Are You Affected by Rebecca Syndrome? How you can Cope with Your Obsession with Your Man’s Exes

AS quickly as I picked up the photograph, I noticed crimson.

Right here was this different girl, gazing lovingly down the lens of a digital camera — straight at my husband Anthony.

Lily James in movie Rebecca as Mrs de Winter, 2019Credit score: 2020 © Netflix, Inc.

Lily with Armie Hammer who plays her husband Maxim in movie

Lily with Armie Hammer who performs her husband Maxim in filmCredit score: 2020 © Netflix, Inc.

Instantly, I launched right into a full-on interrogation of him.

“The place was the image taken?” I demanded. Why was she taking a look at him in such a sappy method? Had they already had intercourse?

As soon as the green-eyed monster had bought its tooth into me, I couldn’t cease. I dissed her hair, her gown, and topped it off by saying she seemed “annoying”.

What adopted was a row, wherein Anthony instructed me I used to be being “unreasonable”. When he defended her gown as “not that unhealthy”, I turned much more enraged.

However, after all, Anthony was proper and — gown apart — I actually was being unreasonable.

The image, in an envelope of outdated household images, had been taken 25 years in the past at a household christening.

He’d gone out with this girl earlier than we’d began courting and hadn’t seen her since they broke up.

However over the subsequent few days, visions of them kissing, holding fingers — and worse — stored popping into my head.

As a result of this ex-girlfriend posed zero risk to my relationship, my flare-up actually bothered me.

As a rational one that’s coaching for a masters diploma in psychotherapy, it was utterly out of character.

So as soon as I had calmed down, I resolved to seek out out what this was actually about.

It seems feeling jealous of a companion’s exes is a responsible secret for many people — and it’s on the rise.

Based on one examine, 63 per cent of individuals now stalk their exes on-line as much as as soon as a month.

Round 38 per cent even accomplish that after getting married.

With extra of us than ever earlier than logging on to social media, we use it as a device to check out our former companions — in addition to snooping on who our present companions used so far.

This phenomenon is called retroactive jealousy, or Rebecca Syndrome — after the Daphne Du Maurier novel, wherein a younger girl fears she is going to by no means reside as much as her husband’s late spouse.

After all, everybody will get jealous. And regardless of how safe you’re in your relationship, imagining your companion with another person will be ­painful.

Solely as of late, we don’t have to think about it — we will see the ­proof on-line.

Based on a 2018 examine within the journal Social Media and Society, platforms akin to Instagram and Fb have made retroactive jealousy extra doubtless.

And whereas folks imagine discovering out extra about their companion’s previous lovers will make them really feel higher, it has the alternative impact.

If the ideas change into repetitive and set off them to repeatedly query their companions, then it may even destroy relationships.

Psychotherapist Toby Ingham is the writer of recent e-book Retroactive Jealousy, Making Sense Of It.

He says retroactive jealousy is a risk to relationships, including that it may even change into a type of obsessive compulsive dysfunction.

In his view, the important thing to understanding retroactive jealousy OCD is to grasp that it’s not about your companion’s previous. It’s about yours.

Toby says: “Retroactive jealousy is a symptom of a deeper subject from the previous.

Tanith Carey says: 'Feeling jealous of a partner’s exes is a guilty secret for many of us'

Tanith Carey says: ‘Feeling jealous of a companion’s exes is a responsible secret for many people’Credit score: Equipped

“Say you grew up feeling your mom or father weren’t notably considering you — otherwise you felt missed for one more sibling.

“There are clearly numerous variations on these themes, but it surely implies that you have been left eager for one thing which you couldn’t have — predictable love and care.

“This will set off overwhelming insecurities and jealousies that you just couldn’t take care of on the time and which then are likely to floor in one other type whenever you begin your first romantic relationships.

These sorts of fears and insecurities can then get projected into your love relationship and change into the premise for retroactive jealousy.”

Some components could make Rebecca Syndrome worse.

These embrace your companion taking a very long time to recover from their ex, you hooking up with them whereas they have been nonetheless on the rebound, or if the ex remains to be of their life as a good friend.

Authorized secretary Karina, 34, checks up on her companion’s exes each few months, regardless that she has been in a safe and joyful relationship for 5 years.

She says: “I do know my companion’s cellphone passcode, so when he’s asleep I try what his exes are as much as, on ­Fb. I belief him however I simply need to be certain they haven’t been messaging him or attempting to get again collectively.

“I’ve zero purpose to assume they’d however I identical to to make certain. The opposite day, we have been ­speaking about his exes and he admitted he knew that one among them had had a child. I used to be livid as a result of then I knew it meant he’d been checking up on her too — and he admitted he had.

“That triggered huge insecurities for me — that he nonetheless has emotions for her, he by no means bought over her breaking apart with him, and that I used to be simply the sloppy seconds.

“Irrespective of what number of instances he tells me he loves me, I can’t get that thought out of my thoughts”.

Helen, 43, a retailer supervisor, admits to “stalking” her companion’s ex on-line. She says:

“I don’t actually know what I’m on the lookout for. I do know full-well she doesn’t pose any risk to our marriage and wouldn’t need him again anyway.

“Perhaps I’m jealous that she had him when he was younger and match, and had a six-pack as a substitute of a beer stomach?

“He as soon as instructed me essentially the most instances he’d ever had intercourse in a single night time was six, along with his first critical girlfriend when he was 21.

“We’re fortunate to have intercourse as soon as per week as of late.”

Taken to extremes, Rebecca ­Syndrome can destroy relationships. For building employee Harry*, 31, retroactive jealousy struck when he first fell in love ten years in the past. He says:

“I used to be so obsessed along with her, I began trying out the blokes she’d been going out with earlier than, on social media.

I’d disappear down rabbit holes, evaluating myself to them and grilling her about them.

“I couldn’t bear the considered different males ­having intercourse along with her earlier than me. I did it a lot that she noticed it as an enormous crimson flag and thought I used to be some sort of bizarre stalker, so she ended the connection. I now realise it was all in my head.”

As for me, simply realizing there’s a reputation for the uncomfortable feeling I get when considering of my companion’s previous relationships has given me a deal with on it.

I additionally now see how my Rebecca Syndrome hyperlinks again to my child-hood, when my dad had quite a few affairs.

When his infidelity broke up my ­dad and mom’ marriage and he moved overseas and had extra children, I ­realised I’d felt forgotten.

Now that I do know my response had nothing to do with my husband and every part to do with my very own previous, I can lastly put the ghosts of his ex-girlfriends to relaxation.

* Names have been modified.

  • Retroactive Jealousy, Making Sense Of It, by Toby Ingham, is out now, priced £8.99.
Armie and Lily in the movie

Armie and Lily within the filmCredit score: 2020 © Netflix, Inc.


DON’T search reassurance out of your companion: Work by yourself ­emotions of self-worth. Remind your self that it’s your subject, not your companion’s. All of us have a previous, and there’s nothing we will do to vary that.

TELL your companion: Except your different half understands what you’re going by means of, your behaviour will spark rows and lift crimson flags.

Share your retroactive jealousy together with your companion, whereas taking accountability for it – and make it clear you don’t blame them.

LIVE within the now: Give attention to the strengths in your present relationship and create extra alternatives for particular one-on-one time collectively.

Attempt some new adventures or actions that can set your relationship aside out of your companion’s earlier ones.

AVOID feeding it: You could assume that discovering out extra particulars about your companion’s exes will make you are feeling higher, however analysis has discovered it solely feeds retroactive jealousy.

Create obstacles to you checking up on them, by blocking their accounts out of your socials.

SWAP locations: Similar to your companion, you in all probability have exes too. Consider the explanations you’re now not collectively. The chances are high that it’s as a result of one thing wasn’t fairly proper.

This will probably be a helpful reminder that it’s potential to have an intimate relationship with somebody and depart any romantic emotions behind you.