Do you often see your inner Joe Goldberg (YOU reference, minus the character being a murderous villain of course) coming out whenever you are reminded of your partner’s ex? If yes, then we’ve got quite a bit of a problem, don’t we?
We know how daunting and frustrating it can be to come across your partner’s ex in person or worse, online. If you have accidentally stumbled upon his/her public account on social media, there’s no way you’re leaving the app anytime soon. So, might as well just make some popcorn for yourself while you’re at it.
Retroactive Jealousy: A Simple Definition
As tempting as stalking your partner’s ex on social media can be, I’m sure we are aware of how unhealthy this obsession is. Not to mention it gives rise to negative feelings like anger and jealousy. That too because of something that has been left behind in the PAST.
The terminology for the jealousy one experiences while obsessing over their partner’s ex is known as ‘retroactive jealousy.’ Emily Cook, a family and marriage therapist says that “interest in a partner’s past can range from curious to obsessive to avoidant.”
Retroactive jealousy, like the usual jealousy, is very unhealthy given how destructive a person can get once these negative feelings have risen.
How to Stop Obsessing over Your Partner’s Ex
So, instead of going down that rabbit hole filled with self-pity, jealousy or anger, here are some of the things you can do instead to stop yourself from obsessing over your partner’s ex –
Validate Your Emotions
The first step towards healing from any negative or hurtful feelings is to acknowledge them. Like happiness, sadness and anger, jealousy is a valid emotion.
If you think about it, almost all the emotions that we feel on a daily basis are beyond our control. However, what we do have in control is how we can deal with these emotions.
So, if you have spent hours obsessing over your partner’s ex on social media, even if it was only to feed your curiosity, know that it’s more normal than you think it is. We all go through that phase where we cannot stop being insecure about the person we are with.
Therefore, address those negative feelings ask yourself ‘why’ you might be feeling them. is it because you’re worried he/she will leave you? Or is it because you’re insecure that they are a better choice than you from every aspect? Whichever is it, think about it and accept those feelings. Otherwise, they will worsen over time and give rise to unnecessary tension between the two of you.
Think from Your Partner’s Perspective
You obviously want things to work out, which is why you are insecure about your partner’s past. But have you ever paused to think that these people are in the past for a good reason and you happen to be their present?
Think about the past relationships that you have had for a second. Some were great while others left you in tears. Either way, they are in the past because something went wrong. And you are with your current partner because you have moved on from those relationships and grown as a person.
This brings us to our current situation. Since your current partner is the person you want to be with right now, hence comes the jealousy.
However, it is the same for him. He/she no longer wants the things they used to back then. So, take a breather and place yourself in their situation to gain a better perspective of the situation.
Resist the Temptation to Stalk
Stalking itself takes up an unhealthy amount of time, which you could have been better spent otherwise. While we understand how tempting it can be to stalk your partner’s ex on social media, it is important to remember that these people do not hold any significance in your partner’s life, or the life that you two have built together.
Communicate with Your Partner
Communication is key, no matter what the problem is. So if you are having a hard time controlling your emotions regarding your partner’s ex, talk to them about it. Chances are, you have been overthinking about things that could have been resolved within minutes of talking to your partner about it.
Know that he/she will understand, because at some point, they might have had to deal with the same emotions that you are dealing with right now. Be sincere and honest about your feelings. This will not only get rid of any unnecessary tension that had built up over time, but will also help your partner to put your feelings at ease.
A Famous English hymn writer, Isaac Watts had once said, “Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.” And rightfully so.
But if you are unable to build a sense of trust between you and the person you love, there’s a good chance that the relationship won’t last. Hence, before jumping to conclusions, have a little faith and trust your partner, unless of course, they have done things to not deserve your trust.
You are Enough
More often than not, our negative feelings generally arise from a space of insecurity and lack –f self-worth. If this is why you’re obsessing about your partner’s ex and constantly comparing yourself to them, you have got to realize that this is harming your confidence.
Take a step backwards and think about how your partner or their ex had nothing to do with where you are today. You are one exceptional individual who knows how to value themselves. So, stop comparing and boost your self-confidence by believing that you are enough.
It’s Time to Break out Of Your Self-Made Jealousy!
It’s only natural to feel these negative emotions, but we don’t have to feel trapped within them.
Here’s hoping this guide can help you stop obsessing over your partner’s ex. Remember, a relationship is built on good faith. It won’t work out unless you trust him/her enough to know that they won’t go running back to their exes the second you two come across unchartered waters.
So, why dwell in the past and waste time, when you can work on your present to build a beautiful future.