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Thread: Admitting I have a retroactive jealousy problem

  1. #1
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    Admitting I have a retroactive jealousy problem

    So I posted a few weeks back after I found out about my girlfriendís sex tape with an ex. Got loads of good advice.

    Ultimately though itís part of a bigger problem thatís been developing over the last 4-5 months and I feel itís a classic case of retroactive jealousy.

    This has mainly been around feelings that Iíll never live up to her first serious relationship, which ended in a messy broken engagement some years ago. Her actions and words, alongside those of her friends and family would strongly suggest that in truth that relationship pales into insignificance now compared to what we have, but these feelings persist. I donít bring it up often but even if I did, nothing she canít say or do will be enough.

    The feelings sometimes subside, but never for long. Sometimes itís the ex fiancť I agonise over, in recent weeks that was replaced with the sex tape, sometimes both, sometimes nothing.

    I need to own this and deal with it, this so any advice would really be appreciated. It has destroyed my mental state over the past few months and I know itís all in my head. If I donít deal with it I will slowly but surely ruin what is the happiest relationship Iíve had.

    There are loads of resources about dealing with his online but most look like expensive scams and the ones Iíve manages to look at offer little beyond ďjust get over it.Ē

  2. #2
    Platinum Member maew's Avatar
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    Yea it's not helpful to say "just get over it"... if you could, you would I am sure!

    Jealousy and envy are really challenging emotions as they are super uncomfortable and majorly cloud our perceptions about things.

    The root of jealousy and envy are insecurity and greed which usually causes us to compare ourselves to others and come up short and then try to compensate in all sorts of ways.

    I really struggle with this at times because I have a lot of insecurities. To combat this, I spend as much time as I can doing things I feel good about, so that I can continuously build my confidence and self-esteem. This includes things like eating well, sleeping well, exercising, setting goals and achieving them, taking advantage of opportunities to learn and improve my knowledge in different areas, volunteering, and doing things I enjoy with the people I care about. All of that keeps me generally pretty busy so I don't have a lot of time to dwell on the things I don't have.

    Other things that help... looking at myself as others see me instead of what my head tells me; writing a list of things I feel grateful for and appreciative of; doing things like coaching, therapy, and journaling to bring me more self-awareness, MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) to help me stay grounded and accepting of myself and my situation.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Itís always good to be able to spot an issue that needs working on. That said, Iíd resist terminology like ďretroactive jealousy,Ē as it kind of validates something that can looked at it more simplistic termsólike, say, immaturity.

    Thatís not a diss. No human is ďfully mature,Ē since we are always maturing, at least until we stop breathing. But Iíd say the thing to ďadmitĒ here is that you have some growing up to do so that you can be happy in an adult relationship. That keeps it small and manageable, rather than blowing it up into some condition that is devouring you.

    Where do you think all this insecurity comes from, as at root thatís what youíre describing? The other obvious question is: Could there be a chance that you just donít want to be in this relationship anymore, and are searching for an exit?

  4. #4
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    My personal take is that we often lose ourselves in our relationships as we give and some of us give too much. Take some time out for yourself and start boosting your self-confidence in other ways. When we grow stagnant and stop growing in areas of our life we become insecure. We're social creatures and continuously compare ourselves, even subconsciously, to others around us and our peers. You're not abnormal for doing that. It's coded in you to do that in your DNA. Why fight it?

    Embrace it, I say, within reason. I prefer the idea of accepting those differences and whatever parts you don't like about yourself and incorporating those things into your entire identity. Sometimes we improve on it, other times we don't. It stays on the backburner for years while we tend to other pressing items or more urgent matters in life.

    So you're insecure and feeling like you're vulnerable and not comparable to your gf's ex. What parts? The question is rhetorical here but in your own private moments, I'd go over what parts you feel so insecure about.

    I wouldn't be ashamed if you feel you need a time out from dating in general. I wouldn't be surprised at all if you felt it's too overwhelming for you to be in a relationship. Another thing also: most of us don't enter relationships and immediately feel comfortable or secure. There's a settling period where the dust settles. It generally takes 3 or 4 years for me to feel completely ok with someone I'm dating. That's just me. I think there's a very unrealistic expectation that plenty of couples make expecting themselves to feel confident in each other too quickly. It just doesn't happen that way.

    Hope you feel better soon.

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    Re: Bluecastle (sorry didnít quote)

    I am 100% certain I want to be in the relationship and not sure how what Iíve said could suggest otherwise. Honestly Iím not looking to find excuses to leave. If I met someone else the exact same thing would happen given my current mindset.

    I guess it comes from multiple sources. I grew up in a household with no rules or expectations. I was for want of a better word, a bit of a failure in life by most measures up until 30 or so. I was in a lengthy relationship that was loving but also had many toxic elements. I went through a messy, unusual and mid-spent youth in poverty. Despite having no medical issues and high testosterone I sometimes lose confidence sexually and have to pop a tadalafil to tell confident to do anything (itís usually about 1/5th of a pill at most so largely a placebo and she doesnít know I ever need to do this). In social situations I shift between being a dominant personality and meek depending on the situation.


    My only confidence comes from 2 sources. I can be quite funny and through luck of the gene pool Iím considered quite good-looking. Even the first part of that makes me feel like as I was always told I could have been a comedian / writer and never did it.

    The list goes on, but all the above issues were things I could deal with until a few months ago. All of a sudden these intrusive thoughts started, my mental health fell apart and in where Iím at now.

    She has no idea about all of this.
    Last edited by Horridhenry; 11-27-2019 at 11:55 AM.

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    Originally Posted by Rose Mosse
    My personal take is that we often lose ourselves in our relationships as we give and some of us give too much. Take some time out for yourself and start boosting your self-confidence in other ways. When we grow stagnant and stop growing in areas of our life we become insecure. We're social creatures and continuously compare ourselves, even subconsciously, to others around us and our peers. You're not abnormal for doing that. It's coded in you to do that in your DNA. Why fight it?

    Embrace it, I say, within reason. I prefer the idea of accepting those differences and whatever parts you don't like about yourself and incorporating those things into your entire identity. Sometimes we improve on it, other times we don't. It stays on the backburner for years while we tend to other pressing items or more urgent matters in life.

    So you're insecure and feeling like you're vulnerable and not comparable to your gf's ex. What parts? The question is rhetorical here but in your own private moments, I'd go over what parts you feel so insecure about.

    I wouldn't be ashamed if you feel you need a time out from dating in general. I wouldn't be surprised at all if you felt it's too overwhelming for you to be in a relationship. Another thing also: most of us don't enter relationships and immediately feel comfortable or secure. There's a settling period where the dust settles. It generally takes 3 or 4 years for me to feel completely ok with someone I'm dating. That's just me. I think there's a very unrealistic expectation that plenty of couples make expecting themselves to feel confident in each other too quickly. It just doesn't happen that way.

    Hope you feel better soon.
    Thanks. Iím approaching the 2 year mark. I had hoped this was a blip but it keeps coming back.

    I suppose the main parts Iím insecure about are that he was a first love so I worry it was more intense and interesting than what we have, plus the fact I didnít have much money until recently and internally I generally view myself as a bit of a failure, though I donít come across that way to people. Iíve. No idea how successful this ex is, I donít imagine she gives it much thought either.

    Ending the relationship because I canít handle it seems a little nuclear to me. Iíve dated dozens of women, had prior relationships (including one with a girl I loved very deeply) and from day 1 the connection and way me and current gf have gotten on has been on a different level.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    What changed a few months ago? Did you guys move in or take some kind of step where things became more ďrealĒ or ďseriousĒ? Oftentimes those steps will trigger hiccups.

    Or has something happened, recently, that brought her ex-fiancť back into your mind? Either something she said or something you came across?

    I get the feeling that part of you sees this relationship as ďproofĒ that youíve overcome a past of ďfailing.Ē That is a lot of mental pressure to put on a relationship. If you struggle to accept your own past itís going to be hard to accept anotherís. Have you considered talking to a therapist to help you reframe your own history in a less judgmental light?

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    Originally Posted by bluecastle
    What changed a few months ago? Did you guys move in or take some kind of step where things became more ďrealĒ or ďseriousĒ? Oftentimes those steps will trigger hiccups.

    Or has something happened, recently, that brought her ex-fiancť back into your mind? Either something she said or something you came across?

    I get the feeling that part of you sees this relationship as ďproofĒ that youíve overcome a past of ďfailing.Ē That is a lot of mental pressure to put on a relationship. If you struggle to accept your own past itís going to be hard to accept anotherís. Have you considered talking to a therapist to help you reframe your own history in a less judgmental light?
    I added some not content to my last reply to you, maybe worth having a look again as thereís more info there now.

    We moved in 2 months ago but this has been building since May. Her ex came into conversation one time, utterly nonchalantly and I ended up down the rabbit hole, asking her questions, twisting things in my head and inventing baggage that wasnít there. This happened occasionally over a few months until she got upset at it in September as she just didnít know what to say to make me believe she was over him.

    I stopped bringing it up and I thought I was over it but itís come back the last couple of days.

    I view myself in a horrendous and conflicting manner but to be honest I donít view the relationship as proof of overcoming any failing. I donít really need a relationship for validation, was ok with being single and have never had any problem in attracting or keeping partners. Itís one area of my life I can be fairly confident in at times.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    Two years isn't long at all. It took me three to four years to put my husband's previous marriage into perspective. They shared 13 years together and a lot of memories, celebrated a 10 year anniversary with the works and went through many milestones together. The first three to four years were tentative for me and I wondered how I'd ever live up to that memory especially considering they parted amicably and on very good terms. I felt like a fraction of the woman she might have been if she still was his wife. It was worse because both of us are radically different in personality. At least if he picked a second wife that resembled the first, it would seem consistent. That we were nothing alike at all disturbed me for a time and I wondered if he knew what he was doing even though that previous marriage ended. In time, all the things I felt insecure about started to smooth out. If the relationship is healthy you'll know by your partner's mannerisms and thoughts, actions and other events that his/her past is not a threat.

    My honest opinion is that you're overthinking a whole lot and you're not putting your time and good energy to more productive and better means. This isn't me being rude to you. I'm hoping to redirect you to other areas of your life and put things in perspective. Two years is really nothing in the big picture. I do think you have unrealistic expectations of yourself and your relationship. I also think that you both have a lot to live through together in order to establish trust and security/stability (knowing and feeling confident in yourselves and your partner).

    My husband still tests me, by the way. Since his first wife left him he has trouble trusting people. I know what his dark moments are like and I know where those moments are coming from. Maybe fortunately or unfortunately it doesn't phase me. He did a phenomenal job consistently showing me how much he loves me over the years and demonstrating his love until I grew so strong that I now feel confident filling in the gaps and understanding when he's not feeling 100% and insecure also.

    Both of you have to learn to dance together and love each other for your faults. At two years, I still had questions about my husband's ex-wife. Lots of them. He was extraordinarily patient with me. If you don't sense these things in your partner or there are some missing qualities you're searching for, don't be afraid to recognize them. Work on them together in your relationship.

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    Everything I wanted to kabosh a thought when it pops up, I mentally picture a wall smushing it from one end to another till together smushed. You also need to retrain your brain. Everytime the thought pops into your head, RUN, I mean physically. Or start doing something else to mix up signals, like rubbing your head or belly. It's weird, but it helps to disassociate the memory a bit. And go take up kick boxing or go hit a punching bag, and put all that hate into the bag, and punch it. You just need to work it out of your system.

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