In today’s video, I share my view on how to break the deadly retroactive jealousy cycle.

Read or watch below to learn how to break the retroactive jealousy cycle.

Zachary Stockill: What do retroactive jealousy sufferers and drug addicts have in common? The answer might surprise you, and that’s exactly what I will go into in today’s video.

For the people here for the first time, the term “retroactive jealousy” refers to unwanted intrusive thoughts, often obsessive curiosity, and what I call “mental movies” about a partner’s past relationships and/or sexual history.

It’s pure hell, but if you found this article and are reading it, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

As I mentioned a moment ago, since 2013, I’ve been working full-time on this issue of retroactive jealousy; as part of that work, I host a private Facebook group.

It’s a secret Facebook group for students taking my premium online course “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast,” as of today, we’re over 500 members strong.

There are always fascinating discussions, with plenty of individuals who’ve conquered retroactive jealousy choosing to stay, provide support, and share their insights and advice.

One of the best things I’ve ever done in my professional life is to create this secret Facebook group.

Anyway, I mention this because not long ago, a student in this Facebook group left a brilliant comment that I just had to share with you.

how to break the retroactive jealousy cycle

So, the quote is from this student in my group:

“One thing I’d like to add is that I think it’s something I’ve experienced is that retroactive jealousy can be like an addiction. You get the adrenaline rush, reassurance, and the feeling of calm.

It’s not a pleasant experience, and perhaps something that the sufferer isn’t doing consciously, but it’s important to replace that cycle with something. Otherwise, it’s a possibility that it could continue.”

I thought this was great, and it helped articulate something that I’ve thought a lot about in terms of the similarities often between retroactive jealousy and addiction.

So, full disclosure: I’m not an addict, and I have no personal experience with this. But I know a little bit about how addicts and how addiction functions.

There’s a constant craving for a thing, whether it’s reassurance from our partner or details about our partner’s past. Whatever it is, there’s this constant craving.

For a drug addict, the craving for the drug is constant. They might feel better once they obtain what they desire, like the reassurance and all the details they need.

For a few hours, a day, a week, whatever. They might even feel euphoric and hear something from their partner that makes them feel great.

We may gain some insight into their past, making us feel fantastic. Similarly, a drug addict might experience a high from their drug of choice, feeling blissful for a few hours, a day, or even longer, and in those moments, they feel great.

But what comes after that high, after that reassurance, and after that satisfaction that we got what we wanted?

Invariably, in the case of retroactive jealousy and drug addiction, there’s going to be some crash, and there’s likely going to be a quick reemergence of that same craving.

Furthermore, that craving might return with a vengeance. We might be craving an even bigger reassurance from our partner.

We might be craving even more details about our partner’s past. And, of course, unfortunately for the drug addict, they’re always going to need a bigger and bigger high to match and even exceed the high that they just had.

You get my point. Retroactive jealousy can often act like a drug addiction in that it’s never going to be enough.

Those cravings are going to be so intense. And ultimately, they’ll never go away entirely until we choose a different course.

And the more we keep giving into this cycle, for example, if we want a certain reassurance from our partner and we’ve already heard that reassurance 10 times before but want to hear even more, we want an even bigger reassurance.

The more we keep giving into this cycle where we seek reassurance from our partner, the more we hear what we think we want, the more we feel great, and the retroactive jealousy dissipates for a day or two.

The urge will always come back because it reinforces the cycle when we give in to the impulse to ask our partner about their past and get the reward from that—receiving the dopamine rush when we hear what we want.

We’re reinforcing that cycle, breaking the pattern even more challenging.

Similarly, in many cases of drug addiction, each time they succumb to the craving, it only strengthens the cycle, intensifying the pattern they must break to become healthy.

You might consider this an extreme comparison, but I don’t think it is because retroactive jealousy and many forms of addiction function similarly.

So, it can be a useful insight for anyone watching this who’s struggling with retroactive jealousy to ask yourself, am I addicted?

And I don’t mean physically addicted, but you get my point.

You might be somewhat addicted to constantly seeking details about your partner’s past, craving endless reassurance, and relying on the dopamine hits and ego boosts that come from understanding how your partner views you. Consider if this cycle sounds familiar to you

The more you keep buying into this cycle, the more you keep repeating this cycle, the harder it’s going to be to break.

how to break the retroactive jealousy cycle

And as I say endlessly on this website, but it’s so important, I can count precisely zero emails that I’ve received from retroactive jealousy sufferers who ever told me that asking their partner more questions about their partner’s past.

Getting endless reassurance from your partner is not how to overcome retroactive jealousy. This problem is not about how your partner sees their past and how you see your partner’s past.

This problem is about how you see yourself, in many ways. And if you see yourself as one who gives into impulses, who’s just helpless to overcome those cravings, you’ll never overcome retroactive jealousy.

So, my advice would be to seek out better patterns and start breaking those patterns as quickly as possible.

Stop giving in to your weaker instincts; things will probably change quicker than you realize.

If you are struggling with retroactive jealousy and want a fast, quick, and easy way to get started, I would love to help.

I’ve created a free four-part video mini-course designed specifically for retroactive jealousy sufferers who want help getting started.

So, if you sign up for this free course here, you’ll get four videos over one week. They will help you take the first steps toward total freedom from retroactive jealousy. The mini course is free, and you can unsubscribe anytime.

If you need more help with retroactive jealousy, check out my online course “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast,” 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 RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.