Do You Get Jealous?

I usually don’t get too jealous, but…

…instead of worrying about Alex’s current female friends, the one thing that can drive me weirdly nuts is imagining him with his past girlfriends. I picture them watching movies and cooking tacos on Sunday nights. I envision his girlfriends making jokes and him laughing. I picture them reading in bed. Aaarg.

I mean, at one point, he actually loved each one, right?

Then I just chill out because now we’re in love, so who cares? But now and again, I’ll get a masochistic streak and ask him questions about them. Over dinner, I’ll affect a breezy tone and ask, “What was your first date like with Nora?” or “Did Lacey come to your family’s house for Christmas?” I always think I want to know, but, no matter how innocuous his answer is, I always wish I hadn’t asked.

Well, artist Leanne Shapton was curious about this type of “backwards jealousy,” so she wrote a compelling illustrated book about people’s ex-girlfriends. I love how each illustration has a quote about the woman, a snippet that the current girlfriend has probably heard from her boyfriend that drives her nuts.

Here are a few funny examples….
The book makes me laugh…it rings so true!

I’m curious: Do you suffer from “backwards jealousy,” too? What tidbits do you know about your partners’ exes?

P.S. Do you have friends of the opposite sex? And how long do you wait to sleep with someone?

(FYI: This topic was brought up on Glamour five years ago, and I wanted to write more about it now and show you guys this book)

  1. Janelle says...

    I suffer from this as well. It came to a head when I was missing my partner dearly one night and decided to look at some old Facebook photos of him before he met me. Mistake. I ended up finding photos of him and his ex. I thought it wouldn’t bother me because I know he is deeply in love with me, but it still did. I worked up the nerve to talk to him about it and explain that the photos upset me because they made me feel less special. When I spoke to him, he was so reassuring and kind. He even deleted the old photos to make me feel better. The best part was the following day when he told me that I should never feel less special because he genuinely never felt what he feels for me about anyone else. “Backwards jealously” has the potential to really harm relationships, so I am very glad that I addressed the issue with him rather than letting the jealous thoughts stew in my mind only to resurface and cause a fight later. Also, my wonderful partner was very kind and understanding. Despite the fact that the past does not matter to him, he recognized that it matters to me, so he reassured me and affirmed how much I mean to him. I love him.

  2. Nell says...

    It feels better to meet people who feel the same way. My fiancé was with his ex for 16 years. They broke up because he fell in love with me… I felt tremendous guilt for a very very long time. And became obsessed with her. Thinking it was because I felt so guilty because she was so hurt and I had never been in a situation like this. I told myself it would go away and after three years it hasn’t. They grew up together and never had their hearts broken a thousand times like I had, dating abusive men etc. I don’t know how to love past it. I ask about her when it’s relevant and he doesn’t open up like its a big secret which only fuels my curiosity and jealousy.

  3. Ah this is great! I came across this post when I really wanted someone to tell me that it is okay to feel this way. A couple of days back my husband told me that he had crush on a girl ( this is probably 8 years back) he was working with. When I asked him what about her – he said she was really really pretty and that he was crazy about her but nothing happened! And I was like – OK! When we were dating he would tell me that I am really pretty and that I’m the prettiest girl that he has ever been with. I use to like how he use to compliment me and he still does sometimes. But, at that moment when he was telling me about that girl – I felt the need to hear this compliment! It is so weird and a little crazy! I felt competitive in a way. I cant understand if it okay to feel this way!

  4. Last month, it was my birthday, the anniversary of my late husband’s death, and a time when I experienced another loss in my family. I was in total depression also because the gentleman I had been seeing for nearly a year decided to cut ties with me. All this happened at the same time, and my heart was broken. Then I found Ekaka email: and all my luck turned around – especially because the master did a wonderful spell of Love for me and my dearest companion, who decided he had made a terrible mistake by leaving me. We even took a much-needed vacation. It meant the world to me, and I have you to thank for it. I send you Prayers.

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  6. Lol! I stumbled on this site because i feel the same way and just have to google about it. (lol) and wow, im not alone. not that im happy about backward jealousy, but im relieved im not abnormal. :)


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  8. I’m more concerned that should we ever break up, my girlfriend is going to say things like “Oh Nina, she was an immature bitch a lot of the times.” or “Well she wasn’t all that pretty.” or worse yet “The sex was really bland”! Haha! But let’s hope we can continue keeping things on the right track so these worries will never materialize.

  9. Jo this is such a relief. I am guilty of backwards jealousy. It seems like no one talks about it and so when it happens to me I think I’m insane and no one else goes through this so maybe we’re unhealthy and not a good match or I’m too insecure. Only with my current boyfriend have I found the strength and willingness to zoom out and see that moving backwards is ridiculous, I have a past too and ultimately we love each other. I have gained so much power over my reckless emotions and its a combo of what we have (our love & a gnarly connection) and my own personal experience with how ugly jealousy can be and just how useless it is. This strength came with the right person too. The funniest thing is when I do get this way I wonder if you and Alex ever have these kind of problems because reading your blog over the years, the life you guys have together I’d love to one day have with my love. So this really is comforting. As always Jo you always find new ways to AMAZE me by reading my mind eventually with one of your posts. Thank you!

  10. The answer is no! Because the past is THE PAST! I’m not going to let the past bother me when i have enough worries about the present lol.

  11. This is SO perfect! Mine would read, “Ryan’s ex-girlfriend, Lucy, was a painter who moved to New York with her twin sister, after attending RISD” 1. Lucy was supposed to be MY baby name. now it’s out the window. At least we had a boy instead. 2. We live in Colorado, and although beautiful, it doesn’t quite have the mystique of NYC. and 3. Didn’t EVERY girl (or was it just me?) dream of having a twin sister? You’re one of the luck ones, Joanna! (and her name’s Lucy too, right?!) and 4. I thought RISD was so, so, so cool even before I knew about Ryan’s Lucy. Damn backwards jealousy! so Funny. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. I have this theory. My husband is mine forever (in a 21st century kind of way, of course). Now, forever is infinite, hence it has no beginning and no end. Therefore, any relationship before me is “retrospective cheating”. Yes, I’m Mediterranean :)

  13. Haha definitely suffer from it..but it doesn’t help that they have a son together, so she’s Always there in the background. I brought it up a lot when I had our first son together, and had to make myself stop bringing up their parenting or etc.

  14. I used to struggle with this a lot in my last relationship. But then I thought about it and realized, I’ve been in previous relationships. I loved my exes deeply. I considered marriage with them. But for one reason or another, the relationships didn’t work out, and I can very much picture myself in a future relationship where I love someone deeply. I think its possible to have more than one “big love” in your life, and I don’t want to apply a double standard to my significant other.

  15. I suffer from that definetly! I feel stupid sometimes and mostly insecure. But I try to think that we are married, together, with one little boy and another one in the way…My hubby had a lot of women, many available to kill his lonelyness (and one fiancee to some point) before me. So the backwards jealousy for me is hard thing…*sigh*….

  16. I can get easily annoyed or jealous so I have avoided to know too much about the past.I know about how many exthere are but never asked questions about them.If my guy Dodd break up with them, that means it didn’t work and nothing to me getting jealous of. About female friends,i don’t care since we share same friends and all them are my friends too.I have more male friends than female and it’s not bad either.

  17. I do this all the time with boyfriends. I don’t ask questions but they’ll eventually come up as what they’ll figure is a harmless part of their past and life. Although I have been with some really lame dudes that actually weren’t totally over their ex-girlfriends (bad, bad, bad), and seeing pictures of how pretty they are/were makes me insane.

    Anyway listen to the song Other People’s Tongues by Dan Emery Mystery Band, on this topic.

  18. Oh I TOTALLY still get jealous. . . over silly things. Like at a party, if he’s talking to other people more than me. . .hahaha. we’re still so in love after 12 years, but I still want all of his attention for some reason, ha.

  19. I feel exactly the same way Jo. Except I do not ask questions…not that I don’t want to occasionally, but I opt for the preventative approach…aware that the outcome is almost always inevitably going to make be feel bummy so no-go. He’s got you babe…that is all that matters now and you’ve got nothing but forward. Beautiful.

    I can’t wait to read the book. I’m curious about the small town near Lake Superior reference…that is my neck of the woods!:)

    xo dina

  20. I was never one to feel backwards jealousy until recently. My brother-in-law was visiting and had been drinking. He mentioned that he was hanging out with a high school friend whose older sister is an ex. This was a middle/high school ex. I met my husband when I was sixteen and we are still together (almost ten years later). He just sort of threw out there that his ex doesn’t like me because she was still in love with him. I was just caught off guard. She is actually married to someone else (and possibly pregnant), but it sort of irks me. I know the adult thing to do is just laugh because it sounds completely ridiculous, but I still get pissed off that maybe there was some truth to it. Not now, but back when.

  21. last weekend my boyfriend went back to his home town for an engagement party and i stayed behind because of work. i dont normally get jealous but i knew his ex girlfriend would be there and that night i had an awful dream that he cheated on me with her and i woke up so upset and all alone. luckily it didnt take long for me to snap out of it and one phone call set my mind at ease.

  22. My boyfriend and I have an agreement: we pretend I am his first girlfriend ever and he was a virgin until we met. So silly but it works to keep my head straight. I just don’t want to know anything about his past girlfriends!

  23. Well now that I know that there’s an official term, I don’t feel so bad.

  24. Thank you for this. I was just having some issues with this type of thought the last few days. and it will drive you crazy.
    My boyfriend is currently acting in a play opposite his ex (who broke his heart), so my ‘backwards jealousy’ isn’t so random. He mentioned the publicity poster for the show earlier this week and how they didn’t get her eyes the right color “because she has such deep blue eyes – that’s the first thing you notice about her” and -ouch- that hit hard. I also have blue eyes, which I don’t think he’s ever commented on…

  25. When I am being sensible I think that yes we ended up together so that’s good. When I am not being sensible I wonder what their sex life was like. My husband thankfully stays quite close-lipped about it because I might be devastated temporarily if he told me something I didn’t want to hear.

  26. I always wondered if I was the only one… but not really because I figured tons of women (and men) suffer from “backwards jealousy.” It’s refreshing to read this though and KNOW I’m not alone. Plus, like you said, it’s not jealousy — and I trust my boyfriend 1000%, but it’s just irritating.

    What’s even more frustrating in my situation is I’ve known my boyfriend since we were 15 and we didn’t start dating exclusively until recently. So, I’ve personally met one of his ex’s just from mutual friends. grumble grumble. I try not to ask questions because I know I won’t like the answers. And on social media, anytime I see pictures of the girl I know, I try to steer clear. But it’s an annoying itch you can’t help but want to scratch.

    Although one of his ex’s, the one I know, is absolutely crazy and doing nothing with her life, even after graduating from a prestigious university. I’ll admit that I take that tidbit and pack it in my pocket for a random ego boost.


  27. Absolutely yes. Isn’t it bizarre? Like, your SO and his ex broke up for a reason, but the fact that they were ever together just inexplicably sucks.

    I’m terrible at curling my hair. Just TERRIBLE. My fiance tells me that he prefers my hair straight and doesn’t like curled hair (on anyone, including me) because it looks fake – only naturally curly hair looks okay. The majority of his exes had naturally curly hair. So of course, this bothers me to no end.

    I make the same mistake as you and I ask questions about them, and he loves opening up about them and talking about his fond and not-so-fond memories but not in a nostalgic way. I always regret it, but I’m so curious about what he was like before I met him.

  28. oh my gosh- don’t even worry about this. he ended up with you- aka the best- so don’t even give it another thought! xo


  29. Discovered this book through a new blog friend while we were walking through Notting Hill. Great book and an even greater post.

  30. I don’t suffer backwards jealousy but my ex used to big time! He would ask me all sorts of questions, obsess about the answers and get all passively angry. It is one of the reasons I am glad we’re not together anymore.

  31. The concept that anybody has an ex makes me so sad. You meet someone and have special moments together….and then never see or speak to each other again in life. Sometimes even hate each other or treat each other cruelly. If his exes mean nothing to him now because he is with you…you being prettier, smarter, funnier, better in bed…then if you two were to break up; you would mean nothing compared to his new woman just like all the other exes. It makes me sad. It’s a cycle of leaving a trail of people behind you. All those moments meant nothing all along. He calls you ‘babe’? He called them all that. He buys you ice cream? That’s probably his formula. I mean what’s the point?

  32. Totally! But then he reminds me that we are together now and all of that does not really matter, and how he wants us to focus on our current relationship with each other, as it’s more important than anything in the past. And he’s right if you think about it, really! But then again, hormones are real bullies! ;)

  33. I don´t have that problem. I am the first one for my boyfriend of six years and he is my first and only one too.

  34. Mm says...

    My husband has an ex whom he later had a fling with when she was married to someone else(he was still single). They later broke off their dalliance because she fell pregnant (apparently with her husband’s child). They remained friends after. But I always feel very hypersensitive and unhappy when he talks about her/ mentions her.

  35. This is very interesting post. In my case, it is not a backwards jealousy, but me who is always jealous over his female friends. I went crazy when he hang out with his female friends and didn’t contact me. I always thought negative. Last Wednesday night, it happened again and I couldn’t control my self when he said he wanted to visit his female friend. I was so angry like a monster. He was tired with it and he wanted to break up. Then I felt like I was shut down and couldn’t do anything. I don’t want to break up but he was serious about it. So now, he left me, he didn’t want to talk to me and he didn’t reply my message. I feel like my life is over and regret it so much. Wish I could go back to the past and fix it.

    So, jealousy will only distroy both of you. You better control your self and trust him. Jealousy is only your fear speaking.

    If you have any inspiring quote or story that can help me to survive please send it to my email

  36. I feel very secure in our relationship and hardly suffer from backwards jealousy at all, although I think my husband does a little with my exes.

    His ex before me was crazy from what his parents told me and the ones before her were inconsequential. In the end – and this may sound cocky – he married me and I reckon he’s done pretty well for himself! ;)

  37. jm says...

    This book looks amazing. I guess the only think we have to think in the end is that those prior relationships ended!! Interesting post for sure.

  38. omg this rings SO true joanna… i am not jealous at all- i totally trust my husband- but i can’t STAND thinking about him with previous girlfriends! it has always been difficult to explain to my husband that i am not worried they’ll get back together or anything… it’s just the thought of them IN THE PAST and living in memories having fun together and doing, well, all the things that you mentioned in your post…. aggghh!

    very glad to know this isn’t just me!!! thank you for this!

  39. My boyfriend’s Italian, and once I saw a video on his photo camera (I was just innocently watching back his pics when I bumped into it) in which he says his ex: che ce? It means something like what’s up, what is it. So every time my boyfriend says me che ce I’m like don’t tell me this, I know you used to say it to Monica. He finds it funny (luckily) and says he cannot really avoid saying it since it is a very common, everyday phrase. :)

  40. I wish I could say no, but I’d be lying. I totally suffer from this. It’s funny because it’s not an outright act of jealousy (at least it doesn’t feel like it). For me it’s an insane curiousity. Like finding clues to his former life, to who he used to be. It’s weird. Oddly fascinating. And totally common apparently. Phew! ;)
    Thanks for writing about this!

  41. Hi says...

    Not an issue for us…we were both virgins and also had not dated anyonebefore marriage. The no sex before marriage thing, while dismissed by many, actually keeps surprising us with its benefits anf gave more strength to our bond. Scoff all u want modern society, biblical ethics rules

    • :-)

  42. Such a cool book, I love it! I laughed when I read this post because I am exactly the same. My boyfriend has one ex in particular who is still obsessed over him (calling, emailing, writing on his facebook) and it drives me crazy. I know that he loves me and isn’t interested in her, it’s been a good 5 years since they were together, but the fact that she’s still making herself felt in our lives is very irritating. And I can’t stop myself asking for the details – I’m a little jealous for sure, but mostly just nosy!

  43. umm.. YESSS!!! I totally suffer from “backwards jealousy” here and there! I can get pretty worked up and then I have to remind myself, oh wait I married him- so I win! haha. It’s like I’m still competitive about it. I’ll say silly things like ‘ugh, I wish I went to prom with you- stupid girlfriend’ haha. So lame, so funny. And yet I guess it’s in some ways good because it shows how much I love him right? ;)

  44. I bought this book after starting to dating my current boyfriend very soon after coming out of a long relationship. He was in the same boat, so ex’s were (and are) very much a part of our first few months together. We both read this book and it served as a good common ground for talking about our insecurities, jealousies, etc…
    I now recommend it to all of my friends as there’s surely to be a passage that resonates with everyone.

  45. I rarely comment, but for some reason I feel like I need to today. Keep doing exactly what you’re doing because there’s a reason why you’re such a well loved blog! You continually find interesting and unique content, and are brave to open up to readers with some of your most intimate details of your life. Thank you for always being honest. xoxo

  46. I was in a relationship once that turned violent…due to his mental illness. I had to get a restraining order and was told in the office that there was a judge who would likely sign it. When I met my husband (we’re currently separated), I discovered he used to date that judge. Just weird.

  47. I can’t really say I’ve got this problem – my husband and I have been together since I was 16 and he was 17! I was his first kiss, there literally IS nobody before me! I did have a ‘serious’ boyfriend before him though, as serious as it gets at 16, but he would come to family dinners, was friends with my brother etc. so was pretty involved in my life. I’m not sure how my husband feels about that, or him, sometimes we still see him or his family. Lots of people give us a hard time about being ‘highschool sweethearts’ and judge us for not ‘spreading our wings’ during university or after, like we’re missing out on something. But we just let the comments strengthen our relationship and say we didn’t mean to find the love of our lives so soon, we were just lucky! And because we’ve been together for-ev-er we’ve shared so many milestones and special events together. So no, I don’t get jealous of prior girlfriends, in a nutshell :)

  48. My husband is a nerd and doesn’t have much of a “past”. He had a girlfriend that he dated from senior year of high school until sophomore year of college and then he had a girlfriend he dated from his senior year of college through the second month of his first year of medical school before he dumped her for me. We didn’t break up once and got married 8 months after we started dating. That is it. No jealousy because I don’t feel like I have anyone to be jealous of. Nobody else made it 3 years and I’ve got 26 under my belt and we’re going strong.

  49. also, i really want a copy of this book…

  50. Joanna! How do you do it? Constantly find such great, interesting and super cool finds from around the web?!! You are truly an internet genius!! Love this, and yes I also tried to get as much as I could out of my now husband. He was my first boyfriend so I had no dirt but was so interested in his! lol He on the other hand, did not enjoy sharing. Probably a good thing!


  51. I so do this too, except it is the ex-fiancee that gets me! Good to know I am not alone.

  52. This is going to make us sound like terrible people, but my husband and I always joke around about how all of our exes have gained weight and have become really unattractive since our relationships to them ended, while he and I have both lost weight and feel like we’re healthier, happier people. We both feel like we got the better end of the deal, finding each other while those other suckers moved on. I don’t think either of us have ever felt jealous in our relationship, which honestly might be the reason our relationship works so well. Lots of trust and celebration of who we are together.

  53. Not always.
    Buuut…now that you bring it up. My most current boyfriend and his friends TALK about his exes right in front of me. I never know what to do.

    • Talk about yours!

  54. I don’t get jealous when I think about my husband’s ex’s. But I did for previous boyfriends, when I was much younger and stupid. I think I just don’t see anyone else as even coming close to the relationship we have now, so it doesn’t occur to me to ask questions about anyone else or feel jealous.
    I do know that he hates to hear about any of my ex’s though and gets a funny tone to his voice when I mention them, so I eventually learned never to bring them up. :)

    I find the book really odd… Definitely not my style.

  55. I guess I’m a weird person…because… I’ve asked my boyfriend about his exes (there have only been a few) several times. He was my first kiss, but I asked him about his first kiss, and it’s never like a negative thing, the “scandalousness” is kind of a turn-on, and he always assures me that I’m, like, way better than those other girls, haha! Another thing that should be really awkward but isn’t, is that his other super-serious relationship…well, that girl is now one of my best friends! People always think it must be weird since they can’t just hang out, but it’s really not! She and I get along super well. I’ve never been jealous. It’s much more of a, “Ha, I have him NOW, I win,” kind of feeling… Strange? He doesn’t like to hear about MY ex, though, I don’t think.


  56. I was only like that in dating relationships. Once I got married that changed. I have no desire to hear anything about my husbands ex wife. (Who is now deceased.) thankfully he never mentions her. He also doesn’t want to hear about my exes. So it works out well!

  57. Guilty. My most significant ex boyfriend ended an engagement not long before he and I met. I was consumed with curiosity about things like what she was like and why it didn’t work out. I couldn’t understand how he could be serious enough to propose but not marry.

    Eventually he got me to meet her (!!). It was after we had been dating on and off for a while and he sprang it on me. I was furious but couldn’t get out of it. She was nice to me BUT brought him a present she had been hanging onto for a past birthday.

    Shockingly we did keep dating for quite some time after that…

  58. The worst, the WORST, backwards jealousy is a deceased spouse. I am married to a man who lost his previous wife to cancer. This was obviously terrible. But as we were dating I thought I wanted to know everything about her. Turns out, you DON’T. You have a very hard time letting that information get out of your head, because it rings as if she was a saint (don’t we saint all our dead loved ones), that their marriage only ended from death (so you feel like an usurper), and that you are a secondary place holder.

    If you are dating a widower, this is what you want to make your mantra: DO NOT learn all about the late spouse, DO NOT allow your partner to talk about them in present tense (my wife, my husband), DO NOT allow them to treat you poorly because this bad thing happened to them, and DO act as though you are both freely single and dating and in love. (If your partner still needs to grieve, then you need to break up. Each person grieves differently, but don’t drag a new person into it.)

    Because if you treat the late spouse as a present spouse, then what are you? (You are a jealous mistress, that’s what.) But that backwards jealousy is deep. You can’t get over it until you are BOTH on the right page of living in your current present. And ignore the online articles that tell you your relationship has “three hearts,” that’s just sick and bad for everyone involved.

    It took a lot of talking and honest soul searching to get over these things and we did move to living in OUR present or we wouldn’t be married today.

    • This is such a great, thoughtful response to the question. I never thought about how it would feel to be the new partner when a previous spouse had died. Thank you for bringing something so much deeper to a relatively fluffy conversation!

    • Emily Yoffe (’s Dear Prudence) has a beautiful essay about her husband and his late wife. I thought it was so interesting and so so moving.

    • thank you for sharing this. beautiful and powerful and amazing.

    • My partner died and now I am dating his best friend, who was a very a close friend to both of us throughout our relationship. So now there is mutual backwards jealousy. He of his best friend/my ex, and my jealousy of the women he dated during my former relationship. I broke the “Don’t s#!t where you eat rule,” and it is very difficult to move forward when you know so much about each others screwed up past. It can lead to a lot of unfair and overly harsh judgements.

  59. I’m so guilty of this but luckily it’s faded away as I’ve grown older and am now settled. When I was younger I was the little red devil of jealousy though! It’s dangerous how we women can instigate fights by asking questions about the past, that shouldn’t bother us in the present, but somehow do. I totally sympathize with getting pissed off about ex-girlfriends and not knowing if they were “better” or “prettier”.

  60. I know some general info about my husband’s exes (mostly short relationships), but I’m not really jealous because he never even told any of them that he loved them, and he told me from the beginning of our relationship that he knew I was the one for him. I do however get jealous of some single female coworkers of his, mainly because I know he had a crush on me for years when we were just friends, and he would always say that my other guy friends did too. He swears that it’s completely different know, and I trust him, but part of me wants to just yell “it’s your fault my mind goes there now!” Haha.

  61. I am guilty of this. For me, I think it’s partly due to the fact that I had never had a boyfriend before, but he’s had 2 or 3 girlfriends in the past, and although we’re much serious than he was with any of them, I still think about them too much! And I know what you mean – you think you want to know and then you regret ever asking!

  62. as much as i hate to admit it, i’ve gotten VERY jealous in relationships, over pretty much nothing. it’s something i hope will get better as i get older (though it’s hard to say, as i haven’t been in a relationship in a while!) time will tell… :)

  63. Joanna, I think I read somewhere that your Alex was married before the two of you got married- and knowing that made me feel a certain affinity with you… I’m in the same situation, and as much as he assures me that his first marriage (of less than a year) was “a mistake” when he was “young and stupid”, sometimes I can’t help but be bothered by the very idea of it. How could he ever love someone else enough to MARRY her? Shouldn’t that have been reserved only for me? In this crazy, non-nuclear, world of rampant divorce… I guess this is just one of the things we have to accept. Such an un-romantic concept! It does take a little wind out my sails. I’d be so interested to know your thoughts on this. xo

  64. Guilty! I have not asked him questions about his ex, but am insanely curious. I am also jealous…of the unknown. It doesn’t help that his mother always mentions the ex in convos with me, talks about how great she is, how family members love her, etc.!!! Hate it. Of course she does this with me only, never in front of anyone else…just to add to the craziness.

  65. I also admit that I can be extremely jealous. Not just back wards jealousy of his ex, who’s parent live directly behind us, but also of silly things like the app Chive. Ugh. Does this ever pass?

  66. I am so guilty of this! I get weirdly competitive, like I somehow haven’t won, even though I’m with my boyfriend. I need to be the best, better than all of them and the only way to be better is to know more…which is never a good idea. :P

  67. I really don’t like knowing anything about my husband’s past. He was married before, so I’m wife number 2. Since he has two children (very young) with his ex, I have the pleasure of seeing her very often. It doesn’t bother me talking with her (we get along great) because I can’t possibly picture the two of them together, but at the same time, it’s like she was his before I was and I just don’t like it. I get insecure about it sometimes, too. Totally crazy? Yes, but at least I know there are other women who feel the same!

  68. I didn’t know there was a term for this type of jealousy!

    I’ll admit I get a bit jealous of my boyfriend’s exes once in a while. Just like you, we like to share interesting or funny tidbits about exes in conversation but sometimes it gets to a point that I’m wishing I didn’t bring it up in the first place. There are also a lot of other non-ex tidbits of info about his past that I wish I he didn’t tell me either, because then I’m left hoping that the incident doesn’t come back and bite him in the ass!

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  70. I didn’t know there was a term for this type of jealousy!

    I’ll admit I get a bit jealous of my boyfriend’s exes once in a while. Just like you, we like to share interesting or funny tidbits about exes in conversation but sometimes it gets to a point that I’m wishing I didn’t bring it up in the first place. There are also a lot of other non-ex tidbits of info about his past that I wish I he didn’t tell me either, because then I’m left hoping that the incident doesn’t come back and bite him in the ass!

  71. Nope. Three days after I met my husband (he was in my town to visit his girlfriend – now the ex!), I had this weird flash of recognition that he was “the one,” as they say. I can’t really describe it, but from that moment, I knew with absolutely certainty, “Oh. It’s you.” There’s no room for fear or insecurity or jealousy in that kind of certainty. There’s only the absolute truth of he and I. We’re perfect for each other – and nothing that came before could ever change that.

  72. It’s lucky that Aron and I have been together for so long that ex-girlfriends are almost limited to high school girlfriends–because I think I would definitely suffer from Past Jealousy! That said, his ex-girlfriend from high school sang at our wedding and we’re pretty good friends, so maybe I’d do better than I think?? I hope so.

  73. Nope. Three days after I met my husband (he was in my town to visit his girlfriend – now the ex!), I had this weird flash of recognition that he was “the one,” as they say. I can’t really describe it, but from that moment, I knew with absolutely certainty, “Oh. It’s you.” There’s no room for fear or insecurity or jealousy in that kind of certainty. There’s only the absolute truth of he and I. We’re perfect for each other – and nothing that came before could ever change that.

  74. TH, it is actually mentioned, thank you!

    • TH says...

      you mean, “I added an addendum to the post after commenters mentioned that I had already published it.”

      I am sure you are going to delete this, so I may as well get this out there: from an objective viewpoint, you have built your “brand” by representing yourself as a girlfriend chatting to other girlfriends, sharing questions or secrets or new favorite tee shirt brands. your brand’s currency is authenticity, as you have mentioned yourself. as a reader, i have noticed myself reading you as if you are a “friend,” someone whose opinion i trust. your ethos is all about how genuine you seem. lately, however, you are corroding your own brand-name value. while i’m sure other people feel differently, i no longer click on your affiliate links, because i feel you are always trying to make me buy something. i actually no longer trust your suggestions. your brand value has eroded. in large part, that’s because of issues like this–where rather than be upfront about your reposting–you don’t mention it at all. i begin to think that your brand is not as genuine as it seems, and your value goes down (for me). i no longer trust either the content of the posts nor your commentary on it.

      i have long enjoyed reading this blog, and have really been a big fan. i also support you making money off your work, and i support you reusing and updating your many published materials. but increasingly, i feel bummed that your work lacks the authenticity that drew me to it in the first place.

    • This, exactly. +1,000,000

      Well said, TH!

    • KJ says...

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Yes, TH. Yes.

    • I appreciated this comment, TH. This blog has always been one of my favorites, but lately it feels so inauthentic. Extremely frustrating. Also, hate the deleting of the comments. Nothing hateful was being said. If we can’t discuss freely, it kind of defeats the purpose of a conversation. Jo, you are losing me fast.

    • I have been a longtime reader (back from the Smitten days!) and have nearly always loved your posts. However, today (and not for the first time) I watched you post, watched you delete comments from readers (which were not unkind, but pointed out that you were repurposing content), and then watched you add an addendum and pretend it was there all along.

      These actions just seem very different from your online persona, and it’s disappointing to think perhaps all the “dear readers” are really just an act to cover sales pitches.

      As a fellow writer, it’s also disappointing to see repurposing content, which could be a non-issue, with appropriate disclaimers, handled this way. It really makes me question the authenticity and genuineness of content on this blog.

    • As a longtime reader, I agree wholeheartedly with TH and LHM. So my word for this week’s vocabulary challenge: disillusionment.

      The first time, it was just disappointing, perhaps excusable; this time, it’s alienating. We know you’re a working mom and this blog is your income. We read that post last time. I’ve clicked many a link to help you out. I commented this morning (on the string that got deleted), thought about it all day, and you know what? I’m mad! I admit it. DON’T pull the wool over our eyes. Treat your loyal(/”sweet”/”dear”) readers with a little respect.

      For what it’s worth, you could have simply posted photos of the book without the self-plagiarized text above it. Just a thought.

    • yikes. i have to admit i am feeling similar things to TH and LHM and the others lately :-(

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

    • OH good golly! She’s pregnant, cut the woman a break. Ever hear of prego brain? That’s right, I’ve been there twice, and I’ll vouch for it being even worse the 2nd go around. Because Joanna is so awesome and talented at what she does, she’s cultivated a very intelligent readership like you guys who remember these kinds of posts (although I didn’t and I’ve been a loyal reader even since the very beginning when Joanna had probably 30 posts max!)… and YES I read Smitten too. So what if it was a little bit the same?! It’s her own content; she wrote it! And she also changed it up a bit w/ the book excerpt. Get off your high horses, people! Joanna still has a loyal reader in me.

    • TH says...

      I felt the language I used was respectful and I don’t feel you need to say anyone is on a “high horse.”

      I would disagree with you that the post “was a little bit the same.” It was virtually word for word. And as I said, it doesn’t bother me that she reuses the content; it bothers me that she passes it off as new content and then only adds the italicized disclaimer after someone mentions that this is recycled content. It feels dishonest, and that’s jarring because, like you, I have read and enjoyed these posts for years.

    • Eric and Jill, I totally agree! I’ve been a reader for many years and this one thing will definitely not be reason for me to stop reading this blog. It might be prego brain or maybe she just didn’t feel like it mattered that it wasn’t new content. Like you all have said, she doesn’t HAVE to give a disclaimer. Who cares if it’s not new content?? So many people have NOT gotten a chance to discuss it and she’s also sharing a book with us that relates to the topic. This is her job. If it was my job and someone wrote something that may compromise my reputation/brand/whatever I might want to delete it and just add a freaking addendum too. Not because I want to be sneaky, but because it’s wrong and annoying. Holy crap.

    • What bothers me is not that she repurposed content, but that she deleted comments about it and then added the disclaimer and pretended like it had been there all along. It seems dishonest and unethical. Had Joanna responded to these comments directly, something like, “Thanks for the comment, I forgot to include a disclaimer but will add one now,” or “Thanks, I didn’t think I needed to include a disclaimer but I will in the future,” I would have had no problem. It just bothers me that she’s deleting comments but not addressing them head-on. I don’t want to be negative — I love Cup of Jo — this situation just strikes me as REALLY odd and completely contrary to the open, honest image that Joanna portrays.

  75. I’m jealous, but just in some things. I used to ask questions to my boyfriend about her ex-girlfriends, but then I started thinking, Girl! You are here now, that’s why they’re called ex’s!!!
    I think that if you’re not jealous at any point, you don’t love truly that person, because that’s what love’s about!♥

  76. TH says...

    it’s weird, i thought i had posted a comment and then it seems to have vanished, along with all the replies.

    i had read this article, verbatim, before.

    it’s interesting stuff, and obviously still a relevant topic, especially for the majority of your readership who never read your smitten blog posts. but i still wish that you would acknowledge that the first part of the post is pretty much word for word material that you’ve already published (it’s yours, so go ahead and publish it again, but it feels inauthentic that you wouldn’t mention it had previously been published).

    • HA! That is weird indeed. I also read your comment earlier so it has been deleted

    • TH says...

      i try to be as polite as possible, because everyone has feelings that can get hurt. but it’s starting to feel like the pinochet regime around here.

  77. I’m so glad I am not the only one who has done this!

  78. My fiance and I are pretty open book when it comes our exes. The more I know about something the less jealous I tend to be. The less I know about something the more likely I am to make up stuff in my head to be jealous about ;)

  79. I do when it comes to the girls he smiles when he talks about them. I know it’s in the past but I feel jealous when he mentions this girl Iris who was perfectly beautiful from Sweden and everyone loved her. Grr…

    Ergo – Blog

  80. Love this! I feel curious about my husband’s past loves, but not really jealous. The curiosity mostly stems from the fact that his past girlfriends were very different to me (athletic tomboys in engineering-type fields – I’m a rockabilly non-athlete in a creative field). Love moves in mysterious ways…

  81. I would be jealous so I’ve always made it a point to not ask too many questions about my husbands past loves. As far as I know, he didn’t really have many girlfriends before my anyway.

  82. I don’t like that I’m jealous, but I am a little bit and especially about exes. Any mention of them definitely gives me jealous twinges and I do sometimes masochistically ask about things they did and then drive myself crazy about it later. Although, I think the worse thing for me is the fact that he was with some of them for far longer than we’ve been together. We’ve only been together for a year and change and his most recent ex was with him for about 4 years, maybe a bit longer and so she knew his whole family and some of his family is still very close to her. It makes me feel better though when people tell me that he seems the happiest he’s ever been with me. :)

  83. Oh yes! When I first met my husband eight years ago he saw nothing wrong with sharing details of his ex girlfriend with me aaaaallll the time. It almost made me breakup with him and definitely got on my nerves to no end. Now that we’ve been together for so long AND he no longer feels the need to talk about her it really doesn’t bother me as much. I feel like it’s apart of his passed that is, in the past! He says that it shows I’m insecure but I think there are some details we simply don’t need to share :)

  84. Hahaha oh man this strikes a(n embarrassing) chord with me! Funny to see it in a book after experiencing that kind of research on the Internet… :)

  85. I have felt that way before. Also, I couldn’t help notice your use of the word innocuous after your vocabulary post. Nice! :)

  86. YES! and, sadly it just happened just last night. My husbands ex lives in the same veeeeerrryyy small town as we do and ugh, every time I have to do something with him that involves his children which involves his ex (of course), I get a sick, icky feeling. Just knowing everyone is playing the comparison game makes me want to stay home. My ex has passed away, so he doesn’t get the same experience as I do. Thank goodness. I’d hate to put him through that!

  87. I think it says a whole lot that folks even remember what you were writing about in 2008. keep on keepin’ on, sister. I love you ;)

  88. Oh my gosh! I can definitely relate to this. My husband and I have been married for a little over a year and it drives me insane whenever I think about his past girlfriends. I know they are no longer around and I’m the one that ‘won’ (if you will) but I still get really jealous when I think about the connection he once had with someone else. Bleh!

  89. I’m about to move in with my boyfriend, it is my first time living with someone, but his second. I am so, so curious about their living together habits — who cleaned out the fridge, who did the grocery shopping, who picked out their bedding. Z hates this topic of conversation, but I just can’t help myself!

  90. not at all, those chicks are in the past for a reason!!

  91. I think it’s also helpful to remember that there’s a reason why they broke up. Even if she broke up with him, clearly something about the relationship wasn’t working – if he married you, something must be working a lot better this time around! :)

  92. John’s ex is the traffic/weather girl on our local NBC news affiliate. She is blond and adorable. Whenever I hear him watching the news I always check to see the channel. If it’s NBC a bolt of rage runs through me. It’s stupid but I can’t help it. She is so freaking cute.

  93. I get so jealous! My boyfriend mentions his ex girlfriends occasionally and I hate it! I get a knot in my stomach when I think about him with exes. Weirdly, when he told me the other day that his ex called him to help her when her car broke down, I really didn’t care at all. He talks about his exes without realizing and I absolutely hate it. I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

  94. YES! It bothers me to think about his ex because I know they are still in touch. I don’t understand why, if she ended it with him, she still wants to talk to him. Her family is the same – they still want to see him and hear how he’s doing even though she was the one who ended things.

    I try not to let it get to me, but it’s hard not to ask questions about her. It’s like a part of me wants to hear him say that I’m better than she was. Obviously that must be true to some degree because we are together and they aren’t. But it is still something I struggle with.


  95. Yes, I get totally jealous. and it’s dumb because my boyfriend doesn’t even love his ex-wife anymore. I get jealous of the experiences that she got to have with him though, trips to Europe…having kids…it seems idyllic. Um, but, it wasn’t… they were both so unhappy and of course it ended-like these things do. and you know what? he is looking into the future now with me. so yea, it’s kind of helpful to remember that this jealousy is being jealous of a relationship that we don’t want, that ultimately ended. It’s like being jealous of someone with a broken arm or jeans that are too tight…we don’t want that relationship, we want ours : )

  96. I too have fallen into this backwards jealousy trap- back before I was married and in my early 20s. I sometimes wonder about my husband’s ex, but then I realize that I could just as easily be the ex that a woman is worrying about… Then it all seems so silly!

  97. Yes, I have been very tempted to ask at the beginning and I wish I never did. Although he doesn’t have much of a background, it was very damaging to my emotional and mental health to know even a slight detail. Jealousy is terrible and might hurt you and your partner in a huge way. I am happy to have overcome those insecurities since years ago and I rarely think about stuff like that now. A friendly advice to all new couples and young girls especially. No matter how badly you want to know, you will thank God you didn’t ask too much. I mean, of course you can have a general idea about the past of your partner, especially if what you have seems serious and true, but details are harmful and totally not needed for any good. This applies to both of you, don’t ask and don’t tell unnecessarily details.
    Joanna I love your imagination and the idea of Alex doing the same things you do together. It is hurtful indeed.

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  101. The snippets I know of my husband’s exes are all of the things that he hated or annoyed him…he knows it makes me feel better.

  102. LK says...

    I have an amazing boyfriend who is the most genuinely nice person. I however am not. I generally don’t like people right away so jealousy can be a big problem for me. His friend group is pretty evenly split between men and women. I could care less about his exes because he never dragged out relationships or stayed with someone he didn’t truly care about. However, I get jealous of his female friends because they always say how he is the best and he is always there for them and I get jealous that they had so much more time with him before I came around. And it sounds so crazy because I know I’m the most important person to him and he is just super nice and very much a big brother type but it just makes me jealous that I don’t get those extra years that they had. Wow, it’s nice to finally say that out loud. Also, I actually do like said female friends which makes the jealousy even weirder.

    • Ohh it feels good to read that someone else is just like me. I’m also not a very nice person, and there are a lot of people I cannot stand and my boyfrind is just so great and so nice to everyone. And there are these girls that are not even friends of my boyfriend, but you know, he knows them from somewhere (job, friends of friends etc) and I just HATE when he laughs at their jokes and I could kill those girls when they say something nice about my boyfriend. It is such a weird feeling.

  103. Omg, I love this. Yes, I do, primarily in the beginning of relationships. I think it’s because I don’t want to be “another notch,” and let’s be honest – men tend to have toooons more history than women do.

    I had it out with my current boyfriend about 6 months into our relationship. I feel so silly now (of course being drunk is what made me unleash the fury). It’s the only time I’ve heard him raise his voice, and it was to say, “I don’t know what you want me to say…. I can’t change my past, sorry!?”

    The funny thing is I have exes that I’m still friends with, but I’m not who we’re talking about. ;) Besides, i’ve seen the way they behave sometimes when they find out i’m dating someone new, so I knoooow how shady people can be. Then I think about their current girlfriends thinking that way about me, and it makes me laugh (because while they should be jealous, i deeeeef don’t want either of them back).

    Girls. We are a funny bunch. Sigh.

  104. My husband suffers from this more than I do. Maybe because I’ve met all his exes and I see there’s no competition!

  105. I only get backwards jealous about one of my husband’s ex-flings, and they weren’t even in love! They were just having casual sex, but the fact that she was so whimsical and aloof and didn’t demand a relationship infuriates me. Who is she that she’s too cool for a relationship with my husband? He’s great. Any girl would be lucky… etc. and so-on. Anyway, the only real detail I know about her was that she had a chinchilla with no cage, so I just imagine her as having a disgusting apartment.

  106. I’ve done the asking and spent way too much time dwelling on answers, despite how diplomatic my boyfriend is about the whole situation. I even tend to compare teeny tiny little aspects – like, how much did he like her dog in comparison to how much he likes my dog! Petty stuff. And unfortunately, she lives about a block and a half away from me. So I have that constant reminder anytime I drive by her house.

  107. No, I have never even wondered about his past exes, does that make me weird? We’ve been together 8 years and married 2, and he tells me all the time he doesn’t remember what he was doing with his life before he met me. Maybe that helps a bit. :c)

    On the flip side, I was with an ex-bf still when I met him. I was deeply unhappy, and I immediately broke up with my ex when I realized that this guy was what I wanted, and if I couldn’t have him, then I had to find someone just like him. It was a turbulent time, and my ex didn’t take it well. Madness ensued. When I think back to what he had to go through in that first month of us knowing each other, I wonder why he stayed at all.

    So while he knows I have a past, and I know he has too, we both utterly committed ourselves to each other from the the very beginning. That has always been enough for me.

  108. my husband’s first and (and only other!) girlfriend had the same name as me. it bothered me for a while at first when we started dating. now we jokingly refer to her as Katie 1.0, I am obviously the updated, improved, and more hip version :)

    • Love that Katie. Hip Katie! Cute.

  109. It’s so comforting reading these posts; you realize that you’re not alone on this. I get jealous and curious at times too of my significant other’s exes..especially of the one he was together with for 6 years! I always compare myself to them and occasionally (maybe more than occasionally) creep on their Facebook profiles.
    I immediately regret asking questions of his past relationships.
    Ah, love all for your wonderful comments! I feel soooo much better! :)

  110. Yes and no. With my current boyfriend no, because he’s sweet and is really picky, so he hasn’t liked a lot of girls (and that makes me feel extra “chosen”). With my college boyfriend, YES! Mostly because he was insensitive and would make comments about her, especially sexually — and he and I didn’t have sex. Obviously why he’s now an ex — ew!

  111. This concept of being jealous of an ex is really interesting/odd to me. My boyfriend was with his ex for like 16 years. Very few occasions have made me actually feel jealous. He is with me now so I don’t really worry about it. He doesn’t really have any female friends so I don’t worry about that either, but if he started, I would for sure be a bit iffy on that. I figure there’s zero threat from his ex… but if he’s friends with a living, breathing woman, then something could potentially happen, right?

  112. Argh! Hello fellow backwards-jealous chicks of the world! I did something absurd this morning: I googled my ex-bf’s ex-gf just so I would be annoyed and huffy… Don’t ask me why I did it today! I found exactly one photo, and a few work quotations… and I just found myself fuming at the “once upon a time, they were in love” synopsis, even though I had a lovely time with him until our love story had to end. Blah. So dumb.

  113. I so suffer from backwards jealousy! When I am done thinking about it I always have the thought of that was so silly to spend two minutes worrying about.

  114. I think that most girls suffer from this. I don’t know why! We are strange creatures. I know that I have but then I just have to hit my head and remind myself that I’m being silly.

  115. I used to have the worst backwards jealousy — she had a cool car, she was foreign and had a cute accent, she was smart. My sisters had to constantly remind me that there were reasons he wasn’t with her anymore, but I knew that she had dumped him.

    We’ve now been together for 10 years — married, kids, busy jobs. Neither one of us is young, cute or cool anymore. We are nagging parents, who are gaining weight and are too tired to even schedule a babysitter, much less go out. But, we still make each other laugh and support each other, which ends up being the reasons he wasn’t with her and was instead with me.

  116. I am not jealous over my husband’s exes (or his female friends)… Possibly because I am still good friends with 2 of my exes (and their wives) and I am confident in those friendships and cherish the platonic love. I don’t play the ask/tell game but I also don’t expect him to omit his ex-gf’s when retelling stories from the past and I don’t shy away from hearing those stories when the occasions arise to be told. Our exes are part of our histology and (for good or bad) we are who we are because of those relationships.

    • Definition of HISTOLOGY (courtesy Mirriam-Webster): a branch of anatomy that deals with the minute structure of animal and plant tissues as discernible with the microscope.

  117. I ask questions because I am also so curious and then always hate hearing the answer. Also, was this your vocab challenge? If so, way to use “innocuous”!!

  118. One time I was playing this game with a boyfriend and he said to me..”i wouldn’t be the man i am today if i had not dated her. just be happy you are dating me today.” it sounds so obvious, but it really hit a cord. it made me appreciate her and be less jealous!

    • I love this. That’s such a good point.

  119. i get pretty crazy-jealous. there was a while where i wrote a blog about it. it’s called “dear new nemesis”…makes most sense when read from the beginning:

    so, yes. jealousy, i has it.

    • I can’t wait to check this out! Hahaha, looove the name.

  120. I happen to be my husband’s first! So obviously I don’t have a problem with his exes. ;) Lucky me, I know.

    • Me too! Actually for both of us. I had high school flings, but nothing serious. We started dating freshman year of college, been together for 7 years and married for 8 months. Nice not to have to worry :)

    • This is us too! Neither of us dated anyone for more than 2 weeks before we met each other… I would probably be crazy jealous of his ex-girldfriends if they existed. Haha.

  121. no, not all. since we’ve been together for 17 years and none of his past relationships can top what we shared and have together. and also i feel so blessed to have married my first and true love, i know he is a lucky man to have met me ;P

    • exactly ! my husband i have been together for 10 years, and i know that none of his other relationships even came CLOSE to the level of intimacy we share. that said, my husband DOES get backwards jealousy ! i find it incredibly attractive when he bristles a bit if mention one of their names.

      this book looks awesome, by the way.

  122. I have mad backwards jealousy!

    My husband is amazing about it though. He’ll turn my questions around on me and end up saying something so syrupy sweet about me that I feel silly for asking and complimented at the same time!

  123. Oh yes! My boyfriend of 4 years and I chose in the very beginning to be very minimal about the information we shared about our past relationships to avoid the jealousy issue. We had both been in relationships before where sharing everything about our exes caused a lot issues. So I know the names of his exes, how long they dated, and why they broke up but that’s about it. It’s almost better. I still wonder about a lot of things and it still gets to me sometimes. But not knowing a bunch of details about his past gals is kinda nice. Especially since we live in the same city as some of those girls and I like not knowing if there are any memories attached to places we now go together. For some reason, it feels more romantic by not really acknowledging them.

  124. When I first started dating my darling, I felt like I wanted to know everything about his ex, Becca. For some reason I wanted to be sure I was better suited for him. They broke up because he is a workaholic and, some days, I completely agree with her reasoning. But after 5 years, and meeting her numourous times, I found out she is a lovely girl but they simply did not belong together. Happily, I do belong at his side. Hysterically, one of the waitresses at the Spotted Pig looks identical to her so we may have taken pictures with the waitress to send to Becca (she laughed). The waitress is Ash and we sit in her section every time now, just for kicks.

  125. Backward jealousy, what a great topic! A few months ago my man’s laptop wouldn’t connect to the internet when we wanted to watch something so he dug his old lap top and we hooked it up to the tv. A few minutes later I look up on our tv and see the happiest moments of his last relationship (via screen saver) in my living room. After a moment of heart in throat jealousy and insecurity ‘ does he look that happy now?’ we laughed it off.

  126. I used to get jealous because mainly the (serious) ex (they were together 7 yrs) was a big part of our life back then, so I didn’t even have to ask, she (the ex) would gladly volunteer past information. She realized later on that it wasn’t too cool of her to do that, she thought I was ‘cool’ that way (since I was actually friendly with her too). Definitely harder to avoid jealousy when she’s right there in front of us and still flirting with him.

  127. I used to suffer from terrible backwards jealousy, drove me nuts, and always left me feeling rubbish. I was curious about their bedroom activities – but more so, how sporty they were? “Did she always come skiing with you?” , “Was she an awesome surfer?” or.. “I bet she could catch a ball, hey?” ;-)

    Love it when you write about awkward personal stuff Joanna, and love reading all the comments from people.

    C x

    • hehe me too… makes me feel less crazy :)

  128. Nope. I’m so busy with two kids, it would be a waste of time to think about Hubs’ past life. Pretty secure here.

  129. Wait until you are in your fifties… you get all fat and fluffy around the middle and the best part is that SO DOES HE! HA HA…. Those old girlfriends don’t want him anymore anyway.

  130. I can, which is why I don’t ask! I mean, we talk about our exes, but we both focus on “why that never would have worked and how much better it is now.”

    Our exes are part of what made us ready for each other, so I have no problem talking about them–but I don’t want to know details!

  131. My husband was kind of a lady-killer and so most of his exes (or even past flings for that matter) were really, really pretty. Like, gorgeous. When we first got serious it was awwwwwwful to deal with – especially when I’d find photos of these girls on his computer or his friends would casually mention something about how “so and so was hot!”. It really drove me crazy; to the point of Facebook spying on some of these girls and picking out little things that “weren’t really so great, right?!” about them.
    Now we’ve been together for 7 years and have a toddler and I’ve just given up on that kind of thinking. It’s pointless and for someone like me who can dwell easily, it has the potential of putting me in a real funk.

  132. I’m definitely the “backwardly jealous” type … Ha! My contribution would be …

    “Marcus’ ex-girlfriend was a French exchange student from Paris. She had lovely blue eyes and curly long hair, reminiscent of a young Keri Russell in Felicity.”

    True story! We’re married 3 years now but she still gets to me a little. LOL. Oh well. Good to know I’m not alone, ladies!

  133. I don’t, really. Not because I’m above jealousy exactly, but I’ve been in my relationship now for 12 years, and realize how much annoying stuff there is in living with and loving another person that goes with the great stuff. In our relationship, the good outweighs the annoying, but there’s still those moments where I briefly but sincerely hate something my husband does. So for every amazing “he always buys cookies or ice cream for us when he goes to the grocery store,” there’s a “he only ever half-finishes a household chore.”

    So whenever I hear him talk about an ex, or even how hot/cute/funny another woman is, I realize that we all go a little ways down those imaginary paths of what it would be like to be with someone else (including remembering only the good stuff with exes), but it’s not the full picture. And if there’s anyone that he would want the FULL thing with (with all the magic and all the mid-meal belches!), it’s obviously me.

  134. Wow, that was very courageous of you to be that honest with us -u always are! :) Perhaps every relationship is different. I mean, were you like this with former boyfriends? For me, I just wanted to have all the information about my bf’s previous relationship and he’s always been open to talk about it. I guess that I was curious…but not really jealous. I see myself being jealous more about something/someone in the present than the past, to be honest. Anyway, we really have to take control of our mind and thoughts, as sometimes we become our worst enemies! :) Xo,

  135. There is one ex that I get extremely jealous of. The reason they didn’t end up together is because she moved to China. Somehow, this always makes me feel like she could have him if she wanted him. It’s not true, of course. Still, I wish he would have had the chance to dump her.

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  136. I’ve seen this book- it’s so funny, and also quite resonating because virtually everyone’s partner has at least one ex that drives you crazy in some way. I suppose the flip side is that you, too, must be an awkward force for at least one of your ex’s current partners. My husband always tries to tease information about my long-ago ex’s, to which I generally only respond with a silent smile…he then thanks me that I don’t actually feed him with the sort of fuel that would drive him crazy!

  137. I absolutely suffer from the same. I just hate thinking about all the tiny moments he shared with someone else! It’s such a weird sensation and so irrational. It’s impossible to think that he wouldn’t have had any meaningful romantic experiences with anyone else before me, but it drives me bonkers to imagine it. I better watch out or I’ll get worked up now! Ha, I think it’s best to just try not to think about it. Though I have to admit it is so intriguing to consider if you could work through the thoughts if you really just dove in to see what happened. I can’t imagine it would turn out well though.

  138. I loved this post! I have to say I do get jealous but I’m exactly that way with backwards jealousy. I know I shouldn’t care about it but its so interesting to find out things but then again it’s not fun picturing it!

  139. I’m the same way as you. I ask little questions that I think are harmless, but I immediately get irritated when he answers them. I want to think that our love now is 100 million times better than any other love he’s had, but I let my worries get the best of me and I wonder, “what’s the difference between me and her? Nothing.” But I know there is a difference. I’m me and he loves me for me. Thanks for posting about this topic. It’s comforting that someone else does it too and I’m not completely crazy. :)

  140. I’m not particularly bothered but my husband’s ex-girlfriends but I am intrigued by his first girlfriend whose name was Celeste. What kind of name is Celeste, bearing in mind they lived in a grim little town in the North of England. How do I compete with Celeste??

    • HAHA! This comment is perfect. I think everyone has a “Celeste” somewhere in their past. The less we know about her, the better.

    • Bahaha – I love both your comments. Too true….

    • em says...

      It’s horrible I know, but I think I am a “Celeste”

  141. Sometimes you just don’t want to know – my husband’s most serious ex-girlfriend was apparently a stripper when she was in college (long before they dated). My husband is so straight laced it’s hard for me to even imagine him with her, but it’s something I wish I didn’t know, especially since she moved down the street from us with her new boyfriend the same day we moved into our apartment – UGH!

  142. I’m embarrassed to admit that not only do I get jealous, but I used to play the game that involved asking about ex-girlfriends. I would always end up getting mad. Now that we’ve been married a few years and we have 2 kids, I don’t ask… mostly because there’s no time. :)

  143. I am so guilty of backwards jealousy! I try to not ask, but sometimes things just come up, and it usually takes me a minute to remember that we’re in love NOW.

  144. I always feel funny when my fiance tells me negative things about his ex, because it makes me feel like he’s trying too hard. Obviously he really liked her at some point and is still friends, why would he say negative things?

    • Hi Laura, I used to do this a bit when my husband and I were engaged. I think, for me, it was part of processing how this relationship is different from one I had in the past. As we were approaching marriage, I would notice things that were similar to or different from my ex, and I think noting them was just part of me affirming, “yes, this is the right one” (even though I had no conscious doubts at all about getting married). I think it can just be part of processing/ letting go of the past. If it’s any comfort, this has happened a lot less since our wedding. Maybe your fiance is experiencing something similar. (And congratulations!!)

  145. One of my husband’s exes is now married to his brother. We’re family! It was so far in the past, though, and wasn’t very serious, so it doesn’t bother me. It is an interesting little piece of trivia to pull out, though. :)

  146. I definitely suffer from “backwards jealousy”! I unfortunately am usually curious about what bedroom activities were favorites with each girl. Like you, I always immediately regret asking.

    • Haha! I can so relate to this! Often, my husband will bring up a sexual position or act and I’ll be like, “hang on a minute! WHO did you do that with?!” I want to know, but also not, if you know what I mean!

    • I am so the same way even worse at times. If ever my partner shows me a little jealousy I get really upset and hurt from him not trusting me however I go into that same masochism of asking a dozen questions of past girlfriends and always end up regretting it. Trying to get better but shoot sometimes it’s hard. – Elle from

  147. You should read “Before She Met Me,” a novel about a man who goes down this type of wormhole. It’s a little weird but sort of interesting how easily it could happen!