In today’s video, I’d like to offer four tips for the partners of retroactive jealousy sufferers.

The partners of retroactive jealousy sufferers frequently write to me, and today, I’d like to offer a few (hopefully helpful) thoughts.

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: I just received an email from a student taking my online course Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast and I thought it’d be worthwhile to get into it here on YouTube.

M writes:

My girlfriend is wondering how she can support me as I work to overcome retroactive jealousy. I have told her it’s my problem and it’s best if I deal with it myself, but of course she still wants to support me but doesn’t know exactly how.

Over the years, I’ve received many questions to this effect.

In short, number one, I think it’s absolutely crucial that any retroactive jealousy sufferer owns their problem 100%.

That means: do not look to your partner to solve this problem for you.

And I often get absolutely heartbreaking emails from the partners of retroactive jealousy sufferers who want to solve this problem for their partner.

And retroactive jealousy does not work like that.

If there’s anything I can tell you over almost eight years working on this issue, thousands of emails, hundreds of one-on-one coaching clients, your partner cannot solve this problem for you if you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy.

So, absolutely crucial that I really make that clear right off the bat.

Aside from that, practical tips for the partners of retroactive jealousy sufferers:

My first tip for partners of retroactive jealousy sufferers is now is probably not a great time to have long extended conversations with your partner about your past.

I understand that you have a past, I understand you probably have funny stories and little anecdotes and things that you want to share with your partner about your past.

If your partner is serious about putting in the work to overcome retroactive jealousy, and they’re actually making real attempts to put this issue behind them to save your relationship, et cetera.

One way I believe, at least for now that you can support them is to not have long conversations about your past. Certainly not your dating history, anything like that.

One day, if your partner is really serious and committed and they put in the work, one day you will be able to have these conversations with your partner, but for now probably best to be as present as possible.

By as present as possible I mean, focus on what’s happening now, but in depth discussions about your previous dating history, your previous sexual experiences, et cetera… now is not a great time for that obviously.

My second tip is be sure to give your partner space and time to heal.

What I mean by this is, if your partner is actually serious about beating retroactive jealousy, if they’ve signed up for an online course, if they’re reading books, if they’ve scheduled an appointment with a therapist or a coach, if they are serious, they are going to need space and time to heal.

This means sometimes some space and time away from you, so they can focus on their goals, so they can focus on personal development activities.

So they can do the work, which is associated with overcoming retroactive jealousy.

And it’s essential that you don’t take this personally or think that they’re being distant for the sake of punishing you. Hopefully, they’re not doing that.

Hopefully, they’re actually taking space and time to heal and actually putt in the work on themselves. And it is absolutely essential in my view for every retroactive jealousy sufferer to take this time and space to heal apart from their relationship away from their partner.

Again, this comes back to the fact being that retroactive jealousy can only be solved by the sufferer.

You can’t solve this problem for them. And thus it’s on your partner to solve it for themselves.

And they’re going to need space and time away from you sometimes to start putting in the work so they can truly put retroactive jealousy behind them for good. Try not to take it personally.

Finally, I am a big fan of tough love now and then.

It’s great that you want to support your partner. It’s great that you’re patient, it’s great that you love your partner. It’s great that you really want to be there for them as they work to beat retroactive jealousy.

However, I can tell you, that many male retroactive jealousy sufferers frequently take their anger, take their frustration, take their retroactive jealousy rage out on their partner.

By doing things like constant questioning, starting unnecessary fights, making hurtful remarks, calling their partner names, any of these kinds of behaviors which are really just not a good idea, very hurtful counterproductive.

And by the way, I know that male retroactive jealousy sufferers do this because back, a million years ago, when I was dealing with retroactive jealousy, I was doing the same thing. I remain shameful about it, it’s not very pretty.

But anyway, many male retroactive jealousy sufferers lash out at their partner as they are confronting this little demon of retroactive jealousy.

If your partner is struggling with retroactive jealousy, and they’re doing this to you, number one, don’t tolerate abuse period, full stop, end of story.

If you’re in an abusive situation, get out. Be sure you’re making your safety and emotional wellbeing a priority. Don’t put up with any abuse, period.

Next, if your partner is struggling and maybe they’re a bit cranky sometimes, but it doesn’t count as abuse really, don’t be afraid sometimes to tell them, “Listen, this kind of treatment is not okay. If you keep doing this, there’s going to be real problems. I can’t take this anymore. I’m frustrated enough is enough.”

Say whatever you need to say to make it clear to your partner struggling with retroactive jealousy, that the fact that they’re struggling with retroactive jealousy is not their fault.

They’ve been dealt this weird hand that some of us have been dealt with where retroactive jealousy is an issue for them.

The fact that they’re struggling with this issue is not necessarily their fault.

However, they need to take ownership of their actions and it’s not okay for them to take out their anger, frustration, insecurity, whatever it is on you.

And I don’t believe it’s a bad idea now and then if it comes to this to tell your partner, “Look enough is enough. I’m not going to put up with this forever. The fact that you’re struggling with this is not your fault, but take ownership of your actions, take ownership of your words. And I’m not going to put up with anything that verges on abuse.”

Finally, on a much lighter note, I think having fun is really important.

So try to inject your relationship with a bit of a lighter energy, go out and do fun things. Go bowling or go dancing or whatever you and your partner do that’s light, that’s fun, that isn’t too heavy, that isn’t going to provoke all kinds of heavy discussions.

More of this energy can be really, really good when one is working toward overcoming retroactive jealousy.

Probably not a great idea to watch super depressing, intense, dramatic films right now. Probably not a great idea again, to have all kinds of really, really deep, intense conversations about the future of the relationship right now or whatever it is.

Light, playful, energy having fun with your partner is a really great idea for both of you right now.

So I’d strongly encourage you in so far as you can to inject your relationship with a bit more lighthearted, fun energy, so you can support your partner as they work to overcome retroactive jealousy.


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.