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Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy: The Smart Way



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by Jeff Billings in Retroactive Jealousy Blog
March 7, 2017

Overcoming retroactive jealousy can be tough but it’s certainly not impossible. Quite often I get emails from people who’ve more-or-less learned how to beat retroactive jealousy but haven’t quite got there. They just need a final push, so to speak.

Below is a copy of just such an email from Mike (not his real name) in which he expresses frustration at still occasionally being cursed by the dreaded “mini movies” of seeing his partner with another man.

He also raises some interesting questions about my book that I thought you might all benefit from while overcoming retroactive jealousy.

Mike’s Struggles With Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy

Hi Jeff,

I recently purchased and read your book, it’s great stuff. I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to compile such topical and powerful thoughts into one accessible document. 

(Thanks Mike!)

I’ve struggled with overcoming retroactive jealousy in relationships before — with a previous partner and with my current partner.

My situation isn’t too unique. In fact, most of my emotions and thoughts are covered in your book.

Just wanted to shed some light on my state, ask a question about a specific part of the book and hopefully gain some additional advice from you.

My situation: my girlfriend and I have been dating seriously for about eight months. We’re fantastic together and encourage positive growth for one another. 

The guy she was casually seeing before me was a close friend and remained such for awhile.

She couldn’t understand why I felt awkward and down when she hung out with him, until one day when I told her I had once slept with a different one of our mutual friends. 

Her entire perspective changed and she felt bad for pushing my feelings to the side for the sake of her friendship with her “ex”, especially at the beginning of our new relationship.

This was not my intention, but I guess I’m glad it made us more aware of taking the other’s feelings and thoughts more seriously.

(Ah, the old “I have no idea why you’re upset about me hanging out with a guy I used to have sex with” line. Annoying, but at least the fact she was completely oblivious confirms she has zero feelings for him.)

Today, we have both chosen to discontinue the friendships with the people from our past. Neither were lifelong friends of ours, they were more like nice company during a very small window of our lives.

My problem? Mainly, I play the “mental movies” of them being intimate and wonder what he thinks about it and how he and her remember it.

Does he judge her? Does he think about having sex with her in various intimate positions?

Almost certainly not, but my mind goes there. 

I can get to a healthy state when I remember that everyone has a past and that I wish nothing but the best for the people with whom I’ve had sex, but as you know, this isn’t always easy! 

I want to feel free and happy. I often do, but not as much as I’d like.

Any thoughts or specifics for me? Some days I feel really good and close to shedding this tiresome skin, but other days are tough.

My question regarding the book: Napoleon Hill’s quote speaks to the power of sex but your follow-up quote suggests lightening up. Isn’t it hard to lighten up about something so powerful, personal, and intimate? 

Aren’t we just kidding ourselves if we think sex between two people isn’t a very intimate experience or am I simply stuck in the Judeo-Christian mindset that has dominated the last 2000 years of most of the world’s history?

I’d love to hear more about your and others’ point of view on this topic.  

Lastly, is there any chance that this jealousy is a subconscious message that I should not be dating, or more specifically, not be dating this person right now?  

It sucks to think so much about one guy who never even meant that much to my girlfriend’s life.

I know, when he’s operating from an enlightened point, he wants me to be happy and would never want me to dwell on this. 

The good news: this girl loves everything about me, even this. It’s not easy for her but she is so mature with her love and obviously is very confident that I’m a great fit for her.

I’m a lucky guy and want to feel like it even more often. Please help me liberate myself! Haha.

Thank you so much,


Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy: My Response

overcoming retroactive jealousy

You’re having a hard time coping with jealousy due to the constant ruminations in your head about what your girlfriend and this guy think about their past time together. 

You write: “I wonder what he thinks about it and how he and her remember it. Does he judge her? Does he think about having sex with her in various intimate positions? Almost certainly not, but my mind goes there.”

Yes, you’re right — he’s probably not thinking about it.

But, unfortunately, that doesn’t stop the mind from thinking that he is.

In all probability, he’s moved on and is not spending his nights dreaming about your girlfriend.

However, this is one of the classic symptoms of retroactive jealousy ocd: inflating a boy or girlfriend’s sexual past to epic proportions, like they played some kind of monumental part in your partner’s (and their ex-lovers’) lives. 

The fact is they didn’t, but this feeling that your partner and her ex are still dreaming of their time together is synonymous of feeling inadequate within yourself. 

If you were truly confident that you’re providing your girlfriend with present experiences that surpass her past experiences with this “ex”, then you probably wouldn’t still be thinking of them being together.

Similarly, if you truly believed that you’re overall a better catch than this guy, then you wouldn’t care who she’s been with in the past. 

And overcoming retroactive jealousy would be that much easier.


Here’s My Retroactive Jealousy Cure For What I Think’s Happening

You haven’t been together with your girlfriend for that long a time, and these early months are ripe for feelings of insecurity and sexual jealousy in a relationship.

So, because you’re having such a great time with her, but at the same time are not 100% settled in the relationship, you fear losing her.

You’re only struggling with overcoming retroactive jealousy right now because you’ve become aware that she once had casual sex, thus making her appear “loose” and capable of doing it again.

In your mind’s eye, anyway.

Couple this with a slight lack of confidence and you begin to question your own ability to keep her.  

Is there something about this guy you don’t like? Or is he totally different to you, physically or personality-wise? Because this tends to make these feelings even worse.

It can be hard as a guy to understand why women go for certain guys, but this is because we’re not seeing things from a female perspective.

We have no right to determine who’s acceptable and who’s not. Only they had the right to be with whoever they wanted, and so we also need to learn how to just accept this without judgment

Unfortunately, there are no other real “specifics” unique to your situation that I can offer, but that’s only because it’s so universal.

Practically everyone who’s looking for a retroactive jealousy cure experiences the same “mental movies” over and over in their mind, due to feelings of insecurity, fear, and judgment.

Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy By Lessening The Power Of Sex

Here’s the Napoleon Hill quote from my book:

“Sexual desire is the most powerful of human desires. When driven by this desire, people develop keenness of imagination, courage, willpower, persistence and creative ability unknown to them at other times. So strong and impelling is the desire for sexual contact that people freely run the risk of life and reputation to indulge it.” 

In the book I then go on to write: 

So, it’s time to lighten up, stop taking sex so seriously and stop being so judgmental. Sex is really not such a big deal if you think about it rationally. Here’s a little checklist to remind you of these facts: 

  • The sex your partner had in the past most probably wasn’t the mind-blowing extravaganza envisioned in your mind. 
  • It certainly didn’t change their life. Or enlighten them in any way. 
  • It was not some kind of amazing connection with another person, but a basic, human need. 
  • They just experienced it and moved on. 
  • If they didn’t enjoy sex, they wouldn’t enjoy it with you. 
  • If they didn’t like girls/guys, they wouldn’t even be with you.

So Mike, in answer to your question “Isn’t it hard to lighten up about something so powerful, personal, and intimate?” I’d say: no.

I think the problem here is that you’re confusing Napoleon Hill’s definition of sex with your own interpretation of sex.

Napoleon Hill merely states that sexual desire is one of the most powerful of human desires — a primal want and need — but he doesn’t say anything about it being “personal” or “intimate”.

Truly understand this, and you’ll go a long way to overcoming retroactive jealousy.

Of course, when two people are in a loving relationship it can be powerful, personal and intimate, but in the context of casual sex, it’s something different.

The reason why it’s so pervasive is because it’s also just an evolutionary, basic human need, rather than an indicator of close personal intimacy.

The need for sex is hardwired into all of us, negating the notion that something “magical” has to be going on between two people in order for it to happen. 

In other words, the fact your girlfriend had casual sex with this guy in the past is more indicative of her evolutionary human need for sex, rather than wanting to be close, personal and intimate with him in particular.


Dealing With Retroactive Jealousy In Your Relationship

overcoming retroactive jealousy

Lastly, I do not think your struggle with overcoming retroactive jealousy is a subconscious message that you should not be dating your girlfriend.

It’s a subconscious message that you need to grow and let go of your egoic fears surrounding being hurt. 

I would only suggest retrospective jealousy is a sign that someone should walk away from a relationship if the partner in question is giving them a real reason to doubt their faithfulness.

But your girlfriend doesn’t appear to fall into this category. 

One way I found of calming myself down when thinking about the past and overcoming retroactive jealousy was to ask myself:

Does she still think about him now? No. Did she get on better with him than you? No. Would she rather be with him than you? No. 

Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy OCD – For Good!

Here’s what I suggest you do if you want to learn how to overcome retroactive jealousy:

Re-read step 5 in the book. Then make sure you stick to the daily plan as described in Bonus 4 and try to give as little mind-space to retroactive jealousy as possible. 

As soon as you find your mind drifting off into ruminations about the past, simply become aware of the thoughts in your head and then return to the present.

The state of being lost in thought is the state of being “unconscious”.

The process of noticing that you’re “unconscious” and then returning to the present moment is the state of being “conscious”.

The more you do this, the easier it will become and the less you’ll find your mind drifting off to an “unconscious” state in the first place. 

I hope this has helped you further in overcoming retroactive jealousy, Mike, and talk soon. 


— Jeff 


For a step-by-step plan for overcoming retroactive jealousy, check out my best-selling book: The Ultimate Retroactive Jealousy Cure: How To Stop Being Jealous Of Your Partner’s Past in 12 Steps.

Learn how to stop feeling destructive jealous emotions by clicking on the button below to purchase:



  1. Susan says:

    Is it normal for women to be as obsessed with past sex as men? I thought it was more men who obsessed over their gf one night stands fk buddies but I’m exactly the same I hate my bf former fk buddy so much. This helps a little tho.

  2. Oscar says:

    Mike’s experience sounds just like me lol.

  3. Kylee says:

    Seeing my man in my head always with some other girl from his past is tearing my up inside. Will this ever end?

  4. Kathrine says:

    A friend put me onto this site and they were right – it’s the #1 place for infor on retroactive jealousy. Thank you so much Jeff.

  5. Hanna says:

    Would love to know more about this. If I buy the book will it go into this in more detail? Thanks. xx

  6. Harriett says:

    How do I get over OCD when I can’t stop it makes it worse when I think about but I no I shouldnt

  7. Mari says:

    Did you get some of your thoughts from Alan Watts? I can see some similarities?

  8. Mario K says:

    Did you get some of your thoughts from Eckhart Tolle? I see some similarities.

  9. Kari says:

    Every time I think about my bf’s past I get really sad and angry and I don’t know why . He has done nothing wrong has he? And the more I think about it the more I hate it. I’m stuck in a loop and can’t get out.

  10. Vinny says:

    Good info. Lucky me I came across your site by accident now I feel like I can get to work beating this rj crap one and for all. Thx.

  11. Jenny says:

    Bless you Jeff for writing this, you’ve helped my relationship no end.

  12. Jara says:

    This jealousy is driving me and my boyfriend apart. I keep bringing up his past and he hates it. It’s driving him crazy because I talk about it so much but I can’t help it. I need to know, like I want to punish myself. Or him. I don’t know. What’s going on in my head that I want to know about what’s hurting me?

  13. Skank Attack says:

    You morons do realize it’s all your own falt don’t you? Why stay with a skank and then moan that she;s a skank makes no sense. .

  14. Ken says:

    I found out my girlfriend had two threesomes. One when she was blind drunk the other when she was stone cold sober. And both with two guys at once. I don’t know if I can stay with her after hearing that. What should I do?

  15. Radhe says:

    Hello! I just wish to provide a enormous thumbs up for any excellent information you have here about retro active jealousy. I will be coming back to your site for further soon.

  16. Peter says:

    Do you do student discounts on your book?

  17. Tristan says:

    I don’t know if I have OCD or not but I do think about my gf’s past a lot.

  18. Lenny says:

    Great post! Thx Jeff

  19. Shridhara says:

    Excellent words you help me so much already but I will buy your course or book very soon. Greetings. !

  20. Frank says:

    when i was still in high school, i always ended up with girls who hadn’t had much experience and now I’m with a woman who’s slept with 34 guys (I think) and its freaking me out.

  21. Selina says:

    Can retroactive jealousy be explained biologically. Like is there something in the make up that makes one person get it and another one doesn’t?

  22. Pierre says:

    i laugh for hours reading these comments 🙂

  23. Dave says:

    Thanks for finally writing about >Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy: The Smart Way <Liked it!

  24. Serena says:

    Very wise words, Jeff. May GOD bless you.

  25. Holly says:

    I see what you’re saying about sex being no big deal but I’m from a Christian family and this just isn’t easy to do. We’re taught that sex should be special between a man and woman only and certainly not something that should be just given away to whoever you choose. I admit this way of thinking is making it hard for me to forget about my boyfriend’s past though. He’s not a Christian and so doesn’t understand anything when I talk about my problem with all his ex girlfriends.

  26. Brad says:

    I definitely enjoyed reading this — reminds me of my own situation. I can’t stop wondering what all these guys are thinking about my girl. They’ve seen her naked and done crazy shit with her before I met her and now they’re just there in the background bringing all those memories to mind whenevre they want.

  27. Kevin says:

    How fast has anyone gotten over rj? Like what’s the fastest time this has happened? I want to get over it fast.

  28. Lionel says:

    Any tips on whether I should talk to her about my problem or not? Does this help? Or should I just keep quite and bottle it all inside?? PLs help!

  29. Fred says:

    Great post Jeff/ I’m going to buy your course as soon as I have some cash.

  30. Stuart says:

    Thank you Jeff for taking the time to put all this info out there on retro jealousy for people like us.

  31. Mary says:

    Can I send you a private message Jeff about my boyfriend’s issues with my past? We need your help really bad.

  32. Markus says:

    This is hands down the best productive site on getting over retroactive jealousy out there. Kudos to you Jeff!!

  33. Thomas says:

    Great post! I understand my emotions mych better now 🙂

  34. Noah says:

    I’m nearly over this retrograde jealousy thing, just niggling feelings come back every so often. How do I finally put this out my head once and for all?

  35. Vinnie says:

    Just sibscribed – thanks Jeff!

  36. Foxy Brown says:

    Thank You Jeff! You’re a star.

  37. Banjo says:

    I love my gf dearly, and I believe I can overcome this. However the longer I go without progress the less confident I am. I’ve shared with her the issue and she’s very understanding and even proud of me that I’m working on my issue and man enough to admit it. She says she wishes she’d never told me but that she’s not sorry at all for her actions. I know she shouldn’t be, and I admire her for not judging people the way I feel I am, but I guess honestly I was hoping she’d say that she regretted it and that her past grosses her out.She didn’t and now I feel even worse.

  38. John Bon Jon says:

    Wow, THIS is the information I’ve been looking for all this time. THANK YOU Jeff!

  39. Zero Light 20 says:

    This is a topic that is close to my heart… Take care!

  40. Forever Young says:

    Having a partner with multiple former sex buddies, ONS, 3somes etc can be awkward if it’s something you’re not used to experiencing in a relationship. I went through this but now am feeling much better thanks to Jeff’s work. Don’t be shy get in touch with him – it could save your relationship. x

  41. Yo! says:

    If your partner’s retroactive jealousy springs from insecurity, look for ways that will make you both feel more secure in the relationship.

  42. Gherkin says:

    Hello I desperately need your help and don’t want my relationship to end. I need to control this and want it to stop :'(

  43. Maggie says:

    I’m not sure if I agree with all of this. However, your doing a good thing by trying to help sufferers of RJ.

  44. Barry says:

    I agreed with all. These posts on rj have been a blessing. 🙂

  45. James Fly says:

    This is such a great website. THANK YOU Jeff! I owe you one.

  46. Carl says:

    Take the red pill guys and wake up. I used to be like you but then I took it and realize her past doesn’t mean as much as you think

  47. Andrea says:

    I discovered your Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy site and its really struck a cord with me. I will continue reading more if you keep posting 🙂

  48. Daniel X says:

    I’m getting there but still have the repetitive images all day, I dont really have the emotions any more just the images. any advice?

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