In this video, I’m going to share three ways you can stop thinking about your partner’s past.

Read or watch below to discover three ways you can stop thinking about your partner’s past.

Zachary Stockill: I’m going to keep it very short, very focused, and very clear. Today I’m going to share three ways you can stop thinking about your partner’s past. By the way, if you didn’t know, “retroactive jealousy” refers to unwanted intrusive thoughts, and often obsessive curiosity about a partner’s past relationships and or sexual history.

The first way you can stop thinking about your partner’s past and let go of unwanted intrusive thoughts about your partner’s past:

Learn to practice observing your thoughts rather than identifying with your thoughts, rather than reacting to them.

Observation gives you power, observation helps you take the power back. Because when we’re struggling with intrusive thoughts, when we’re struggling with mental movies about our partner’s past, when we’re struggling with all these things, it’s very tempting and seductive to think that you’re a victim of your thoughts.

“I have these thoughts, and there’s nothing I can do about them.” And more crucially, “these thoughts have the power to disrupt my day, I’m at the mercy of these thoughts. And my emotional reaction to these thoughts is completely guaranteed, I cannot change my reaction to these thoughts.”

When you learn to practice observing your thoughts rather than responding to them, miracles start to happen.

And it takes practice. I want to emphasize that it’s not about an overnight cure or an overnight fix because that doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, when it comes to this issue. It’s about changing your mental habits, changing some neural pathways in your brain to produce a more sustained calm, and peaceful response to these thoughts. Whenever they come up.

Let me illustrate this with a very clear example.

Let’s say I’m walking down the street and I have an intrusive thought about my girlfriend’s past. Let’s say I’m picturing her in bed with her ex. Now, in certain situations, in my past, we’re talking over 10 years ago, a while ago, I would have this thought, and I would immediately have an emotional response to the thought.

So there’s the thought of my girlfriend with her ex. And then there’s my response to that thought. You know, this could include things like this dialogue in my head, or this monologue in my head, “Oh, I’m so sick of feeling this way, And I’m just so frustrated. And like, Jesus, I’m just, I can’t take it anymore. What if she prefers her ex to me? And what if I’m not as good-looking as them? What if they had better sex..?” I’m having a highly charged emotional response to that thought, right?

Now, many people think that their emotional response and the thought itself are inseparable. This is a lie.

This is a complete lie.

Because the thought and your response to it are two completely different things. And the good news for you, me, and all of us is that we can change our response to that thought.

So in the same scenario, let’s say I’m walking down the street, on my way to get a fantastic cup of coffee and feeling good. There are birds singing, all the rest, it’s great. And I have this negative thought about my girlfriend with her past partner, right? This negative thought comes out of the blue of her in bed with her ex. Right.

Okay, so now I’m changing my response to that thought. I might have a momentary bit of tension, like, “Oh, here’s that thought again…” But my response can simply be “Okay. Here’s this thought. I see you, Mr. Thought, Okay, you’re there. That’s fine. I’m going to continue with my day…”

Maybe the thought is still there. After some time, and maybe I can feel my response, again, to the thought, I’ll have this tension in my chest like, “oh, here it comes again.” I need to continue changing my reaction to that thought. I need to observe it and simply acknowledge it and move on with my day rather than respond emotionally to the thought.

Stop thinking about your partner's past

The point that I’m trying to emphasize here is once you start changing your reaction to intrusive, unwanted thoughts…

Whether they’re about your partner’s past or anything else, miracles start to happen. That’s when change really starts to happen with this issue.

Before the objections start. “It’s easier said than done, Zach. I tried that once and it didn’t work.” Okay. I tried going to the gym one time, and I didn’t have a six-pack the next day…

In other words, it’s like going to the gym. It takes practice, it takes persistence, it takes dedication. Not a very sexy message in the modern era, where everyone wants a quick fix and a five-minute hack. What I’m interested in is sustainable results, results that are going to pay off over the long term, rather than, you know, short-term relief, short-term gratification.

But by the way, this approach will give you short-term relief. It’s not going to solve the problem overnight, but it will give you short-term relief, which will turn into medium-term relief, which will eventually turn into long-term relief.

But if you want to stop thinking about your partner’s past, start practicing observation.

Rather than responding emotionally to your thoughts. What you resist persists. And if you resist the thought and have all this negative sort of feedback to the thought, it’s only going to get stronger, and your brain is only going to get the message that “this thought is important. I need to devote more time to this because we are having this emotional response, and that must mean it’s an important thought,” which of course, it’s not.

Once you start practicing observation, eventually that thought will go away. It takes time, but I’m telling you, this practice, this new habit, is 100% worth it.

A second way you can stop thinking about your partner’s past is related to the first method that I talked about earlier…

Start some kind of basic meditation/ mindfulness routine.

The point is to find something that works for you, some kind of meditation app, some kind of mindfulness practice, that works for you that’s sustainable, that you can keep up doing over a long period of time, and something that you’re going to stay consistent with.

People ask me about meditation all the time. I’ve been a meditator now for over 15 years, a long time. And I always tell people, I think it’s much better to meditate every day, say, for five minutes, than to meditate once a week for an hour. If you can only fit in five minutes, or that’s all you’re comfortable with to start, ghat’s great.

Two minutes is better than zero minutes. And I also think it’s important, especially when you’re first starting out, to stay consistent with it over the long term. So shop around for any kind of mindfulness program or meditation app, find something that resonates with you something that works for you something that you like, and stick with it over a long period of time. This will dramatically increase your chances of strengthening your ability to observe rather than react to your thoughts, to be able to let thoughts go.

Meditation is a wonderful gift. It’s free and open and available to everyone. I highly encourage you to devote some time looking into meditation, looking into mindfulness.

Finally, I’m going to sneak my favorite one for last about how to stop thinking about your partner’s past. So I hope you’ll be open to it.

I often tell people “the size of your problems is the size of your life.”

If, as a man, my biggest problem in life, is my girlfriend’s past… I think I need bigger and better problems in my life. And by saying this, I don’t mean to belittle you, I don’t mean to say that retroactive jealousy isn’t hell and torture and a serious problem. I’m not saying any of that. I was once in your shoes. I remember very well what it was like to struggle with this little bastard of an issue we call retroactive jealousy.

What I’m trying to emphasize here is I think it’s crucial to maintain perspective on your entire life, and not become obsessed with overcoming retroactive jealousy. And that’s a really weird thing for a guy like me to say, who’s so devoted to this issue.

What I’m saying is to focus on the broader picture in your life, and cultivate bigger and better problems. And you can substitute the word problems for challenges.

In other words, what do you want to learn right now? How do you want to grow as a woman a man, or a person? What are some new skills and talents you’d like to learn? What kind of work do you want to be doing? Maybe you want to make more money? Or maybe you want to have a bigger impact? Maybe you want to be a better father, mother or brother or son or daughter or whatever? What is your mission? Why are you here?

And what do you want to do on the spinning rock in the sky before you die? What is your mission? What is your purpose? Why are you here? What do you want your life to be about, What do you want to accomplish on the spinning rock in the sky?

What do you want to get done? Who do you want to be when you die?

So start thinking about the bigger picture for your life to get bigger and better problems. And the great thing about this is once you do this, you start having less mental bandwidth, less mental RAM if you like to think about your partner’s past because you’re so focused on your goals.

You’re so focused on your mission, you’re so excited about all the different areas of your life. You’re getting better. You’re excited about where you’re going. So you’re much less concerned about where your partner has been.

There’s a quote by Alan Watts that I like and that I cite all the time. “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” In other words, of course, I think it’s extremely important to devote some time, some attention, and some effort to this issue of overcoming retroactive jealousy…

The goal is to get this handled as quickly as possible, so you can move on to bigger and better problems in your life.

Don’t become obsessed with overcoming retroactive jealousy. Be sure you’re maintaining perspective on your broader life, investing time in habits and pursuits that are going to get you where you want to go.

And again, when you do this retroactive jealousy starts to become less and less important, less of a concern. So that’s it. There are three ways to stop thinking about your partner’s past.

Click here to stop thinking about your partner’s past, and learn more about my flagship online course, “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, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.