How Common Is Retroactive Jealousy?

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by Jeff Billings in Retroactive Jealousy Blog
August 9, 2016
how common is retroactive jealousy

Have you ever wondered: “Just how common is retroactive jealousy?” If you feel anxious, upset and “betrayed” by your boy or girlfriend’s past, it can feel like you’re the only person in the world who feels this way.

But you’re not.

No data has been collected or research undertaken on how common is retroactive jealousy and so I’m not coming at this from a scientific angle.

But judging from the popularity of my course, book and blog, I’d say retroactive jealousy was a pretty major problem out there.

How Common Is Retroactive Jealousy In Men?

If you want the short answer, I’d say very.

The truth is, no guy likes to hear about who his wife or girlfriend once had sex with.

Most men can just about handle hearing about their partner’s former relationships, but sex is another matter.

I would wager that learning that a wife or girlfriend’s sexual history was “explosive” would be a problem for all but the most enlightened, zen-like men.

Discovering that a woman has slept with over 40 guys, or had threesomes, or numerous sex-buddies, is likely to cause issue with most men.

This is because men are hardwired to be naturally wary of women who “sleep around”.

However, some guys are able to handle their girlfriend’s sexual past much easier than others.

And this relates back to issues of confidence and judgment which I outline in this post.

I would say there are three main reasons why guys DON’T suffer from retroactive jealousy:

  • Their partner has a conservative sexual past and so they don’t care about it
  • Their partner has a promiscuous sexual past but they don’t know about it
  • Their partner has an promiscuous sexual past which they’re aware of, but they’re non-judgmental and confident individuals

All other guys who don’t fit into one of these three areas is at risk of falling victim to retroactive jealousy ocd.


How Common Is Retroactive Jealousy In Women?

Men’s jealous thoughts usually revolve around their wife or girlfriend’s sexual history.

Women’s jealous thoughts, on the other hand, tend to focus on who their husband or boyfriend once dated.

(I explain some of the reasons why this happens in this post.)

A woman will sometimes be jealous of who her man once dated either because she hates the fact he was once in love with her, or because she questions why he dated her.

As with men, this form of retroactive jealousy can be traced back to insecurity, fear and judgment.

Who Suffers More From Retroactive Jealousy? Men Or Women?

Without doubt I’d say guys suffer more from jealous, OCD-like thoughts about the past than women.

As I said, this is by no means based on any form of scientific research, but I definitely have more male clients than female.

While women can also fall victim to retroactive jealousy, they tend to not as readily as guys for some reason.

Why is this?

Part of it may be to do with the fact that men and women tend to suffer from retroactive jealousy in different ways.

As women have become much more sexually active since the 1960s, some men find this threatening.

A Madonna-whore complex has arisen in many men, in which they view women as either “saints” or “sluts”, with no in-between.

Women, on the other hand, haven’t had to cope with a major seismic shift in attitude toward male sexuality.

And I believe this is one of the major contributing factors as to why retroactive jealousy is more common in men than women.

What To Do If You Suffer From Retroactive Jealousy

The problem is, most sufferers have no one to talk to about how to cure retroactive jealousy.

It’s not a problem that’s easily brought up among friends and family.

And many sufferers are too ashamed to talk about it with their partners.

Something which I don’t recommend anyway, as it usually makes the situation worse rather than better.

I receive emails all the time from people telling me how comforting it is to talk to someone who knows what they’re going through.

And don’t forget I have a number of different forms of retroactive jealousy treatment available, including:

A course: “Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy 101

A book: “The Ultimate Retroactive Jealousy Cure: How To Stop Being Jealous Of Your Partner’s Past in 12 Steps

And personal one-on-one Retroactive Jealousy Coaching




  1. Suman says:

    I’d love to get a one on one coaching to help me cope with some jealousy issues I have with my fiancé’s past relationships.
    I’d like to be the third category of men who are not judgemental and are confident.

    1. Hi, I’m not doing one-on-one coaching at the moment – I would recommend the book or course. Cheers!

  2. Amber Brown says:

    I’m not sure if it’s retroactive jealousy but my fiancee met on a dating app. He stopped talking to me for a few weeks and starting talking and having sex with someone else, then I messaged him after that and we started to talk again. One day we went to grab a bite to eat and we saw the woman he slept with prior to us being together. Later on in the future, he told me he did this 2 weeks before we started talking again. I became upset and he didn’t understand. This still bothers me a lot and I’m unclear of why it does.

  3. Edmundo says:


    My gf ex is kind of a “bad boy” and I accidentally asked a lot about her past with this dude and details too. All these images are killing my brain. The worst part is that there were never in a relationship but my gf decided to keep hangin our with him for 3 years cuz she did like her. What could I do to overcome retroactive jealousy??

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