We’ve all been there… You get yourself a new boy or girlfriend and after a few weeks start wondering about their sexual history. Or maybe you don’t, but either way you end up finding out a heap of information about their past — who they once dated, how many people they’ve slept with, what kind of sexual exploits they’ve engaged in, etc.
A whole can of worms, including crazy one-night-stands, gorgeous exes, f**k buddies and goodness knows what else, invariably bubble to the surface.
Some people are able to just shrug it off. Others wind up obsessing over it. As you may or may not know, obsessing over a partner’s emotional or sexual past is called retroactive jealousy, and it’s pretty fun stuff. And I should know — I used to suffer from it.
To suffer from retroactive jealousy means becoming stuck in a constant cycle of OCD-like over-thinking about someone’s past lovers. It also often involves trawling the internet for help, and generally making the other person’s life a misery by endlessly hounding them about their past.
Whether you’re able to shrug off your partner’s past or whether you become a victim of retroactive jealousy depends to a large extent on one crucial factor — your EGO.
What Is The Ego?
The ego is often just associated with an inflated sense of self — an arrogant person with a “big head”. But it’s much more than that. The ego is actually your “sense of self” and relates to anything you determine to be “you” — i.e. your likes, dislikes, name, family and partner, etc.
If you’re a happy, open-minded, confident sort, then your ego probably won’t have much reason to raise its ugly head when confronted with the reality of your partner’s romantic and sexual history.
If, on the other hand, you’re a little insecure or judgmental, and/or prone to dwelling on “mind fluff”, then finding out intimate details about your partner’s past can cause your ego to lurch into a frenzy of anxiety and paranoia.
What I didn’t realize at the time, though, is that all those negative thoughts and emotions whirring about my head about my girlfriend’s sexual history were, in reality, just my ego trying to protect me.
This is because the ego is really just a defense shield, trying to protect us from being emotionally hurt, embarrassed, or physically harmed. Which is all well and good if there’s a real threat to be shielded from, but not when there isn’t, as in the case of retroactive jealousy.
How To Stop Your Ego Fueling Your Retroactive Jealousy
In order to stop obsessing over your partner’s past and the endless cycle of retroactive jealousy, the first thing you should do is learn to control your ego. And the best way to do that is to learn as much about it as possible.
By shining a light on your ego you will reveal it for what it really is — an illusion. Start by reading Eckhart Tolle’s two groundbreaking books on the nature of the ego and how to find inner peace — “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now”.
Immerse yourself in his teachings and that of Alan Watts — another enlightened guru when it comes to letting go of our egoic selves. (There’s a ton of videos and information online if you Google “Eckhart Tolle Ego” and “Alan Watts Ego”.)
Secondly, learn to meditate. It takes some practice to master, but meditation is a really great way of gaining more control of your thoughts and emotions. It enables you to notice negative thought patterns as merely products of your ego and to separate them from your “true self” and this reduces your emotional reaction to them.
There’s a variety of different meditation practices out there, but overall the trick is to “notice” your thoughts, instead of “engage” with them and let them influence your emotions.
Again, do some research on what form of meditation suits you best and stick to a daily schedule of ten or twenty minutes a day. (There are even apps that can help with this.)
If you discover what your ego’s all about and start meditating, pretty soon you’ll have your anxiety about your partner’s past well under control.