In today’s video, I’m going to talk about two questions that you can ask yourself if you’re wondering “Do my partner and I have different values?”

“Help! My partner and I have different values” is a common theme in emails I receive from retroactive jealousy sufferers.

But is it really that simple? Is retroactive jealousy always an indication of misaligned values?

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: I often have coaching calls with people who are struggling with the question of their partner’s values.

They’re struggling with the thought that perhaps their partner’s past demonstrates that they’re not a good fit for a relationship. They’re worried there might be a serious mismatch in values there.

And they’re not sure whether they’re struggling with irrational retroactive jealousy, or something real, something truly problematic; something from their partner’s past that is a glaring red flag for lack of a better term.

And this is a really big topic.

It’s tough for me to provide a kind of nutshell answer to how to determine whether or not you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy or conflicting values. There’s a lot to get into when it comes to this issue.

This is why one hour or a series of one hour coaching calls is. In my view, really the best way to get to the bottom of this issue.

A series of conversations in which we can have an open dialogue. We can ask each other questions. We can kind of help you dig into what your goals are in your relationship.

What is the relationship dynamic more generally?

What are some red flags that maybe you’re even overlooking? Et cetera, et cetera.

But for the purpose of this video, and just to give you something to chew on maybe, if you’re struggling with this question, here are two questions or two ideas, which I’d like to present to you.

The first question I would pose to you, if you’re struggling with this question of values is:

If you tell me “my partner and I have different values,” in your calmest of moments, how do you see your partner’s past?

In your calmest of moments, is this still a glaring red flag for you?

In your calmest of moments, when you’re thinking clearly, when you’re feeling good, when you’re feeling calm and relaxed, how do you see this particular incident or series of incidents from your partner’s past?

Is this still a deal-breaker, when you’re feeling good, when you’re well-rested, when you’re not under the influence of drugs and alcohol and you’re thinking clearly; is this still a potential deal-breaker for you?

It’s crucial for me to stress that, you really should ask yourself this question, frame it in the terms of thinking about you and your perspective, in your calmest of moments.

Because any retroactive jealousy sufferer watching this video knows how much retroactive jealousy can completely warp and distort our perspective, can completely alter what we think of as right or wrong.

So it’s crucial to emphasize that, just kind of reflect on this during your calmest of moments and perhaps reflect on this question over a series of days or even weeks.

When you’re feeling good, when you’re out with your friends or when you’re engaged in something that makes you feel good, how do you see your partner’s past in these moments?

Don’t always be thinking about your partner’s past in your worst darkest, most challenging moments. Kind of just play with it a little bit when you’re thinking clearly when you’re feeling good.

Now, don’t use this as an excuse to keep testing yourself and see, am I still struggling with retroactive jealousy today? Am I still struggling with retroactive jealousy tomorrow? That’s not what I’m suggesting.

My suggestion is, try to think about your partner’s past or think about how you would feel about your partner’s past during moments when you’re feeling calm, when you’re feeling grounded, when you’re feeling good.

My second suggestion is, try to imagine your best friend.

Try to imagine your best friend and think about if they were in basically the same relationship you are in, with basically the same partner that you are with. This can be kind of a tricky thing. It’s kind of weird to think about your best friend dating your current partner, telling you “my partner and I have different values.”

If you want, you can imagine a different person, a different partner for your friend; but with an identical sexual history, dating history, relationship history to your partner. Basically imagine that your best friend is facing the same problem that you’re facing. Dealing with a partner whose past presents some issues, shall we say.

And then try to imagine that your best friend came to you for advice.

They presented the case, they presented the scenario, they presented the particular struggle they’re dealing with, and then ask yourself, what advice would I give my best friend in this scenario?

Would I tell my best friend to run for the hills?

Would I tell my best friend that there’s a bunch of glaring red flags here, and my friend would probably be better served in a different relationship?

Or, would you tell your best friend to be patient?

Would you tell your best friend that maybe they’re overreacting?

Would you tell your best friend that, “You don’t have really anything to worry about here. Everything’s fine, just give it some time. And eventually this person’s character will reveal itself.”

What would you tell your best friend, if they were dealing with the same scenario that you’re dealing with?

It can be a really interesting little mental trick to change your perspective, to get you thinking about the situation slightly differently.

And again, consider this question, this best friend hypothesis, this imaginary best friend scenario, during your calmest moments, when you’re feeling good, when you’re feeling grounded, when you’re not super stressed, when it’s not a serious anxiety attack or anything like that.

In your calmest moments, what would you tell your best friend if they were struggling with the same question of values that you’re struggling with? If they told you “my partner and I have different values,” would you believe them, based on the evidence?

If you need help getting to the bottom of your retroactive jealousy, if you’d like to talk to someone who actually gets it, someone who’s been doing this and coaching retroactive jealousy sufferers since 2013 with hundreds and hundreds of one-on-one coaching under my belt, frankly, I think at this point I know pretty well what works and what doesn’t, when it comes to coaching retroactive jealousy sufferers.

If you’re interested in one-on-one coaching, I’d love the chance to connect with you.

If you’re reading this, it probably means that there are slots available in my one-on-one coaching program.

So click here to learn more about working with me one-on-one.

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.