Table of contents:

Why are you jealous of your partner's past and how to stop
Why are you jealous of your partner's past and how to stop

Sometimes jokes about exes turn into nightmares.

Why you care about your partner's past and how to stop thinking about it
Why you care about your partner's past and how to stop thinking about it

Increased interest in a partner's past romantic and sexual life is called retrospective or retroactive jealousy. She often has no good reason, but poses a serious threat to the relationship.

At first, you just feel uncomfortable with the thought of your passion's former lovers. Then you begin to doubt the value of the current connection, consider your partner immoral and unreasonably suspect him of treason. Finally, jealousy captures completely, makes you check social networks and browser history, spy on.

At this stage, flashbacks may arise about events that you have never witnessed. According to relationship consultant and sexologist Ammanda Major, this often leads to obsessive thoughts and a relentless desire to find out what “really happened” between a partner and their previous lovers.


Ammanda Major relationship consultant and sexologist

This can end up with the person tormenting both himself and his lover and turning the relationship into abusive.

How to know if you are jealous of the past

Read the statements suggested by Robert Leahy, PhD and Yale professor:

  • I often think about the fact that my current partner had a lover or mistress in the past.
  • When I think about it, I feel anxious and uneasy.
  • I wonder if my partner's past relationship was better than ours.
  • I want to be the only person my partner has ever loved.

If you understand that some phrases can be attributed to you, then you are jealous.

Why do you think about it

The reasons can be different and depend on your character, conditions of acquaintance with a partner and external factors. More often than not, according to Eva Thompson, a therapist specializing in retrospective jealousy, it boils down to this:

Are you afraid of being hurt

You may have had an uneasy relationship with your parents, experienced a betrayal by a friend, or your previous partner was an abuser. One way or another, your body remembers this and tries to protect you from a similar situation. The defense mechanism kicks in when you fall in love and start experiencing strong emotions. It is he who prompts you to sabotage the relationship and avoid any potential danger.

Are you worried about being compared to your previous partner

This reason is closely related to your inner beliefs, self-esteem, attitude. If you feel insecure early on in your relationship, it is likely that things will only get worse. Having learned that your significant other had other partners, you subconsciously begin to look for flaws in yourself, worry that you will be compared with previous lovers, and decide in advance that you will be worse.

You think your partner's past is not good enough for you

In this case, you are comparing your partner to yourself. It seems to you that he does not correspond to you, because he used to do what is unacceptable to you. You focus on his past mistakes and devalue his merits in the present.

You don't like your partner having experiences that you don't

A rich past can be a serious source of controversy. It may seem to you that the person next to you had a brighter and more interesting life. Then you will want to quickly find a reason to end the relationship in order to "catch up."

You think you made the wrong choice

When you fall in love, you see everything in a rosy light and endow the person with super qualities. But then you get to know him better, and your ideas collapse. The partner turns out to be not perfect, but ordinary, and you do not want to put up with it. Then you plunge into a person's past and start looking for evidence there that he has always been selfish, unfaithful, evil, and you just made a mistake in him.

How to get rid of jealousy of the past

Retrospective jealousy can ruin not only your relationship with your partner, but your emotional state in general. To prevent this, try following these tips.

Acknowledge your feelings

First of all, you need to understand that your emotions are completely normal. They don't make you a bad person or crazy and, according to psychologist Robert Leahy, are motivated by a natural desire to be the only one. Understand your feelings, accept them, otherwise it will be worse.


Robert Leahy PhD in Psychology and Professor at Yale University

Jealousy is difficult. She makes you anxious, angry, sad, and helpless, and interferes with your relationship. Therefore, be compassionate with yourself.

Ask yourself what exactly excites you

Sometimes pinpointing what triggers jealousy can help. Perhaps you are not interested in who your partner met before, but what kind of person he was then. Or you want to know what attracts him and what annoys him. Or you think you can predict the development of your relationship.

Take a look at the situation from the other side

Let's say you are afraid of losing your lover because he is wonderful. Think about what made him that way, and admit to yourself that past romantic relationships have contributed as well.

Any relationship makes us more experienced, allows us to develop. And perhaps, if they were not there, your partner would not have become the person with whom you fell in love.

Realize that the past is the past

Even if you know your partner had a relationship before you (and not even one), remind yourself that it's over. Perhaps people realized that they were no longer interested in each other, or they determined different goals in life. In any case, this is a past stage that has nothing to do with you.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of your partner and remember that you, too, have your own history and people who were dear to you before, but then remained in the past. And this, as Robert Leahy says, is completely normal for the 21st century.


Robert Leahy

Imagine that at the age of 30 you meet a person of your own age who tells you: “Nobody before you seemed attractive to me, did not cause passion in me. You are the first person with whom I like to talk. Will you believe? I doubt.

To look more realistically at the previous connections of his soul mate, Robert Leahy advises periodically repeating the following phrases to himself:

  • I don't have to be the only person my partner has ever wanted.
  • If my partner enjoyed having sex with someone else, that doesn't mean he can go back to his former lover.
  • My partner can enjoy intimacy with me, even if he previously enjoyed sex with someone else.
  • Fond memories of my partner do not threaten our current relationship. All people mentally return to positive experiences, this is natural.

Remember that thoughts and feelings are not dangerous

Trying to control thoughts and feelings does not lead to anything good and only shows the other person that you will never be happy with them. Realize that everyone can think and fantasize whatever they want, and then you will live in the real world with real relationships.

Don't make your relationship a challenge

Try to control yourself: do not arrange interrogations for your partner, do not look for reasons to find fault and do not provoke him to quarrels.

If you know that certain topics and names are triggers for you, do not try to mention them again in the conversation and do not ask your partner to share details of his previous relationship.

Talk to your partner

If you speak out, it will be easier for you to accept your feelings, get rid of jealousy. And your partner may be able to calm you down.

Just be correct and respectful. When speaking, try to use “I-affirmations” and focus on your present emotions rather than the past. For example, you might say, “Sometimes I worry that you’re leaving me because I believe you can date whoever you want,” or “I know that you and [former partner's name] were planning to get married. Therefore, although I believe in your feelings for me, I sometimes worry that you will understand that you want to be with him / her."

Learn to accept what you are told

You can share your feelings with your partner, calm down for a short time, but then start tormenting yourself with doubts again. This is due to the fact that you do not completely trust either the feelings or the words of your soul mate.

Try to calm your anxiety, understand that you cannot double-check every word, and accept what your partner is convincing you.

Stop following your partner

If you check the phone of your loved one every day, the maximum you will get is neurosis and a final break in the relationship. Nobody likes it when their personal boundaries are violated. Therefore, do not follow your partner when he goes somewhere, do not apply to him for work and do not try to learn something from third parties.

Don't surf social media for photos of exes and cute comments they once left to each other. Remember that sad faces and details of quarrels are not posted on the Internet. Therefore, a few pictures from travels do not at all mean that the previous relationship of your significant other was easier, freer, and happier.

Use your energy to develop relationships

Thinking about the past or worrying that your partner might leave you takes up a lot of energy. So much so that she doesn't have to spend time together. And because of this, you move away from each other.

It is impossible to change the past or predict the future. Therefore, it is better to focus on the present and do everything possible to develop the relationship.


Robert Leahy

Interrogation and accusations will not strengthen the bond between you. So just love and appreciate each other. Plan how you will enjoy, develop, and communicate, rather than arguing about things that are long over.

Remind yourself of your value

According to family psychologist Emily Cook, insecurity can fuel jealousy. The worse you think about yourself, the more you focus on the appearance, character, and behavior of your partner's ex.

In this case, it is important to understand that you were chosen for a reason. Chances are, you are an attractive and interesting person with your own views, hobbies and dreams, and there is something special about you. Remind yourself of your unique talents and qualities, devote time to a long-forgotten hobby, exercise, or dive into a new project at work.

If you are having difficulty identifying your positive qualities, move on to the next tip.

Talk to a specialist

Therapy helps to switch from the past partner to internal dialogue and to understand what exactly caused jealousy. It makes sense to seek professional help if:

  • Obsessive jealous thoughts will not leave you.
  • You think about your partner's past so much that it affects your daily life.
  • You repeat actions to relieve stress. For example, you wash your hands all the time.

If your partner doesn't mind, you can go to couples therapy and try to solve the problem together. This option can help if:

  • You ask each other the same questions.
  • You feel that you are talking about extraneous things and do not come close to solving the problem.
  • Your partner's responses make you even more stressful.