I’m 21 years old, and my girlfriend is 20 and this is our tenth time dating. I was her first, when she was 16 and I broke up with her eight months after it happened, and between us dating she dated two other people, and slept with them both. I have slept with about 20 people, so I shouldn’t get upset with her measly 2 other people, but I get really bothered. She’s asked me numerous questions about my ex’s and my past and she says it doesn’t bother her because it’s my past. I don’t ask about her past because I don’t want to know. But somehow it keeps popping up. I am in love with this girl, but I feel like this is driving a wedge between up. I can feel it eating away at me, and I want it to stop. How can I get over this, so we can focus on us?

A: It is often the case that someone we fall in love with has had prior relationships, even marriages, and while the pain of knowing they have been intimate with others may be uncomfortable, it is part of being human that we are built to adapt. When one partnership doesn’t work out, another one can flourish.

I recommend that you try to view her past as leading to your current and future relationship. Had either of those other two (or 20 of yours) been satisfactory the two of you would not be together now. Our past moves us to our present and the dissolution of those relationships allowed for the two of you to be together. You could work on honoring this truth rather than staying stuck in an unchangeable past. If you do talk about the past talk about it as a learning experience that both of you can grow from, rather than something that can harm you.

Whatever went wrong in those relationships gives you a road map of what not to repeat in this one. My guess is that had the two of you tried to stay together when you were 16 it may have fizzled. Try to understand that experimenting with other relationships was necessary for you to turn your attention back to each other.

I would give this 30 days of trying to change. If by then it hasn’t you may want to check the “find help” tab at the top of this page for therapists in your area.

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