Q. I can’t grasp how many women my boyfriend has been with. My boyfriend has been with more people than I can imagine. He feels rather ashamed of his sexual history. He has had sex with friends, married friends, one night stands, and made friends just to have sex with them. As far as he can “remember” he did not use a condom with 3 of them (the total being 15). Since then he has been checked for SDIs. Still I have this overwhelming feeling of having to share him with all of them. As if i will never be the only important woman in his life. I don’t think he would ever actually cheat on me, but its always looming in my mind, because he has been with so many of his “friends”. I don’t want to leave the relationship, and besides this one point we are VERY good friends and have no other major conflicts. I don’t know how to get over these feelings of his sexual past and I want to make every effort to get over them. I have tried to write out my feelings and why in journals, talk with him about it, not think about it, ect. I don’t know what else to do. I get upset, not yelling and screaming but more disappointed and sad. Many times I just cry because it overwhelms me so much. Thank you for your time.

A. Please understand that your boyfriend’s past is his past and it should stay that way. Who he had sex with previously should have no bearing psychologically on your current relationship. If he had unprotected sex, then this should concern you only from the perspective of not wanting to contact a sexually transmitted disease but this should be your only concern. There is nothing that he can do to change his past. The problem is not his, it’s yours.

If his past bothers you, then it is important to examine why that may be. Part of it may be jealousy. Jealousy is related to a lack of self-esteem. If you felt fully confident about yourself, then you probably would not be thinking about his ex’s. You may also think that because he has had many sexual experiences that he is comparing you to those women.

Please realize that your boyfriend cannot change his past and it is not fair for you to be upset with him about actions that he took while you and he were not in a relationship. I also question whether it is fair to be concerned about his “friends” if he has not done anything untrustworthy to warrant your suspicion. With time and as you gain self-confidence these matters will likely not concern you.

In the meantime, it is important for you to recognize that these are your feelings and concerns. Your boyfriend cannot wave a magic wand and “wish away” his past behavior. If you want to continue the relationship, then you need to stop focusing on his past. Redirect your focus on the “here and now.” Judge him for the actions that he makes while he is currently in the relationship and do not punish him for his previous behavior which he cannot change. Try thinking of it this way. If it were you with his sexual past, would you want him to judge you as you are now or as you were then?

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Sep 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Can’t Stop Thinking About Boyfriend’s Sexual Past. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/09/15/cant-stop-thinking-about-boyfriends-sexual-past/