I’m moved to be concise today, so here are a few scattered thoughts and insights I’ve acquired regarding relationships and retroactive jealousy.

  • Your past is relevant. It took me a while to come around to this, but you have to consider your own sexual past and relationship history if you want to better understand your jealousy. Perhaps you have some unfulfilled desires that are making you resent your partner, and their past experiences.
  • Friends and family often understand in principle, but not in practice. “Just distract yourself” or “Just stop dwelling on it!” starts to sound pretty hollow after a while.
  • It might get worse before it gets better. The more you can bounce back from mini-attacks of jealous thoughts, or longer periods of depression, the more confident you will become in your ability to overcome jealousy moving forward.
  • Retroactive jealousy and standard jealousy (ie. concerns about your partner’s fidelity in the present) often go hand in hand. You cannot confront one without dealing with the other.
  • Jealousy is a huge turn-off. Jealousy seriously hinders your partner’s attraction to you, and may very well eventually destroy it. Them’s the breaks.
  • In my conversations with fellow sufferers of retroactive jealousy, the one thing we all have in common is dedication to continual personal growth and development. Simply put, I constantly seek to “upgrade” every aspect of my self — my physical health, my writing, my meditation practice, my income, etc. Never settle for less than your best self.
  • You can keep evolving on your deathbed. This is one of the things about life that I find most exciting — you can never fully “make it,” or fully arrive at your best self. There is always another level to seek, another plateau to climb.
  • Guys: the overwhelming majority of women want you to be Steve McQueen, not John Cusack. This probably includes your girlfriend or wife. Think about that in the context of your jealousy. Would McQueen care?
  • Retroactive jealousy gets really, really boring after a while. Like a movie you’ve seen 500 times before. When you begin to realize this, and consider RJ as such, it becomes easier to turn the movie off.
  • My guidebook is primarily aimed at people who want to stay in their current relationship, power through their jealousy, and rebuild their partner’s attraction to them. However, as I outline in the book, your partner’s past may actually be worth breaking up over. The trouble is that RJ seriously skews your perspective, so that what is a “deal-breaker” for you today may not feel that way tomorrow, in a month, or in a year. Still, you have to seriously check in with yourself and determine whether or not you can live with your partner’s past. If you truly cannot, you owe it to yourself and your partner to move on.
  • Overcoming retroactive jealousy can actually be a lot of fun. What’s more, the process added immeasurable value to nearly every other area of my life. I feel stronger, and more capable of responding to and overcoming adversity, than ever before.
  • You are not alone. To date, I have sold hundreds of copies of the guidebook, and have received visitors to this site from over 70 different countries. There are scores of sufferers of retroactive jealousy from around the world who are seizing an opportunity to grow into better people, lovers, and partners. And you can too.

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.