In today’s Q & A video I respond to Collette, who is struggling with retroactive jealousy in a long-distance relationship.

Collette is not alone. Many people struggle with retroactive jealousy in a long-distance relationship.

Thankfully, there is a clear path forward.

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: Collette writes,

Can you talk about how to overcome retroactive jealousy in a long-distance relationship?

Okay, Colette, I have a lot to say about long-distance relationships, so it’s going to be a struggle to keep this one brief.

The first thing I’ll say is that everything I outlined in my online course, in my guidebook, all of this stuff is still equally valid, equally applicable if you’re in a long distance relationship.

There are some additional challenges, which we’ll get to in a moment.

However, many people taking my online course are in long-distance relationships or years ago when they took the course they were in long-distance relationships, and the course and all of my material works just as well for them. So there aren’t any real differences between overcoming retroactive jealousy in a normal relationship and in a long distance relationship. So you don’t really have a lot to worry about there.

That said, additional challenges:

Personally, I think sometimes people take this idea of everyone having a different love language too far. However, there is something to this idea that we each have one love language that is more important to us, or we place more emphasis on than others, and one of the love languages is physical touch.

Frankly, I think if physical touch is at the top of your list of your love languages, I think any long distance relationship is going to be very, very challenging.

So, for example, I’ve taken this test several times, and every time I take the test, it’s very clear that I am a big fan of physical touch. That’s number one for my love languages by a mile. Thus, someone like me would find long distance relationships pretty much impossible.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, for asking the question I’m sure you know, but long distance relationships in the best of times are very, very, very challenging, but they’re even more challenging for people whose main love language is physical touch.

So look into that. Look into the love languages, see where you stand on that stuff. See where you fit in, and be honest with yourself if maybe you’re just not entirely cut out for long distance relationships, because I do believe that they’re probably not for most people. I think they’re very, very tough.

Now, it gets easier if there’s a definitive end date on your long distance relationship.

In other words, we’re only going to be long distance for three months or six months, or, hopefully not, but maybe a year, at the very, very maximum, then I think it’s doable.

I realize with this current coronavirus pandemic, apocalypse, end times that we’re all going through, I realize this might not be possible.

It might not be possible to have an end date on your long-distance relationship, but I do think having an end date in terms of when you’re going to see each other again is extremely important if you’re going to try a long-distance relationship.

I’ll also say that if you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy in long distance relationship, chances are good that you have a little more free time on your hands than the average person in the relationship simply by virtue of the fact that your lover is separated from you by physical distance.

Thus, what’s that phrase?

“Idle hands are the devil’s play things.”

When you have free time to yourself, you might be more inclined to go down the retroactive jealousy rabbit hole and start stalking them on social media or stalking their exes on social media or doing any number of really counterproductive, destructive things as it applies to your retroactive jealousy. So be really conscious of that.

Make sure your schedule is filled.

Make sure you’re filling your time up with productive, healthy, enjoyable activities that don’t have anything to do with feeding the retroactive jealousy demon.

I’ll also say that I think when you’re in a long distance relationship, it kind of ups the stakes, so to speak, for every communication you have with them.

For example, if you have a nightly phone call and you have a fight about retroactive jealousy or you start questioning them about their past or whatever, you don’t have much of a chance to make it right, so to speak, and to apologize and try to work things out because maybe they’re going to bed and maybe they’re in a different time zone.

When you’re separated by physical distance, it’s very difficult to connect sometimes and, thus, I think you should be even more conscious that you’re not bringing retroactive jealousy into your relationship; that you’re not feeding the retroactive jealousy demon by asking your partner more questions, by doing any number of things, or lashing out at them in some ways, or harassing them about their past, doing any of these things that retroactive jealousy sufferers were all too prone to do.

I’ve done long distance for very brief periods in my life and, again, I’m a physical touch guy so I found it very, very challenging. So my heart goes out to you. I hope you find ways to stay busy.

I think the best tip, again, I can give you is to really fill your calendar. Fill it with productive, enjoyable, healthy activities that get you closer to being the best person you can be, move you closer toward your goals.

Make sure you have a very full life outside of your relationship, because if you’re looking to your relationship to fill up your life, you really can’t do that, even if you’re in the same place with someone, and you can’t do that when you’re separated by distance either.

It makes things even more challenging, puts even more pressure on your retroactive jealousy in a long-distance relationship.

One last point I’ll mention is being long distance is actually somewhat of an advantage when it comes to dealing with retroactive jealousy.

Again, I do not mean to underplay the difficulty, the struggle involved in any long-distance relationship. I know it’s very tough.

But what I mean by a certain advantage is it’s almost like, well, I don’t know if anyone watching this has had this experience, but if you go a certain period of time without seeing someone and you lose weight in between the time you’ve seen them, when they see you again they’re kind of surprised and they puff you up a little bit like, “Hey, you look great. You lost a bunch of weight. You look so much better than the last time I saw you.”

Whereas if they were seeing you every day in the flesh, they would see your progression very gradually. When you see them after an extended period, it’s like a bigger surprise because there’s this gap between when they saw you at your worst or at your heaviest and when they’re seeing you when you’re looking good, you’ve lost some weight.

I think it can kind of be similar when you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy in a long distance relationship, in that your partner might have some negative memories associated with the last time they saw you.

Maybe you were questioning them about their past. Maybe you were really anxious and insecure and tense and all this stuff, all of these symptoms that we tend to associate with retroactive jealousy.

When you’re apart from them, number one, you have hopefully, probably, more time by yourself, which equals more time to devote to overcoming retroactive jealousy, which is a huge advantage. You’re not feeling this pressure to get this done or to segment your recovery process into these little chunks of spare time.

Generally speaking, you probably have a little more free time, which is actually a really good thing, when you’re working to overcome retroactive jealousy and you need to devote that dedicated time to this process of overcoming retroactive jealousy.

Number two, when you finally do reconnect with your partner and you’re reunited, the difference, if you do everything right, if you really put in the work to overcome retroactive jealousy as I lay out in my book and course and beyond, if you really do put in the work, and then you see your partner again, they’re probably going to notice a substantial difference between the version of you before and after you worked to overcome this problem.

It’s probably going to be very, very clear. You put in a lot of work on yourself, maybe you’re more confident, you’re more self assured. You have all the tools you need to handle anything they might throw at you, and you’re not worried about their past and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All this will make you much more attractive to them.

Thus, it’s actually kind of a good thing that you have this time and space apart from them to really work on yourself and get this problem handled before you see them again.

I wish you luck, I wish you strength, and I thank you for your question.

Click here to learn more about my online course for overcoming retroactive jealousy, “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast.”


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.