Why You're So Obsessed With His Ex (And How To Stop Being Jealous)

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Heartbreak

It's a simple fact of living: Once you're past the age of 20 or so, the love of your life is likely to have an ex-love from a past relationship. That means that a lot of your beloved's "firsts" will have already happened with someone else.

Although you know this is normal and understand there's technically nothing to be jealous of, it can be hard to avoid the trap of feeling insecure and becoming obsessed with your current boyfriend's ex, which is actually called retroactive jealousy.

Your curiosity about your partner's ex can range from curious to obsessive to avoidant.

It usually begins innocently enough. You're human and are therefore curious about your partner's ex or exes. Humans learn from the stories and anecdotes of others, so you want to figure out what attracted them to each other. And, naturally, you want to know why they broke up so the same thing doesn't happen to you.

However, no one likes a jealous person. Curiosity is a natural part of being human, but what happens when curiosity becomes an obsession?

RELATED: 13 Brutally Honest Reasons Guys Always End Up Trying To Get Back With The Ex

Here are 4 reasons you feel insecure about your boyfriend's ex, plus how to not be jealous of his ex anymore.

1. You're afraid.

Sometimes, it's hard to not feel a tinge of jealousy when you think about all the firsts you've missed with your new partner, so you want to hear all about it.

My client, Will, told me he caught his girlfriend checking his phone history. She then demanded that he delete his ex-wife's number after seeing a couple of recent phone calls.

Though a lot of our coaching that day was about the lack of boundaries his girlfriend showed, when we began to unravel the whys behind her behavior, it came down to vulnerability and fear. She was afraid that she'd lose him and he'd get back with his ex-wife.

When someone is feeling vulnerable and fearful about their love life because they think their partner will go back to their ex, it's a lot easier to focus those feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and even angry obsession toward the "other woman" — even if she's not a threat.

Crossing boundaries (like looking at your partner's phone history) or creating unnecessary drama around past romantic relationships (like demanding an ex be deleted or never contacted) will make your love push you away.

What to do instead: Confessing that you're feeling insecure will do wonders, because being vulnerable with your partner will actually strengthen your relationship.

2. You're worried they'll get back together.

Another client, Tammy, was worried about losing her boyfriend because she thought was going to get back with his ex-wife when she realized how much he talked about her, the things they used to do together, and how Tammy does things differently. Tammy became paranoid that he was still seeing his ex and started stalking her on Facebook and Instagram.

Sound familiar? Even a little bit? Sometimes anxieties like this are based on a gut feeling, and other times they're borne out of insecurity. Obsessing over a possibility is focusing on the past instead of being present and enjoying what's going on with your fantastic current partner!

What to do instead: Have an honest conversation about your fears and bring up specific examples. If your gut tells you he's still in love with his ex, then move along. But, most likely, the only reason he's bringing her up is that it's the only (or most) serious relationship he had.

Maybe they co-parent their children so he still interacts with her. Maybe he's even trying to see if you're into him enough to be a little jealous. Put the kibosh on him needing to make you jealous and decide if it's worth staying or going. You deserve to be with someone who is crazy about you.

3. You want to know what went wrong.

We all learn from the stories of others. When we fall in love, we are risking getting our hearts broken, and investigating what went wrong in our partner's past relationships seems like a logical way to figure out how not to end up in the same boat.

When you become obsessed with examining things on your own, you are making judgments about what you think went wrong, even though you weren't involved in the situation. Then, you begin focusing on what could be wrong in your own relationship instead of what's going right.

What to do instead: Ask your partner what went wrong in his past relationship and how he thinks you can better support each other in the future. This is why I recommend couples create a joint vision to be clear about what they each desire and what they need in a relationship.

4. You're trying to compare and compete with the ex.

Yet another client, Mary, became obsessed with her boyfriend's ex-wife. The woman was a classic American beauty — tall, blonde, and leggy — and ran a successful salon.

Mary was a successful attorney and saw herself as smarter than his ex, but believed she didn't compare when it came to looks, as she was a shorter brunette and a little overweight. She felt she could never measure up to his ex-wife's beauty and went as far as to make regular appointments at her salon to try and emulate some of her beauty tips — and look for clues that maybe she wasn't always picture perfect.

We are wired — thanks to our societal expectations — to want to be the winner. And when the potential prize is a life partner, part of the competition involves wanting to be seen as better (prettier, smarter, richer, thinner).

But let's be frank about what comparison is really about: it's about conforming under pressure from the competition.

While seemingly opposite ideas, the result of such comparisons is that we want to conform in an effort to set norms while standing out as the best among those who also meet the same basic standards. We don't want to be that pink house at the end of the block or to be dressed in an obviously different way than our friends... but we do want to be the best.

Unfortunately, trying for perfection is rarely anything other than disappointing, frustrating, and exhausting. Comparison moves us further away from being real, authentic, and creative. Because, honestly, how can we always fit in while standing out at the same time?

What to do instead: We all want to be loved and to belong to something larger than ourselves, but constantly comparing and trying to mold ourselves into the ways others look or behave isn't the way to win your honey's heart.

There's only one way to feel sure you are loved and stop the comparison game or you'll feel hurt for no reason. 

RELATED: 7 Signs You Have Unhealthy Boundaries (That Will Kill Even The Best Relationships)

How can you stop being jealous and insecure and get over your boyfriend's ex for good?

Some people get jealous easily because they have low self-esteem, a poor self-image, very little confidence, or the inability to believe that your partner loves you and values you. Jealousy is mostly a sign of insecurity and not love, as if you were in love who would you be jealous of and why.

If you are jealous of your boyfriend's ex, you can only stop being jealous by loving yourself first and not caring about your boyfriend's ex. Who cares about her? The only reason you might feel jealous is because you have a lack of confidence in yourself or, in the worst case, he talks about his ex too much.

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However, you're the one who is with him now, so there's no reason to be jealous unless he shows in some way that he's not over her. If that's the case, talk with him about how that makes you feel. It would be normal to be jealous of a boyfriend's ex if he's constantly talking about her, of course!

The number one thing to remind yourself of is that your partner's ex is his ex for a reason. Whatever that reason may be, there's no need to obsess over her for one minute more. If your boyfriend is a great guy, he's worth staying with, and no ex is going to come between the two of you.

If you have reason to believe that he isn't over his ex, that's something you must speak up about. Ask him honestly if he's still in love with his ex. Now follow these steps and move on and focus on how fabulous you are.

Here's how to get over being jealous of his ex.

1. Love yourself first. 

You can overcome jealousy by loving yourself, and realizing that you are the most important person in your life. Even if your relationship ends, you still have yourself.

And not only do you love yourself, but so does your partner. You are the main person in their life now, and if you don't feel like his priority, choose yourself. Always.

2. Control your reaction and emotions.

How do I stop jealousy and envy? Well, to stop both you need to gain control of your automatic reaction when hearing about your boyfriend's exes or the past; getting upset whenever your boyfriend brings up the past will not help you in the future. Control your thoughts and feelings before letting your jealousy ruin your relationship.

Jealousy and envy aren't needed in your present relationship and to make them go away, you need to remind yourself that what you have now with him is real. No one is trying to take that away. Whatever you do, do not stalk his ex on social media or look at pictures of them together.

Shift your focus to the now, and trust your partner and relationship. The past will always be the past, but you have the opportunity to change the future with him.

3. Explore any underlying issues and practice gratitude.

When people are jealous of their partner's ex, that might stem from underlying anxiety or self-esteem issues. Don't let yourself get stuck in a negative headspace with negative emotions. Use mindfulness and address these issues; only then will you be able to take steps forward. 

Practicing mindfulness, as well as realizing your value, will help you understand that you matter in this relationship. His ex is his ex; they broke up for a reason, so keep that in mind.

4. Voice your concerns and talk to a therapist if you need to. 

If you aren't feeling confident at all in your relationship because of your jealousy, you need to let your partner know. If they are doing something that's triggering, voice your concerns and feelings to him. Talk about boundaries and find ways where the both of you come to the same understanding.

If you're having a lot of trouble coping with your jealousy, it might be best to talk with a therapist about it. They can help you explore the issue and its root cause.

RELATED: How To Get Over Your Boyfriend's Past (Without Becoming A Jealous Monster)

Debra Smouse is a life coach and author whose work has been published in Time, Huffington Post, MSN, Psychology Today, and more.