In today’s video, I respond to S, who writes “my girlfriend’s past made my feelings change.”

“My girlfriend’s past made my feelings change” is a surprisingly common complaint among male retroactive jealousy sufferers.

Watch the video to learn more:

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: So this is a fairly common occurrence where someone’s dealing with retroactive jealousy and their feelings for their partner change.

They might feel less of a sex drive, sexual attraction for their partner.

They might feel slightly annoyed by them.

They might feel like they’re not quite sure if they want to stay in the relationship or not.

This can take on a variety of different forms.

Maybe you tell me “my girlfriend’s past made my feelings change,” but your feelings can change in many different ways.

And S didn’t mention whether or not he’d actually put in the work to overcome retroactive jealousy or not, so I’m kind of winging it here in my response.

But if you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy and your feelings for your partner are changing, my view is that there’s one of three things going on, one of three possibilities.

So the first possibility is that maybe you are realizing on a deep level that your partner does not share your values and, thus, maybe you’d be better off in a different relationship.

Maybe you’re sensing that there’s a real deal breaker issue in your relationship or perhaps in your partner’s past.

Maybe the more you’ve delved into their past, maybe you’re realizing that, you know what, you and your partner are not actually compatible and, thus, you’d be better off in a different relationship.

This is the minority of cases, in my view, when I get these emails where people say that their feelings for their partner are changing.

More often than not, this is not the reason, but it is important for me to emphasize that sometimes if your feelings are changing for your girlfriend, for your wife, for your boyfriend or your husband, sometimes this is not irrational retroactive jealousy.

Sometimes this is indicative of a gulf between your values and your partner’s values.

The second possibility is that if you’ve started to put in the work toward overcoming retroactive jealousy, and you find your feelings for your partner are changing a bit, or they’re not quite the same, or maybe they wax and wane a little bit, this is very normal.

This is, in my view, your brain adjusting to a new reality in which you’re actively working to confront the intrusive thoughts to confront the negative ways of thinking to actively work to overcome retroactive jealousy.

Your brain is struggling in some ways to come to terms with this new reality, these new tools, these new exercises, these new perspectives that maybe you’re taking on, and it’s an uncertain period for your brain.

Because maybe you’ve been racked with these obsessive, jealous thoughts, these intrusive thoughts, obsessive curiosity. Maybe you’ve been racked with this stuff for months.

As I’ve discussed in other videos maybe you’ve already seen, sometimes it can take some time for our brain to adjust to this new reality.

So if you sense that might be the case that there’s no real gulf in values between you and your partner, there’s no deal breaker issue from your partner’s past, and you’re actively working to overcome retroactive jealousy and you’re feeling this way, my advice is just give it time, be patient, continue to commit to all the exercises, all the perspectives, all the practices, which I outlined in my online course, in my books, and in other places such as my YouTube channel.

Give it time, continue to work, and you’ll find that your brain, sooner or later, should start to return to a state of equilibrium.

Your feelings for your partner will return and maybe even grow in terms of your love, your attachment, your desire for them.

Give it time, and I’m confident that as long as you continue to put in the work to overcome retroactive jealousy, your feelings should return back to the way they were before, and you’ll probably even develop a deeper sense of love and appreciation for your partner the more work you put in to overcome retroactive jealousy.

Feeling like “my girlfriend’s past made my feelings change” will become a thing of the past.

The third possibility is a phenomenon called the madonna-whore complex.

The madonna-whore complex, in essence, relates to men who, generally speaking, see women as either the Madonna, the loving maternal figure, the graceful angel feminine figure, or the whore, the woman who’s the porn star, or the stripper, or the prostitute, or whatever.

They kind of, on some level, even if it’s only subconscious, separate women into these two categories.

Needless to say, this is really detrimental to living a good life, to enjoying relationships with women. This leads to all kinds of problems and complications.

So sometimes guys struggle with this, this Madonna-whore complex in relation to retroactive jealousy, and maybe their feelings for their partner are changing because maybe they’re taking their partner off the pedestal that they had once placed them on.

So many guys do this where they elevate their girlfriend or wife to this angelic figure, like she’s my queen or she’s my princess, or a line that I get in emails all the time that makes me cringe, “I treated her like a queen, like my queen,” this kind of thing.

I encourage men to take women off that pedestal.

This is not to demonize them. This is not to put them in the whore category or anything like that.

But just to see your partner as a human being, as a human being with a sex drive, as a human being who makes mistakes and poor choices, and is learning, and growing, and trying to figure life out, just like the rest of us.

So sometimes this change in feelings for a girlfriend or wife is a result of the Madonna-whore complex, where we maybe had our partner up on a pedestal for a long time, maybe we find some things out about their past that we don’t necessarily like, then we take them off the pedestal.

All of a sudden, they’re no longer than Madonna, we treat them like a whore.

We put them in the whore category, and this can cause us to be unsure of how we really see them, unsure of our feelings for them.

Needless to say, I think overcoming the Madonna-whore complex is absolutely critical for any man.

It’s crucial to realize that women are human beings. They’re entitled to their own mistakes, their own lapses in judgment, whatever. This is not to excuse if there’s a real deal breaker in your relationship.

By no means am I trying to suggest that you should overlook red flags and all that stuff. Absolutely not.

My suggestion is merely to see your partner as a human being. See your partner as a mammal. See your partner as an independent entity entitled to her own mistakes, her own triumphs, her own growth, her own figuring her way out in the world, and to take women off the pedestal that you might be putting them on.

I guarantee, your relationships will be much more enjoyable if you take women off this pedestal that I know many men placed them on.

To sum everything up, if you tell me “my girlfriend’s past made my feelings change,” I believe that putting in the work to overcome retroactive jealousy is absolutely critical if you want to live a happy, normal life.

Putting in the work to overcome retroactive jealousy, I believe, will not only save your relationship with your partner and maybe save your feelings for them, but actually reinvigorate your relationship.

You’ll return to your relationship energized and excited about the future, and open to planning a future with them. So put in the work to overcome retroactive jealousy, and more likely than not, your feelings for your girlfriend will go back to normal. They’ll probably even grow over time.

Click here to learn more about my online course for overcoming retroactive jealousy, “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast.”


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.