What Is Retroactive Jealousy: Causes and How Can You Stop It?

Last Update on November 27, 2022 : Published on November 28, 2022

Jealousy is a common feeling we all have experienced in our lives. As children, we can quickly become jealous of our siblings or fellow students in the class if they get something better than us. As we grow older we see jealousy in the various relationships we share.

Such jealousy that comes out of an organic stimulation can be resolved easily. Jealousy becomes a problem when the assumptions are believed to be the truth. The best way to deal with jealousy is to address your jealous feelings and be open & honest with your partner.

However, there is one kind of jealousy that is a little out of the box – Retroactive Jealousy! Have you ever heard of retroactive jealousy? Retroactive jealousy is when one is jealous of things and people that have existed in the past.

Let’s learn more about retroactive jealousy and how to get over retroactive jealousy…

What Is Retroactive Jealousy?

Retroactive jealousy is a strange but common type of jealousy that is mostly seen in relationships. In retroactive jealousy, you are threatened or afraid, or jealous of the person who was in a relationship with your partner before you.

When an individual experiences retroactive jealousy, they create these assumptions that their partner found their ex-partners better than them. You are constantly in a conflict with yourself, you’re always trying to do things better than your partner’s ex.

Retroactive jealousy can ruin relationships because you’re obsessed with the belief that the ex-partner might have received a lot more than you do. At the same time, you’re also threatened by them because you fear losing your partner to them.

Also Read: How To Express Jealousy In A Positive & Healthy Way In A Relationship?

What Causes Retroactive Jealousy?

Retroactive jealousy doesn’t have one particular cause. Anything can lead to a person developing retroactive jealousy. It can be because of the life experiences that you’ve had or that your partner has still not gotten over their previous partner, etc.

However, there are a few potential triggers that can make one develop retroactive jealousy. Let’s have a look at them;

  • Insecurity
  • Insecure attachment style
  • Substance use
  • Low self-esteem
  • Past experiences of infidelity
  • Brain injury
  • Health issues with hormonal fluctuations

These can easily trigger retroactive jealousy. Other than these there are a few more things like your partner constantly comparing you with their previous partner and saving and admiring gifts received from your ex-partner.

Also Read: How To Deal With Jealousy In A Relationship?

Therefore, what causes retroactive jealousy cannot be answered that easily. The triggers can come from within or you can be triggered by your partner’s actions and behaviors as well. Other than that, some mental health conditions can also foster retroactive jealousy such as;

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Depression

How To Get Over Retroactive Jealousy?

Retroactive jealousy can the potential to ruin your relationship and take a toll o your mental health. Not many people realize the consequences jealousy can have on you. Once you have realized that you might be dwelling on retroactive jealousy, make sure your snap out of it as soon as possible.

Having said that, it’s easier said than done, therefore, here are a few things you can do to overcome retroactive jealousy;

1. Introspection: retroactive jealousy can pollute your thoughts and how. Whenever you find yourself feeling jealous about your partner’s past, try to pay close attention to your feelings and try to find out where these feelings come from.

2. Communication: it is the key to all healthy and happy relationships. Communicate with your partner as much as possible. Tell them how they might be triggering your retrospective jealousy or how sensitive you are about certain things because of your past.

3. Focus on your current relationship: it’s important to be in the present moment. You can’t hope for a bright future if you’re stuck in the past. Make sure you reflect on your relationship in the present and focus on what is needed in this relationship.

4. Do not be trapped by social media: it’s one place where we have all the drama from the past. It’s best to not fall into the trap of social media posts and the comparison that comes with them. Steer clear of social media.

5. Get professional guidance: when you feel like everything is falling apart, the best thing to do is get professional help. Various therapists cater to family and relationship problems. They can give you the best guidance.

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about retroactive jealousy helpful, interesting, and thought-provoking. Do share this blog with your friends and family, especially those who are anxious about their partner’s past.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

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About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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