Getting over your partner’s sexual history

File photo
File photo
Image: 123RF

Truth is, no-one likes to think about their partner being with anyone else, even with the exes.

But while it’s normal to have a passing thought about your partner’s previous romantic life, some people have serious issues dealing with the honesty about their partners’ past sex life.

Some choose to withhold the extent of their previous activities and cross fingers that nothing will ever catch up with them from that baggage.

Others choose to ignore talking about each other’s sexual history, as long as they’ve both passed the physical health test.

But for many who’ve chosen to lay every card on the table, some struggle with what is called, “retroactive jealousy”.

When they bare it all, they struggle with handling the historical reality of their partners to the point of it affecting the relationship.

Retroactive jealousy is a state of having major obsession and insecurities over your partner’s romantic history.

You ruminate on their past relationships and have serious envy and jealousy towards their exes.

These negative thoughts could be about situations that actually happened in their past.

But to a large extent, it’s about your imagination running wild about your partner’s sexual past.

If you’re suffering from retroactive jealousy, you might find yourself obsessively looking up your partner’s exes on social media, or even daydreaming about how you’ll handle meeting them one day should your paths ever cross.

You’ll comb through their Instagram feeds looking at all their photos and fixating on whether they were more attractive or smarter, and even interrogate your partner about whether the exes were better in bed than you.

You wonder whether your partner loved them more than you.

Retroactive jealousy is next-level self-sabotage that’ll guarantee a degree of toxicity in your relationship.

Struggling to healthily deal with your partner’s sexual history can hurt your current relationship.

Your partner will think you don’t trust them

If your partner feels like they need to continually explain themselves and apologise for their past, they’re going to feel a lack of trust in the relationship.

At some point, you have to just let the past be the past and focus on the here and now.

Insecurity will fester

At the heart of retroactive jealousy is your lack of self-esteem.

You feel jealous out of envy, which often stems from qualities you believe you lack when compared to your partner’s exes.

You’re defocused from what you’re building

Focusing on the past doesn’t give you a chance to appreciate your partner, get to know them or allow your relationship to grow.

Focus instead on your own experience with your partner.

It appears as judgmental

By fixating on your partner’s past, you’ve given a major signal that you’re evaluating everything they’ve done and everything they will do.

How can your partner feel comfortable doing anything in the present when you’re constantly judging their past?

If you’re struggling with how to accept your partner’s sexual past, thinking through the reasons you’re feeling insecure can help.

Consider the following suggestions:

Share your emotions

Instead of snooping, imagining, obsessing, overthinking and self-doubting, talk to your partner and share your feelings.

When you share your feelings, you can get support and understanding, while accusing them or speaking from a place of logic could make them defensive, upset and hesitant to be there for you.

We shouldn’t have to explain our pasts to our current partners, especially when we’ve completely moved on from it.

Your partner should also have enough emotional intelligence not to overshare or be reckless about their past life and rub it on your face.

No-one really looks forward to hearing how awesome your life was with your exes, especially how great your sex life was by comparison.

And no matter how glorious it’s been, they’re no longer together.

Consider your own value

What are you bringing to the table? Stop imagining stuff that’s not even there over people you may not even know, and start appreciating the fact that you’re in the present.

When we feel good about ourselves, it’s easier to believe a person will continue to choose us over others.

What areas of your life do you want and need to improve to feel more worthy in your own eyes?

See the positives in the past

Our previous experiences are the training ground for our better selves today.

Your partner’s past is necessary for them to be the person they are today.

Consider all the lessons they’ve learnt that are beneficial to your relationship now.

Have that list with you when clouds of being jealous of their past set in.

Also consider your own past, and how it benefits your relationship today.

Work on your self-confidence

Lack of self-confidence is one common denominator in relationships with a retroactive jealousy problem.

This is because it’s very hard for someone who’s self-confident and knows what they want in life to become fixated by past events in their partner’s love life.

On the other hand, someone who ponders on some level if they can live up to their partner’s ex-lovers is vulnerable to low self-esteem.

In short, to feel anxious and upset about the people your partner once dated or slept with means you’re probably comparing yourself to them and putting yourself second best.

There are probably many reasons why your partner once went through a “promiscuous phase” or was in love with someone who was obviously not right for them.

And none of them relate to these exes being anything remotely out of the ordinary or “special”.

Anyway, it’s part of their journey as much as you’ve had yours before you met.


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