In today’s video, I’m going to answer another viewer’s question about retroactive jealousy and FOMO.

How to overcome jealousy of partner’s past?

W. writes…

Hey, Zachary. I just watched your most recent Q&A video on your partner doing something with their ex that they wouldn’t or haven’t done with you? How would this translate to a non sexual context due to COVID? My partner and I haven’t been able to do many things together, such as travel, meet friends and move in.

I’m currently struggling with the fact that we haven’t met many of the milestones he’s had with his previous girlfriend around this time in their relationship.

Well, I know that we’re in the situation because of COVID and finances. I’m finding it really hard to not compare. We’d really appreciate your advice on that.

jealousy of partner's past

Zachary Stockill: I think many retroactive jealousy sufferers are facing similar issues during the pandemic. My first sort of suggestion or impulse is just to offer hope that you offer yourself a bit of understanding and self-compassion.

I’m recording this video in June of 2021. We are over one year into the global coronavirus pandemic, and a lot of people are in your shoe. A lot of people are dealing with similar issues to what you’re facing.

Probably millions of couples around the world who haven’t even heard of retroactive jealousy, are facing the same issue where they’re feeling kind of frustrated in their relationship, because they feel like they would just want the freedom to do whatever the hell they want, without all these travel restrictions, and all the rest.

So, how to deal with your jealousy of your partner’s past?

As I often say, long-distance relationships are extremely challenging at the best of times. You throw in a global pandemic, and obviously, that situation becomes even harder.

Try to practice some self-compassion, self-understanding and be aware that there’s a lot of people facing this situation. And at the same time, if you feel frustrated, go easy on yourself, and on your partner.

It’s unfair to compare any pre-COVID relationship, particularly a long-distance relationship to the COVID era long-distance relationship.

I’m a traveler. I live internationally. I’ve been traveling abroad for many years now. And my life has completely changed as a result of COVID. COVID is a big reason why I started upping my YouTubing. I was missing more social interaction, getting emails from people, connecting with people, and getting more feedback about my work this way has been really great.

Try not to compare your COVID relationship to your partner’s pre-COVID relationship, because they’re so different.

And frankly, if you are currently with someone right now, for anyone watching this, who’s in a long-term relationship, COVID is presenting challenges to all of us, this will somehow help you overcome jealousy of your partner’s past.

I think COVID could make your relationship even stronger. I’m gonna compare it to like, almost living through a war or something.

I don’t mean to compare too much to like a war. But when you go through a really challenging experience as a couple, in a lot of ways you find out who you really are. You find that your relationship has been stress tested to a certain degree. And that gives you resilience that you can build on moving forward.

It’s a better indication if you can stay together during tough times. It’s a far better indicator of the strength of your relationship than going through a relationship where there are no bumps in the road, perhaps going through a relationship pre COVID.

There are just fewer challenges there.

I would caution against comparing your relationship to your partner’s pre-COVID relationship. But if you’re going to do it, in some ways, I think that this COVID challenge could make you stronger as a couple, compared to your boyfriend’s pre-COVID relationship.

jealousy of partner's past

Obviously, I don’t know you. I don’t know the relationship. I don’t know the details of your partner and his relationship and all that but these stress tests for relationships are absolutely crucial.

Another example is traveling as a couple, travel is so difficult right now. But you know, a similar kind of scale of challenges when you go from simply dating to traveling with your partner and basically living with them. 24/7. And in those moments, during those challenging times, you really find out who you are.

So I hope you find that at least somewhat inspiring because I get that COVID relationships are very difficult, especially COVID long-distance relationships. But if you survive through this, I think you could survive through a lot more.

So it’s actually not entirely a bad thing.

I would also encourage you to start planning for the future. I’m sure you’re doing this already. You can start visualizing your life because COVID is not going to last forever.

Huge parts of the world are easing up using the restrictions. Things are getting better, so start planning an exciting future.

I’m a big advocate of trying to live in the present as much as possible. But sometimes it’s really nice and inspiring to have something exciting to look forward to.

“Idle hands are the devil’s playthings”. I’m sure you’ve heard this expression.

This will help you beat jealousy of your partner’s past.

You don’t want to just sit around and stew because that’s not going to serve you, your boyfriend, and your relationship.

So get excited start planning and at the same time realize that this challenge of COVID could actually make you stronger down the road. So there you have it a few thoughts on retroactive jealousy and FOMO.

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.