Hope you’re ready for some tough love. So, let me tell you:

Wondering why retroactive jealousy destroying your relationship? It’s not a question of “maybe” — it will happen, it’s simply a matter of time.

“You don’t even know me,” you might retort. That’s true, but I know that if you suffer from retroactive jealousy you’ve got a problem you need to solve, or your relationship will end. “What makes you so sure?” you might ask.

I’ll give you five reasons.

1.) Jealousy telegraphs insecurity.

Now hear this: jealousy telegraphs insecurity. Insecurity kills attraction. No attraction = no relationship, at least not for long.

2.) Without a steady supply of fun, the relationship will wither and die.

Retroactive jealousy is no fun, for you or your partner. I hold the opinion that fun is an essential prerequisite to a healthy, happy relationship. Simple fun. Stupid fun. Sexy fun. Whatever you want to call it, I believe that all healthy romantic relationships share a certain joie de vivre.

Decaying relationships noticeably lack this fun and playful spirit, which always results in a bitter dissolution taking anywhere from a couple of days to a year.

The simple truth is that if you’re not having fun in your relationship, it will end. Besides, ask yourself — if you’re not having any fun, what’s the point of the relationship in the first place?

3.) Mutual resentment is building.

Even if you’re not entirely conscious of it, retroactive jealousy results in mutual resentment.

If your partner is aware of your RJ, on some level they resent you for putting them through days, weeks, months, or even years of constant anxiety, shame, depression, insecurity, and pain. Certainly, retroactive jealousy destroying your relationship.

It is likely that these negative feelings toward you will resurface at some point later in your relationship, even if you manage to overcome your jealousy. It should be obvious, then, that it is in your best interests to get your jealousy handled ASAP to minimize your partner’s resentment as much as you can.

Even if you are not wholly conscious of it, your RJ is also making you resent your partner. On some level, resentment toward your partner for “putting you through” the awful experience of RJ (even though they most certainly did not) is building.

Even though RJ is your problem, and not your partner’s, it makes sense for a certain amount of resentment to be building as their past relationships/sexual history was the instigator of your pain.

You don’t want this resentment to keep building, as it will lead to major problems in your relationship down the line.

4.) Mutual trust is dissolving.

Retroactive jealousy almost always rears its ugly head in serious, loving relationships. Trust is essential in a committed relationship. When we enter a committed relationship, there is a certain expectation that our partner will not hurt us, cheat on us, etc. Of course, some degree of hurt is natural in any relationship, but most of us will not tolerate cheating, deception, lying, etc. from our partners (or at least I hope not).

As sufferers of retroactive jealousy, our partner’s past causes us an immense amount of pain and suffering.

What’s more, it often feels like our partner is cheating on us, as we replay over and over again in our head vivid scenes from our partner’s past.

We read way too much into the way our partner talks about their past, and it often feels like our partner is screwing around with other people right now — even though our rational brain recognizes that isn’t so.

Our brain plays tricks on us, and it sometimes feels like our partner is cheating on us, wants to cheat, etc. based on our made-up mental images of their past, leading a dissolution of trust on our part.

For our partners it’s even worse. For most of us, when we enter a committed relationship, there is a certain expectation that we are “accepted,” warts and all: our past, our mistakes, our triumphs, our growth, our journey.

As sufferers of RJ, we violate this trust on a daily basis when we share our pain with our partner, leading them to believe that they are most definitely not accepted for who they really are, including their past. This leads to a gradual dissolution of trust.

It’s difficult — often impossible — to regain one’s trust once it is lost.

5.) Jealousy telegraphs insecur…

Oh, right. Covered that one already. But seriously — it’s really important.


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.