10 Ways To Stop Being Jealous Of Past Relationships

The Most Important Issues You Should Consider When Trying To Get Over Retroactive Jealousy

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by Jeff Billings in Retroactive Jealousy Blog
August 23, 2016
retrospective jealousy

Are you jealous of past relationships your partner once had?

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? To be jealous of past relationships that involved your partner and someone else in the past. And you probably feel a bit crazy too. After all, you’re a rational, straight-thinking adult.

You shouldn’t be plagued by something that doesn’t make any sense at all — your partner’s previous relationship(s) or sexual encounter(s).

The problem is, you are… And it’s up to you to do something about it because this isn’t going anywhere on its own.

To be jealous of past relationships in this way is known as retroactive jealousy.

Broadly speaking, men tend to become jealous of previous sexual experiences — mainly who their partner once casually slept with.

Women, on the other hand, tend to get jealous of past relationships — who their partner once had a strong emotional attachment to.

In my case, getting over girlfriend’s past was the problem as I became obsessed with my girlfriend’s sexual past — the guys she used to enjoy casual relationships with right before she met me.

There are no rules however when it comes to what someone can become obsessed by when it comes to a retroactive jealousy disorder.

These thoughts and emotions are often so pervasive and unrelenting, that they take on OCD-like qualities. This is sometimes known as retroactive jealousy OCD and can be hard to shake.

The good news is it needn’t be, and so here are ten solid mind-shifts you start making today in order to stop being jealous of past relationships.

This post may include affiliate links. 

1. Overcoming jealousy of past relationships means seeing the difference between real & false problems

jealous of past relationships

We tend to suffer from all kinds of problems, but they can roughly be divided into two separate camps:

  • Real problems
  • False problems

Real problems are obviously things like being deep in debt, watching a loved one slowly die, coping with life in a wheelchair, etc.

These are real problems that many of us have to deal with on a daily basis.

There are also real problems that affect us in the moment — for example, being attacked by someone, sitting on a plane that might crash, or being chased by a bear.

Whether they’re real problems about an over-arching “life issue” or a life-threatening event in the moment, the fact is they’re of serious concern to our well-being.

False problems, on the other hand, are not.

These kinds of problems include being afraid of giving a speech, talking to an attractive stranger in a bar, or regretting something you did three years ago.

These false problems are generated by the ego and are therefore not really problems at all. Our minds have created them.

Retroactive jealousy OCD and being jealous of past relationships is, of course, a false problem.

By remembering this, you should be able to put some distance between yourself and your anxiety.

Whenever you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by jealousy of past relationships, take a step back and tell yourself:

“This is a false problem. This is not something that can really hurt me. It’s just something that’s been created by mind.”

2. Being jealous of past relationships makes you appear weak

(Classic Friends clip in which Ross freaks out about Rachel’s “animal sex” with Italian stallion, Paulo.)

When you let your partner know you’re jealous of past relationships or sexual experiences, all you’re really doing is signaling just how insecure you are. And that’s not an attractive characteristic to put out there.

People want to know that they’re with someone who’s confident and sure of themselves, not so insecure that they’re going to get jealous of past relationships that probably ended months or even years ago.

It makes you come across as a needy, possessive individual and is generally a big fat turn-off, so remember this the next time you feel like attacking your partner over their past.

Stop and think “Do I want to make myself appear weak and needy?”

3. Being jealous of past relationships means you’re maybe not being very nice

jealous of past relationships

It doesn’t matter if you’re a nice person or not in general — the fact is, to be jealous of past relationships means you’re probably not being as good a partner as you could be.

It means you’re probably behaving pretty hypocritical, prudish, disrespectful, and just plain unfairly, toward them.

But is this who you really want to be?

Have a think for a moment about how unkind you’re being by holding on to your negative attitudes and being jealous of past relationships.

Your retrospective jealousy may have its roots in evolution, the ego, a lack of confidence, fear, and so on, but ultimately your mind’s simply trapped in a state of negativity toward your partner.

Is this really what they deserve?

I’ve always believed that we should all strive to be the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be.

When I realized I was being something of a jerk toward my girlfriend, I finally started on the road toward overcoming jealousy of past relationships.

Take this as an opportunity to mature, grow as a person, and begin to love your partner and everything about them in a way they deserve.

4. Understanding everyone has a past is key to overcoming jealousy of past relationships

jealous of past relationships

Would you prefer it if your partner was a virgin? Or had never been in a relationship?

Because that’s essentially what you’re wishing when you’re being jealous of past relationships.

However, not only are the chances of meeting someone like this very remote, but you’d probably see it as a red flag and be put off.

The truth is, anyone you’re likely to meet has had a past. They’ve slept with various people and they’ve been in various relationships.

All of which occurred before they even knew you existed.

If you were to leave your current partner and start dating someone else, you’d have the same problem all over again — just with different details.

Therefore it’s important to let it sink in just how irrational it is to be jealous of past relationships concerning your current partner when they’re not the exception — they’re the rule.


5. Trying to figure out what you’re feeling is half the problem

jealous of past relationships

While being jealous of past relationships, you’re likely to spend as much time trying to figure out why you’re feeling the way you do, as you do actually feeling it.

You maybe spend hours looking for a retroactive jealousy definition online, talking to family members and your partner about it, and so on.

Can that horrible queasy sensation you get in your stomach every time you get jealous of past relationships really be called jealousy? Or is it envy? Or anger? Or pure judgment?

“Why did he say that?” “Why did she do that?”

The worst part of all this is that the harder you try to figure things out, the harder dealing with retroactive jealousy seems to become.

It’s important, therefore, to realize that this endless questioning and mulling over the problem is only serving to keep you in a state of being jealous of past relationships, instead of allowing you to move on.

6. Stop being jealous of past relationships by realizing the past doesn’t exist

jealous of past relationships

While it doesn’t help a sufferer of retroactive jealousy to be told “the past is the past”, it can be helpful to look at things from the perspective that the past doesn’t exist in any real sense of the word.

This may seem a fairly simplistic statement to make, but is it possible to perform a single action, or think a single thought, anywhere but in the present moment?

No, and this is because the future doesn’t exist yet and the past doesn’t exist anymore.

All we have is the right now.

By remembering this, and that all the anxiety generated by these people in the past is a hallucination of the mind, it’s possible (with practice) to lessen the so-called power the past has over us.

I highly recommend checking out the work of Eckhart Tolle as a way of doing this as he has some great books and YouTube videos on staying in the present moment.

7. When you’re jealous of past relationships, your ego is running the show

When our mind gets stuck like a broken record on things like being jealous of past relationships, we’re succumbing to the whims of our ego.

The ego wants to protect us by making us jealous, fearful, angry and judgmental of these people in your partner’s past because it can’t differentiate between the past and the present, and so sees them as a threat.

In reality, these people are probably not a threat at all, and your conscious self, or “true self”, knows this on an intellectual level.

But the problem with retroactive jealousy is that it taps into deeply buried egoic insecurities that can be have been hardwired into us since the beginning of time.

Just as our ego used to tell us to run when faced with a man charging towards us yielding a spear, well, by making you jealous of past relationships it’s also trying to save your skin.

The only problem is this kind of worry is completely unjustified.

To suffer from retrograde jealousy means the ego has gone into overdrive, and so you need to learn how to subdue it if you want to regain control over your thoughts and emotions.


A good way to start is to “watch” your ego.

Dwell for a moment on something outside of your retroactive jealousy that bugs you. Something like an argument with a rude stranger, or a falling out with a friend.

Mull over all the ways you “messed up”, or how hard done by you are. But instead of getting lost in overthinking, begin noticing these thoughts.

Step back and observe them rather than reacting to them.

I go into this in much more depth in my retroactive jealousy book on how to stop being jealous of past relationships.

8. Your partner’s attraction to other people in the past is necessary 

jealous of past relationships

One of the major reasons why they’re with you now is because they find you attractive.

But if your partner wasn’t (and had never been) attracted to people who share your sex, then they wouldn’t find you attractive either.

Yes, your partner once had romantic and sexual relationships with other people, but they were probably all people who shared something in common with you — your sex.

Let’s say you’re a guy who’s jealous of past relationships your girlfriend had with other guys before she met you.

Imagine for a moment that she has only ever been attracted to women. In this case, she wouldn’t find you attractive and you probably wouldn’t be in a relationship with her right now.

As simplistic as this may sound, it’s important to get some perspective on the fact that it’s necessary that your partner found other people like you attractive.

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be together.

It’s time to stop wishing things were different and that they didn’t find X, Y, Z in the past attractive and start being grateful.

9. Your partner had no choice but to do what they did in the past

Something that helped me stop being jealous of past relationships was when I realized that “free will” in many ways doesn’t exist.

When we suffer from retroactive jealousy about our boyfriend’s relationships or girlfriend’s sexual history, we don’t really have a choice.

Our minds are making us jealous due to evolutionary programming. If we truly had a choice, we’d be able to just stop thinking about the past, right?

And the same goes for your partner:

They didn’t have a choice to do anything but what they did in the past.

As a quick primer, watch the video above from eminent neuroscientist, Sam Harris, author of the book Free Will as he discusses the illusion of free will.

This realization that free will doesn’t actually exist can be quite a liberating experience.

Once we realize that the source of retrospective jealousy can mainly be found within the bundles of nerves, synapses in our brains, plus the cultural conditioning we’ve been raised on, it let’s us abrogate some of the blame.

And similarly for your partner’s actions. She had no choice but to sleep with that guy. He had no choice but to pine over that ex. And so on.

This realization will hopefully help you on your journey toward finding a retroactive jealousy cure.

10. Increase your time spent in a “flow state”

jealous of past relationships

Firstly, what is “flow state”?

Flow is a term coined by positive psychology and simply means being fully mentally immersed in any activity that you enjoy.

When you’re in a flow state nothing else matters besides whatever activity it is you’re engaged in as your mind is completely engrossed with the activity, producing feelings of joy or even rapture.

The types of activities generally associated with flow are:

  • playing a musical instrument
  • playing a sport
  • gaming
  • some Eastern religious practices, such as Buddhism
  • some work environments, such as software engineering

To be fully focused on any of these activities can induce a person to enter “the zone” in which you’re not even aware of yourself or your own emotions.

I recommend getting into a flow state as often as you can when learning how to stop being jealous of past relationships.

This is because retroactive jealousy starts with thought.

And these negative thoughts lead to negative emotions, and then on to negative actions. (See my post on extreme jealousy disorder for more info on the latter.)

But when you’re in a flow state, you’re not emotionally affected by any of this as your mind is too busy to think of about any of it in the first place.

Set aside half an hour or an hour each day dedicated to getting into “the zone” and watch how your jealousy problems disappear.

If you don’t have any activities that induce flow, find something.

Especially whenever you feel yourself slipping into a wormhole of retroactive jealousy over-thinking.

How to stop being jealous of past relationships – the easy way

If any of this sounds familiar, then I hope you find comfort in knowing that:

  • you’re not alone — I for one am here to help
  • overcoming retroactive jealousy is not as hard as it appears right now
  • you CAN stop thinking about the past
  • you WILL stop thinking about the past

The problem is, overcoming jealousy of past relationships is notoriously difficult on your own.

That’s why I have developed three forms of retroactive jealousy help:

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

This is the first product I created and is a straight-down-the-line manifesto of how to stop being jealous in a relationship.

My Course:Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy 101

This breaks down getting over retroactive jealousy into twelve downloadable video modules.

It’s packed full of practical exercises not found in the book and also contains free one-on-one personal coaching.

My Coaching Packages:Personal One-On-One Retroactive Jealousy Coaching

If you’d prefer a more personalized approach to learning how to stop being jealous of past relationships, I’m here to talk via retroactive jealousy therapy.

We can chat either by email or Skype and I’ll guide you through how to get over retroactive jealousy for good. Take the first step to overcoming jealousy of past relationships right now and learn how to overcome jealousy of an ex.



  1. ria says:

    Nicely worded article. Good advice. The part of being with a virgin as a turn off is unfair though. Why should a inexperienced partner be a dead breaker?

  2. ria says:

    Nicely article. Some good advice there. The part of being a virgin As a turn off is unfair. Is a inexperienced partner a deal breaker but a experienced person is more worthy of dating?

  3. Jan says:

    partner is always right when thinks retroactively as a girl or a boy will always remember the “first time “.
    the first ” FUCKER “

  4. Mohit Negi says:

    Getting jealous of your partner’s past is totally normal however don’t get fixated on it. It’s a little world and you will be seeing individuals you don’t like for all other times however don’t allow it to trouble you. Each individual has a past and they can not change it. A decent beginning will be focussing more on the relationship you are having at this moment. Attempt to fraternize and if necessary, converse with him about your feelings of jealousy. It will go off gradually. If you want to clear your head more on the same. I have a piece of article that might help you.

  5. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge. I have felt dreadful all day – you have massively helped to shift my thought pattern. Also, it’s a comfort to know this happens to us all.

    You have given sound advice here – and pointed out an important fact, that being jealous makes us appear weak and needy and how unattractive that is.

    Thank you so much!

  6. Dom says:

    This really helped me. I’m with a woman who has been candid about her past sex with one man some 15 years ago. That it was passionate and in her current house has fried my head.

    I’m glad I’m not alone and your comment about weakness is valid. Also the past does not exist.

    Thank you.

  7. Jenna says:

    I was a virgin myself. I don’t think it’s fair to say “everybody has had a past” or “you’d see it as a red flag if they were virgins”. I understand that this works for people who are promiscuous by nature, but not for someone who is very traditional.

    The tricky thing is, I didn’t know I’d care so much until I actually started developing feelings for him… Good thing is, I’ve known not to ask for details. Just took me a bit too long to get him to shut up so I still know more than I’d prefer. Which isn’t much, but still…

  8. Jill says:

    My partner had far more girlfriends than I had boyfriends when I met him. I was a virgin, he wasn’t. Unfortunately I am obsessively interested in his exes…and what they did together….Also he has remained friends with some of them, and hasn’t got a bad word to say about any of them!

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