Earlier this week I received a kind and inspiring letter from a student taking my Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast video course. Let’s call him Devon.

In the letter, Devon shared details of his lifelong struggles with retroactive jealousy, his relationship, and his determination to get over his girlfriend’s past, and get retroactive jealousy beat:

Hi Zachary,

Last week at this time I was in bed in all morning as constant thoughts of my girlfriend’s past continued to disturb and torture me. And then I found your course. I’m so glad. I have been undertaking it for 4 days and have already found it a great help. That is not to say I haven’t still had some ups and downs, but it has given me a clear path to get on.
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I met the girl who I think is possibly the love of my life a few months ago, and despite all the amazing romance and us completely falling in love with each other the dragon of retroactive jealousy reared it’s ugly head. I realize that I have suffered with it my whole life but never truly understood it. In past relationships it haunted me and I never realized what was going on.
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It has ultimately led to me never fully engaging in my relationships, and just suffering. I get on edge when people make any sort of comments that could be connected to anything in the past. I’ve judged and therefore resented people. Often it has subsided over time, but having never truly dealt with it my relationships have never blossomed and have often felt shackled. I’ve ended up either leaving people or cheating.
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Truly falling for someone has always left me terrified and vulnerable. I used to be a bit of a player and had all sorts of girls falling at my feet. I felt untouchable. But I never truly engaged with life.
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I resort back to a safe place in my head where I just focus on my own survival and don’t engage. In this situation I realize I have someone who is worth it. Something that is worth it. I don’t want my girlfriend’s past to stop me feeling happy. I found a horrible irony in the idea that falling in love often left me feeling more unhappy than ever.
Raise your hand if you can relate to Devon’s experience on some level.
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In my current situation, I’ve made some mistakes in terms of looking into a person she used to date. Comparing myself and at times feeling inadequate. I asked her questions, not in great depth, but I wanted her to alleviate my worries. The irony was, they never would.
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How ever many times she told me she’s never been in love or never felt connected like this, my momentary relief would end up leaving me with more questions and more wonder. ‘How could she even possibly like this guy?!’ etc etc I couldn’t work out what was happening in my mind.
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Although I clearly recognized it had happened before in many situations, so therefore wasn’t actually specific to her or the situation or person she had mentioned. I’ve already known to bite my tongue and not go there as it ends up leaving both of us feeling a bit icky. My insecurities grow and my condition just worsens.
Dear friends: please take it from me and STOP talking to your partner about his or her past.
Shame and embarrassment at the condition are what I’ve felt. In trying to talk to people, they never seem to understand why I could possibly be worried. I felt like no-one understood and I was alone in my pain. I couldn’t escape my thoughts.
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The scary thing is you have moments or even days, when you feel OK again and you feel you’re over it and then it comes back and tears your mind apart. You can’t focus on anything. You can’t engage with anyone. I am a confident person in general, I’ve achieved lots with my life so far and I’m only 26, although this condition doesn’t let me feel that way. I’ve felt like a weed, cowardly and unmanly.
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I constantly compare myself to people from my girlfriend’s past and I feel angry ,and as if someone has one over on me. I say to myself: “How could anyone hurt her? How could she like that guy? How could she like this arrogant prick?” In moments of clarity I am completely aware how irrational and out of perspective this all is. My visions are skewed and painful. I feel useless and hopeless. Stuck with my self-destructive thoughts.
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In this case I have desperately tried not to judge my girlfriend’s past. Or attack her. Or make her feel like she’s done anything wrong, which is a mistake I’ve made in the past. My old girlfriend had a much more colourful history, threesomes, etc and various boyfriends from all different backgrounds. This girl has a squeaky clean past, but dated someone in my industry who is a bit older for about 9 months a few years ago. I’ve gone to war on myself and realised that this condition is irrational and based on nothing, but a self-loathing, unforgiving and obsessive mind.
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My girlfriend is the most beautiful person I have ever met and I guess while I was falling in love I put her on a pedestal and therefore I need to eradicate that and just live now with her. And engage in self-growth, and growth within a relationship. I want to do this properly, I want to love properly and I want to build something with someone who definitely seems worth it.
Mr. Devon: tear down this pedestal! Trust me: it’s only hurting you, and your girlfriend.
Lately I’ve been left on my own a lot, and left to my own thoughts. These thoughts have been horrible. Even when I suddenly think I’m on top of them, they come back in an hour or a day and start to go to work again. It’s agony! And before I found your course I felt like no-one understands and I was embarrassed to talk about it with anyone. I’ve tried to talk about it with my girlfriend, but I realized after reading your book that this is not a good idea. It perpetuates all the problems I want to work away from. I need to be pro-active, not re-active.
This is great: be pro-active, not reactive. Very well-put.
I want now to work through it once and for all and beat these demons and become who I want to be… It’s hard trying to deal with the condition when she is so close. She is incredibly loving and sensitive and ultimately I need the space to deal with retroactive jealousy on my own…
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It’s a horrible condition. And it doesn’t seem to be talked about much, as I guess ultimately it can feel quite shameful. I asked others if they ever experience RJ and they say things like “No, because I know I’m better than everyone they have been with.” For the most part I know this too, but most the time I just go to war on myself thinking about my girlfriend’s past and there is no clear rhyme and reason to why I am doing it. It’s bizarre.
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I’m so glad to have found your course and it is already helping me deal with my girlfriend’s past. And even though there are ups and downs I will persist. I will fight for what I deserve: happiness, love and peace of mind. I want to have the greatest love ever with her and it certainly doesn’t involved these silly, destructive thoughts.
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Just wanted to share a bit of my story and say thank you for your course and guidebook. Before I found it I felt lost and terrified.
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Kind regards,
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Devon
USA
Letters like this remind me why I do what I do. So thank-you, Devon.
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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.