom line is you need to get a handle on your brain before you can see clearly enough to decide whether or not your partner’s values are incompatible with your own. Whether or not you decide to stay with your partner, right now you need to find a way to move forward.

I wrote an article about values which you might find useful.

Does retroactive jealousy always involve OCD-like symptoms?

No. Everyone’s experience of retroactive jealousy is a little different, and some people experience certain symptoms that others do not.

Although I once dealt with retroactive jealousy at the extreme, OCD-like end of things, others have a slightly more benign (but often no less frustrating) experience of retroactive jealousy. My task is to provide insights, conclusions, and strategies that you’ll find helpful no matter how severe your experience of RJ is.

Learn more about the different types of retroactive jealousy by clicking here.

OK. How did you manage to overcome retroactive jealousy?

See here.

You’re serious? People really can get over this?

Yes. (See the video below.)

I’m suffering from RJ, and I just found your website. There’s a lot of info on here. Where should I start?

After you finish reading this article, I’d recommend that you start going through my top-10 (free) blog posts. There are a lot of useful tips and perspectives in there that will help you get started.

I’m not much of a reader. Do you have anything I can listen to or watch instead?

Click here to listen (for free) to an interview I did for the ManTalks Podcast. Here’s another one I did for The Art of Charm. And another one for the Knowledge for Men podcast.

I offer an audiobook version of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and a guided meditation on this page.

And as I mentioned above, I also host a popular online course (featuring video and audio) called “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast.”

Can you give me free one-on-one coaching?

I receive a lot of email. And if I responded in detail to everyone who wrote to me I’d have little time to do anything else. (Such as improve this site, write new articles and books, add videos to my online course and respond to student emails, moderate my private discussion group, bathe, eat, sleep, etc.)

So, while I do respond to as many emails as I can, I’m still a one-man show, and unfortunately I don’t have the time to provide in-depth coaching to everyone who reaches out to me. However, I enjoy connecting with my readers, and most of the time I can at least point you in the right direction. (Although if you email me, please be patient! Again, I get a lot of email.)

If you’re interested in one-on-one support, consider joining my video course and private coaching community.

I’m having suicidal thoughts/impulses. What should I do?

Seek out a mental health professional in your area ASAP. Schedule an appointment, go to the hospital, do anything you need to do to get help.

Any suicidal thoughts must be taken seriously, and you need a professional’s intervention immediately.

I’m really tired of feeling this way, and I want to get serious about putting retroactive jealousy behind me. What do you think I should do?

I think the most important thing is to do something.

Find a personal development plan, schedule an appointment with a therapist, pick up a new book, try something. Start getting serious about putting in the work to get your problem sorted. Your happiness, well-being, and your relationship depend on it.

If you’re stuck, and you’d like a very simple and easy coping exercise to get started, find a pen and paper and watch the video below (featuring yours truly):

In 2013, I published a guidebook called Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy that readers have described as the “perfect first step” for getting serious about dealing with your problem. It’s quite affordable, and many people have found it helpful.

If you’d like a more detailed, in-depth, step-by-step blueprint for getting your RJ handled ASAP, I also offer an online course and (optional) private discussion group.

It’s actually my partner, not me, who is suffering from retroactive jealousy concerning my past. What should I do?

I wrote an article just for you.

After you read that one, here’s another article I wrote for the partners of people struggling with RJ.

Are you a psychologist, or certified counsellor, or professional therapist, or…?

No. I’ve spent a great deal of time researching, writing, and thinking about retroactive jealousy, but I don’t have any professional credentials in psychology or social work.

I’m simply a man who went through retroactive jealousy myself, and arrived at certain insights and conclusions. And over the years, some people have found my insights and opinions helpful. I like helping people.

(For the curious: I have a B.A. in History, a Master of Arts in Globalization Studies, and another Master of Arts in History. Once upon a time I was supposed to be a history professor by now. You can learn more about my background on this page.)

Increasingly, as the years go on, my work (and the advice I offer on this site and in my course) is informed by the experiences of hundreds of other RJ sufferers, or ex-sufferers of RJ who’ve read my guidebook and written to me, or who participate in my private discussion group.

If you’d like to read more about my own experience overcoming retroactive jealousy, click here.

Will your guidebook or video course cure my jealousy overnight?

No. Despite what some people might try to tell you, there is no “instant cure” for retroactive jealousy.

Simply watching the video course, or reading my book, but failing to complete the exercises, or committing to personal development will probably only bring you temporary relief. It takes some effort on your part to see long-term results.

But here’s the good news: most of the time, you only need to put in a little work to start seeing some significant improvement.

If I watch the videos in your course, or read your book, and I put in the necessary effort, how long will it take me to beat retroactive jealousy?

I don’t know. Everyone’s different, and therefore everyone has a different experience of my course and guidebook. (And yes, I realize that that’s a pretty unsatisfying answer.)

I can tell you that most people see improvements in as little as a week or two, but in the end it comes down to the amount of effort you’re prepared to put in. More effort=more results, plain and simple.

Can you recommend some other good books that will help me overcome RJ?

Yes, I can.

My RJ isn’t that bad. It’s just an issue for me once in a while. Do you think it will eventually go away on its own?

It’s possible, but unlikely. Judging by the thousands of emails I’ve received over the years, it seems that many people who suffer from RJ suffer for years and years, off and on, until they finally put in the work to put it behind them for good.

For some people, retroactive jealousy might eventually resolve itself on its own (more or less), but it seems that for most people it’s a lifelong struggle; that is, until until they get serious about overcoming it. Hence, my work.

I’m considering sleeping with other people/cheating on my partner in order to “even the score,” so to speak. Do you think this is a good idea? Do you think doing this will lessen the severity of my retroactive jealousy?

No and no.

I think cheating is morally reprehensible. Which is to say, it’s a jerk thing to do.

And even if you’re honest with your partner, and they’re cool with you sleeping with other people, it’s almost certainly going to complicate things and lead to more pain and resentment down the road. Probably not a good idea. (Now, if you’re interested in practicing consensual non-monogamy, that might be a different story. Click here for more information and resources.)

I’ve received countless letters from RJ sufferers with… shall we say, very “colourful” pasts. Much more “colourful” than that of their partners, and these people still suffered from debilitating retroactive jealousy. That is to suggest: if your partner has more romantic or sexual experience than you, attempting to “even the score” probably won’t help.

There are a lot of shady people writing about personal development on the internet. Are you a real guy?

Yes, I am.

Here’s my personal website. Here’s my Huffington Post author page. Here I am on one of the most popular personal development podcasts on iTunes. Yes, I’m a real dude.

Then why did you originally publish your guidebook under the pen name ‘Frank Morrison?’

Because I was embarrassed. I still am, to some extent. It’s not easy to launch a blog, publish a book and course, and announce to the world that you once suffered from intense retroactive jealousy.

You can probably understand being embarrassed more than most people. A recurring opening statement in the emails I receive from people struggling with retroactive jealousy is: “Please don’t share this email with anyone.” And I get it: retroactive jealousy can be humiliating; not the kind of thing you’d like the world to know that you’re experiencing.

I wrote more about this issue of embarrassment here.

(And for the curious: my middle name is Francis, and I’m a big fan of the Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison.)

What’s your number-one piece of advice for someone going through retroactive jealousy?

As I wrote above, don’t just sit there: make sure you actually do something about it.

If you decide that my guidebook or online course isn’t for you, of course that’s fine. I understand that my work isn’t for everyone. Just make sure you do something in order to start moving forward, and getting your problem handled.

So consider this your wake-up call:

Don’t wait for your retroactive jealousy to take care of itself, because, unfortunately, it probably won’t.

And if your current course of action (or inaction) isn’t working for you, you owe it to yourself, and your partner, to try something different.

Seek out and commit to a personal development plan, make an appointment with a doctor or therapist, confide in a trusted friend or relative, go off and meditate in a cave for a few days. Try something, anything, that might get you closer to finding the way forward.

Once you try something new, and you give it a bit of time to work for you, take some time to reflect on it. Ask yourself: is this new strategy helping me? Am I benefitting from this? If the answer is ‘yes,’ keep doing it, and at the same time experiment with other potentially-complimentary tactics and strategies. And if the answer is ‘no,’ try something else.

The point is to reject self-pity and inertia. Don’t submit to depression, or feeling helpless (or hopeless).

Don’t think of yourself as a victim.

Because you are not a victim. And, as the saying goes, “if you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

If you want something in your life to change, whether it’s retroactive jealousy or anything else, you have to stand up, dust yourself off, and commit to change, commit to trying something new. And don’t stop trying new things until you find a plan that works for you.

If you’re struggling with RJ, and you’re ready to be over and done with it, it isn’t an option for you to wait for your pain and anxiety to go away without any effort because overcoming RJ takes a bit of work.

So much depends on you getting this problem taken care of: your happiness, your partner’s happiness, your future. And always remember that no relationship, no matter how strong, can bear the burden of retroactive jealousy indefinitely. (Unfortunately, I have a pile of emails in my inbox that attest to that.)

If you take away nothing else from my work, and this website, I ask you to consider the fact that our time on this earth is so, so precious. So don’t waste it dealing with retroactive jealousy for any longer than you have to.
Make a decision to take some kind of action right now.

Ready to take the next step?
Discover a quick and simple technique to block painful thoughts about your partner's past. It worked for me, and hundreds of my clients. Learn for free.
  • Katnip1979

    Hi Zachary. Thank you so much for your website. Almost everything I’ve read sounds like you were speaking specifically to me. I’m about to move forward with purchasing your book. However, I had only one question I had before I clicked ‘Buy’.

    Many of your posts discuss the irrationality and absurdity of judging or feeling down about your partner’s past when you/I (the jealous partner) had just the same, if not more, amount of former lovers and/or romantic experiences. My situation is somewhat different from yours and the others I’ve read here on your website.

    When I met my spouse, I was a virgin and had never been in a long term relationship. My spouse, on the other hand, had two former partners; one of those being a long-term relationship from high school.

    If your book and program is predominantly about the jealous partner seeing the absurdity of judging their partner with a past because BOTH partners are on equal grounds (i.e. both partners have a sexual past, both have been in romantic relationship(s), etc.), I’m afraid it will not be of use to me. I agree in the absurdity of someone being jealous of their partner’s past if they both have a sexual history. I have often times wondered that, had I not been a virgin when I met my spouse, I wouldn’t even be looking up this problem or suffering like I have. We both grew up
    in religious and moral homes; however, either I had more self-control than my
    spouse or I understood/cared more about the potential future damage of premarital
    sex than my spouse. Today, we have children and we both believe sex should be saved for marriage. But, in an ironic twist, due to the internal and marital conflict this has caused over the past year, I am questioning whether I believe this anymore.

    Thank you again for your website. I apologize for the lengthy question. I would have contacted you privately with my question and could provide more specifics, but I was unable to find a ‘Contact Me’ page on your website. I’ve always felt our situation is somewhat of an outlier to the “hook up” culture that has become so predominant in our society. I’ve stopped reading countless posts and forum threads as soon as I find out the jealous person had the same or longer sexual history than their partner because I see our situation as different.

    Do you think your book can still help someone with my background? Does your program try to convince the jealous person that they have the same background as their partner so it is irrational for them to be jealous?

    • Zachary

      Thanks for your comment. The short answer to your first question is yes, and the answer to the second is no. I just sent you an email with more details. Hope it helps!

      • disqus_WWpWIrdVl2

        Zachary, my situation is EXACTLY the same as Katnip’s. Can you share with me via e-mail what you shared with them? I would be grateful. Thx.

      • Knut

        Hello
        Can you send the same message to me. Thanks 🙂

        Kind regards

        • Zachary

          The short answer is no, I don’t try to convince anyone that their past is “equal” to their partner, or anything like that. I don’t try to convince anyone of anything.

          My video course and private discussion community is designed to help you make peace with your partner’s past on your own terms, and gain the mental clarity you need that will allow you to move forward, whichever way forward you choose. I try to provide the tools to start confronting the obsessive thoughts head on, which automatically allows you to see things more clearly, and make decisions in your relationship that are right for you. Over the years my course has helped hundreds of people in hundreds of different situations, many of them not unlike your particular situation, I’m sure.

          Much more info here: https://www.retroactivejealousy.com/retroactive-jealousy-cure

  • disqus_7ifK8GviId

    Hi, Zachary. Is it weird of me to say you have a really beautiful name? Well, you do.

    Anyway, this website is like a godsend. I genuinely thought I was alone in feeling this way, and didn’t even know retroactive jealousy had a name. Keep doing what you’re doing, it is VERY important work.

    Best wishes!

  • disqus_WWpWIrdVl2

    Just discovered this website. Great stuff & THANKS, Wondering…should I tell my wife I believe I have this condition. While it may bring up painful memories, it may also help explain my seeming to be obsessed with her past. Which, btw, was only 1 boyfriend….30 years ago…to whom she lost her virginity.

    • Zachary

      Thanks for your comment. I generally tell RJ sufferers that RJ is their problem, and not their partner’s, so it’s best to keep your partner minimally involved in your recovery (as you’ve likely done enough damage to the relationship already). However, I don’t think there is any harm in explaining to your wife that you’re dealing with a rare type of emotional disorder called retroactive jealousy, and that you’re committed to sorting it out.

      Hope this helps.

      • disqus_WWpWIrdVl2

        Perfect. While I actually jumped the gun prior to your reply as I was eager to begin the healing process, I did just what you said – shared the minimum & she handled it with empathy & understanding. Thanks!

  • Fcff1016

    I am on the other side of this battle. Any advice on how to help my significant other with this?

  • disqus_hjMwtTE8Ux

    I suffer from this.
    I was a psychology major and noticed that there was a problem going on with my thoughts when i was in relationships. I started to pattern it and have been searching for something that fit what i feel at times I’m dying of. I found out about “retroactive jealousy” only a year ago because every professional patterns this as normal jealousy. It started when i was 15 and it hasn’t stopped. i have learned to control some aspects of it for my husband now. Just no where near well enough.. I am on the extreme end of the scale. I will put all of my sexual partner’s sexual past together(all of it… )and obsessively torture myself over different aspects of it constantly. I am obsessed with intimacy and sexuality though I have had my own past. I am obsessed when anyone who has been the one before me… or anyone i can find out about. I have to keep myself from searching things. What this is and what I am are two separate things. I have made huge strides because I am with the person I want to be with. We both have kids with other people previously and I love his son. I know how irrational these voices are that constantly repeat because I do understand everyone has a past. I do have a rational side that can understand and not be judgmental. I want to accept the person I am with for who he is and have him to be able to talk to me. Even if I don’t voice it I am always thinking about it or thinking about not thinking about it. I am a hypocrite as I am torn between me and this horrible thing. I say horrible things. Things I can’t take back… things I as myself don’t mean. I have ruined every relationship the same. I have pushed everyone who has ever loved me or that i have loved away. Please help me if you can. I am willing and I am so motivated not to let my mind die this way. I want to be normal.

    • Zachary

      I hope you find my work and the resources on this page helpful. This can absolutely be overcome–it just takes work.

      • disqus_hjMwtTE8Ux

        thank you for responding. the more i read through your website the more hopeful i feel i already. just knowing that there is a place where this is clearly defined and solvable. Thank you already just for having this here.

        • Zachary

          Glad to know.

  • CJ

    This is me right now. I have been with my girlfriend 12 years and carried this since the beginning only to know realise I have a problem.
    The truth is had I tried to deal with this back in the early days I would have split with her for sure but instead I bottled it up, so now here I am 12 years later with 2 children and a massive realisation how this has held back our relationship for so long.
    I owe it to her for giving me the last 12 years otherwise it’s not right.

    I hope I can get rid of this. I want to be free of these thoughts and dream of the day when it simply no longer matters. Right now though I don’t see how it can never matter to me, I really don’t.

    • Zachary
      • CJ

        What didn’t help is I found out that she had been reminiscing with an X, someone she had a fling with, not a long term partner. ….Boom! these feelings are now so strong!

        I don’t think she would ever cheat but rightly or wrongly that really hurt.