Retroactive Jealousy

Retroactive jealousy is an obsession with the past of a romantic relationship. It could have something to do with their past relationships or the things they did in those relationships. More strong jealousy may lead to difficulties in the relationship since it can make your spouse uncomfortable, but moderate jealousy is natural and can even help your relationship become deeper and more intimate.

Even while not all relationships can withstand retroactive jealousy, honest dialogue, fostering relationships, and seeking expert advice may all be beneficial. Boost your partner’s communication throughout therapy.

Emoneeds has several certified specialist who provide convenient and affordable treatment for various mental health issues including retroactive jealousy. Let us help you improve your mental health with the right therapist and counselling today!

What Is Retroactive Jealousy?

Before entering a current relationship, the majority of people had prior relationships. There may have been times when you felt a crush or romantic interest in someone, even if you never dated or experienced physical intimacy. Retroactive jealousy occurs when a present partner becomes fixated on these details of their partner’s past.

Retroactive jealousy differs from ordinary jealousy in that it is not centred on current events, but rather on past events. For instance, it’s not colleague flirtation; rather, it’s envy over a person’s past relationship. As a result, things are frequently challenging since the past cannot be changed.

Types of Retroactive Jealousy

  • Mild To Moderate Retroactive Jealousy: This type of jealousy is prevalent, and most of us can probably relate to it. This is when your spouse brings up a past relationship or the first time you see their ex in person, and you get a brief feeling of envy. This kind often doesn’t ruin the relationship and is simple for the individual to get through.
  • Value-Questioning Retroactive Jealousy: This type of jealousy arises from a partner’s history and causes the jealous individual to doubt their own morality or values. An instance of this would be someone who is engaged to someone with whom they have had a prior sexual encounter but feels that sexual contact should not occur until marriage. This type of envy has a moral component to it.
  • Severe Retroactive Jealousy: This kind of jealousy is difficult for the individual to overcome and frequently results in tensions and annoyances that cause relationship problems. One such example is the individual who finds it extremely uncomfortable to bring up an ex or past relationship with their spouse and is either unable or reluctant to have it brought up at all.
  • Retroactive Jealousy OCD: This type of jealousy might be an indication of OCD when the thoughts are compulsive. This type of OD typically consists of a cycle in which the sufferer has brief periods of respite from their anxiety and worry about their partner’s history by engaging in obsessive behaviours like monitoring their messages or social media.

Retroactive Jealousy Symptoms

Retroactive jealousy, according to our psychology specialists at Emoneeds, frequently entails using strategies like the following to learn more about the partner’s past:

  • Persistent inquiries regarding previous partnerships
  • Searching the Internet for former partners who are either following them on social media or have made up phoney profiles to access their stuff
  • Looking into former high school or college experiences through friends or academic records
  • Looking through personal belongings like records, keepsake boxes, or correspondence

More Symptoms of Retroactive Jealousy

Apart from collecting information, a partner who is feeling retroactive jealousy may also:

  • Make harsh or disparaging remarks regarding your past relationships or ex-partners
  • Remark about how the ex-person was more successful or beautiful
  • Using the phrase “you wish I were them.”
  • Imagine situations in which you would rather have your ex than them.
  • Snoop around on your phone or use your browsers
  • Accuse you of cheating on your ex or staying in touch with them, whether or not it is true

Causes of Retroactive Jealousy

We get retroactively jealous when we feel our partner’s previous relationships pose a threat. This sense of peril, though, might be imagined or actual. Some people fear that their spouse would repeat actions from their past that made them feel envious.

Others may experience retroactive jealousy as a consequence of fears stemming from tales we tell ourselves about our partner’s history, which can lead to an unhealthy and unfounded obsession. Couples counselling at Emoneeds can be helpful if there is doubt about whether the envy is justified.

Retroactive jealousy may result from many causes, such as:

  • You’ve Previously Dated Unfaithful People: You may be concerned that infidelity may recur if you had an affair in the past.
  • Your Spouse Keeps A Lot Of Secrets: When a spouse is secretive, it might cast doubt on them and even make them fear that they are acting unfaithfully.
  • Insecurity: In certain cases, retroactive jealousy stems from insecurity rather than the other person. Relationship risks, actual or imagined, may be the source of this nervousness.
  • Your Significant Other Stays In Touch With Their Former Partner: Sometimes, having a partner who stays in touch with their ex might exacerbate emotions of envy towards their past relationship.
  • Anxious Attachment Type: You may worry about your partner’s capacity to support you or their level of commitment to the relationship if you have an anxious attachment type.
  • You Don’t Feel Comfortable With Your Partner’s Past: It might be challenging at times to ignore someone’s background, particularly if it makes you uncomfortable. An example of this would be a person who has never had sex before being married to someone who has and feels awkward about it.

Coping Strategies To Overcome Retroactive Jealousy

Retroactive jealousy may be resolved in many ways, both on your own and with your spouse. However, jealousy can often feel overpowering. Here are some coping strategies to get over retroactive jealousy:

  • Refrain From Giving Into Jealousy

Sometimes, changing your attention involves thinking about strategies to prevent or lessen the negative effects that envy has on you. This is most effective for those who have low levels of jealousy and can focus their attention in other ways using other coping mechanisms. An example of this would be someone who, upon meeting their partner’s extremely successful ex-partner, only feels a little degree of retroactive jealousy.

  • Pay Attention to Your Present Partnership

Take a minute to gaze at a photo of you and your partner whenever you feel the typical envy pains. Selecting a photo from a recent happy occasion, like a festival, party or vacation, works best. This will assist in changing the subject and serve as a helpful reminder that you and your spouse have a particular and special connection and that dwelling on the past is not worthwhile.

  • Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

Jealousy is one of the emotions that our ideas may intensify. Many times, our jealousy stems from unfavourable ideas we have in our minds, including the idea that our partner’s ex is more attractive than we are or the notion that they had a more enjoyable sexual experience with their ex than they had with us. Even if some of these feelings are common, being aware of them can help us ignore them so they don’t take control and fuel further jealousy.

  • Focus on Boosting Your Self-Esteem

Our jealousy is frequently the result of low self-esteem or a negative self-image. Because it makes us feel unworthy of our spouse and causes us to wonder why they are with us in the first place, this leads to the perfect storm of jealousy. Reduced jealousy in your relationship may be achieved by working on your self-perception as a partner and developing self-compassion.

  • Make An Effort To Communicate Better

You might create an open channel of communication by gently enquiring as to why your spouse is worried about your history.

To feel more comfortable and confident in your relationship, talk to your spouse about how you are feeling and think about asking for adjustments if they are truly giving you reasons to be uneasy.

Speaking honestly about their feelings may help them identify some of the reasons for their retroactive jealousy or may make clear what their true concerns are. It’s also a chance to reinforce and validate your love and devotion to one another.

  • Get Expert advice

Jealousy that is retroactive usually centres on the individual experiencing it. Retroactive jealousy can be fueled by trust issues, early life events, or growing apart from your relationship. Living with certain mental health issues might potentially influence your emotional state:

  • Codependency
  • Separation anxiety
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Trauma

You can discuss potential causes of retroactive jealousy, the state of your relationship, and strategies for overcoming insecurities over your partner’s history with a mental health expert.

Mental Health Support At Emoneeds

If retroactive jealousy or jealous thoughts are affecting your relationships and your mental health, Emoneeds is here to help. We offer comprehensive mental health treatment programs for people dealing with serious mental health conditions.

Our skilled professionals use evidence-based techniques in individual counselling, family therapy, and group sessions. With prompt & effective treatment, managing your mental health is possible. Take the first step towards Emoneeds and start healing today!

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