In today’s video, I’m going to talk about what I believe to be the top-4 biggest retroactive jealousy lies and misconceptions.

Read or watch below to discover the biggest retroactive jealousy lies.

Zachary Stockill: There are a lot of misconceptions out there about retroactive jealousy. I think there’s a certain type of person who finds this term retroactive jealousy, and they don’t do a lot of further digging, they don’t do a lot of further research. They don’t do a lot of further introspection. They take this term, they run away with it. And they use a self-diagnosis of retroactive jealousy as an excuse to adopt some pretty destructive, counterproductive beliefs and habits. And if you buy into any of these four misconceptions about retroactive jealousy, there’s a very, very good chance that you’re never going to heal. That you’re never going to move on from retroactive jealousy, you’re always going to be dealing with this in some form or another. 

So in today’s video, I’m going to share what I believe to be the top four misconceptions about retroactive jealousy.

The first and possibly most popular and most damaging and detrimental misconception about retroactive jealousy is that a diagnosis of retroactive jealousy means “I’m a victim,” means “I can adopt a victim mentality. I found this term retroactive jealousy. So it is what it is, I’m a victim, and there’s nothing I can do about it. This is who I am, this is my diagnosis, and I can’t change it. That’s it.” And of course, I hope if you’ve been watching my channel for any length of time, you know that’s nonsense, right? 

The fact that you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy does not mean that you’re defined by this problem, does not mean that you’re destined to live with this problem forever. 

retroactive jealousy lies

And furthermore, are you going to let this problem, let this challenge define you? Or alternatively, are you going to define your response to this challenge? The choice truly is yours. And if you want a different way of framing this whole issue, this whole question of victimization, victim mentality: Do you want to be a victim? Or do you want to be a survivor? Do you want to be passive? Or do you want to be proactive? Do you want to be active? Or do you want to be reactive? Do you want to make decisions? Or do you want life to just come at you, and you have to deal with the consequences? I’m being firm here. I’m being harsh, but I’m doing this for a reason. 

Because I see this happening all the time. And I’ve been seeing this happening for almost 10 years now, of working on this issue, people who define themselves as a victim, they just say, “I’ve been dealing with this for so long, there’s no hope. There’s no hope of change, nothing can happen.” And if that sounds like you, if you identify with being a victim, you just think hope is lost…

Two questions for you. Number one, do you really want to overcome this problem? Now, some of you watching this, you’re going to throw your phone across the room, you’re going to unsubscribe to my channel, you’re going to send me a nasty email. Anyway, you’re going to have a strong response to that question. 

And I get it. I’m trying to be provocative here. Because it’s a good question to ask yourself. Sometimes, if you’re dealing with a problem, and you feel stuck with it, you feel stuck with this problem, ask yourself:

Do I really want to solve this problem? Because sometimes in life, the answer is no. 

Sometimes this problem is filling a need for you. Sometimes it’s adding meaning to your life. It’s adding excitement to your life, it’s adding drama to your life, a sense of importance to your life. It’s letting you feel like a victim. And there’s a certain comfort in defining yourself as a victim.

Because some people think of victimization, they think of being a victim, as this passive thing like, “well, there’s nothing I can do. I’m a victim, right?” And some people take comfort in that. It’s a big, big mistake if you actually want to move on with this problem. If you don’t want to move on from retroactive jealousy, please unsubscribe to my channel. I don’t know why you’re wasting your time. So I hope the answer is yes to that question. But if the answer’s no, you don’t actually want to solve this problem. It’s really worthwhile going away for a while thinking about that. “Why don’t I want to solve this problem? And how can I change some of those beliefs?”

My second question for you is, 

if you’re defining yourself as a victim, what have you actively done to change? What steps have you actually taken? 

What have you actually done to fix this problem? And I mean that seriously: what have you actually tried? I got an email recently from someone. He signed up for my online course, Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast, I don’t know a few months ago, something like that. Emailing me saying, “Zach, I feel hopeless and there’s no way out, and I just feel totally hopeless. I’m just, I’m destined to live with this issue forever.”

And I emailed him back, and I said, “Okay, well, how much of the course have you gone through?” He responded to me. “Oh, I haven’t started the course.” Do I have to say anything else?

If you take the steps good things will come and…

If you maintain a victim mentality, if you don’t engage in any change, don’t try new things, you’re going to stay stuck exactly where you are. 

So if you take away nothing else from this video, reject the victim mentality, and work toward being a survivor instead.

The second misconception I see all the time that drives me crazy is people using retroactive jealousy as an excuse to treat their partner poorly. 

So there’s a certain subset of people who find my work, they find this term retroactive jealousy, they find someone else’s work. And again, they don’t dig a little deeper. They don’t engage in any introspection, any real learning, they don’t really engage in any real change around this issue. They diagnose themselves with retroactive jealousy, and they abuse their partner emotionally. They harass their partner with questions about their past, they act like complete jerks to their partner, which by the way, I absolutely did once upon a time, I want to make that clear. 

But anyway, I used to do this once upon a time I see a lot of other people doing this as well, where they diagnose themselves, they think “there’s no hope,” and they just continue to lash out at their partner, treat them poorly, sometimes abuse them emotionally. 

A diagnosis of retroactive jealousy, if you’ve diagnosed yourself with this issue, does not give you permission to continue treating your partner poorly. 

Because again, you have control over your choices, over your actions. You can try new things. You have 100% control. You can change your decisions, you can change your mental state, you can even change your thoughts whenever you want. It really is as simple as that.

It takes some practice, it takes some work. But the point is to not use a diagnosis of retroactive jealousy as an excuse to treat your partner poorly. It doesn’t serve anyone. And let me tell you from personal experience: if you continue doing this, you’ll do a tremendous amount of damage to the relationship, damage that has the potential to be irreversible. And what’s more, you’ll also just feel guilty and lousy about yourself later on. 

If you actually don’t put in the work to change your victim mentality and take the steps to beat retroactive jealousy, this will come back to haunt you later on. Don’t use this as an excuse to treat your partner poorly. There’s literally no excuse for it. On the flip side of that. 

The third misconception about retroactive jealousy is that it’s not an excuse to stay in a toxic relationship. 

retroactive jealousy lies

In other words, if you’re in a relationship, and your partner is treating you poorly, and maybe their past has glaring red flags, more red flags than a Chinese parade… If they’re serious red flags and your partner’s past, the relationship is toxic, and you’ve identified that, but you’re still working on your issue, while your partner has all kinds of issues that they haven’t touched…. They’re not taking ownership of their responsibility in the relationship, etc. then you can’t fix that. 

And if you feel that your partner doesn’t share your values, the relationship is toxic, they’re treating you poorly, their past is a glaring red flag… Then don’t stay in the relationship. It really is as simple as that. Sometimes breaking up is absolutely the right move, as I often say on this channel. Not all retroactive jealousy is irrational. A lot of it is, and that represents the majority of viewers on this channel. 

But there are some people who find my work and they decide, “you know what? My partner’s past is actually a real problem. They don’t share my values, the relationship is messed up for all kinds of reasons.” And if so, move on. Try to be kind and try to be empathetic as you do so, but make that choice. Don’t torture yourself endlessly for months or years longer if you genuinely feel like your partner does not share your values. If their past is actually a deal-breaker, move on. It’s really okay. 

Finally, I’ve saved the rarest misconception for last, but it still comes up with surprising frequency, at least to my mind…

The fourth misconception about retroactive jealousy is: “retroactive jealousy means that I can never have a relationship, or I can never have a happy relationship. I just have to be single because I struggle with retroactive jealousy. It is what it is. And that’s it.”

If you feel that way, I get it. I had certain moments, very dark moments, a long time ago where I entertained similar thoughts briefly, but those thought thoughts did cross my mind. If you feel that way…

Number one, my heart goes out to you because that’s a horrible way to feel. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. That’s a pretty lonely and hopeless feeling, I’m sure, that you’re experiencing. But it’s nonsense. Because people like me and a small army of other retroactive jealousy survivors will tell you that it is absolutely possible to work your way through this issue, to move on with your life, to enjoy an incredible relationship with an incredible person and have fun. 

It’s possible to truly enjoy your life and relationship, and have babies, and stay together happily for decades on end, and all the rest. It really is possible. All hope is not lost. 

retroactive jealousy lies

And do you really want to live the rest of your life without the joy of a long-term relationship? Without the joy of sharing your life with someone, sharing love and growing love and choosing love, and practicing love, receiving love? Do you really want to live without that? Seriously consider that. I don’t know about you, but that is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. That’s one of the best parts of being alive, is a good long-term relationship. 

If you’re watching this and feeling hopeless, feeling retroactive jealousy just means you’re destined to be alone forever, let me tell you: it’s nonsense. It’s not true. There’s a better future waiting for you just around the corner if you simply start trying new things, and take the necessary steps to heal. You’ll put retroactive jealousy behind you for good. 

But in conclusion, if you take away nothing else from this video, I really want to hammer this point home: Don’t let retroactive jealousy define you, because you can define your response to this challenge. It really is as simple as that.

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.