In today’s video, I respond to a common question: “What can you do when you’re single to prevent a retroactive jealousy relapse in your next relationship?”

Read or watch below to learn more on how to prevent a retroactive jealousy relapse.

Zachary Stockill: I was recently hanging out on Instagram doing a Q&A with my followers. And I received a really interesting question that I thought would be worthy of a full YouTube video.

The subject of today’s video comes to you from a retroactive jealousy sufferer who recently got out of a relationship. They were experiencing pretty extreme retroactive jealousy. And, it’s possible they didn’t entirely get a handle on it while they were with their partner. 

In today’s video, I’m going to answer the question of what can you do when you’re single to prevent a retroactive jealousy relapse in your next relationship. 

If it’s your first time on my channel, you might be wondering what on earth is retroactive jealousy? It’s kind of a strange term that a lot of people haven’t heard of before.

Retroactive jealousy refers to unwanted intrusive thoughts, and often obsessive curiosity about your partner’s past relationships and or sexual history. 

When you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy in a relationship, it can be tempting to think that the problem is your partner.

retroactive jealousy relapse

In other words, you may think that once you break up with this one person, you’ll be scot-free in your next relationship. And you won’t have any retroactive jealousy at all. And of course, sometimes that happens; sometimes, someone’s past is pretty extreme. Sometimes someone’s past is a pretty big red flag, in essence, and sometimes if you break up with that person that will more or less “cure” your retroactive jealousy. 

However, in my experience, doing this work for over 10 years, hearing from so many thousands of retroactive jealousy sufferers from around the world, in my experience that is more the exception rather than the rule

In other words, this nasty little issue of retroactive jealousy has a bad habit of following people into consecutive relationships. It’s not uncommon for me to receive emails where someone’s writing to me, maybe they’re in their 50s or 60s. And they’ll tell me that they’ve struggled with some form of retroactive jealousy in literally every intimate relationship they’ve ever had, every time they’ve been married, etc. 

Every time they’ve had a boyfriend or girlfriend, they’ve been struggling with retroactive jealousy. 

If you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, don’t necessarily assume that the problem is just your partner. If you break up with that person, you’ll be scot-free, and will never deal with retroactive jealousy again. Sometimes that happens, but unfortunately, more often than not, it’ll fall on you and your next relationship until you start taking the necessary steps to put retroactive jealousy behind you for good.

On that note, the subject of today’s video…

As I mentioned, at the top, I was doing a Q&A on Instagram, and someone asked me:

“How do I prevent a retroactive jealousy relapse in my next relationship?”

So to be clear, this person is currently single. They’re wondering about the steps that they can take while they’re single to get a handle on retroactive jealousy and give themselves the best chance to avoid a retroactive jealousy relapse the next time they have a relationship. 

The first thing I’ll suggest is now is a time for building new habits. This is such a valuable opportunity for you; this time to be single and work on yourself. And, to be taking ownership of the things that you feel like you need to take ownership of. To also set new goals, especially around different ways of thinking and different mental habits. 

Now’s the time to start establishing better mental habits such as better self-talk, and mindfulness practices.

You can look up all the redirecting exercises and mindfulness practices I put out in my online courses audio series, and book… The point is to get very clear about the changes that you need to make before you enter your next relationship when it comes to your thinking. 

Because maybe you’ve been telling yourself bad stories or counterproductive stories about your partner’s past. Or maybe you’ve been telling yourself counterproductive stories about yourself and your past and your goals. Maybe you’re stuck in a loop of obsessive thinking and rumination and all the rest. And unfortunately, it’s very likely this will follow you into your next relationship unless you start building new and better mental habits right now. 

So I like this idea of really focusing on building habits. Because the more you invest in building new habits, and defining exactly what you want to change, and incorporate better habits into your daily life, the better you’ll feel.

The more you invest in building new habits right now, the more this will pay off down the line. 

So learn what you need to learn right now! This can be related to overcoming things like intrusive thoughts and overcoming obsessive curiosity. You can look into my work, you can look into the work on OCD. 

You can go through 90% of that stuff even if you’re single, so I’d recommend looking into that. I’d also recommend looking into the material offered by others as well. 

My second tip is to spend some significant time thinking about and defining your own personal relationship goals, boundaries, and values. 

retroactive jealousy relapse

This is so incredibly valuable. Get clear on exactly what you want in a partner, in a relationship, exactly what you want it to look and sound and feel like. Exactly what you’re looking for in a partner, specifically as specific as you can. 

Because the more specific you get about this stuff, the more likely it is you’re going to bring this person into your life. I’m not going to get all hippie-dippie on you and tell you, “Oh, you just need to visualize it. And it’ll manifest itself.” Absolutely not. 

But if you go looking for something very specific, whether it’s good or bad, chances are very good that you’ll find it. 

And aside from getting very clear on the exact type of relationship you want, the type of partner you want, think hard about your personal boundaries, dealbreakers, your standards for the relationship; the kind of behavior you’re not going to put up with, or perhaps someone’s past that would indicate a glaring red flag. 

Because if you get clear about your relationship boundaries and values while you’re single, the odds go way down that you’re going to enter a bad relationship, or you’re going to attract the wrong person in your life. You have that clarity when you’re out there dating, when you’re out there meeting, shall we say, “candidates” for a long-term relationship. 

Because when you’re dating, and when you’re clear about this stuff, all of a sudden becomes very easy and simple to cut people out.

To stop seeing someone when they demonstrate serious red flags, to listen to your intuition, to listen to your gut.

A lot of people enter their dating lives without knowing exactly what they’re looking for, their personal standards, and their personal dealbreakers. A lot of people enter their dating lives without thinking about this stuff. And there’s a cost associated with that somewhere down the line. 

So spend some serious time thinking about and defining your relationship standards, your boundaries, and your values

Finally, my favorite piece of advice for someone who is single is to: 

Build an absolutely incredible single life for yourself before you think about entering a new relationship. 

Because when you have two whole people who are happy on their own, but happier together, it just makes everything so much better. You’re not going to find someone with a savior complex. Also, you’re not going to find someone who’s looking for someone to save them. You’re going to attract less needy, less dependent, less, frankly, messed up partners.

So before you even think about entering a new serious relationship with anyone, I would strongly encourage you to build an absolutely incredible single life for yourself.

You can tell when you meet someone when they’re genuinely happy on their own, without a “need” for a relationship to feel whole.

retroactive jealousy relapse

It’s very attractive, it’s very enticing. And that’s who you want to be with, ultimately.

If you follow those three steps, you’re going to drastically reduce the odds of a retroactive jealousy relapse in any future relationship. So happy dating, I wish you the best.

If you are currently struggling with retroactive jealousy, you can click here to sign up for a free four-part mini-course that will help you get started. Or if you need more help, then you can consider signing up for one-on-one coaching with me. [Subject to availability]

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.