Constantly thinking about spouses past girlfriends

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Since my first boyfriend in junior high I have had a problem with obsessing about their relationships prior to me. It is not exactly jealousy, maybe more like I was trying to learn as much as I could. I used to violate privacy, etc. to learn things. I do not do that now and I can comfortably talk about my husbands past. However, I torture myself constantly replaying stories in my head. If something happens, my first reaction is to relate it to his past (Say a movie comes on, I will recognize right away that the movie came out when he was going out with so-and-so). Mostly I replay stories he has told me over and over in my head. Can you please give me some suggestions on stopping this or tell me what some common reasons for this would be? I can’t find much information on this sort of problem and don’t feel I have a OCD or anything like that. I do not go to therapy and other than this I don’t feel I need to. I have had self-esteem issues and made many mistakes when I was younger but I have worked / am working through most of my issues by reading books and relying on my faith (I became a Christian about 5 years ago). Thank you very much for you help.

A. You mentioned that you did not think that this problem was related to jealousy. I would disagree with your assessment. I do think that your issue is related to jealousy and jealousy is directly related to a lack of self confidence and self-esteem. If you felt secure about yourself then I assure you that you would not spend any amount of time or energy focused on your husband’s past relationships. You would recognize that you are the women that matters in your husband’s life and his past relationships are of no concern to you.

The good news is that if you can recognize that low self confidence is the basis of this problem then you have the power and control to beat these obsessions. You also mentioned that you do not attend therapy. Since you have been unable to rectify this situation on your own, I would suggest going to therapy for help in building your self-esteem. Think of a therapist as a personal trainer for your mind. It is nothing to be ashamed about and with the right therapist; you can overcome your self-esteem issues. Perhaps you can try attending therapy with a Christian counselor. I hope this helps.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Feb 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). Constantly thinking about spouses past girlfriends. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/02/08/constantly-thinking-about-spouses-past-girlfriends/