My Boyfriend Is Insecure About My Past: Retroactive Jealousy

If your boyfriend is insecure about your past, he might view your previous partnerships as competition, or, a threat to your current relationship. This can derive from a lack of confidence and self-awareness within your partner.

When your significant other fixates on your past romances, this is a sign that he may suffer from retroactive jealousy. This type of behaviour can become obsessive, and have a negative impact on the success of your relationship.

In this article, we’ll delve further into why your boyfriend is insecure about your past. We’ll expand on whether or not it’s normal, and advise you on what you can do when your partner is jealous of your past.

Is it normal to feel insecure about your partner’s past?

My boyfriend is insecure about my past
My boyfriend is insecure about my past

It is normal to experience some level of curiosity about your partner’s past when you first start to date. You might wonder whether her ex-boyfriend was similar to you, or perhaps the polar opposite. 

Emily Cook, a relationship therapist, gave her input for an article published by Healthline. she confirmed that interest in your significant other’s past will range from curiosity to obsessive and avoidant.

Once his curiosity becomes obsessive, he may constantly think about your past, and allow it to bother him consistently.

If he’s avoidant, he won’t be intimate, and might even distance himself from you as a method to deal with his insecurity.

In a podcast conducted by Matthew Hussey on ‘What men feel insecure about with past partners’ the feedback most received from the public was;

‘Wondering how we compare to our competition/ her previous boyfriend’ and ‘feeling competitive, or wondering how different they are to the other guys’

He stipulated that this is pretty normal in the early stages of a relationship, and is not gender specific.

However, once the irregular insecurity becomes excessive jealousy, this is when it may be deemed as ‘not normal’ between a couple, and could be a Red flag to watch out for.

What does it mean when your partner keeps bringing up the past?

My boyfriend is insecure about my past
My boyfriend is insecure about my past

Your boyfriend may suffer from retroactive jealousy if he always brings up your past relationships. Retroactive is the term that you use when an individual is insecure about who their partner had an attraction to before they began to date them. This type of jealousy can become unhealthy, and detrimental for a couple. 

If your partner fixates on who you were with before him, he may feel extremely insecure, jealous or competitive.

This type of behaviour could stem from low self-esteem. It can cause him to think your past partners could threaten your current relationship. Will he live up to what you might have wanted before?

Unlike normal jealousy, retroactive is directed specifically to a partner’s past. He won’t be insecure about your current affairs, but rather obsess over who you were with prior to him.

When your boyfriend is insecure about your past and keeps bringing it up, this might also depict that he lacks confidence within himself. He might have intrusive thoughts about not being good enough for you. Are you going to leave him for someone better?

On our trusted forum, we found out from its active users if they’ve ever been insecure about their partner’s past, and why they might want to bring it up.

Here’s what we found;

  • 21% said yes, they needed to know everything
  • 33% advised they thought it was none of their business
  • 46% confirmed it would depend on certain things

to expand on this further, the difference between men and women from these results were;

My boyfriend is insecure about my past

A few of the leading comments left were;

  • ‘Nope, that’s some self-sabotaging business’– Boggboss, age 27
  • ‘I’d like to know the important stuff. It might be a problem if he has a criminal record, an obsessive ex, or psychological issues. but normal relationships in the past or the privates that everyone goes through is none of my business.’ – Nkyshemera, age 24
  • ‘I only get insecure if his past is still a part of his present. Other than that the past is in the past.’ – Anonymous

From the feedback we received, we can see that there are a few different reasons why one would keep bringing up their partner’s past. Whether it’s driven by retroactive jealousy, or the need to understand their girlfriend better, it’s not necessarily healthy behaviour, and can threaten a relationship if it’s not correctly addressed.

Why is my boyfriend jealous about my past?

My boyfriend is insecure about my past
My boyfriend is insecure about my past

A controlling personality can be a reason for a person to experience retroactive jealousy in a relationship. It will stem from your boyfriend feeling like he cannot control how you felt about your previous relationships, and if you still think about them. This might cause him to become angry, anxious or emotional.

Have you ever felt as though your boyfriend is invasive of your past, and obsesses over wanting to know about your previous relationships?

This could be an unhealthy indication for your relationship. If your boyfriend has constant jealousy towards your past, this could be a clear signal that he feels inadequate, and may suffer from fear of abandonment.

(Did you know; in Psychology Today, men experience jealousy when it comes to sexual infidelity. Whereas women, are more prone to jealousy towards emotional infidelity).

If this type of behaviour is brought on by the need for him to be in control, he might think that he needs to be the only person you’ve ever loved. The mere thought of you being with somebody other than himself can cause him distress, and act negatively towards you.

Your boyfriend might just be jealous about your past because he lacks confidence, and has a low-self esteem. This will cause him to experience pessimistic emotions. He might see your exes as competition.

Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to realise that this will be due to his own internal issues that he projects onto you.

What do you do when your boyfriend is jealous of your past?

Upset couple
My boyfriend is insecure about my past

If you want your relationship to progress successfully, it’s important that you let your boyfriend know you’re aware of his emotions about your past. However, reiterate to him that you will not tolerate his behaviour. 

It’s perfectly normal to feel insecure at times. However, if it becomes intemperate, and starts to affect not only your relationship but your happiness, you will need to be stern with your boyfriend.

Specific to the early stages of a partnership, trust building will occur. If there is continuous conflict between couples, this can interfere with the harmony, and ultimately impact the prosperity of your relationship.

You should only need to reassure him once. Let him know that the past is in the past, and there’s no reason to bring it into your current lives. If your boyfriend is unable to accept this, and is still insecure about your past, this might be a warning sign that you will have difficulty moving forward.


Should boyfriends know everything about your past?

Your current boyfriend does not need to know everything about your past relationships. When you get into a new partnership, it’s imperative that a couple understands their partner will have a past. This will vary between different people. If you feel comfortable telling your boyfriend about your previous romance’s than that’s okay too.

Should couples talk about past relationships?

Relationship expert, Nathalie Sommer advises that speaking about past relationship can be beneficial for a new couple. It can help alleviate any insecurities or doubts, and help improve your current romance. However, constantly bringing up the past can start to become detrimental.


When your boyfriend is insecure about your past, it’s critical that you remember this has nothing to do with you. It can be a result of his own internal conflict. He might be jealous because he lacks confidence or self-esteem.

If your partner suffers from retroactive jealousy, he might obsess over your past romances, and view them as competition. When this mindset consumes his thoughts, it can be exceptionally detrimental to your relationship, and hinder your progress.

(Quiz question; are men more susceptible to jealousy over sexual or emotional infidelity?). Let us know your thoughts with the comments box below.

My Boyfriend Is Insecure About My Past: Retroactive Jealousy

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