Dealing With Retroactive Jealousy
It happens to all of us at some point. We meet someone new, and then sooner or later they tell us about their sexual history (because we asked or they offered).
Learning that our partner once enjoyed threesomes, had several ongoing “friends-with-benefits” relationships, or slept with over 60 people can leave us reeling in a sea of obsessive over-thinking, judgment, and anxiety.
Sometimes this can blow over in a couple of hours or days. But in other cases it can spiral out of control into an OCD-like pattern of negative thoughts and emotions. And it gets really bad when we end up attacking our partner for something they did in the past.
This can go on for months — or even years — and is known as “retroactive jealousy”.
I used to suffer from this condition myself after learning about my girlfriend’s former sexual history. But I managed to beat it by myself and am now a retroactive jealousy coach, helping others do the same.
Here’s The Big Question: Should I Break Up With My Partner If I Can’t Handle His or Her Past?
Clients often ask me this. In fact, I had an email just the other day from a guy who asked this very question (I’ve changed his name).
I’ve been with my girl for six months now. She’s 23 and I’m 25.
She’s had two boyfriends and said she’s slept with 30 dudes. It’s starting to play on my mind and makes me feel ill. It pops into my mind during sex.
She’s a great girl, loving, fun, seems loyal. But I’m thinking about dumping her because of how sick her past makes me feel.
What should I do?
I can more than understand where Andrew is coming from. There are thousands of others like him. In fact, I’ve spoken to hundreds of them. These feelings can be so overpowering that we feel like just running away from the problem and moving on to someone new.
However, this is a big mistake, which is what I told Andrew in my reply to his email. The problem is not with our partners — it’s within ourselves.
Stepping Out of Ego
To suffer from retroactive jealousy means we’re not looking at the situation rationally. We’re letting our egoic mind — the part of our brain programmed to deal with fear — dictate our emotions and behaviors.
We become overly judgmental.
So, to leave a partner because of our own jealous, judgmental, fearful hang-ups is blatantly ridiculous. We may feel a momentary relief from the hang-ups once our partner has gone, but I can promise you that these same feelings will only resurface again later when we meet someone else.
Unless you only plan on dating virgins in the future, the problem of a partner’s sexual history is always going to be a problem. In fact, I’ve worked with clients where this affliction follows them from relationship to relationship, much like the evil spirit in a horror movie.
So, instead of leaving, the sensible thing to do is face up to the fact that there’s an internal problem and get to work dealing with it. Ultimately it comes down to this:
- Do you want to fight to regain control of your mind and be with someone you love and who loves you? Or…
- Do you want to leave your partner and probably wind up with exactly the same issue down the road with someone else?
If you suffer from retroactive jealousy and want to go with option #1, make a commitment that from this day forward that you’re going to do something about it, because the problem lies within your own lack of self-confidence and judgmental attitude, not in your partner.
Jeff Billings is the author of the best-selling book “How To Stop Being Jealous Of Your Partner’s Past In 12 Steps.” To find out more about how to overcome retroactive jealousy, you can contact him at his website Retroactive Jealousy Crusher.
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