How to not be jealous of your ex

How To Overcome Jealousy After a Breakup - 6 Relationship Experts Share Incredibly Effective Strategies To Combat Jealousy

“Jealousy, that dragon which slays love under the pretence of keeping it alive.”

~ Havelock Ellis

# Follow the below 7 tips

Breakups differ.  If you did the breaking up or it was a mutual decision, it’s easier to move on although even then people experience jealousy.  

This is especially true if you actually see your ex with someone else.  If you were the one broken up with, it can be a lot harder.

Let’s look at a mutual breakup or one that you initiated.  

It seems counterintuitive to feel jealousy when you were the one who wanted out.  Yet it’s an almost universal response regardless of the circumstances.  I think it has something to do with a certain sense of ownership that we tend to feel with our partners, both current and ex.  

You are still connected by the past that you shared.   

That past seemed unique to the two of you, and seeing him with someone else can almost feel like a betrayal of what you shared.  

Because this seems to be a fairly normal emotional response, I wouldn’t worry about it.  

When I experience emotions that don’t seem to make sense, I like to get curious about them rather than reactive to them.  

Our emotions are complicated and sometimes illogical.  It’s difficult to manage them except behaviorally.  

Behavioral management is really important here.  You don’t want to do anything stupid no matter how reactive you may feel!

When you are the one who is left, it’s much more painful.  

Being left can leave you feeling hurt, rejected, betrayed and abandoned.  You can’t just pretend that those emotions don’t exist.  Being left is a blow to your ego even if deep down you know it wasn’t a healthy relationship.  

I think it’s important to remember that it probably wasn’t only your responsibility; it takes two to create a relationship and two to contribute to its demise.   

It’s so important that you not allow someone else to define your worth as a partner.  

The healthy thing to do is examine the relationship, each of your roles in it, and see if you can learn some things that will help you make different choices in the future.

Things that can help you manage jealousy:

  1. Let yourself feel badly for a while, but don’t berate yourself.
  2. Delete him from all of your social media apps. Don’t Google him.
  3. Don’t ask mutual friends for updates and don’t let them give them to you either.
  4. Avoid contact- no driving by his house or work. Don’t frequent venues where you think you might see him.
  5. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can be friends. He’s not your friend, he’s your ex and that is a completely different category of relationship.
  6. Let friends comfort you, but if you have to lean on them continuously, think about a few sessions of therapy.
  7. Remember that this too shall pass. Time heals almost everything.  You have more of a life than just this man.  Get back to living it.

Sally LeBoy, MFT –

# Give yourself permission to take the time you need to heal

No matter how a romantic relationship ends, the existence of jealousy is nearly inevitable. 

It’s important to normalize this experience even if a relationship has ended on good terms; while expecting your ability to cope with the loss and feelings of jealousy to occur in waves.

The best piece of advice, give yourself permission to take the time you need to heal. 

Everyone’s experience of a breakup is different and the process of healing is not linear. 

It’s tempting for our minds to compare our ourselves to others. 

This temptation creates space for us to invalidate our own experiences. These comparisons alone can be detrimental to the healing process and are common place many individuals find themselves to be stuck.

Your time of healing should be exclusively for you. 

Avoid contacting your ex. If applicable, delete them off of social media sites and remove photos and text messages from your phone. Although it’s tempting to “creep” on your partner’s whereabouts and relationships, refraining will contribute to a healthier mindset overall.

It’s important to focus on developing your “new normal” while maintaining previously developed structure. 

Even though it may come with emotional challenges, it’s critical to maintain a sense of normalcy during the adjustment period. Continue going to work, attending classes, going to the gym, etc. while also allowing space for personal goal setting.

Fill time previously spent with your ex with something you’ve always wanted to try. 

Work to establish a new routine that supplements your day to day life. Surround yourself with a positive support group (unaffiliated with your ex) to be there when emotions run high.

Uncover the origins of jealousy in a productive way. 

Journal about your experiences and make time to reflect on your growth process. Acknowledge setbacks while focusing on positive changes moving forward.

Spend time reflecting on the things that you are grateful for. 

Write them down and post them somewhere that can be seen each day. Express gratitude to those that are close to you and never hesitate to reach out to loved ones when challenges arise.

A final reminder, there is no timeline to closure. 

Be gentle and give yourself permission to heal at your own pace. Remember that your path is your own and that through the healing process comes growth.

Cara Mielke, MS, LMFT –

# Getting in touch with the meaning behind the emotion is key to overcoming the feeling of jealousy

Breakups are difficult emotionally no matter who initiated the end of the relationship.  

Jealousy after a breakup is a common emotion felt even long after a breakup occurs but it can be a hindrance to the development of future relationships.  

Jealousy is a complex emotion often containing a mix of anger, fear, entitlement, and envy, among others.  

It’s important to remember when dealing with jealousy that the emotion is neither good nor bad, it simply is.  It offers you clues into what is important to you and what you think of yourself. 

Getting in touch with the meaning behind the emotion is key to overcoming the feeling of jealousy.  

Perhaps it comes from fear you won’t find a man to spend your life with. Perhaps it comes from a thought that you deserve happiness more than your ex or that a happy relationship is something you should have right now.  

Or maybe, you’re scared you made the wrong decision in ending the relationship. Once you discover what jealousy is telling you, you can better deal with the underlying emotion and overcome your jealous feelings.

While exploring what your jealousy is telling you, it’s important not to let the jealousy influence your choices or actions.   

While it is perfectly natural to feel jealousy, it will often lie to you. Do not trust jealousy and instead make decisions without its influence.  It may tell you to try to make your ex jealous, find out more information about his new relationship, or try to harm his new relationship. 

This will only end in your own misery.  It’s okay to have a feeling, but it’s less acceptable to act on those feelings without thinking about the consequence first.

Additionally, to quelch the jealousy you feel, it is helpful to remind yourself why the relationship ended in the first place.  

Whoever ended it, had reasons. If you ended the relationship, be confident and trust your decision. They weren’t the one for you.  

If he ended the relationship, remind yourself that a healthy and happy relationship is built only when both partners want to be in the relationship. Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be there? 

Don’t let jealousy or fear manipulate you into ignoring the reasons you two don’t belong together.   

You might miss a great opportunity at a new relationship being so focused on your ex.

Finally, keep in mind that his relationships have nothing to do with you.  

You have the same chances of finding lasting love as he does, however, this won’t necessarily happen at the same time.  You don’t know how your ex’s new relationship will turn out, and frankly, it has no bearing on your own future relationships.  

Don’t let the feeling of jealousy prevent you from meeting the man of your dreams by obsessing over an ex. 

He’s not worth it, and you are worth giving yourself a chance at a happy, healthy, lasting love free from jealousy.

Heather Gillam, MS, NCC, LMFTA –

# Practice self-love and acceptance

There’s a good reason we associate jealousy and the color green.  

That little green monster festers under your skin and in the pit of your stomach.  It can make you feel sick when you think about it.   

We can spiral out into an episode of depression and anger.  

  • You might possibly be plotting some sort of revenge to get them to see that YOU were the one for them, not their new partner.  
  • You might be going through all the things you think you could have done differently in order to keep that partner committed to you.  
  • Maybe you see your ex doing all the things you had wished they’d done while you were together.  

No matter what, at some point you are going to have to accept that your relationship is over and it’s time to grow.  

Jealousy can be a sign that you haven’t taken the time to really take stock in how magnificent you are.  Jealousy stems off of the idea that you are inadequate or unworthy in some way. Are you?  I think NOT!  

All of your feelings after a break up are valid, however, if you really want to do the BEST possible thing after a break up- LOVE YOURSELF.  

Focus on what you are proud of and grateful for.   Write down 5 things every night.  Start your day with gratitude.  

What interests or hobbies fell to the wayside during the relationship? 

Pick them up again.  Find new ones.  Write out a bucket list of things that you want to do, places you want to go, things you want to learn.  

Do some personal inventory on how incredibly strong you are and all of the things you’ve been through.  Write it down.  Write yourself a love letter. Do it.  

Move your body.  

You can exercise, sure, Yoga and stretching totally counts, but dancing gets extra bonus points.  Spend time with your friends (and try not to talk about the relationship, it’s okay if you do though).  

We are all beautiful mirrors to one another, each of us unique in our own way.  

There is NO comparison to you or the relationship you had with them.  That too is unique.  Through our relationships we grow and learn more about ourselves.  

Endings are difficult.  However, they do create space for you to grow and allow someone new into your life.

Jessica Ellison, M.A., L.P.C.C. –

# Follow the 3 tips below

Have you ever tried to let go of unwanted feelings after your breakup?  

What happens is that your emotions get stuck at a certain point and it becomes hard to transition yourself past the hurt, jealousy and pain.  

Ultimately, you hold on to these feelings without even realizing it and think that you have no choice or control over how you feel.  The reality is that you do have control.

Feelings are always choices.  

Nobody can make you feel jealous.  Quite simply, your feelings over your ex are habits, which are driven by blind reason and automatic behavior.

The goal is to control how you feel so that you keep yourself inspired, joyful and content, especially since your ex in no longer in your life.  

The bottom line is that it feels good to feel good and you must do everything in your power to maintain that condition.  

Here are some things to do to help you control your feelings:

1. Distract yourself. 

The more you dwell on negative feelings, the more they will grow in your mind, causing you to act and react a certain way. Instead, give yourself a new thought to think about that is more pleasant and calming.  Stay with that thought for a minute and your mood and state of mind will change.

2. Consider how long you are “willing” to stay in your negative, jealous headspace. 

Is it an hour, a day or even longer? If you can put a time frame around it, when the time is over, you can move on.

3. Tap into how your emotions are affecting you physically.  

If you have too many strong negative thoughts, they will work like a disease to weaken your resistance and cause you unwelcomed illnesses. Are you experiencing unusual headaches, digestive problems, skin rashes?  If so, your body may be reacting to your jealous mind.

Amy Sherman, M. A., LMHC –

# Follow the below 7 tips

Going thru a break-up can be difficult. Especially if you were with the person for a significant amount of time or invested a lot of your life to them.

Many people feel jealous once they find out this person is with someone else. I’m hoping to offer you some helpful ways to get over them and move on!

I want to note before you begin reading, this is for people who truly want  to get over a relationship.

Nothing will help the person who wants to stay stuck, stalk their ex, or if they get something out of being jealous and talking about it incessantly with their friends.

These tips will help those who have chosen to move on and are trying to get over a relationship.

1. Understand that you have lost something important to you so you will have a grieving process.

We are wired to grieve after a loss. It’s human and natural. It’s normal in this process to feel denial that the relationship is over at first.

Once denial kicks in, anger takes over. This is where many people get stuck. Realize the anger is normal and is actually leading you down the road to feel the sadness, then to accept the loss and move on. Many times, jealousy is just someone stuck in the anger stage of grief.

Realize this anger is normal and will pass. But it is not normal to get “stuck”. A week or two is generally a good guideline for feeling the anger.

2. Remove them from your phone, Facebook, email account, etc.

Anything that would be a temptation for you to contact them- get rid of it. It’s going to be tempting enough. You don’t need the temptation of something right in your face staring at you, begging you to call!!

3. Create a team of support that you can call when you feel weak.

Have a friend or family who knows they’re going be “on call” for when you feel weak. You can call them, email them, or text them whatever it is you would LIKE to actually say to your ex. They will know it’s just you venting and they can either read it or delete it.

4. Keep yourself busy.

If you know that when you have a lot of free time, you are tempted to call, make sure you don’t have a lot of free time. Invest in a new hobby or challenge yourself at a new goal. Stay focused on something other than your ex.

5. Stay away from triggers.

A trigger is anything that makes you think of this person or would make you want to contact them. For example, let’s say your favorite park where you spent hours talking is on your way to work and you want to call him when you pass it each day.

Maybe drive a different way to work until the jealousy passes. You are already thinking about him, so you don’t need more things that will trigger more emotion.

6. Write a letter of closure that you don’t mail.

Make it a way to close the relationship on your terms and how you would want it (even if you didn’t want it to end-imagine what you would have said if you were given the chance). Read it to a friend and then destroy it.

7. Jealousy usually comes from feeling abandoned.

Abandonment usually comes from something we experience long before this relationship ended. If you just can’t move past this, find a good Therapist you can talk to about abandonment.

This article is too short to go into detail about it. But if you can find the root of the abandonment on the inside, you can better understand and CHANGE your behavior on the outside. This can only improve you for your future relationships.

Remember, this is for those who WANT TO CHANGE! 

This is hard work. Getting over relationships can be tough. But there is something to be learned from each break-up. Don’t let jealousy get in the way of your opportunity to grow.

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC –

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How To Deal With Jealousy After A Breakup

Jealousy is something most people who want their ex back feel. It’s an unconscious reaction and fear of loss, borne out of insecurity and neediness and triggered by the idea that your ex is seeing someone else — or is at least able to do so. And it’s a pretty valid feeling to have.

Your ex is free to do whatever they want with whoever they want. Not only that, they likely want to experience all kinds of sexual endeavors now that they have a chance. And they probably will. I know it doesn’t feel good to hear this, but it’s the reality. You can ignore it, but you can’t ignore its consequences.

So now that I’ve dumped ice water all over your unquenchable reconciliation aspirations, here are a few tips to overcome jealousy after a breakup and avoid buttfucking your chances of getting your ex back away.


Understand What Jealousy Really Is

For one, jealousy is a normal and healthy human emotion. Just because it feels bad doesn’t mean it is bad or that you’re bad for feeling it. Everyone feels jealousy to a degree.

The next thing to understand about it is that it’s always about loss. You get jealous because you don’t possess something that you, at a fundamental level, feel you should. In your case, your ex. In a way, it’s a subtle form of entitlement.

And finally, jealousy is also a pretty unfounded emotion, even irrational at times. For example, you may think your ex is getting their cheeks clapped by someone and that they never think about you anymore, but the reality is probably different.

Your mind simply leaps to worst-case scenarios because that’s how it’s programmed. But those scenarios are not always a reflection of reality. Keep note of this.

2. Validate Your Jealousy

Acknowledge that you feel it and remind yourself that it’s okay to feel it — however heartbreaking or uncomfortable. Otherwise, you’ll only feel worse and sabotage yourself.

For example, instead of validating your jealousy, you judge yourself for it, only to start feeling more jealous as a result. And after sulking for hours, you even develop anger and anxiety on top of your jealousy.

So you start lashing out at people and get so insecure that you show up at your ex’s doorstep unannounced one night, begging them to give you another shot. As you’d expect, things don’t go well.

Think of validating jealousy as a pressure release valve. When you feel it, simply acknowledging it and reminding yourself it’s okay to feel it takes enormous emotional pressure off you and makes it easier not to respond in an unattractive and toxic manner.

Which brings us to…

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3. Don’t Respond Badly To Jealousy

For most of us, acting jealous is our immediate response when we feel jealous. For example, Jealous Joe sees that his ex-girlfriend is going to a local concert, and so he buys a ticket to attend himself, even though he doesn’t like the band playing. The only reason he’s going is so he can make sure his ex isn’t hooking up with anyone else there.

This is where jealousy — which, as we said, is inherently neutral in terms of good and bad — becomes bad. And it’s your response to it that makes it so. Therefore, one of the best ways to overcome jealousy is by responding to it better.

An emotion itself is not a choice. But your response is.

In Jealous Joe’s case, instead of stalking his ex, he should go to a therapist or call up a family member or a friend who could ground him in reality. Or, in other words, tell him what an idiot he is and how he needs to go and touch some grass.

4. Avoid Fusing With Jealousy

To borrow from Zen Buddhism, instead of saying, “I am jealous,” when the emotion arises, say, “I feel jealousy. ” You can do the same with other emotions. Instead of saying, “I am insecure,” say to yourself, “I feel insecure.”

It may seem like a subtle difference but try it. Think of a time recently when you felt a negative emotion about your ex. Now, instead of thinking, “I was pissed off at them,” or “I was afraid I’ll never get back with them,” say “I felt anger toward my ex,” or “I felt fear of loss around my ex.”

You had anger, you had fear, but you weren’t controlled by those emotions. As I’ve said in the last point, emotions aren’t a choice. But your response to them always is.

5. Date Other People

There’s almost nothing as potent for overcoming jealousy — even fear, insecurity, and neediness — than getting some sexual experience under your belt. Interestingly, it’s the people with the least sexual experience that have the harshest issues with jealousy.

If you’re capable of seeing 1-3 potential mates in one week, every week, you’ll be amazed how less jealous you’ll feel. On top of that, since you’ll be less jealous, you’ll also be less desperate and needy, thus, more attractive — to your ex and everyone.

That said, don’t jump headfirst into the dating pool fresh out of a breakup. As I always advise, start dating only when it begins to feel fun and exciting. The last thing you’d want to do is date only to prove something to yourself or your ex. That’s a one-way ticket to eventual misery.

6. Develop Beliefs To Fight Jealousy

A few examples:

Beliefs #1: Feeling jealous is frivolous. If you’re reading this site, you’re likely less than 30. So you still have a lot ahead of you, and it’s just unproductive to worry about if your ex is getting pounded by someone or if they’re pounding someone. Live life, for god’s sake. Go bungee jumping, learn to code, travel around the world, start a business, go snort cocaine off a hooker’s tit or something.

Beliefs #2: If your ex dumped you, it’s for the better. It’s a glaring sign that you were incompatible and your relationship wasn’t enjoyable for them. Thus, why even bother getting them back? Odds are, the things that made you break up initially will still be there if you ever get back together.

Beliefs #3: If your ex got serious with someone else after your breakup (be it a rebound or not), it means that that person is doing something right — perhaps even something incredible — and you can learn from them to better your future love life. Consider meeting this person when you feel like you can stomach it.

7. Find Values To Fight Jealousy

Another way to overcome jealousy is to put healthy values on top of it and then act on them. When your values are clearly defined and present in your mind, they exert a motivating pull on your behavior which helps you steer clear of impulsive and self-sabotaging behavior.

For example, if you’d get jealous and wanted to reach out to your ex at 3 am, yet you’ve adopted a value of “No drama allowed,” you’d instead do something else because you know that reaching out at that time and during your current emotional state would only lead to drama.

The problem with values is that most people don’t know them or how to find new ones or replace the old. If this is you, check out this article. It goes in-depth into value clarification and replacement.

8. Raise Your Self-Esteem And Self-Worth

Whenever we’re talking about anything insecurity and neediness related, like jealousy, we should weave self-improvement into the discussion. In fact, self-improvement should be the cornerstone topic.

No matter what short-term results you get with the above tips, the best bang for your buck is always to work on raising your self-esteem and self-worth.

How does one raise their self-esteem and self-worth? While I did write many articles about it (like this, this, this, and this one), here’s the short answer.

Go easy on yourself, cultivate self-compassion and acceptance, commit to goals for no one else but yourself and accomplish them, take responsibility for everything that happens in your life, seek out activities and actions based on your passion for them and not for approval or validation from your ex and others.

If you need more help getting your ex back, check out my Radical Re-Attraction Course. With over 8h of video, 300 pages of writing, and personalized 1-on-1 coaching, I'll walk you through every step of the re-attraction process from start to finish.

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How to stop being jealous of a partner for a former relationship - says a psychotherapist


For many, thoughts about a partner's past sexual and romantic experiences are truly painful, and sometimes these thoughts can even destroy a relationship. If you are familiar with this, read an excerpt from the new book of the world-famous psychotherapist Robert Leahy “Jealousy. How to live with her and maintain relations”, which was published by the publishing house “Peter”.

Josh is anxious about going to a party where he knows Molly's ex-boyfriend Emmon will also be there. This makes him anxious and angry, and he doesn't know how to deal with it.

All he can think of is that Molly had sex with him, which instantly makes him jealous. He knows that Molly broke up with Emmon because she thought he was too controlling and critical of her. She tells Josh that she doesn't feel like going back to Emmon. But that's not enough for Josh. "If I see him, I know that I will want to punch him in the face." He knows it's wrong, and it's been six months since Molly and Emmon broke up, but right now his feelings are too strong.

It is hard to imagine any of us without a past filled with romance, sensuality and attachment to some person. We do not live in a world of immaculate virgins and universal chastity. But many people are tormented by images of former lovers of their partners. They get upset at the thought that their partners were sexually intimate or in love with them.

If you have had this experience, you can compare yourself to someone else you have never met. You think about things like: “I wonder how many times he slept with her,” “He probably loved her more than me,” “He must be thinking about her and comparing us.”

When jealous of a former relationship, people think their partner may still love, want to be with, or fantasize about that person

Read the following statements and see if you recognize yourself in them.

  • I often think that my partner had a lover in the past.
  • When I think about it, I feel uneasy - I feel anxious and worried.
  • I wonder if their relationship was better than ours.
  • I want to be the only person that my partner likes and arouses passion.

If any of these statements are true for you, then you may be trapped in retrospective jealousy. Even if everything is fine in your current relationship, you can dwell on your partner’s past relationships, comparing yourself to his lovers and experiencing anxiety and anger because of this.

"I want to be the only one"

It seems natural to you to believe that a partner can only want you and have great sex exclusively with you. Part of the romantic ideal is that for our partners we are special and unique. At times, we are convinced that partners should not find anyone else attractive while we are with them, and in the case of retrospective jealousy, we can be fueled by the belief that no one else attracted them in the past. This is romantic perfectionism, in which there is something unique about our current relationship, as if all past relationships never existed. We become obsessed with integrity, believing that our partners may have been corrupted by their past behavior. But such an assumption will only make us unhappy. Let's look at it logically by asking ourselves a series of questions.

  • Why shouldn't your partner have had nice sex with someone else in the past?
  • Is it because you expect him to be attractive only to you?
  • Do you consider yourself the only person who could move him? Why does it have to be like this?
  • Why do you have to be the only sexy person in the world?
  • Is your partner the only person you have ever found attractive or enjoyed sex with?
  • Does this mean you cannot be trusted? Does it seem possible?
  • Isn't it logical that sexually active people could enjoy sex with other people?
  • Moreover, you yourself have probably enjoyed sex with other people. Does this mean that your partner should also feel threatened?

Why do you think you have to be the only person in the world that your partner can desire?

Imagine that this is true. Of the six billion people in the world, your partner can only get sexual satisfaction because of you. It's almost the same as if your current partner lived for twenty or thirty years and was not attracted to anyone - until you showed up and everything changed.

This is what I call lust perfectionism, the idea that your partner should always lust after you and no one else. We often do this by thinking about a partner's past experiences as well as potential fantasies or desires our partners may have today. This is based on the illusion of purity, the idea that true love requires purity and sexual abstinence. This is an illusion, because in today's world, adults are freed from the harsh religious and cultural taboos often used to punish and even kill women. Moreover, we live in the twenty-first century.

New ways to look at jealousy

Let's look at the situation logically. Imagine that you and your future partner are thirty years old. You just met. A new acquaintance tells you: “I am thirty years old, and no one in this world has ever attracted me sexually. I dated different women, but none of them aroused sympathy in me. But now I realized that I have opposite feelings for you!”

What do you think? First, you may decide that he is not telling the truth about his past. Or that something is wrong with him, since he has never been attracted or excited by anyone else. You may be wondering, “Maybe he is severely depressed? Or maybe he is not sure about his sexual orientation? What if he has some kind of disease? And if one of these reasons caused a lack of sexual desire in the past, then what would you predict for the future? Will his desire be trustworthy? This may seem implausible. But that's exactly what it can be if you follow your illusions of purity and the perfectionism of lust.


Let's look at your own experience. Before meeting your current partner, did you encounter the people you desired and enjoyed sexual satisfaction with them? Do you feel guilty about this? Perhaps it simply means that you have had healthy, normal past experiences with other people. Should your current partner distrust you because of this?

Moreover, think about your past positive experiences. Wasn't it nice? Ask yourself if this means you can't love and be serious about your current partner. Maybe the pleasure you had with past partners means you can't control yourself now. Do you constantly return to past partners and have sex with them? Why not? Probably because the past for you is the past.

Josh has had many ex-girlfriends, but he is worried about Molly's ex-boyfriend who will be at the party. When I ask him if she should be worried about his past relationships, he becomes defensive: “What is she to worry about? I love her! That relationship is over. " I ask him if Molly might have the same point of view. Her past relationships are just what happened in the past, period. Josh thinks for a moment and reluctantly admits, “You're probably right. She should be as worried as I am." Moreover, most relationships often end because one or both partners believe that they are no longer worth it. When your past relationships ended, they opened the way for your current relationship.

The Mirror of Evolution

Another way to look at past sexual desires and relationships is to look at them from an evolutionary standpoint. Sexual desire has evolved because it is adapted to humanity. The presence of sexual desire in many generations of people is adaptive, because it allowed our ancestors to reproduce. If the object of this attraction were limited to a single person for each of us and he would never meet us, the continuation of the family would become impossible. In the context of evolution, it is somewhat absurd to think that you will be the only person that your partner can desire or achieve sexual satisfaction with.

You may believe that your partner's past (or present) sexual desires will inevitably lead to action. Josh asked me, "If Molly wanted Emmon, what would stop her from going back to him or dating someone else?" I noticed that Josh considered Molly's sexual desires, her memories, and even her fantasies to be dangerous to him. He was sure that an uncontrollable sexual desire would seize her and she would cease to control herself. This is reminiscent of the fusion of thought and action we mentioned earlier: "If Molly has a sexual desire, she will be guided by it." I offered to test this statement on his example.

  • Bob: How often do you meet women who attract your attention?
  • Josh: (smiling) Every day.
  • Bob: Since you and Molly have been together, how many times have you decided to cheat on her?
  • Josh: Never.
  • Bob: Doesn't this suggest that there is often a discrepancy between sexual attraction or fantasy and immediate action?
  • Josh: Yes.
  • Bob: So why didn't you follow your sexual fantasies and desires?
  • Josh: I may find other women attractive and even fantasize about them, but I really love Molly. The implementation of these thoughts in reality would just spoil everything. I don't want to make life difficult for myself. It's not worth it.
  • Bob: Is it possible that the same process of thinking and choosing could be true for Molly? While she may remember having sex with Emmon and even have erotic thoughts, she may decide that it's just not worth it. Is it possible that there is a big difference between the appearance of a thought or feeling and the choice of the appropriate action? Isn't that what you do on a daily basis?

Developing Realistic Guidelines

Now that we've looked at these relationship rules, let's replace them with more vital and acceptable guidelines that won't destroy existing relationships. Here are some suggestions.

  • I don't have to be the only person my partner has ever wanted.
  • If my partner enjoyed sex with someone else, that doesn't say anything about the possibility that he might return to him.
  • If my partner enjoyed sex with someone else, she may also enjoy sex with me.
  • It is not dangerous for my relationship if my partner has pleasant memories of a former lover.
  • It is natural for all of us to think positively about the past. That's what memories are for.

"If my partner wanted him, how could she want me?"

Let's look at your polarized, categorical dichotomous thinking. The reasoning goes something like this: "If my partner has experienced sexual attraction to someone else in the past or present, this means that he does not feel it for me." This is a form of lust perfectionism, where you can have only one desire that cancels all other desires.

Let's take food as an example. Let's say you're crazy about spaghetti with lobster in tomato sauce according to a special recipe. You just love this dish. But by the time you arrived at the restaurant, it was over. So the waiter tells you that the menu has excellent parmesan eggplants, as well as thirty other excellent dishes. Do you exclaim: “How can you talk about anything else but lobster in tomato sauce?” and leave the restaurant?

Similarly, your partner may have had sexual desires for someone else in the past, but that relationship has ended. Perhaps they both decided they couldn't stand each other. But it may also be true that sometimes she fondly reminisces about the past with this person - most likely, evoking only good things in her memory. Does this mean that her sexual desires and fantasies of the past will prevent her from manifesting her desire for you in the present? Desires and fantasies are not a dilemma. They are not mutually exclusive. You may catch yourself fantasizing about another person, but still enjoy intimacy with your partner. Both can exist side by side.

"Maybe the other one was a better lover than me"

Let's look at your fear that your partner might think your former lover is better than you. What if this turns out to be true? It was one of Josh's fears.

  • Josh: I don't know exactly what Molly and Emmon's sex was like, but sometimes I worry that she might consider him a better lover than me.
  • Bob: And what would happen if that were true? Does this necessarily mean that your partner cannot be sexually gratified with you? Does any experience have to be the best to be considered satisfactory?
  • Josh (thinking for a moment): My sexual relationship with Molly is generally quite good, but there are times when she is too tired or not interested. When that happens, I wonder if she's losing interest in me and comparing our relationship to the one she had with Emmon.

Josh suffered from sensory perfectionism, the belief that the only satisfying sensory experience is a perfect experience. Based on this, he assumed that Molly had such an experience in the past with another person, and she could only be happy if she had an ideal.

Let's take a simple example of this. Imagine that five years ago you went to the best restaurant in the world and ate the best meal of your life. Does this mean that after such a delight, you will never eat any delicious food again? Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that since then you have eaten a lot of different, very tasty and good food, and in the future it will not become less. The best is not necessarily the enemy of the good.

Imagine that your best sex happened five years ago. Based on the logic of such perfectionism, you will never again be satisfied with sex in the future.

In this case, it turns out that the whole subsequent experience is unsatisfactory and makes you unhappy. Is it really logical? Wouldn't a wide range of satisfying and enjoyable experiences not be the best experience? Let's imagine a conversation between two people who love each other and have just had sex.

  • Man: It was really amazing. And what do you think?
  • Woman: I was very pleased. I also enjoyed it.
  • Man: Was it the best sex you've ever had?
  • Woman: I can't say exactly, but it was really good.
  • Man: What? Do you mean that you had better sex with someone else?
  • Woman: I don't remember, but I think it's possible.
  • Man: Well, I can't deal with this. Sex with me should be the best in your life, every time. It must be better than before.
  • Woman: Isn't that a utopia?
  • Man: Don't you love me?
  • Woman: Of course I do, but it seems crazy to me.

Probably the woman from this dialogue is right. It is absurd to demand perfection. Experiences can be ranked according to the degree of pleasure, and, moreover, if they are frequent and pleasant, then it does not matter what happened five years ago. You have sex for pleasure, not to set world records and hold them for years.

"I can't get it out of my head"

Many people who suffer from retrospective jealousy seem to dwell on the imaginary past experiences of their current partner. They have obsessive thoughts about how exciting and meaningful the past experience of the partner was, and they conclude that he should interfere with the current relationship.

Your current relationship is in a sense tainted by the past. You may even think that because your partner has had this experience, you are a second-rate consolation prize and cannot accept it. You cannot tolerate these intrusive thoughts. You need to get rid of them in order to enjoy the existing relationship. You try to get these thoughts out of your head, but they continue to torment and harass you, take you prisoner. Wherever you go, thoughts follow you relentlessly.

What if you had to admit that you had these thoughts and images? They may be driven by perfectly natural curiosity. You can try to view them as part of the collective memory of your relationship: just like you, your partner may have thoughts and images of your past experiences. Consider if this can't just be a natural part of the relationship, as the past is often part of the curiosity we feel about the person we're currently with. While accepting these thoughts, you can use conscious distraction.

Start practicing conscious distraction: abstract, observe, accept, don't try to control these thoughts, don't judge them.

Just mark them and tell yourself this:

“Here's another thought about my partner's past. I just noticed my brain sent this thought and here it is. I wonder how my brain works, sending all sorts of thoughts and images. I can accept these thoughts, they are natural, everyone has them, and I can observe them and understand that they are just thoughts. I can bring my attention back to the present moment. I can follow my inhalations and exhalations. I can breathe a thought:

"He had another" and exhale: "I'm letting it go. " These are momentary thoughts, mental processes, cogs in my brain. I don't have to get rid of them, I can live with them."

By doing this, you may notice that they become more stretchy, flowing back and forth, not captivating you. You will begin to notice that you are able to live in a world inhabited by such thoughts, you do not need to get rid of them and spend a lot of time thinking about them. These are just thoughts. Remind yourself that your relationship is in the present. You can surround your partner with warmth, love and compassion, even if you have thoughts and images of the past.

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Katerina Reznikova,

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

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

At first, you just feel uncomfortable thinking about your crush'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 takes over completely, makes What Is Retroactive Jealousy / Ballard Psychiatry check social networks and browser history, spy.

Flashbacks of events you have never witnessed may occur at this stage. According to Retroactive jealousy: Obsessed with my partner's past / BBC relationship consultant and sexologist Ammanda Major, this often leads to obsessive thoughts and a relentless desire to know what "really happened" between a partner and their previous lovers.

Ammanda Major

relationship counselor and sexologist

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

How to Know You're Jealous of the Past

Read the statements suggested by Overcoming retrospective jealousy / Psychology Today by Robert Leahy, Ph. D. and Yale University professor:

  • I often think about my current partner's past lover or mistress.
  • When I think about it, I feel anxious and restless.
  • I'm wondering if my partner's past relationships were 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 may be different and depend on your character, conditions of acquaintance with a partner and external factors. But most often, according to The 4 main reasons why people suffer from retroactive jealousy / YouTube by Eva Thompson, a therapist who specializes in retrospective jealousy, it boils down to this: 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 is activated when you fall in love and begin to experience strong emotions. It is he who encourages you to sabotage the relationship and avoid any potential danger.

You are worried that you will be compared with your previous partner

This reason is closely related to your inner beliefs, self-esteem, attitude. If you feel insecure at the beginning of a relationship, it's likely that things will only get worse. When you find out that your soulmate 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 that your partner's past is not good enough for you

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

You don't like that your partner has experience that you don't.

A busy past can be a serious cause for disagreement. 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 fall apart. The partner turns out to be not perfect, but ordinary, and you don’t want to put up with it. Then you plunge into the past of a person and start looking for evidence there that he was always selfish, unfaithful, evil, and you simply 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 also 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 perfectly normal. They do not make you a bad person or crazy and, according to psychologist Robert Leahy's Getting past the past jealousy / Psychology Today, are due to the natural desire to be the only one. Understand your feelings, accept them, otherwise it will be worse.

Robert Leahy

Doctor of Psychology and professor at Yale University

Feeling jealous is hard. It makes you anxious, angry, sad and helpless, it interferes with your relationships. Therefore, be compassionate to yourself.

Ask yourself what it is you're worried about

Sometimes pinpointing exactly what makes you jealous 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.

Look at the situation from a different angle

Let's say you're afraid of losing your lover because he's wonderful. Think about what made him the way he is, 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, your partner would not have become the person you fell in love with.

Realize that the past is the past

Even if you know that your partner had a relationship before you (and not even one), remind yourself that it is over. Perhaps people have realized that they are no longer interested in each other, or have identified 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 place of your partner and remember that you also have your own history and people who were once dear to you, but then left in the past. And this, as Robert Leahy says in Overcoming retrospective jealousy / Psychology Today, is perfectly normal for the 21st century.

Robert Leahy

Imagine that at the age of 30 you meet a person your age who tells you: “No one before you seemed attractive to me, did not arouse passion in me. You are the first person I like to talk to." Will you believe? I doubt.

To be more realistic about your significant other's previous relationships, Robert Leahy advises Overcoming retrospective jealousy / Psychology Today to periodically repeat the following phrases to yourself:

  • I should not be the only person my partner will ever desire.
  • Just because my partner enjoyed sex with someone else doesn't mean he can go back to his former lover.
  • My partner can enjoy being close to me, even if he used to enjoy sex with someone else.
  • My partner's warm memories do not threaten our current relationship. All people mentally return to a positive experience, 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 satisfied with him. Realize that everyone can think and fantasize what they want, and then you will live in the real world with real relationships.

Do not turn relationships into a test

Try to control yourself: do not interrogate 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, don't try to bring them up in a conversation and don't 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 and get rid of jealousy. And your partner may be able to calm you down.

Just be correct, respectful. When speaking, try to use "I-statements" and focus on your current emotions rather than your past. For example, you might say, “Sometimes I worry that you will leave 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. So while I believe in your feelings for me, I sometimes worry that you will realize that you want to be with him/her.

Learn to accept what you are told

You can share your feelings with a partner, calm down for a short time, but then begin to torment yourself with doubts again. This is due to the fact that you do not fully trust either the feelings or the words of your soulmate.

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

Stop spying on your partner

If you check your loved one's phone every day, the most you'll get is neurosis and the final breakdown of the relationship. No one likes when their personal boundaries are violated. Therefore, do not follow your partner when he goes somewhere, do not apply for his work and do not try to learn something from third parties.

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

Focus energy on developing relationships

Constantly thinking about the past or worrying that your partner might leave you takes a lot of energy. So much so that it does not remain at all to spend time together. And because of this, you move away from each other.

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

Robert Leahy

Interrogation and accusations will not strengthen the bond between you. So just love and appreciate each other. Plan how you will have fun, develop and communicate, rather than arguing about what is long over.

Remind yourself of your worth

According to Dealing with Jealousy About Your Partner's Past / Healthline, family psychologist Emily Cooke, insecurity can fuel jealousy. The worse you think of yourself, the more you focus on the appearance, character, and behavior of your exes.

In this case, it is important to understand that you were chosen for a reason. Most likely, 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, dedicate time to a long-forgotten hobby, play a sport, or immerse yourself in a new project at work.

If you're having trouble identifying your positive qualities, move on to the next tip.

Talk to a specialist

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

  • You are not left with obsessive jealous thoughts.
  • You think about your partner's past so much that it affects your daily life.
  • You repeat certain actions to get rid of stress. For example, wash your hands regularly.

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