My boyfriend is jealous of my past – it’s ruining our relationship!

Dear Maj,

Lately, my past has been “catching up to me”. Before I met my current boyfriend, there was (of course) someone else. Both ex-boyfriends and short flings. This “time before him” plays on his mind a lot and he’s having a difficult time letting it go.

I, on the other hand, feel that it’s in the past and not something that should be brought into our future. We totally disagree about it!

My previous ‘sexual partners’ is a topic that is always brought up whenever we are arguing or are having a deep conversation.

He’s always said “There are choices and then there are consequences of these choices.” I just don’t think it’s fair that I should lose him because of my past and because he’s jealous. He believes that it’s compromising his values that we stay together because of “how I was before him”.

He turns on me like that whenever he has any “bad” thoughts about me. It’s frustrating and the fact that he’s so stuck in the past is ruining our relationship.

I’ve never given him a reason not to trust me in our relationship and the distrust he has towards me is completely unnecessary and all in his mind.

There are so many things in our arguments/deep talks I want to say and share my point of view of but it’s as if my head just freezes, when I finally have the opportunity to speak.

My boyfriend is a man who’s very good with words (more than the usual guy) and he’s pretty much the one running the show in all of our talks.

I guess I let him because I feel like it’s my fault and I’m the reason he has these “bad” thoughts about me. He loves me but sometimes – and too often – these “bad” thoughts come between us.

How do I reach him?

Kind regards,
The Frustrated.

 

My boyfriend is jealous of my past and my ex-boyfriends

 

Dear The Frustrated,

Thank you so much for your question. I completely understand why you sign off as “The Frustrated”; what you’re experiencing IS unbelievably frustrating!

I’ll agree with you boyfriend that when you make a choice, you sign up for the consequences as well. However, he might need to apply this lovely saying to himself. He has chosen to be your boyfriend, which includes all of you; your past as well.

No one can change that.

My boyfriend is jealous

The fact that he has chosen you is his choice.

Unless you’ve been living in a closet your entire life, one of the consequences of choosing you as his partner is, that (of course) there’s a past. Whether you having been in relationships before him affect him and his values is something he needs to work out on his own.

It most definitely is not your fault.

You can’t cause him to have “bad thoughts about you”.

These thoughts appear in his head because of him and he’s the only person who can seek some help to control these thoughts. If he doesn’t learn to master them, he will ruin his life and the relationship he has with you.

I’ll say it one more time: this is NOT your fault.

You can throw away feeling guilty right away.

It’s all in his mind and he’s letting these thoughts of his get the better of him. This is not in your control, nor should it be. It’s not your responsibility.

Your responsibility is how you treat him today.

From what I can gather from reading your e-mail, you truly want to be with your boyfriend and you’re genuinely upset that your past is even an issue. You’re so distraught that your boyfriend is jealous of your past and is having such a difficult time accepting that there was someone else before him.

My boyfriend is jealous of my past

He’s having such a hard time accepting this, so much so that it affects himself and you and your relationship.

His thoughts are getting the better of him and making have “serious talks” where he runs the show and you don’t stop him because you’re laden with guilt. I imagine that these conversations somehow “calm him down”… until it happens again.

This lets him vent and he’s all right again for a few days/weeks until the thoughts all become too much again, making him want to vent one more time.

Your job in all this is to say when enough is enough!

This is an issue your partner has and he’s trying to make it out like it’s your problem. He’s making you responsible for his own thoughts and feelings and you, honestly, have nothing to do with these.

These are purely figments of his imagination and they’re taking him for a wild ride. Taking his frustrations out on you somehow makes him feel better about these thoughts, fantasies and mental images in his mind.

If you had actually hurt him and if you guys were struggling to move on from infidelity or the like, my advice to you would be entirely different.

But…

You can’t change the past.

You can, however, change what happens in the future and my thoughts are that you need to stop this destructive behavior your boyfriend is displaying; for some reason he can’t stop it himself. I get that if he could stop doing this himself, he would.

No one feels this way just for the sake of it.

It’s no fun for anyone!

Feeling jealous and feeling like you can’t control what goes on in your mind is absolutely horrific!

And that’s really the problem with jealousy; the thoughts run wild and the visual images you receive and the thoughts you play over and over in your mind just get worse and worse.

You can, however, seek help on how to deal with this and that is what I’ll recommend you to encourage your boyfriend to do. He might believe that you’re the one who “just needs to change something” but let’s be honest… no one can change the past!

He CAN learn how to control his jealousy and not let his mood and his behavior be determined by your “serious talks”. All this is, obviously, making you feel insecure about your relationship and whether it’ll even last.

This is not your fault!

To be honest, I believe ‘fault’ is a useless word. I’d much rather talk about ‘responsibility’.

What’s yours and what’s mine.

Your responsibility in all this is to put your foot down and say “enough is enough”.

His responsibility is to learn how to master his own thoughts and his behavior before he ruins the relationship. And himself. I promise you, he’s certainly not feeling all that well, acting this way.

Thankfully, the problem he is dealing with is something you can relatively easy do something about.

He can start reading my guides:

... Or even seek counseling from a competent therapist.

Other than that, I’ll recommend cognitive therapy with a well-trained cognitive psychologist who uses this method or even Meta-cognitive therapy – again, using a highly trained psychologist.

There are tools and techniques out there which one can learn to master.

This way, eventually, the thoughts will take up less and less space in his mind and you can both enjoy what you have together and the present moment instead of focusing on the past; none of you can change it anyway.

I sincerely hope that my reply has helped you along a little bit and that you guys will find a solution together. What he’s experiencing is honestly a problem he could have completely ditched within the next 8 weeks! If he chooses to own up to it and take full responsibility for it, that is.

Maj Wismann answers - My boyfriend is jealousLife is way too short for us to allow our minds to take over and completely run the show; it’s way too short for us to treat the people we truly care about in this destructive manner.

When we actually CAN do something about our problems, I believe that we need to own the responsibility of actually doing this something.

Love (and a kick up the butt!),
Maj Wismann – Clinical Sexologist and Couple’s Therapist with own clinic since 2006

 

 

 

*** Have you been in a situation like this? Have you experienced your partner to be jealous of your past? Please share your experiences (and lessons) in the comments below. Remember, your comment might help someone else! And as always, thank you for sharing. 

*** Please remember to keep a nice tone. ALL negative comments will be deleted immediately. I wish to create a positive and supporting space where we can support each other, and I therefore have a zero-tolerance policy towards rudeness, condescension, negative inputs and disrespect.

 

18 Comments

  1. Henrik V Blunck

    First and foremost: good answer, Maj ?

    I would like to begin by saying we men can be real jerks at times. There you go. I said it!

    All men dream of being the ‘only one’ for a woman when the start of in their romantic journey. As life unfolds, we do however realize it would be a lot of training involved – but for others this is part of their ‘inner ego’, and takes up too much energy. Because then doubts arise about whether the boyfriend before me was better or more well hung or something else that robs them of energy that should be spent as lovers.

    There will always be differences between all men. Some are tall, others are small, some are smart others less smart, some sensitive and others tough. Yes differences that can be charming, but certainly also a pain in the backside, because these hindrances mostly come from a certain degree of personal insecurity.

    Without wanting to repeat your fine answers, it has to be said, that you must say ‘STOP’, dearly frustrated woman. Don’t allow your boyfriend to continue this immature reaction. Start talking about this, and get all the unsaid elements out of the closet. You need a breath of fresh air, and even with love behind your words and the occasional smile at his behavior, he has to grow up.

    You simply can’t achieve all the good things that should unite you as a couple as long as one of you doubts the survivability of the relationship. I hope I am not too blunt in my comment, but these were the thoughts from a man, who LONG ago made these things clear for myself, even though I admit it took a kick in the ass from a relationship that lasted 8 months, when I had to look at my inward self, and think about why it didn’t last. I believe I did behave correctly, with a positive tone at all times, but in my case it was the girlfriend who used her tongue in a negative and derogatory way. Life gives us all insight into these things, and it makes is stronger, even though it can tear some of the illusions we all have about the romantic side of life.

    It is important never to bring ‘old luggage’ into new relationships – but that is also a different subject indeed. ?

    Reply
    • Kimba Maria Wiggins

      I was with someone like this and I called it quits after only 3 months of dating. He accused me daily of cheating. If I didn’t text him all day, I was cheating. If I didn’t Facebook him all day, I was cheating. He would also withhold information from me on purpose, saying that he lied to protect me. What killed out relationship is him throwing my sordid past in my face and making accusations that weren’t even true. Stalking me online via YouTube. He admitted that his ex had cheated and he was comparing me to her, like I was going to cheat. I had weight loss surgery while we were dating and he was convinced I would cheat and leave him. I wish him well…and good luck. He brought years of baggage and I will not stand for poor behavior.

      Reply
  2. Miha

    I have exactly the same problem. He becomes sad, moody and angry out of the blue, blaming it on my past. And we always flight because of this.

    Reply
    • lemonlady

      Me too! I don’t know what to do..

      Reply
  3. Dennis

    Thanks it make sense to me now cuz I sure don’t want to lose her because something stupid like this I really do need some help with it

    Reply
  4. Rachel simard

    I have been experiencing the same thing for almost three years now. I myself have a boyfriend that is always bringing up my past and gets angry about it. I tell him that our past don’t matter and that we should focus on the present and future.he doesn’t agree. I have told him plenty of things about my past which was a big mistake because he brings it up in our arguments and there is no reason for it, he makes me feel so low about myself. I have never cheated on him let alone think about it. He will come home from work and make comments that are accusations of me cheating on him while he was at work. He asks me the same question three times in different ways such as what did you do today like seriously the first time he asked wasn’t good enough? The only places I go when I leave the house is to the store and if I leave the house while he’s at work he thinks I’m out cheating. I have tried in many different ways of dealing with this situation and none of it works. I have absolutely no sexual desire for this man anymore because it disgusts me to know he thinks of me this way,but he don’t believe that’s how i really feel. I am at my wits end and I know I have to break it off due to it being almost 3 years and it’s the same thing nothing has changed. I could go on for days the crap I have dealt with from this man…im disgusted

    Reply
  5. Stepahnie

    Hey guys. I feel so comforted that I came across this. Right now I am feeling very upset and used by my boyfriend who has severe mood swings when it comes to my past. Everything will be fine, happy and positive, and without notice he switches his moods as a trigger in his mind happens. We fight, he ignores me completely which leaves me with endless anxiety and depression. I am a happy girl who is loyal and supportive but I do not allow such behavior apart of my life. It upsets me because he turned his phone off for a week, didn’t talk to me, and then when we decided to see me we talked about it and enjoyed the weekend. He then, 4 days after had another trigger episode and now here i am left alone and him not talking to me. As a grown woman, I know what to do. I am just not ready to leave him.

    Reply
    • Sherry

      oh my gosh Stephanie I’m in the same
      same boat. However, I had to let him go for my own sanity. He’s killing my heart and soul. I’m taking a month just for me without contacting him. He said last week he wanted to give it another attempt but I’m to hurt when he calls me bad names. I’m taking this time for self awareness to fully understand why I’m with someone who can only fix themselves. This is my journey and I plan on making life about me. Take some time for you and he will realize the golden beautiful woman you are if you stand up for yourself trust me.

      Reply
  6. Judy

    my boyfriend has the same issue,, he rejects me with very harsh words and talks ugly things to me and it’s frustrating and Depressing me now.. he would never want to see a therapist.. I know he loves me but how do I reach out to him again

    Reply
    • sherry

      By walking away for a while to get your heart feeling better. start to work out and take care of you

      Reply
  7. Kerry

    I am a guy and want to give a different viewpoint. I admit I struggle with my “soon” To be wife’s past sexual partners. I definitely recognize it as a trigger and it will completely hanged my mood and I will get quiet.

    However, my ability to internal manage depends on why the ex’s come up in conversations. My SO has a child with her ex so interaction is necessary. Early in our relationship, the ex would call frequently about non-child topics. It was a mild as sent text about common shows to making comments about her not wearing underwear and one story he told me about them working so hard one day they just went and jumped in the bed. He constantly interjected stories about their past and it was uncomfortable and disrespectful. While I am upset about his lack of boundaries I have resentment toward my SO because she didn’t initially recognize then after me bringing it to her attention – she didn’t take sides while was a lack of loyalty to me.

    I admit at this point his name is a trigger but she will tell stories and include him when it didn’t add substance to the story. I don’t think she’s in love with him but not a doubt she still loves him and misses all their great memories (not his cheating ? as much). She just told me she was dreamt about him frequently lately. They have been divorced 12 years and we have been together almost 5 years.

    Reply
    • Sundal

      oh god, so sorry you are going through this, those messages sound so inappropriate! I don’t think your jealousy is an issue, it’s his disrespect of the boundaries of your relationship that is. Tell her you’re not comfortable with her maintaining non-essential contact with him and that you won’t be made to feel like you’re wrong for that. He has, after all, proved that he is still into her and not prepared to respect the fact that she is now in a relationship with you.

      Reply
  8. shakti

    My boyfriend just dumped me because he says he can’t get over my past, and feels like we have incompatible moral values. I am in bits because I don’t feel like this is true at all and I felt like throughout our 7 month relationship when this issue would come up and he would reveal his insecurities to me i would do everything i could to reassure him about my reasons for exploring my sexuality in the past and how I have come full circle to a place where I now honour my sexuality as sacred.

    I was molested as a child by my father and grandfather, not incessantly, as far as i remember it only happened a few times so I have tried to dismiss this all my life and pretended it didn’t affect me at all, as I was too little at the time to know that it was wrong, but I realise now that it led to me having very poor boundaries when it came to my physical person. Added to that, my father was extremely strict with me as a teenager so when I finally moved out the house to go to uni it was like freedom for the first time and I engaged in periods of promiscuity, feeling like I wanted to make up for lost time to see what all the fuss was about. Added to that, I found that in my relationships with men I had to deal with them telling me stories about their sexual histories and bragging about them, because for men, it’s seen as a badge of honour. of course, it’s partly my fault for sometimes asking about these stories, but that’s because I wanted to know if they had anything in their sexual history that would be a dealbreaker for me, like sleeping with prostitutes or engaging in abusive, coercive or misogynistic sexual practises with vulnerable girls. I rejected the idea that it was ok, good even, for men to sleep with a lot of women and not have the same standard apply to me as a woman, so I vowed I would never let a man make me feel inferior again with his sexual history, so again I engaged in promiscuity and after discovering one boyfriend who I’d been with for 2 years had been having webcam sex with other girls and who knows what else, I really started to explore my sexuality by visiting fetish clubs, exploring different relationship styles and had a couple of threesomes. Of course, to me, this was pretty tame compared to what some of the other people in the group I was hanging out with were engaging in, many couples in this scene would regularly invite others to join them and there were regular orgies, which i would never partake in because… well, i had morals! lol

    On top of that, I have worked for over 10 years as a fashion model and often had to endure regular sexual harassment as part of my job and have even been coerced into having sex against my will (which is rape, but it took a long time for me to admit to myself that this is what it was) my men in the industry. I was also sexually assaulted at a party when I was 18. So all of these experiences, as well as the way society packages women’s sexuality as a commodity, something to be used to sell products and a prize for the most persistent, most alpha males, led me to underestimate the power of my sexuality. Added to that, the way that women’s sexuality has been suppressed, controlled and policed or made into false binaries (‘good’ women are pure and save their sexuality for the right person, ‘bad’ women are sluts who enjoy sex in the same way men do) led to me resisting this form of patriarchal control.

    I am not ashamed of the things I have done because they have taught me that ultimately the best sex is the kind you have with a partner who loves and respects you, where the physical expression is an extension of the emotional closeness you have together. The sexual relationship I had with my partner was on another level and I really cherished it because it was so much purer and more divine than anything I had ever experienced before. But I had to have those experiences to know that I wasn’t missing anything and that everything I was looking for could be found in the arms of one loving man. Even though he knows this because I would tell him this repeatedly, he now says he has thought about it and simply cannot reconcile with the things I’ve done. He feels we have incompatible moral standards (he has always viewed sex as a sacred act between two people who care about each other and has never dated multiple people at the same time, like so many people tend to do nowadays in western culture) and he doesn’t feel like he’ll ever be able to get over his uncomfortability surrounding the way i view (well, used to view, but he seems to think I still view) sex. He says it’s a dealbreaker for him.

    I’m absolutely devastated, it feels so unfair that we got together because I was in a place to meet him on his level but because of my past I am now being discarded. The sad thing is, I get where he is coming from, before I met him I was dating another guy who I liked very much and we had a lot in common, he had also explored different relationship styles and been to sex parties etc. But it was as soon as he told me that him and a friend once hired a prostitute and filmed themselves having sex with her (and she was initially trying to cover her face while they filmed her- a pretty strong indication that they were filming her NON-CONSENSUALLY) I was absolutely appalled and decided I couldn’t date him as this goes hugely against my morals. I don’t approve of the sex industry at all and I could not date someone who had ever been a John. But I feel like it’s unfair for him to judge me for things I did consensually with people, no one was hurt by any of my actions (except for my cheating ex-boyfriend who had the audacity to guilt me for how heartbroken he was when I slept with other people after he’d cheated on me repeatedly).

    Should I just move on and forget about him? Am i resigned to only be able to date freaks and deviants who will be ok and not be jealous at all about my past? Am I hypocrite for wanting a good man? Or perhaps I deserve better than someone who is going to constantly make me feel like damaged goods? So many questions. I would love someone to give me their perspective on this, but please be kind.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Hey shakti,
      I really don’t agree with all the points that the original adviser has made in this column, but there are things that I agree with. It is okay to do whatever you wanna do with your body, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. A way to use your body to hurt someone else, would be to wrestle, or set fire to someone else. But then again, you didn’t do anything to directly or intentionally harm other people. You just did what you felt was right, and there is nothing wrong with that. You are not a hypocrite for wanting a good man, and there is always hope for you. You might find the perfect one, someone with just the right amount of experience, who doesn’t just accept your past, but cherishes it. All of this is possible, although not guaranteed.

      However, here’s a point of view that is often ignored, that even the author of this advise column didn’t bother to mention. Not everyone is made the same. There are people who are able to handle their partner’s past. There are people who are happy with their partner’s past. And then, there are also people who simply can’t handle their partner’s past. And those people aren’t wrong in their place. Keep in mind, there are people who also do not date inexperienced people, which means that being a virgin doesn’t automatically make you a prize either. It’s just an attribute, and it is intrinsically not good or bad. People, however, may view it as good, bad or neutral, depending on their experiences.

      Your boyfriend left you because he was sad beyond repair (or so I think based on what you’ve said). He was honest to you, and he saved two people’s lives from getting ruined in the process. Both of you deserve better. He deserves to TRY to find someone with whom he can truly be happy, no matter what it takes to make that happiness happen. While he is not entitled to having that person, he is entitled to try, and he is entitled to feel how he feels. Similarly, you are also entitled to feel how you feel. You are entitled to your opinions, you are entitled to do whatever you want to do with your life. You would also feel a lot better being with someone who thinks that you are perfect, wouldn’t you? If he would’ve stuck around even after going through that pain, the relationship would’ve gone dysfunctional. His sadness and anger would’ve most likely caused him to grow bitter towards you, and that in turn would’ve eradicated the love. That is not a relationship worth being in.

      That being said, you must not simply suppress how you feel. Just like how you didn’t suppress your sexual hormones, you shouldn’t suppress your sadness. If you feel like you need time to move on, to grieve, take that time, embrace the feeling, absorb everything at your own pace. When you’re ready, you can always go out there and try again. That’s the beauty of it. You may or may not find the right one, or even someone. But you are and always will be, a very beautiful person, and the one person who will always love you, is yourself. Respect that and carry on without any regrets.

      Reply
  9. County crow

    Well I’ve heard both sides I am a man who often has problems dealing with my partners sexual past I have tried to not listen to the voice or images in my head but it doesn’t work I even take deep breaths and tell my self I couldn’t live without her but it is hard jealousy is one of the world’s pain in the ars but as a man I’m gonna share my point of view me and my partner have been dating for a year now she has slept with 3 guys not including my self but the thing that always gets me is that I put my self forward as a open book to her and she told me multiple times at the beginning of the relationship that she had only been with one guy sexually then a year down the road I find out it’s 4 guys including me and it killed me it broke every peice of my heart that I felt I had left that the person I had imagined being the o e walk down the alter and bare my offspring had broken the trust between us and I feel like there’s no building it back but I love this women and I really don’t wanna watch her go but if anyone and I mean anyone is out there and thinks they can help please reply bc I need it more than anyone it has got to points of self harm when I think of her past thanks for letting me vent guy/gals

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Hey County Crow,

      I am sorry about what happened to you. It is perfectly understandable and reasonable for you to feel upset and betrayed about your partner lying to you. Lying is not healthy, but it is better to hide facts if you’re not comfortable sharing them. She did nothing wrong by sleeping with those three guys, or by distorting the facts. Maybe she thought it would make the relationship last longer. Maybe she wanted to spare you pain. This is a grey area, and while I do not condone doing what she did to you, sometimes people see it as a necessity, to ensure their partner’s happiness.

      On the other hand, you are most likely hurt and can’t trust her anymore. If this is something that both of you are willing to work on, you should give it a try. If you think this part of your relationship will keep bugging you for the rest of it, breaking up is a much better option for both of you.

      I hope you find the right one, who won’t lie to you, and who you’ll feel happy with. As for her, I also hope she finds someone who won’t just accept her past, but cherish it, and love her for who she really is.

      Reply
  10. caumont

    Well men may dream to be your first lover…but still they leave you..they don’t cherish that much your virginity…so don’t have regrets for your past…if they are out of your life it means they were not worth it anyways.

    Reply
  11. pop

    There’s an old saying..”you can’t force a square peg through a round hole”.. Things either work or they don’t. If the past bothers him that much it’s obviously not a good match. It needs to be let go. To some the past may not matter at all and to others it matters a lot. There’s nothing wrong with either scenario. Just the difference in people. But never lie about it. It would be much worse if he’d found out later on…maybe even years down the road. Take it as you’re not a good match and move on. Hopefully both of you can find what you need somewhere else.

    Reply

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