In today’s video, I’m going to talk about a thought experiment you can try if you feel like your girlfriend’s past relationships are “killing” you.

Read or watch below if you’ve ever said the words “My girlfriend’s past is killing me!”

Zachary Stockill: As you probably know, I get endless emails from retroactive jealousy sufferers from all over the world. In particular, a lot of men write to me saying that their girlfriend’s past relationships are killing them.

In most of these cases, there’s a specific thought experiment that I would recommend that I think it’d be really helpful in this scenario. 

So if you feel like “my girlfriend’s past is killing me,” I think you’re going to want to read the rest of the article.

By the way, for all of the people watching this, who don’t know what the heck the word or the term retroactive jealousy means: the term retroactive jealousy refers to unwanted intrusive thoughts, sometimes obsessive curiosity, and what I call “mental movies” regarding a partner’s past relationships and/or sexual history.

It’s a serious problem that plagues thousands of people from all over the world. 

If you’re struggling with the fact of your girlfriend’s past relationships and/or her sexual history, and if you’re wavering on the point of “Should I stay? Or should I go? Is this a dealbreaker? Or is it not?”

If that sounds familiar, if that describes your current situation, I want you to try this thought experiment:

So just imagine that the intrusive thoughts are completely gone. 

Pretend that there’s a switch in your brain that you can just flick, and you’ll never have those thoughts ever again.

girlfriend's past is killing me

You’re never going to be struggling with the obsessive curiosity and the need to know more, you’re never going to have that urge to ask questions, and no more mental movies. It’s completely out of your life. It’s not an issue.

However, the truth of your girlfriend’s past is still the same. 

In other words, all that stuff still happened. She still has her past, whatever it looks like, whatever happened. That’s still true. But you never think about it. It still happened. But it’s not an issue in your life, because you never think about it. 

In this thought experiment, in this imaginary world that I’m creating, I ask you: you still may not love your girlfriend’s past. But can you live with it?

You don’t have to love it. But you should be able to live with it. Or should I say: if you want to stay in your relationship, you should be able to live with it.

I wanted to relate this thought experiment because I think it brings up an important point, an important perspective:

At a certain point when you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, it’s about making that choice. It’s about saying, “I may not love my partner’s past, but can I live with it? Can I live with this person’s past?… 

“If my girlfriend’s past is killing me, I may not love the actual facts of her past. I don’t have to love her past. But can I live with it?

Now, obviously, making that decision isn’t always so easy. Obviously, there are often a lot of variables involved.

And on that note, I’ll take this opportunity to plug my newly released masterclass. It’s called The Path to Peace

As far as I know, it’s the only online course on the market designed specifically for retroactive jealousy sufferers struggling with the questions “Is my partner’s past a dealbreaker? Can I live with this? Are there actually red flags? Is her past, or his past actually a dealbreaker?”

But once you make that decision, you really have to stick with it. 

One thing I’ve learned is that it becomes so much harder to overcome retroactive jealousy if you’re still struggling with the question of values.

Those are the cases that are the most complicated. And those are the people who have the hardest time moving through this. 

Maybe they sign up for one of my courses. Maybe they’re doing all the things that are working in terms of eliminating intrusive thoughts; no more curiosity, no more mental movies, et cetera, et cetera. But at the same time, they think–at least in the back of their head–“maybe my girlfriend’s past is actually a dealbreaker… Maybe I can’t live with this…” 

Obviously, I’m not going to tell you that your decision, as far as that goes, is right or wrong. That’s not my job.

It is my job to tell you that if you want to save your relationship, you simply have to come up with the answer to that question. 

And if the answer is you can’t live with it, unfortunately, it’s probably time to move on. 

If on the other hand, you make the decision to stay either with my coaching, or with the help of The Path to Peace, try to stick with your decision. I think wavering on this question makes overcoming retroactive jealousy so much more difficult. 

And if you’re still dealing with the intrusive thoughts, the irrational curiosity, and the mental movies, don’t let that sway your decision. Obviously, dealing with the classic symptoms of retroactive jealousy is enormously painful. It’s hell. And it can skew our perspective on what’s important.

So in your calmest, most rational moments, come up with a clear answer to this question: 

“Can I live with this? Can I live with the truth of my girlfriend’s past?” 

girlfriend's past is killing me

Because I’m telling you, that will make overcoming retroactive jealousy so much simpler and easier.

In fact, over 10 years of coaching, one thing that I’ve found is that that’s one of the first things that we need to get clear on in the client-coach relationship.

Are you deciding to stay or go? Is your partner’s past really that troubling? Are there genuine red flags here that we need to investigate, that we need to discuss and that we need to explore? Because I know once I help the person get clarity on that question, it makes everything else so much simpler, so much easier. 

So that’s it. If your girlfriend’s past relationships are killing you, try this thought experiment. Imagine there are no more intrusive thoughts. Imagine there are no more mental movies. The truth of your partner’s past remains the same. Can you live with it?

Because answering that question is going to make everything that comes after so much easier.

If you need more help to get clarity and insight to get to an answer, then you can check out my new masterclass “The Path to Peace, or consider applying for one-on-one coaching with me.

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.