Larry James' BLOG

Monday, October 9, 2017

What Is Retroactive Jealousy?

Filed under: Jealousy,Relationships — Larry James @ 10:30 am
Tags: ,

Jeff Billings, Guest Author

My retroactive jealousy started five years ago… At around 2 a.m. my girlfriend and I were asleep in bed. Her mobile phone rang, waking us up. She took one look at who was calling and tossed it aside. A few moments later it beeped with the arrival of a text. Turned out it was a former “friend-with-benefits” asking if she was available to share some quality benefits. My girlfriend politely declined the request, but for some reason he found it strangely hard to take the hint and continued to pester her over the coming months.

An assortment of other former sex buddies also came out the woodwork and started cropping up on her phone, on Facebook, in conversation, etc. Many people would’ve been able to just shrug off these guys from the past without a second thought, but for some reason I became consumed by what’s known as retroactive jealousy OCD — obsessive anxiety and over-thinking about a partner’s romantic and/or sexual past.

After months of research on how to get over the repetitive images in my mind of my girlfriend’s sexual past, I discovered that certain exercises and mind hacks were able to ease the pain. The foundation for these, though, was built on first working out just what was going on inside my head.

A large part of the problem with retroactive jealousy OCD is not knowing why you’re feeling jealous about the past in the first place. Once the mind has latched onto a problem like, “Why am I feeling jealous of events that happened in the past?” though, it can be extremely difficult to release it.

Below I lay out the three core components of what’s going on in the mind when it comes to retroactive jealousy. Once I learned what these emotions were and how they were fueling my retroactive jealousy, I was finally able to start getting over it.


Strange as it may sound retroactive jealousy is not really about the past at all. It’s about anxieties you’re harboring about the present. And those are all bound up with a lack of confidence in yourself that you’ll be able to actually hold on to your partner. Retroactive jealousy, therefore, is merely an expression of this fear — that you’ll lose your partner.

The reason why these feelings are so strong is because you feel so strongly toward your partner. If you think back to an ex who you maybe didn’t care about as much, would you say you’d have been as “jealous” of their past if it had been exactly the same as your current partner’s? Probably not. So the thing to remember is that this retroactive jealousy you’re feeling is just your ego’s way of telling you to be careful because it doesn’t want to be hurt.


Judgment plays a massive factor in retroactive jealousy. Quite simply, it’s more or less impossible to suffer from retroactive jealousy without being judgmental. This primarily manifests itself in judging a partner’s past actions. Sleeping with many people, one-night-stands, questionable exes, etc., are often very much looked down upon.

However, with retroactive jealousy it’s also not uncommon to be judgmental in some way about how a partner is behaving in the present too. So, keeping in contact with exes either in person or online, refusing to delete photos, reminiscing about the past, etc., are all actions that can inspire judgment.

A good way to overcome judgment of your partner’s past or present actions is to learn to trust them. Once you let go of your anxieties and fears that they may run off with someone else, and actually believe it when they tell you they love you, your feelings of judgment should start to dissipate.


I began to understand that envy played a part in my retroactive jealousy after comprehending that I wasn’t fearful or judgmental about my girlfriend’s sexual past in general. I didn’t particularly like the fact that she’d slept with five guys in six months, but this wasn’t what kept me awake at night. What really bugged me was one guy in particular — the one who’d woken us up at 2 a.m. in the morning and had continued to pester her for months afterwards.

I recognized that mainly I was envious of just this guy’s relationship with my girlfriend, and this was brought on by the way she seemed to treat him differently from all the other guys. While all the others had long been deleted from her phone and social media accounts, this one remained. Her refusal to remove him from her life, and generally favorable view of him, made me feel envious of their past and present relationship, and this was the final piece of the puzzle I needed to work out what was going on in my head.

If you’re struggling to overcome retroactive jealousy, focusing on these three areas of fear, judgment and envy should be your first point of call in learning how to overcome retroactive jealousy OCD. Figuring out what’s going on in your mind is half the battle, but hopefully now you know what you’re up against and are better equipped to fight it.

Copyright © 2017 – Jeff Billings.  Jeff Billings is the author of The Ultimate Retroactive Jealousy Cure and founder of — a website devoted to helping people get over repetitive thoughts about their partner’s past caused by retroactive jealousy OCD. He lives on the south coast of England with his wife, Emma, and dyslectic cat, Mike.

BONUS Article:
Romantic Jealousy is Scary!

CLoveLOGOLarry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.

the-archives2Click for Archives! ~ commentSubscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – and

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.


Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page:
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at:
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at:
Follow Larry’s “Networking BLOG” at:
Follow Larry’s Relationship Pintrest Page at:


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: