Boyfriend Can’t Cope with My Past

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have currently been dating my boyfriend for a little less than a year. My boyfriend has several issues he is trying to work through and I want to know what can I or we do to help him overcome these issues.
1. I have had more sexual encounters and more relationships than he has. He feels that I am more mature in these areas and feels that he may regret not having more experiences in life.
2.I have a tattoo I got when I was sixteen it just has a flower and a letter but he feels I did it for another guy in my past when in reality it was for a family member.
3. He feels that whenever there is another male in a group setting that I am seeking their acceptance/approval.

I am a very sociable person, outgoing, loud, friendly, loves to have fun w others. My boyfriend is very low key, reserved, and has a lot of jealousy when it comes to me and other men. He does not like me having male friends unless I know their wives and they both know us. He has a lot of trust issues. I try to really communicate with him but I feel that he shuts me out and is trying to push me away more so lately. I feel like I should break up with him because I can’t stand the idea of him living with the regrets and then having them turn into resentment. But I love him and I’m trying to work through this. I can’t change my past but I am looking forward to a future with him, how to I get him to see that? Will time and patience be enough? Does couples therapy sound like something we should consider?

A: This kind of jealousy can be very difficult to deal with. My experience is that men who struggle with this type of jealousy are slow to change and often need extended individual therapy for true changes to occur. That having been said, I think couples therapy is a very good way to go for three reasons.

First, it will get the two of you in front of a neutral third party who can identify the patterns and offer feedback about how to improve the situation. Second, if the couples therapist thinks that your boyfriend (and yourself, for that matter) needs individual therapy, he or she can make that recommendation. Finally, it may be illuminating for both of you to understand your initial attraction to each another and how the relationship evolved to its current state.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Boyfriend Can’t Cope with My Past. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/12/30/unable-to-cope-with-my-past/