In today’s video, I’m going to talk about retroactive jealousy and sex.

So, what is a good way to start thinking about retroactive jealousy and sex?

Zachary Stockill: Being in this position, being the retroactive jealousy guy for so long, I get a lot of emails and feedback from retroactive jealousy sufferers.

A question that I get quite a bit relates to sex. This is mostly from men, but some women as well. There’s some event from the girlfriend’s past, often a sexual event.

Whether it’s some sexual experience that she had in her past, maybe the guy’s a virgin, or he’s a guy who’s been with all kinds of women. And, he’s kind of trying to wrap his head around, like, what is the meaning of sex?

A lot of confusion over the significance of certain sexual experiences.

So, people ask what do I think about sex? How to deal with retroactive jealousy and sex?

I kind of see sex, like food. You can have different experiences of dining that are so different. Even though they’re both technically food, and they’re both technically dining.

For example, you can get drunk at 2:30 in the morning, be stumbling home from the bar, walk past McDonald’s, or walk past a fast-food restaurant, and get a big cheeseburger, fries, and a coke. You eat this food, you kind of just inhale it, because you’re drunk and you’re hungry. And maybe the next morning, you kind of regret that decision. Maybe you have some indigestion, or it’s extra calories that you didn’t need. You kind of look at that and say, “Oh, that was a really dumb idea. Why did I do that?”

Retroactive Jealousy and Sex

And then, you move on.

You basically don’t remember that experience at all. It’s something that happened one night when you were 22. And that experience is gone to your memory, not interesting, not satisfying, and certainly not particularly noteworthy for any reason.

Now, let’s fast forward a bit. You can go out to an amazing five-star restaurant with the love of your life sitting across the table. And you can have an absolutely immaculate, incredible 12-course meal, with amazing imported French wines and good bread and cheese that’s just heavenly. It just feels like it was created on another planet, so delicious. The ambiance, there are nice candles in the restaurant and the music is just perfect for this particular occasion. And the restaurant is so comfortable. It’s just nice.

I mean, meals and everything come together so beautifully. Whether it’s your company, the night air, food, and the wine, it’s just an overload for your senses. That kind of changes who you are, as a human being.

You remember that night for the rest of your life.

And maybe, this evening brings you closer to the company that you’re sharing this with. And both of you have that connection.

Now both of these experiences that I described, are technically the same thing. McDonald’s at 3 am, drunk with your buddies, and having a life-changing 12-course meal at a five-star restaurant.

Both of these experiences are still technically eating and dining, but they’re so different. They’re so profoundly different, that they almost don’t belong in the same category.

Now, is sex more significant than eating? Of course, it is.

Sex and eating are not the same. Having sex is a bigger deal than having a hamburger. And if you dig back into your own personal history, think of a one-night stand, a sloppy, one-night stand that you had. It was kind of a bad idea and it wasn’t satisfying. It was awkward and didn’t really do anything for you.

Compare that with an amazing night of mind-blowing, tantric lovemaking with your long-term partner, with the love of your life. Looking deeply into each other’s eyes and feeling like your bodies are melding and gazing into each other’s souls.

These two experiences, almost don’t belong in the same category, even though they’re both technically sex. This is kind of the way that I see sex. And when you look at sex like this, it becomes easier to make peace with the past, whether it’s your own past or your partner’s past.

It becomes easier to make peace with things that don’t matter anymore.

It becomes easier to overlook a mistake from our partner’s past because it was 10 years ago and it doesn’t matter anymore.

Look at the experience we’re sharing right now. Why are you wasting all this time thinking about when your girlfriend went to McDonald’s 10 years ago, and drunkenly regretted that kind of thing.

Retroactive Jealousy and Sex

Now, if you see sex as the 12-course dining experience, if you see sex only as a profound spiritual melding of souls, and you don’t want anyone who’s ever had the McDonald’s at 3AM. Your options are probably going to be kind of limited.

Depending on where in the world you live, because most of us have had McDonald’s at 2:30 in the morning.

Sex that in some ways, later, we kind of regret.

But if you’ve only had McDonald’s for a few years, and then you have a 12-course meal, chances are pretty good. You’re going to appreciate the 12-course meal far more than you would if you didn’t have all of the crappy McDonald’s experiences.

In other words, some of our lesser sexual experiences, some of our regrets, perhaps some of our mistakes around our past can help us appreciate the amazing sexual connection. The amazing sex we have with our partner, more than we would have otherwise. For some of us, it’s important to have that perspective.

It’s important to have no mistakes so we can appreciate the good stuff even more. So we can appreciate the incredible partner we have in our life.

Some of us need that perspective, certainly not everyone, but a lot of us do. It’s important if you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy to really make up your own mind. And think about how you view sex.

And frankly, for some of you, start experimenting with some slightly different paradigms. Some slightly different perspectives on sex, because what you’re looking for might not actually be what you want.

In order to handle retroactive jealousy and sex, number one, be honest with yourself.

And, number two, most of us have some experiences in our past, which we’re not particularly proud of, and those experiences made us who we are today.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a 12-course meal over McDonald’s any day.

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.