How many times have you wondered about the past relationship your partner had?
How many times had it made you angry same time insecure about your partner’s bond with his/her ex?
Yes it happens, and no it does not make you crazy, what you might be experiencing now is called Retroactive Jealousy. Let’s look into the story of Kiran who stated her own struggle with retroactive jealousy and how she overcame it….
“I was in a long term relationship with my Deb before we got married, it was two years. I met him through a friend and all was grand between us…till I found out about her! So as I got to know Deb better one day he told me about his past relationship with “her”, I knew deep down I do not want to know about his past but something in me drove all logic outside and I got to know about the intimacy he used to share with her, and from that day onwards my whole equation with him changed. I constantly started thinking about how he was intimate; maybe I am not that attractive, and all these thoughts made me angry and very insecure in the relationship. I started stalking her profile on social media, every time he used to get a call I used to demand to see his caller id each time. I felt so much guilt after each fight that it was painful and sometimes I felt the fear of me losing Deb is paralyzing. Every time I got intimate with Deb i used to imagine how he was with her and I would stop getting intimate…..after sometime us becoming close became a challenge.
Deb always assured me that “she” does not matter and it was in the past, and I am better than every way, and it is me he loves. But still my fear kept increasing, I knew I was being irrationally feeling jealous but my thoughts about how he was with her, how he touched her or kissed her never went away from my mind. These thoughts started creeping into my relationship, we started having daily fights, I started doubting him more and more even though he did everything to assure me he loves me.
I stopped talking to him nicely and was always in a state of restlessness and fear that I would lose him; I cried a lot and let’s say things were bad…..
Till one day I spoke to a Counsellor, I realized I needed help after telling her how I felt she told me what I am going through and the steps I need to follow to overcome, first I did not believe that there is something called retroactive jealousy, but with time I came on terms with it, I followed her guidance and the steps to defeat the jealousy…..and today I am dealing with the fears better………
So what is Retroactive Jealousy?
Everyone knows what jealousy is. It can be one of the most harmful emotions of all, a nagging feeling of inferiority and spite towards another, usually over a mutual interest or person. Perhaps even worse than standard feelings of jealousy is retroactive jealousy, a resentment towards and insecurity over a love interest or partner’s past romantic experiences. It describes the feelings of dread, distrust, and even anger that can arise from the idea of your partner having had romantic or sexual feelings for other people in their previous relationships. It is also a rare form of Obsessive Compulsive disorder, it involves constant, unwanted, painful intrusive thoughts about your partner’s past, coupled with excessive questioning and reassurance-seeking, disturbing mental images and ‘videos’, anxiety, and seemingly irrational anger directed at your partner.
The good news is, it can be cured and there have been many cases where an individual has successfully beaten retroactive jealousy!
So how is Kiran getting over Retroactive Jealousy?
Kiran spoke to a Counsellor to help her deal with her feelings of distress due to retroactive jealousy, however the guidance that her life coach gave her, it is helping her and it can help others as well….
So the first thing an individual can do is understand that there is nothing wrong being jealous in a relationship, but if that jealousy starts dominating the bond you share with your partner, then it means one needs to look inside and work on certain steps to work through the jealousy and develop a loving and healthy relationship.
Retroactive jealousy has the tendency to become a loop of thoughts that you keep revisiting again and again, it creates anxiety the makes you to indulge in a behaviour like crying, showing anger or fighting, until you gain some reassurance from your partner, you get temporary relief, and it becomes a vicious circle happening again and again.
Take the following steps:-
1. Breaking the Cycle
- First thing to know is to identify the triggers that start those disturbing thoughts “I wonder how they made love” “What if I am not good enough” and so on…So what triggered you to feel this way? Was it a movie clip or something your partner said, identify it!
- Second focus on your feelings about the triggers, write them down, and sit with your partner and have the “talk” about each of them. Strike those thoughts down that are most distressing and irrational, and get them out of your system!
The underlying feeling that triggers those “unhappy thoughts” is the anxiety, or feeling of not being good enough, or the constant comparison.
2. Dealing with the anxiety
First task is to focus on is “here and now” what you have, so say it aloud in your head 5 good things in your relationship, and hold your partner close, he/she is here with you and that is the truth! Yes it is too simple but it helps to ease your anxiety and your fear!
- Stop Digging: sometimes it is more important to control ones habit for finding about the past incidents and details, because more you try to know about what they had will hurt you more. Important aspect to note is that is “past” and what you have now is your “present” and “future”
- Take the 30-day Challenge to not think about the past: Try this out, it will help in the long run and develop better self control
- Get Busy: With every distressing thought focus on a task at hand, do some activity or listen to music to distract yourself from the thought.
3. Take Practical Actions
Part of the pain of retroactive jealousy comes from feeling that your partner “prefers” or “still has feelings” for someone in their past.
This is why you still feel threatened by them in the present, even though they’re no longer around.
What is special about you and your partner?
Why has he/she chosen YOU over others?
Why past relationships were not successful?
So here’s what you do: simply put up photos of you and your partner together in various places so you’re reminded of how much they love you throughout the day.
Here are some good places:
- Your cell phone screensaver
- Your computer screensaver
- On a mug
- A magnet on the fridge
- A photo above your desk
- Pictures around the house
Don’t be embarrassed by what other people might think. This is for you, not them. And the one person who does matter — your partner — will probably love it anyway.
While this retroactive jealousy cure may feel too simple to work, it does help.
By constantly seeing pictures of you and your partner in love, you’re reminding your brain to focus on what really matters: the here and now.
And the fact that their attention is on you alone and not still with some random person from the past.
4. Healing with love
The first step focuses on your thoughts and feelings and the actions you can take, now this step helps you to love yourself for the simple reason “Love cures all ailments”
Self Love is self healing, this is important because retroactive jealousy develops out of one’s low self esteem and feelings of low self worth.
- Take a 2 minute Self Appreciation Break each day :
This is a very simple and fun habit. And if you spend just two minutes on it every day for a month then it can make a huge difference.
Take a deep breath, slow down and ask yourself this question: what are 3 things I can appreciate about myself?
These things don’t have to be big things. Maybe that you just listened fully for a few minutes to someone who needed it today.
That you took a healthy walk or bike ride after work. These short breaks do not only build self-esteem in the long run but can also turn a negative mood around and reload you with a lot of positive energy again.
- Manage your emotions healthfully:
“Practice mindfulness to calm your runaway emotions,” Morelli said a leading author and psychologist. For instance, she suggested readers tune into your body to identify how you’re feeling, take several deep breaths and try to detach from the intensity of those emotions.
- Jar Of Accomplishment
Reward yourself every time you have not let the jealousy take control of your thoughts or actions, congratulate yourself and write a short note and drop it in a jar! Maintain this jar and on the days when you feel all is lost, read those notes and hug the jar! Love and remember your battles that you have won against jealousy!
These are few things to help you prioritize and understand how you can prioritize your own happiness and relationship over your battle with retroactive jealousy!
Identify it and take control because you can and you know what is more important, stop suspicions and fear of the past destroy your present and future.
The following articles will give you further guidance on how to develop a stronger sense of self to defeat the doubts and feelings of insecurity, it helps you to win the inner war with Jealousy!