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The following is an excerpt from my guidebook, Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy: A Guide to Getting Over Your Partner’s Past and Finding Peace. Click here to get access to my FREE mini course that covers the same content.
There is nothing either good or bad, although thinking makes it so.
– William Shakespeare.
Sufferers of retroactive jealousy tend to have a severely skewed and misguided perception of their partner’s past.
In the midst of our angst and confusion, we tend to redefine what constitutes a “normal” person’s relationship and/or sexual history in order to exclude our partners from that category. We often think all kinds of ridiculous, irrational, and nasty things about our partner and the people from their past.
At the very least, we are unable or unwilling to consider our partner’s past from a grounded perspective; our jealousy is running the show, and distorting the picture we see in our head. Please bear this in mind as we continue.
You might have serious and legitimate concerns about your partner’s sexual history. And there are certain situations in which you may want to consider whether it’s actually worth fighting for the relationship.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1.) Am I using retroactive jealousy as an excuse to push my partner away because I’m unhappy in the relationship?
2.) Does my partner have a history of lying and breaking trust?
3.) Do I feel, deep down, that my partner’s values are genuinely incompatible with my own?
4.) Has my partner consistently demonstrated reckless and dangerous behaviour? Does my partner pose a risk to my sexual health? (Play safe, kids.)
Be completely honest with yourself when you respond.
If the answer is a wholehearted “Yes!” to any one of these questions, you may want to seriously consider moving on, and finding someone to whom you are better suited.
If she’s crazy with a capital “C” and your parents and all of your friends and your mailman and the guy at the gas station and the busboy at the restaurant are telling you so, my advice is to run and don’t look back. Your energy is best spent elsewhere.
There is no shame in acknowledging what you can handle and what you cannot. Still, I urge that if you do decide to move on, avoid the temptation to hurt your partner, or otherwise attempt to transfer your pain and anguish on to another. A person’s self-esteem is often a delicate thing, and you will do your partner–and yourself–no favours if you storm out in a rage, or otherwise intentionally hurt them. It’s bad karma, trust me.
Naturally, I cannot tell you if your partner’s past doesn’t matter.
However, I can tell you that overcoming retroactive jealousy is definitely worth the struggle, regardless of your exact circumstances.
It’s unpleasant to feel powerless. It’s unpleasant to feel out of control and hopeless. It’s unpleasant to feel vulnerable to a constant threat of intrusive and destructive thoughts and feelings. This alone should give you motivation to work on yourself and your retroactive jealousy, regardless of your partner’s past, or your decision to stay with them or not.
Furthermore, as I have discovered, one’s retroactive jealousy is usually not dependent on the partner or their specific history.
Many people find that, after moving on from a relationship in which they experienced retroactive jealousy, future relationships suffer an identical fate. For some of us, whenever we fall in love with someone new, we fall victim to a repeat cycle of intrusive curiosity regarding their past, unwelcome emotional responses, compulsive questioning, obsessive thoughts, and overall self-destructive behaviour.
In short, the problem is probably not with your partner or their past — the problem is with you.
It is necessary for you to accept this premise if you want to get serious about overcoming your condition.
Once you begin to get a handle on your brain, and the constant questions, mental movies, and jealous thoughts begin to cease, you’ll be able to think clearly, and make good decisions about pursuing a future with your partner (or not).