In today’s video, I’m going to go into detail about retroactive jealousy and the “Best Friend Technique.”

Read or watch below to learn more about the “Best Friend Technique.”

Zachary Stockill: If you are struggling with retroactive jealousy, there’s a high likelihood that your “best friend” can help you out.

In today’s video, I’m going to go into detail about retroactive jealousy and the best friend technique. 

For the people here for the first time, very briefly, the term retroactive jealousy refers to unwanted intrusive thoughts, and often obsessive curiosity, about your partner’s past relationships and or dating/sexual history. And the best friend technique comes to us from cognitive behavior therapy. 

Basically, the best friend technique involves thinking of the advice you would give your best friend if they were in the same situation as you.

What would you be telling them? What words of kindness or empathy or advice would you be giving them? If your best friend was in the exact same situation as you and came to you looking for guidance, what would you tell them? 

It’s incredible that we’re often kinder to other people than we are to ourselves. 

the "best friend technique"

And often when we’re trying to decide on a course of action, it can be helpful and instructive to think of people we love and admire. And think about what they should do if they were in the same situation as us. And I know this as someone who gives a lot of advice, that it can be difficult to take our own advice.

So when you put yourself in the mental position of giving advice to others, suddenly this can become clarifying about your own situation.

If you have a best friend, it’s likely that you’re very empathetic and very caring towards them. And in essence… 

The best friend technique is about extending some of this warmth and kindness and empathy toward yourself

the "best friend technique"

So first off, think of your best friend. Hopefully, you have at least one person in mind. But maybe you have more than one person in mind.

However, If you don’t have a best friend, at the very least think of someone who you care deeply about, someone who you admire. And, try to think about a situation where they came to you explaining that they were struggling with retroactive jealousy. 

So in other words, they were struggling with unwanted intrusive thoughts about their partner’s past. They had the same questions about their partner’s past that you have about your partner’s past. And, they had the same curiosity. 

Maybe they’re lashing out at their partner perhaps the same way that you are. However you’re experiencing retroactive jealousy, however you’re acting on this, imagine that your best friend is doing the exact same thing. 

So, let’s pretend they came up to you, maybe at a café somewhere. Maybe they came over to your house. Try to visualize this situation.

And imagine they confided in you that they were struggling with this problem. Imagine that they were completely explicit about everything they’ve been doing, all the thoughts they’ve been having, all the actions they’ve been taking, everything with regard to how retroactive jealousy is interfering with their life.

They came to you for clarity, comfort, and guidance. They look to you for some kind of support and guidance with regard to how they should handle this, and how they should work through it. 

What would you tell them? What advice would you offer? What inspiration could give them? And what empathy could you offer them? 

the "best friend technique"

What are the words that you would tell them? What would you tell them with regard to how to proceed with this problem? 

So, if you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, and you’re watching a video like this, chances are pretty good that you don’t have all the answers with regard to how to proceed through this problem, how to overcome this problem, how to put this problem behind you. 

But at the very least, as a retroactive jealousy sufferer, you’re probably aware of certain mistakes that you’re making with regard to this problem. You’re probably doing certain things, either big or small, that aren’t helping you move forward, that aren’t contributing to the solution. 

So at the very least, I would imagine you can tell your best friend what not to do; the mistakes to avoid, the pitfalls to avoid, the things you’re doing, or the perspectives you’ve entertained, whatever the things that you’ve done or thought or said, that have actually made the problem worse.

I hope this exercise will draw into sharper focus all the things that you could be doing that actually aren’t working; that could be making this problem even harder to overcome than it already is. 

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.