Retroactive Jealousy: How To Deal With Jealousy Over Your Partner's Past

When we get into a new relationship, after the excitement starts to wear off, some of us may start to self-sabotage. This can come in the form of worrying about things, like our partner's financial history or education, or even appear as jealousy, where we worry about the loves of our partner's past.

Unless you are one of the 2% of people who have stuck it out in a relationship with their high school sweethearts, it's likely that your partner has had a past with other people. While on paper, we know this is the case, truly coming to terms with the fact that your significant other has kissed or been intimate with someone else can send us spiraling. If you find yourself obsessing over your partner's past relationships or sex life, you may be experiencing retroactive jealousy. Retroactive jealousy may seem simple, but jealousy can lead to issues with mental health and eventually cause the demise of your relationship. If you're worried about this affecting your life, it's important to first understand what it is you are feeling.

What is retroactive jealousy?

If you have been in a relationship for a bit and suddenly start having feelings of intense jealousy, you aren't alone. Dr. Ronica Arnold Branson, licensed therapist and relationship coach, tells Bustle that these feelings usually arise after the honeymoon phase has ended and you truly begin to think of your partner as someone you could be with long term. Unfortunately, we all come with baggage, and if you can't accept that fact, you may find yourself truly struggling to keep your relationship alive.

If your thoughts constantly return to your partner's romantic past, you are likely dealing with retroactive jealousy. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University, says that these feelings of jealousy are dedicated to worrying about their past connections (if they have told others they love them, you may find yourself feeling queasy over it), their sex life, and even memories they both share, via Verywell Mind. This can have you feeling overly anxious and your partner feeling quite frustrated with you. If you want to try to get rid of your retroactive jealousy, here's how to do it.

How to deal with retroactive jealousy

When we feel jealous, it is often a sign of issues with ourselves and not so much issues with our partner. The best thing you can do to try and avoid those feelings is to first work on yourself. Is there a reason you feel insecure or inadequate? Do you possibly feel that your partner is "too good" for you or that you just aren't enough? Dr. Romanoff says that in order to get past your jealousy, you need to work on yourself and understand that there is a reason your partner is now with you and no longer with their exes.

But beyond working on yourself, you also need to involve your partner. Communication is key here, and no matter how uneasy you feel about talking about your jealous tendencies, getting it out in the open can help pave the way to healing. Psych Central recommends creating new memories that your partner hasn't experienced before, like traveling to a new location or taking up a new, simple hobby together. Feeling a bit jealous in your relationship is normal, but letting it affect your mental health is not. If you are unable to get past these feelings even after talking with your partner and focusing on new things, you may want to seek out professional help to assist you in working through it.