In today’s video, I’m going to talk about something that is common among many, if not most retroactive jealousy sufferers, and that is jumping to conclusions.

Read or watch below to learn more about jumping to conclusions and its role in retroactive jealousy.

Zachary Stockill: Hello and welcome back to my ongoing series on retroactive jealousy and cognitive distortions.

The term retroactive jealousy refers to unwanted intrusive thoughts, and often obsessive curiosity about your partner’s past relationships and/or sexual history. And cognitive distortions refer to irrational, unhelpful thought patterns that hold us back from having happier lives.

Jumping to conclusions
Jumping to conclusions

The whole point of this series on retroactive jealousy and cognitive distortions is to inspire you to examine your own thinking; to examine your own mental patterns a little more closely because unhelpful, irrational thought patterns are a major component in what holds so many retroactive jealousy sufferers back. Cognitive distortions, and making meaning of events in a way that isn’t necessarily accurate can contribute to anxiety disorders, depression, and of course, an issue like retroactive jealousy.

So needless to say, it’s in your best interest to start examining your thinking a little more closely as soon as possible.

So what exactly constitutes “jumping to conclusions”? 

Many of you watching this are probably familiar with the term jumping to conclusions. It involves deducing something that isn’t necessarily there in the first place. And, making meaning out of something that isn’t necessarily accurate; or, when you don’t have all of the details, when you don’t have all the facts, before making a conclusion. 

Jumping to conclusions involves things like taking one fact and constructing an entire universe of meaning around that fact. When in fact, there are many, many facts and many factors and variables involved in any situation. 

There are two main ways of jumping to conclusions. 

And the first one is often called mind reading. Mind reading involves situations where you think that someone’s going to act in a certain way, so you start behaving as if. Or, you believe someone is thinking things that they aren’t necessarily thinking based on a tiny little portion of the evidence. 

So what are some examples of mind reading when it comes to retroactive jealousy? 

Now, many retroactive jealousy sufferers fall into this pattern where they will gather certain facts about their partner’s past. They will often construct this meaning and significance around those facts that doesn’t necessarily correlate with the evidence. Often, their perception of their partner’s past differs from their partner’s experience and description of thei past. 

So you may learn something about your partner’s past and automatically assume that your partner is a certain type of person. Or, they’re falling into a certain pattern of thinking, which they aren’t necessarily. Because again, you’re not considering their entire history. You’re not considering their entire present. And, you’re not considering their entire past. You’re extrapolating meaning based on a tiny, tiny little portion of the evidence. 

And for those of you who come at me and say, “Well, Zach, I know about my partner’s entire past…” That may be true, but you’re probably not considering many years of patterns, you’re probably not truly considering the entire picture when you’re having an emotional response to your partner’s past. 

Another kind of jumping to conclusions involves something called fortune-telling.

Fortune-telling entails when you predict that events in the future will go down a certain way, again, usually based on only a limited amount of evidence.

So to go back to the retroactive jealousy example, or at least one of the common retroactive jealousy examples: let’s say there was a period in your partner’s life where they were relatively promiscuous, they were dating casually on a frequent basis. 

So on some level, you may be thinking, what if my partner falls back into that pattern? What if they fall back into that habit? What if they go back to that way of living their life? And of course, that’s a possibility, but it certainly isn’t predetermined. It certainly isn’t a guarantee. 

Jumping to conclusions
Jumping to conclusions

But on some level, you may be telling yourself “they’re definitely going to do this, it’s just a matter of time before they fall back into that pattern…”

So the challenger I would pose to you is: think hard about where you might be engaged in jumping to conclusions in your own life, whether it relates specifically to retroactive jealousy, or whether it relates to anything else.

I’m definitely guilty of this one, from time to time. Just ask anyone who spends time with me. I have a bad habit, sometimes, of jumping to conclusions or making meaning out of events where there isn’t necessarily the meaning or the interpretation that I have in mind. I can also sometimes assume the worst about people. I’m not proud to say that, but it’s true. 

I have a bad habit, sometimes, of always preparing myself for the worst.

And assuming someone’s going to act in a certain way just because I have, you know, this tiny little portion of data.

So you can journal about this, you can go meditate and reflect on this question. And again, I’m a big advocate for journaling. I really think it’s helpful to write this stuff down to gain some distance from your thoughts and see them in black and white. 

If you need more help with retroactive jealousy and cognitive distortions, 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, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.