Today I’m responding to a question from a young man worried about his girlfriend’s ex. Charlie writes:

What advice can you give to help overcome retroactive jealousy when your girlfriend’s ex is clearly far more physically attractive than you? We can all work to improve ourselves, but sometimes there are previous partners who are just naturally far more attractive.

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: Okay, Charlie. Good question. Interesting question.

The whole notion of attraction and what attracts us to certain people and what constitutes attractiveness, what constitutes beauty is a very interesting one.

And the thing about attraction that I find so interesting and so mysterious in so many ways, is why we’re so drawn to certain people.

What is it about certain people who come into our lives, who we just want to ravish?

We’re just so drawn to them. Even when other people around us don’t see that same attractiveness. They don’t see them as beautiful, as stunning, as attractive as we do.

The most important message I can tell you in this video is to remember that attraction is subjective to a considerable extent.

Now, as I’ve mentioned in other videos, there are certain standards of beauty, which are pretty much universal, not entirely universal, but pretty much universal.

Things like facial symmetry, for guys having broad shoulders and relatively narrow hips. For women having a little bit wider hips and having fat in certain places on the body which signal fertility. Most people find these things attractive.

However, it’s important to distinguish between physical beauty and attraction.

These things are not the same.

There can be someone who is very, very, very physically beautiful, but maybe we’re not attracted them.

Maybe our heart doesn’t leap out of our chest when we see them, maybe we’re not drawn to them in the same way as we are drawn to someone else who maybe is less classically beautiful, but we’re still incredibly attracted to them.

If you’re struggling with the fact that your partner dated some very, very attractive, physically beautiful people in the past and how do you get over that?

I think a lot of it is about trusting your partner’s choices now. Trusting that your partner’s attraction to you is special.

And there’s a reason that your girlfriend’s relationship with your girlfriend’s ex didn’t work out. There’s a reason your partner isn’t drawn to that ex-partner like they were before.

And frankly, if your partner is pining for this very attractive person from the past, you probably shouldn’t be with them.

I don’t know about you, but I would never want to date someone who is genuinely pining for an ex.

But remember that attraction is subjective to a considerable extent and there are a whole bunch of ways which you can make yourself more attractive that really don’t have much to do with the way you look.

Things like improving your sense of humor. Watching a lot of standup comedy, for example. I love standup and that was a big thing for me actually is just absorbing all kinds of standup all the time and working on observing social dynamics and my sense of humor, that really helped.

Look up videos on how to be charming. How to be gentlemanly. These things are rare, especially in 2020.

Pull out a woman’s chair when she sits down, stand up when she enters the room, be a protective man around her. You know what I mean?

Be a solid, integrated, conscious masculine presence, work to amplify your masculine qualities, and that will naturally make you far more attractive than you might realize right now.

Learn about connecting with your partner or women in general on a deeper spiritual level.

You know what I mean? You can look into things like meditation and deep breathing and which questions really help you get to know someone? Incorporate those questions into your conversation. Learn to be a good listener.

So many people are terrible listeners. So many people. And one thing I’ve discovered through my coaching practice and through interacting with hundreds of people one on one, people are so starving to be actually listened to, actually heard.

And if you make yourself a good listener, if you actually pay attention to what people say, ask them follow up questions and take a genuine interest in them, you will make yourself a good listener and that is extremely attractive to men and women alike.

If you’re worried about your girlfriend’s ex, remember to distinguish between attraction and beauty.

Remember that even physical beauty is subjective to some extent as well.

There are some women on the street where my friend might just be completely smitten with her, I might see her and be like, “meh, she’s okay.”

We all have certain people who really turn us on and we’re really drawn to, and other people where we’re kind of shrugging it off.

And maybe you are the apple of your partner’s eye. Maybe your partner looks at you and she compares you very favorably to this ex who maybe you consider more physically beautiful,

Realize there are multiple ways to make yourself more attractive to women and your partner. And remember that attraction is mysterious.

To a great extent, attraction is not a choice and there are a lot of ways you can actively work on making yourself a more confident, grounded, attractive man that have nothing to do with the way you look.

Click here to learn more about my online course for overcoming retroactive jealousy, “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast.”

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.