She’s bothered by her boyfriend’s past

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dear Sir/ ma’am,
I am a 27 year old woman who is bothered by my the past of boyfriend of 1 year. Before we were in a relationship, he was in a relationship with this girl for 4 years and engaged sexually. They parted ways when the girl cheated on him and got pregnant with another guy. They were in a long distance relationship.

My problem started when I was assigned to work in her previous girlfriend’s town. She lived near the dormitory that I am presently staying. Their past relationship haunts me when I see her. Every place that I see there – every park, food chains, motels etc.- remind me of them. I go to their town every month and I always hate it. I get extremely jealous to the point that I would text him and blame him for being sexually active in the past. I know that it’s not smart to confront him for the past that I really had nothing to do with but I can’t help it. It’s my way of releasing the pain. I know that it sounds silly, but it hurts me so. It kills me to think of what they did for the past 4 years that they were together. He was so close to the girl’s family that he sleep at their home in most days of their relationship.

It hurts me to think that that he was my first boyfriend and I was his 4th. We never engaged in a sexual act because I am a conservative person and he accepted it. We limit our intimacy in kissing and cuddling. I always fantasize to give myself to my future husband. It hurts me a lot too that I never had any experiences that he could be jealous of .Sometimes, I even thought of cheating him just to get even so that he will have something to get jealous of but I can’t do it. I know it is wrong.

I know that my bf really loves me and he showed it to me a million times and I don’t doubt about his sincerity. He even planned of proposing to me by September. He works as a seafarer and I don’t have the chance to personally confront him about my feelings. I can’t leave my job too because I really love it and I’ve been here for the past 4 years.
Please help me. I can’t get it out of my head. I look forward for your reply.

Thank you

A: From my point of view, it’s not important that your boyfriend once loved another. What’s important is that he learned from that experience and now has chosen you. He loves and respects you enough to limit intimacy with you to kissing and cuddling. He’s sure enough about the relationship that he is talking about a proposal.

Your jealousy and worries are not about him or his prior girlfriend. It’s about you. Your boyfriend is over his past relationship but you’re not. I’m sure there are men who, like you, are waiting until marriage to have sex. Your choice is to either break up with your boyfriend and look for a man who shares your convictions or to come to terms with your boyfriend’s past. He can’t change what happened. You can change how you think about it. Or not. It’s entirely up to you.

If you do want to try to make this relationship work, I urge you to seek out a therapist. “Confronting” your boyfriend with your feelings isn’t likely to be helpful and will probably only lead to arguments. What, after all, can he do? He’ll protest that it’s over. You’ll talk about your feelings. And around and around it’s likely to go. A therapist might be able to help you confront yourself instead. You owe it to yourself and to your boyfriend to work through your feelings. If you marry him without doing so, it is likely that you will sabotage your chances for a happy future together.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 May 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). She’s bothered by her boyfriend’s past. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/29/shes-bothered-by-her-boyfriends-past/