In today’s video, Georgia asks: “Once someone recovers from retroactive jealousy, do they still occasionally get the obsessive thoughts? Or are they completely recovered?”

Obsessive thoughts about girlfriend’s past, wife’s past, husband’s past, or boyfriend’s past are absolutely possible to overcome. I’m living proof.

Zachary Stockill: When I talk about overcoming retroactive jealousy, the number one thing that is in my mind is being stronger than retroactive jealousy. Gaining the upper hand on retroactive jealousy and really establishing the right habits, practices, perspectives, techniques that will help you keep retroactive jealousy at bay over a long period of time.

I’ve considered myself to be free of retroactive jealousy for probably about a decade now. And in subsequent relationships, I’ve had the occasional jealous pain, like a moment when you’re with your partner, and you feel just a slight moment of tension or curiosity.

obsessive thoughts about girlfriend's past

But it’s important to emphasize that usually, it’s very slight. And when I have those pains and moments, I immediately think that this isn’t reality. This isn’t something that’s bigger and stronger than me. And, this annoying little demon retroactive jealousy, I can flick it away.

So, how to overcome obsessive thoughts about girlfriend’s past?

I’ve talked to other students in my online course, as well as one on one coaching clients who have successfully overcome retroactive jealousy, and they kind of describe it the same way.

They might occasionally get the odd jealous pang. But really, that’s all it is. It’s just a brief moment.

They have all the tools, practices, and techniques. They have all the knowledge they need to be stronger and bigger than that pang. And, they can usually proceed on with their day pretty quickly. It’s important to emphasize that these moments are very occasional.

And I have received other notes from people who tell me that, once they overcame retroactive jealousy, it basically became just a complete non factor in their lives.

I would say, I’m virtually the same. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll never have another jealous pang again, or I’ll never have another one of those moments.

It’s almost like post traumatic stress.

obsessive thoughts about girlfriend's past

For example, like war veterans, after the war, they have the occasional dream of war, or they have any other moment where it’s like the same fight or flight response. Their lives are peaceful, everything’s cool, but they went through a somewhat traumatic experience. The tension is still there, they remember their past experience. Again, not to dramatize things too much. I’m certainly not trying to compare myself to a war veteran, but retroactive jealousy can be pretty darn traumatic, as most of you watching this video, probably know.

So it takes some time to get past that trauma and really adjust to a new life. The longer the period in which you’ve overcome retroactive jealousy, you start adjusting to this new reality more and more. And the worry or the anticipation of, “Oh my God, what if it comes back? Or what if I have more?”. That sort of fades away as well.

As long as you keep up your personal development, and you keep doing everything that works, more than likely, you’ll be fine.

The more time that passes after you overcome retroactive jealousy, the more you adjust to this new way of life.

And let me tell you, it’s pretty darn nice. I often compare retroactive jealousy to easing 100 pounds of weight off your back, kind of one brick at a time. Everything feels better and you can sleep better.

You can enjoy your relationships more and your sex life improves. Your general disposition is just a bit more mellow, more chill, and you can just enjoy your life a lot more.

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.