In today’s video, I’m going to share three questions that I believe every retroactive jealousy sufferer should ask themselves at least once.

Read on or watch below to learn about the 3 questions to ask yourself if you are struggling with retroactive jealousy.

Zachary Stockill: If I may be so bold, I think that one of my strengths as a coach is being able to ask people good questions. I like to think of myself as a pretty good listener. And I found over almost 10 years of coaching, hundreds and hundreds of one on one clients, that if you ask the right question, that can go a long way toward helping someone get the full perspective on their experience of something like retroactive jealousy and obsessive jealousy. 

Obviously, asking yourself the right questions is not enough to solve the problem. But it’s an important step in the right direction. 

So in today’s video, I’m going to share three questions that I believe every single retroactive jealousy sufferer should ask themselves at least once. 

Now, as I just mentioned, merely asking yourself the right questions is not enough when it comes to confronting and overcoming any problem in life. But there’s that famous quote, I think it’s by Einstein, the quote is something like if I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend the first 45 minutes asking myself the right questions about that problem and trying to formulate the main question to solve that problem. So asking yourself the right questions is very important. 

By the way, if you would like an extremely affordable way to “work with me,” in a sense, I offer a workbook called the Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, which is basically a nine-week program filled with asking yourself questions. It’s a journaling and self-directed writing process, you can find a link to that here. But for now, I’m just going to offer you three retroactive jealousy questions that I think you should ask yourself at some point. 

If you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, the first question is: have you ever been this in love before? Maybe you’ve been in love before…

Maybe you’ve been in love several times with incredible people. But have you ever felt this deeply about anyone before?

Have you ever felt so emotionally invested in a relationship? Have you ever experienced such intense feelings of love and desire? And perhaps, in some cases, possessiveness? 

This is a very important question to ask yourself because when we’re in the midst of falling in love with someone with a capital L, for the first time, that can bring up all kinds of intense and charged emotions, instincts of mate guarding, and possessiveness, and a general sense of anxiety around losing this precious thing that we found.

Falling in love is absolutely wonderful. I’ve been fortunate enough to fall in love several times in my life. 

But the first time I felt sort of capital L, head over heels, absolutely madly in love was also the time back when I was a much younger man when I struggled with retroactive jealousy, so obviously, just falling in love is not enough to cause anyone to feel retroactive jealousy. 

As you probably know, this weird little niche issue of retroactive jealousy, i.e. intrusive thoughts, unwanted curiosity, mental movies, etc. around a partner’s past relationships and or sexual history… This issue of retroactive jealousy is relatively niche. This isn’t widespread among the general population.

There are all kinds of people who fall madly in love and never struggle with anything like retroactive jealousy.

However, for a certain portion of us, for people like us, maybe with more obsessive personalities by nature maybe people with some trauma in their past, maybe people in strict religious or spiritual households, or something similar. 

For a certain portion of us, falling in love can cause us to feel all kinds of unwanted feelings such as jealousy, such as obsessive jealousy, such as intense curiosity surrounding a partner’s past, such as wanting to make a guard against that person wanting to be extremely possessive. 

So it’s worth asking yourself this question. If you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, have you ever been this in love before? 

And could that be spurring on some of your intense feelings of intense jealousy and intense possessiveness? And just to be absolutely clear, I hope I’m not saying that the remedy is to break up with your partner and never fall in love. That’s a pretty lousy solution, or it would be, and it’s not what I’m suggesting, but merely having the perspective can be helpful. 

The second question that I think you should ask yourself, or that I’m asking you rather, is

Have you ever felt anything like retroactive jealousy in any of your past relationships?

If I were to guess, among my coaching clients, when I ask them this question, for a certain percentage, let’s say around half, when I ask them this question, they’ll say, “Well, actually, I have felt very similar feelings in like three of my past for relationships.” Or for some people, “I’ve felt some kind of retroactive jealousy every single time I’ve ever been with anyone ever in my entire life.”

Now obviously, if that is you, if you’ve struggled with retroactive jealousy in your past, that’s valuable information. Because for some people, this can help you put your retroactive jealousy into perspective, and maybe help answer some questions about values and compatibility and fit that you might be asking yourself. 

In other words, you can get a different idea, or more clarity, shall we say, on the question of whether the problem is with your partner, or whether the problem is with you. Because if you’ve struggled with really irrational retroactive jealousy in every single one of your past relationships, hopefully, if that fits your description or your self-assessment, if that sounds like you, it should be much easier to own this problem 100%, to take full responsibility for solving this problem.

Take full ownership of this problem on yourself, and stop putting it on your partner, if that’s what you’ve been inclined to do in the past. 

And, you’ve probably heard me say it before if you’ve read any of my books, or taken any of my online courses, your partner cannot solve this problem for you. I promise you if that was as simple as it was if you could merely involve your partner in your healing, if you could give them a certain program, or certain things to say, or all the rest of it, or if there was a certain amount of reassurance that your partner could give you that would solve retroactive jealousy, that’d be wonderful. But that’s not the way this problem works. 

So don’t put this problem on your partner to solve. It doesn’t work. I’ve been doing this work for almost 10 years now. From thousands of emails, I can’t name one, one person who emailed me and said “You know what, Zach, I asked my partner 8000 questions… And my retroactive jealousy is gone.” This problem doesn’t work that way. 

You absolutely must accept responsibility, accept ownership of the problem, in order to move forward.

retroactive jealousy questions

Regardless of your decision moving forward, whether you decide to break up with your current partner and find someone new, or whether you decide to save the relationship and overcome retroactive jealousy. 

Finally, my third question for you today: are there any external life circumstances, any external life events that could be influencing your current emotional state?

Is there any external stress in your life that could be spurring on at least some of your current feelings of panic anxiety, and maybe obsession around your partner’s past? Is there stress at work? Or Is there a loved one who’s ill? Is there some big momentous life event or milestone immediately on the horizon? To clarify this last point, a lot of men, in particular, come to me for coaching, when they’ve got some big milestone in their life on the horizon… and this milestone has coincided with intense feelings of retroactive jealousy

What I mean is they’re thinking about proposing to their girlfriend, and merely the thought of this is producing all kinds of feelings of anxiety. What if she’s the one? And what if I can’t trust her? Or maybe they’ve got a wedding coming up, or maybe they’ve got a child who’s about to be born.

These are momentous life events. And these can be extremely emotionally charged, and stressful situations, in the best of times. 

So obviously, we can’t blame retroactive jealousy on a wedding or an engagement or the birth of a child or stress at work, on our loved ones. And that’s not what I’m suggesting. But I’m saying, gaining perspective on your entire life, everything that’s happening in your life outside the relationship can be useful when you’re trying to assess where all these feelings are coming from. Maybe you’re dealing with some irrational jealousy that is at least partially fueled by external, highly emotionally charged life events.

I hope you found this helpful, three questions to ask yourself if you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy. If you did find this helpful or thought-provoking, or you want to share your answers to any of these questions, I would love it if you did, you can leave a comment beneath this post telling me what you think. 


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.