What is Retroactive Jealousy?

Retroactive jealousy, also known as retrograde jealousy or retrospective jealousy, is a type of jealousy that occurs when an individual becomes fixated on their partner’s past experiences, especially those involving romantic or sexual relationships. It is characterized by an obsessive focus on the details of their partner’s previous relationships, leading to feelings of inadequacy, resentment, and mistrust.

Causes of Retroactive Jealousy

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of retroactive jealousy. One possible cause is a lack of self-esteem or insecurity in the individual experiencing the jealousy. When an individual has low self-worth, they may feel that they are not good enough for their partner and fear that their partner will eventually leave them for someone else.

Another possible cause of retroactive jealousy is a past trauma or a previous relationship that ended badly. If an individual has experienced infidelity or a particularly hurtful breakup, they may struggle with trusting their current partner and become fixated on their past experiences as a way of trying to understand and make sense of their own emotional pain.

Symptoms of Retroactive Jealousy

Individuals experiencing retroactive jealousy may exhibit a range of behaviors and emotions. Some common symptoms include:

Constant questioning of their partner about their past relationships

Difficulty trusting their partner

Obsessively thinking about their partner’s past experiences

Difficulty moving on from the past

Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority

Resentment towards their partner

The Impact of Retroactive Jealousy on Relationships

Retroactive jealousy can have a serious impact on the quality and stability of a relationship. It can create a cycle of mistrust and communication breakdown, leading to resentment and conflict. The individual experiencing the jealousy may become possessive and controlling, leading to a breakdown of trust and intimacy in the relationship.

In severe cases, retroactive jealousy can lead to the end of a relationship. It is important for individuals struggling with retroactive jealousy to seek help and support in order to address the underlying issues and learn healthy ways of coping with their emotions.

Treatment Options for Retroactive Jealousy

There are several treatment options available for individuals struggling with retroactive jealousy. One effective approach is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their jealousy.

Another approach is mindfulness-based therapy, which can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and emotions and learn to manage them in a healthy way. This can involve practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Coping Strategies for Retroactive Jealousy

In addition to seeking professional help, there are several strategies that individuals can use to cope with retroactive jealousy on their own. These strategies can include:

Communicating with their partner about their feelings and concerns

Practicing self-care and engaging in activities that bring them joy and relaxation

Seeking support from friends and loved ones

Setting boundaries with their partner regarding their past experiences

Seeking outside help, such as therapy or counseling

How to Support a Partner Struggling with Retroactive Jealousy

If you are in a relationship with someone who is struggling with retroactive jealousy, it is important to be supportive and understanding. Some ways to show support include:

Listening actively

Validating their feelings and expressing empathy

Encouraging them to seek professional help if needed

Offering support and reassurance, but not enabling unhealthy behavior

Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in the relationship

Managing Retroactive Jealousy in a New Relationship

If you are in a new relationship and struggling with retroactive jealousy, it can be helpful to keep the following things in mind:

Remember that everyone has a past, and it is not healthy or fair to try to control or erase it

Try to focus on the present and building a strong, trusting relationship with your partner

Communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your feelings and concerns

Seek professional help if needed to work through your jealousy and insecurities

Dealing with Retroactive Jealousy in a Long-Term Relationship

If retroactive jealousy is causing problems in a long-term relationship, it can be helpful to:

Reflect on the root causes of your jealousy and try to address any underlying issues or insecurities

Communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your feelings and concerns

Seek professional help, such as therapy or counseling, to work through your jealousy and improve communication in the relationship

Practice forgiveness and try to let go of the past

Retroactive jealousy can be a difficult and painful experience, but with the right support and strategies, it is possible to manage and overcome these feelings. Whether you are in a new relationship or a long-term partnership, it is important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner, seek professional help if needed, and work together to build a strong, trusting relationship.


1. Novick, Jack, and Kerry Kelly Novick. “Retroactive jealousy.” Jealousy. Routledge, 2020. 147-158.

2.Frampton, Jessica R., and Jesse Fox. “Social media’s role in romantic partners’ retroactive jealousy: Social comparison, uncertainty, and information seeking.” Social Media+ Society4.3 (2018): 2056305118800317.

The post Are You Suffering From Retroactive Jealousy? appeared first on Mindcology.com.

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