I Had “Retroactive Jealousy” – I Was Jealous of My Boyfriend’s Exes

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Photo by Pixabay

Photo by Pixabay

I came across an interesting discussion on Reddit a while ago – someone was sharing their experience on dealing with retroactive jealousy. It refers to an obsessive jealousy of a person’s past.

When someone has retroactive jealousy, they are jealous of their partner’s past relationships, short-term flings, and any emotional investments that their partner had for people in the past.

If that sounds illogical, that’s because it is.

My partner is someone I consider to be reliable and trustworthy. Even before we were officially together, I knew that he didn’t have many girl friends, except for the handful he had known since primary or secondary school.

He doesn’t go out with girls alone, nor does he go clubbing or drinking at the pub. If he’s meeting a girl friend of his, I would be invited along.

He’s fully transparent with me – I get invited to all sorts of events that he goes to, whether it’s to a guys’ hangout session, casual evening yumcha with his buddies, car meets, and everything else.

We both have access to each other’s phones – I can just unlock his phone and browse through it, no questions asked.

There’s literally no reason for me to be jealous or even worry about him. But oh, was I jealous.

You see, I was jealous of his past. I’m not worried that he will go back to his exes or his almost-relationships which happened before we met – I was just jealous because of some stupid, senseless insecurity of being unable to compare.

The Jealous Side of Me Asked Him to Show Me Their Facebook Profiles

Oh, his exes were beautiful. I could not help but compare myself to those girls. Am I measuring up to what he had?

This one’s awfully adorable with big eyes and a good sense of fashion. That one there is so stupidly stylish, beautiful, and so much slimmer than I am.

I know that he loves me. Those people were in his past, and he has shown me so much love and care that I shouldn’t even be jealous or thinking about those girls at all.

For me, I don’t care about my exes. I won’t even dream of going back with them. I know they can’t compare to my current partner.

He thinks the same. I even took all his first-times from him. He didn’t even have any sexual relationships with those girls from his past. Why should I be jealous?

Back then, I got irritated and upset every time he brought up his exes. I told him that I didn’t like it when he talks about them or associated songs with them.

What he says about them stick with me, and when I hear those songs, I think, “This is the song that reminds him of that girl.”

I Tried Explaining How I Felt, but I Didn’t Know How To

We had a few arguments about how I felt, because I couldn’t explain why I was feeling this way. How am I supposed to explain it to him when I didn’t even understand my own feelings?

It didn’t help that he didn’t understand that this wasn’t about trust either – I trust him, and these emotions had nothing to do with me fearing he will return to them.

The easiest way I could explain it was by telling him that I just don’t feel comfortable, because I feel like I don’t measure up to his exes in so many ways.

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

My Partner Didn’t Feel the Same Way I Did, but the Girls I Know Did

I showed him my exes too. I told him everything he wanted to know about them, and he answered my questions about his exes as well.

He was indifferent to it all. To him, I’m no longer in touch with my exes, I’m not texting them, and I’m over them anyways. So, the past is past.

Most other guys that I asked this about can relate to him.

Girls however, are different. My sister and close friends would immediately feel displeased at the mere mention of their boyfriend’s past partners.

It didn’t matter how well their boyfriends treat them, the repeated assurances of “I love you” and “You’re beautiful”, or the fact that their boyfriends have cut off all contact with the exes.

God forbid you ever receive a happy birthday text from your ex – most girls will go cray-cray, mad and jealous.

I Can Tell You That It Wasn’t Easy at All

He knew that I was not a confident person. I never had high self-esteem, and so I make jokes out of myself by laughing at the fat on my body, the disproportionate features on my face, the way I sound when I talk – everything I don’t like about myself.

My partner was patient as he helped me go through this. He would hold my hands, look straight into my eyes, and ask me to recite along with him, “You are fine. You’re doing great, and you’re always right here – in my heart.”

He would hug me every time I wasn’t feeling good about myself. Or when I feel inadequate or just need him to reassure me once more.

Sometimes he’d get a little impatient, but I understand. I wouldn’t be patient through the entire ordeal either if it had been me.

Eventually, This Silly Retroactive Jealousy Led to a Major Argument

I checked up on his past partners and almost-relationships wherever I can find them – Facebook, Instagram, Carousell, blogs from years ago. I just wanted to see how they were doing, what they were up to, and I absolutely despise them when I see their faces.

I didn’t even know why I was searching up his exes or looking at their profiles, yet I couldn’t stop doing it. I was like a stalker.

No, I was pretty much the typical online stalker and the psycho girlfriend at that point. Then, my boyfriend found out.

He confronted me about it – Why was I so obsessed with his past? Why do I have to keep checking up on his exes? Was it because I didn’t trust him? After all, he had told me everything about them.

So why was I so obsessed and acting like a psycho girlfriend?

Because I hated how his exes treated him like trash? Because I hated how he loved them? Because I hated how they were important to him in his past? Because I hated how fucking beautiful they looked?

I couldn’t even give him a direct answer, because I didn’t know it myself.

I Blocked Them All Off

During the argument, he told me that he couldn’t trust me. He felt that I wasn’t trusting him enough, and me stalking his exes like that certainly didn’t help. It felt as if I was hiding more than I was telling him.

I realised then that I could lose my partner. What I was doing was not healthy by any means. If I had continued doing what I did, I might lose an otherwise perfect relationship.

Finally, my partner’s reassurances got through to me.

I’m his present. I’m the one that matters now.

Somehow, the argument made me realize that the risks of losing him just wasn’t worth it, and as sudden as it started, the feelings dissipated.

I promised him that I will won’t look them up again – no searches, no social media lurking. Those usernames and URLs that I have long since memorized – I opened them one by one and blocked those people from my social media so that I won’t even be tempted to check on them.

I Have Stuck to My Promises Since Then

My partner has been supportive and loved me through some of my worst times. He doesn’t deal well with illogical issues like this, but he stuck by me until I was able to do better

In my case, I suppose my retroactive jealousy episodes were mainly due to my insecurity and lack of confidence.I’m thankful, and I feel lucky to have a partner that was willing to help me deal with my emotions. I honestly do.

All I can say is, girls out there, if you are one of the many that feel this way about your partner’s exes, maybe it’s time to reflect on whether your actions are justifiable. Mine certainly weren’t.

Just between us girls, I think it’s time for us to step up our own confidence game. What’s the point of a happy relationship if you can’t stop feeling inferior to the past? We can do this!

For more articles on developing a healthy relationship, read Is Facebook Making You Insecure About Your Relationship? and Surviving Your First Fight: Tips for a Sustainable Relationship.

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Nicki likes her coffee bitter, just like her personality. She has also managed to achieve her personal branding at work after wearing full-black attires to the office 90% of the time for the past 2 years.
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