Retroactive Jealousy (RJ) has become a well-known term recently, as more people become aware of the fact that their painful and obsessive jealousy about their partner’s sexual and romantic history is something beyond regular envy.
Retroactive Jealousy is so debilitating and painful that it qualifies as a mental illness on it’s own, very similar to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
In this video, I look specifically at how guys with Nice Guy Syndrome are affected by RJ – what the symptoms are; the damage it does to mental health and your relationships; and some of my more controversial ideas about how to deal with Retroactive Jealousy and recover from it.
If you think I might be able to help you recover your confidence, get in touch to explore coaching
Full transcript (unedited)
Let’s talk about retroactive jealousy specifically for nice guys. Now I say specifically for nice guys, because that is my niche audience. Those are my coaching clients. I can’t say that everything that’s going to be in this video is relevant to all types of people. I’ve found retroactive jealousy to be one of the most challenging things to coach people on. It’s not because it’s a complicated thing, necessarily. I mean, in terms of sort of trauma response, it’s fairly straightforward. But because my clients at least and I suspect others have a weird stubbornness about it, they like to cling to it. And I think I know why. So the definition I found one online that works pretty well retroactive jealousy refers to a person’s distress or perceived threat about their partner’s past romantic relationships, sexual relationships. This can occur even if their partner is no longer in contact with any of their exes is not demonstrating any kind of cheating, like behavior, ex partners have moved on. And they’re not interfering with the current relationship. It really doesn’t require any sort of suspicious behavior for this jealousy to come up. And it’s quite an excessive jealousy. It’s beyond the little pain you get when somebody’s flirting with your girlfriend, to the point where it consumes you like obsessive compulsive disorder. So some of the common traits that are usually listed, intrusive and obsessive thoughts. That’s the main one about your partner’s sexual history, vivid fantasies often adding extra details, you can’t help but imagine them vividly doing these sexual acts with other people. And you’ll kind of fill in the gaps yourself based on what you know, deep seated feelings of inadequacy, you’re usually comparing yourself to their exes and finding yourself lacking in some way. Maybe it’s penis size, maybe it’s performance, maybe it’s how much she loved them, you’ll find some way that you come off sick and based fear that the partner will leave and it’s somehow related to this past sexual experience like you’re not enough and that will drive her away. And of course, this just leads to overall intense anxiety. Then there’s the information seeking behaviors and questioning your partner going through her social media to find a previous context and see who did what back in past snooping. Even accusations of cheating or desire to cheat punishing your partner for having this past being sarcastic and nasty about previous partners, even embarrassing her in public or him constant comparisons in your mind and in real life between you and potential threatening other mates, and just generally suffering. Now, those are the kind of standard issue things about RJ that you can find anywhere on the internet. And I want to talk a little bit about what I’ve also noticed, in my practical experience with my clients, one thing I’ve noticed is their body count really isn’t relevant. That’s while people online talk about retroactive jealousy, the ones who blame the woman anyway, will say that, you know, women have a high body count and that they’re sluts and all this horrible stuff. But in real life cases of retroactive jealousy, it can be that you’re even with a virgin, but she’s kissed somebody else in the past, like, I’m often quite surprised by what my clients are jealous of. It’s very rare that their partner has an abnormally high sex life. And their past history quite often, the guy that I’m working with has actually had more sexual experience than the girl I found with my clients that no amount of information makes it better. Whether you’re snooping or getting the information directly from your partner. Even if you’ve got everything you could possibly know about her history, it doesn’t help. And yet the guy feels compelled to keep seeking more information as somehow he’ll stumble on something that makes it alright. But that never happens. The Gill reassuring there, it does very little. I mean, it is helpful to some extent, but it certainly isn’t an overall cure. So I’ve had clients with a partners very reassuring about how much she loves him and how satisfied she is with him in the bedroom and anything else he might need to hear. And she has shown evidence that that’s true, you know, through the loyalty of her behavior and how thoughtful and caring and loving she is. And yet, it’s just not enough, he still doubt in some way. As I mentioned earlier, there’s something special about this skill. That’s usually the case with my clients is this partner is unique, they care more about them, they love her more. They feel like they’re heading out of their league, maybe there’s something about it that makes us stand out from their previous partners who they didn’t have this problem with. It’s like they’ve finally got something to lose that they actually care about. Almost without exception. I see the belief they’re being honest about this jealousy is the worst idea. This idea that if they start saying what it is that they’re thinking is that revealing this jealousy in its full form to their partner, and not just indirectly through questioning her and badgering her about her personal being nasty about it. They fear that that will be the final straw for their relationship that that would push her away. And this sometimes has some evidence to back now it’s not a complete pletely delusional belief. Sometimes the partner has said, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. If you keep obsessing about this, we’re gonna have problems. But most of the time, they haven’t actually seen that evidence. And the girls actually been quite reassuring or open to talking about it. But the guy believes that he can’t. And it’s belief leads to a lot of sneakiness and secrecy. So a lot of the suffering of RJ is hidden under the surface, or done in private. And the strangest thing I’ve noticed, as I mentioned earlier, is a reluctance to heal. Don’t mind the big deep dive research online to find out as much about RJ or hypergamy, or whatever it is, it’s going to seem to make them feel better about this. But when I present very clear, simple steps forward on how to heal from this, and how to recover the relationship, and they even believe that those steps are going to work, have almost never seen so much resistance towards a strategy in my coaching career. And it’s odd. It’s like they’d rather dive deeper into the pain, then feel better and have a better relationship. Which leads me to some of my more controversial opinions about retroactive jealousy. And from feedback I’ve gotten online, not everyone agrees with me on the ship. So maybe it’s just specific to nice guys, maybe I’m wrong about some stuff. I absolutely believe that this is often coming from a fear of abandonment, that this fantasy about her being pleasured by other men is really just a manifestation of your fear that you are not enough for her. And the way you imagined the threat is thinking of the actual past times where other men of pleasure kind of extrapolate into the future, like it’s only a matter of time for one other guy does that. And this only comes up when somebody has a partner that they actually want to stay with partner who’s actually good for them. If they’re not then into the partner, or they’re a bad fit with a person knows that or not, subconsciously, they don’t seem to care this much about this stuff, they don’t get as jealous. And you seem to get jealous, but the partner that really is good for them, or at least they think she is. This is your avoidant attachment style, using a very complicated strategy, kind of wedge between the two of you, the OCD about scenes that hurts you disgust you. And yet you chew on them. They’re like they’re your favorite food, just ruminating on her having all this pleasure from other men. I think that’s your mind trying to make you despise her and resent her to drive a wedge between the two of you. And in the relationship. I think you’re being tricked into sabotaging the relationship because you’re afraid of intimacy, because this relationship is going to get deep and vulnerable and intimate. And so your brain is going Fuck this, I’m bailing out. And it’s doing it by poisoning the well. If you imagined it was a third person, imagine if they’re just constantly in your ear about all the fun she’s had with other guys and gossiping and poisoning you against each other. It’d be so obvious that it’d be like this person is trying to ruin my relationship. What does your mind doing? It doesn’t seem so obvious. Secrecy is actually the main problem in terms of how the relationship is damaged by retroactive jealousy, I see secrecy and damage going hand in hand very high correlation there. But when the person tries to be honest, if they do, they often don’t quite poorly, in a way that’s almost worse than the secrecy. And so they believe, of course, that honesty is a dumb idea. So I guess my most controversial idea on this is that you must admit to yourself, that this is subconscious self sabotage of the relationship to avoid intimacy to prevent commitment, and you cannot hope to recover, at least in this relationship. Until you admit to yourself that that’s what this is, I can just do it directly, just get off track, I’m just gonna bail on this chick because she’s so great. Because I love her so much. She’s such a good person to be with that, I wouldn’t be able to buy that story. You couldn’t convince me to just walk away from something so great. You got to tell yourself a story first, that your partner is the bad guy. And then once you can tell you tell yourself that story, then you don’t feel any guilt about ending things or betraying them or whatever it is that you’re secretly aiming to do to protect yourself. You might not like that opinion. And if not sign off from the video, go find somebody else’s opinion. But in terms of moving forward with us, I’m at this stage convinced, at least for nice guys, that that is the most truthful way to look at this. So Enough foreplay. Let’s talk about solutions, get professional coaching or therapy, whether it’s with me or someone else. There’s actually quite a few practitioners out there that now specialize in retroactive jealousy, which is great. But if it’s you on your own, it’s just you versus your brain, and you’re going to lose that battle. The few things you need to stop doing stop seeking more information. It’s not going to help there is no piece of information it’s going to come and make your RK now I get it I feel better. That’s not going to fucking stop punishing your partner for having a past. It’s just you sabotaging your relationship and stop researching about retroactive jealousy you’ve had enough research now, go get some help for it. deep diving is just another form of obsession, you just feeding the beast you’re giving it what it wants fuel. As I said, the mindset for dealing with us is to approach it. Like there’s a third person trying to fuck with your relationship, the person getting in your ear trying to ruin things, this person does not have your best interests at heart, they want to keep you single for their own agenda. And they know that the skill is the threat, the skill could be a great relationship for you. They’re being intimate with there could be a totally rewarding experience. But it would make you face all your fears around intimacy and commitment and vulnerability. And this third person doesn’t want you to face those fears, and is trying to ruin things. be totally honest with your partner about all of that. But you’ve got to do it right. First off, one thing at a time, this needs to be a tennis match conversation every time you should never be downloading on her like she’s your therapist. One piece of information in time, allow her to digest it and respond and respect her response. If you keep any of the secret, it will be stir and grow like mold. You get it out in the open on the sunshine, allow her to challenge it allowed her reassure you and so on, it will be the least damaging it can be to both you and your relationship. Yes, bringing it out might drive her away that is possible. But keeping it in is definitely going to drive her away. When you’re being honest. Take full responsibility. This is your thing, not hers, you’re the one that has a sensitivity, you’re the one who has trauma, you’re the one who has an Achilles heel around this particular topic. That’s not her fault. All right. Like I said, I’ve literally had clients with their partners only kissed another guy in the past. And that was enough to give them retroactive jealousy. It’s not about her sex life. It’s about you and your fears of intimacy. And actually how much you like it, make sure you frame it is I have this problem that I’ve bought to the relationship or I’m suffering because of my own obsessive thing. This has nothing to do with you, it’s not your fault. Keep taking the blame off her. And you’ll be much more receptive to dealing with this as your partner. And if possible, try to frame it as a compliment to her. As I mentioned, most of you watching this, it’s this particular girls happening with and it doesn’t happen or hasn’t happened with other girls before. And it’s because she special. It’s like when I used to get erectile dysfunction, I was only with the girls I was really attracted to. Right. And I learned that this was a way to talk about our bill, I look, I only do this with girls I’m really into. So congratulations. And I can be presented that way. And I will actually take some of the seriousness out of this for you. Because if you can make this almost fun, you’ll actually find that if you can relieve some of the seriousness, you’ll relieve some of the obsessive obsessive element to it as well try to explain the avoidant attachment thing to them. Let them know that you’ve got something that tries to stop, you’re getting intimate with people because of past trauma. And it’s designed to keep you safe because intimacy used to hurt you. And you want to overcome that with her because you’re a fucking grown up now. And you’re not a little kid. She just needs to be patient. That’s all you need from her patients. And you will do your best to work through this later understand that you know, you’ve got a thing that’s kind of like having depression or spinal bifida or something, it’s this thing that you come with. And if she can accept that about you, it’s gonna be a lot easier for you to make this less harmful. Ask them to treat you like a drug addict when it comes to information about her past no more. If you ask for it or hint at it, she’s not allowed to give it to you anymore. It’s not really dishonesty. If you already know that she has a past anyway. It’s about protecting you from feeding your habit. Say don’t give me more to obsess about of asking more about your past, say you’re doing it again, I’m not going to tell you for your own good and come to an agreement about that. And you’ve got to agree that you won’t punish him for hiding information and accuser of things you’ve asked for this. Treat this overall, like you’re treating an avoidant attachment style problem. One of my favorite questions for dealing with this very powerful question. When you’re dealing with the commitment and loyalty and suffocation of being intimate with someone. Just ask yourself, Do I want to see them one more time? So when you’re getting the obsessive stuff come up to say, well, what if I just see her one more time? Is that okay? Despite her past? Can I just do I still want to see it one more time? And if the answer is yes, then just do that one more time with it. Even if you’re living together already, even if you’re already married, bring it back down to like, actually, I’m not trapped here. That feeling comes from the fear of intimacy. So if you can relieve yourself of that trapped feeling, knowing you’re allowed to leave with no further obligation after one more time, and you’re only going one more time because you want to you’ll start to see that you’re not actually so scared of seeing her all the time you just scared of the idea of constantly going deeper with her and being exposed. And then you can start trying a basic thought swap experiment for dealing with obsessive thoughts rather than trying to get rid of the thought. Try to think of something else because there’s only really room for one thought at a time, you can replace thoughts of her sexual past with thoughts of her dying. And I don’t mean in some sort of vengeful way. What I mean is to remind yourself that she’s not going to be around forever, you are going to lose her and it could be today. So next time you’re obsessing about it past, imagine how much he died today, hit by a car. undiagnosed terminal cancer suddenly springs up brain aneurysm murder, you might have already had your last conversation with him, tonight might be the last time that you spend together. If you focus in on that, you’ll see how much your past is actually relevant to you. You’re personally relevant if you think you’ve got a future with her. If you think their future is going to be very short, you’ll realize that it’s not so relevant to you that you don’t care about it so much. And the truth is, you don’t know how short your future is with her. She actually could die today. Somebody’s got to somebody’s partners dying today? Is it going to be yours? Maybe? How should you act? If you know that it is, if you’re not going to wake up tomorrow, with her still alive? How should you act today? Do you think and try and act like they’re basically rather than trying to stop the thoughts from happening? Stop believing them so readily? I don’t mean that the information about a pastor is not correct. But you treat it as evidence that there’s a threat. And that’s the bit you got to stop believing threat that she might leave you she might cheat on you that you’re not good enough for? Where’s the evidence for that thread? Where’s the evidence that she’s about to leave me? Is there signs of cold shoulder as she stopped responding to my calls? As she said, I don’t think we’re right for each other. Is there anything actually happening that you should be worried about? Or is she going to cheat on you as seeing signs of that? Is she taking secret phone calls? Is she lying about where she’s been? So actually signs that she’s betraying you, or the more like the opposite. She has been real loyal and reliable and loving, and you have a sex life and everything. Basically, on paper, your relationships are good. Is that the case, and just keep reviewing that evidence over and over again, obsess as much about the evidence as you do about the fantasies, don’t just wallow in the fantasy DeLonge and imagine a fucking a million guys all day. Just go away with humaneness that she doesn’t love me with even if she’s gonna leave was the gallery evidence was the evidence he does love me as the evidence that she does want me to stay with the evidence that we do have six together and just can’t like you’ll two lawyers in the courtroom just constantly challenged never give up on that challenge. And the last one, which is a bit weird. It’s what I call particle theory. We do know from science, that the particles are molecules that your body are constantly dying and being replaced. Okay, everything from the molecules that make up your liver, to your skin to your brain, all of them dying get replaced. I mean, that’s the reason we keep putting food in our body is to replace all this shit that’s dissipated into heat or whatever. By now every particle in her body, every molecule that was ever with another man has since been replaced. So she might remember having a history, it might even be documented evidence of her being with other men, but that her no longer exists physically in any way. Any part of the embodies that touched has been replaced. She’s basically a brand new model. So this idea that there’s some lingering trace of these other guys on her as bullshit. You could run her through every piece of equipment on the planet and you will find no evidence that she’s ever touched another guy because in a sense, that’s true. A current body never has. I don’t know if that helps or not. I just knew I had to say my little piece about it from my own ego of course if you want my kind of help with this, the kind of ruthless relentless integrity style help for nice guys, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see what I can do for you. Cheers.