From Germany: I hope you can help me a little. I’m struggling to deal with my boyfriend’s past relationships and infidelities and I feel like it’s destroying what was a great relationship. We have been together for a year and a half, we have lived together for a year and for the past 5 months I have lived with him in his native Germany. I am 33 and he is 38.
My boyfriend has been married twice and has had around 50 sexual partners. He is reasonably open to me about his past “conquests” — he has cheated in all of his relationships: his first marriage ended due to his multiple and constant infidelity, and I know he has cheated on his second wife with at least 7 women. He has recently been diagnosed with bipolar.
I respect him for his honesty but since we moved to Germany I find it difficult to ignore his past. He insists he is faithful to me and will never cheat. He used to put a lot of effort into being open: he insisted on adding his email to my phone and willingly let me check his phone.
To make things even more complicated. His (almost) ex wife constantly messages him. He and his wife have lived in separate countries for 18 months and met a few weeks ago to discuss the divorce and organize the papers — Despite this she still continues to message and beg him back. Since we have been together she has mailed him around 4 times a day — everyday. She tells him what she does, that she misses him, sends him pictures and also sexts naked pictures. The last straw came when after he told her I also receive her emails. She demanded her emails to be private before sexting naked photos. I got very upset about it and emailed her to stop and since then my boyfriend has locked his email and phone. He said their divorce has nothing to do with me (which I believe) but I am upset by what feels like her constant presence in our relationship. It almost feels as though she is in a long distance relationship with him. I feel that him making his mail private after she asked him (even though I have asked him several times previously) means also that she has some power and control in our relationship.
His divorce may have nothing to do with you, but his behavior regarding his ex-wife does. If he didn’t want to get her sexts and emails, he would simply change his number. Or, barring that: If he wanted to make it clear to her that their relationship is over, I can think of nothing better than to continue to include you in all his correspondence with her.
If you were seeing me for therapy, I’d be asking you to think hard about the odds of someone like your boyfriend changing his ways. He has never been faithful before. I’m not sure he is being entirely honest with you now. There’s something about having multiple women vying for him that matters to him. It could be part of his bipolar disorder but that is treatable. It could be that his philandering behaviors are rooted in family patterns or past trauma or something else — in which case therapy could be helpful. But — of significance to me is that you don’t report that he is distressed about his history of philandering or that he wants it to stop. Quite the contrary. He seems quite proud of it.
The best predictor of someone’s behavior is what they have done in the past. Please continue this relationship with your eyes wide open and consider if you are willing to be conquest number 51.
I wish you well. Dr. Marie
My Boyfriend Has Slept with 50 Women
Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker
Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
APA Reference Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Boyfriend Has Slept with 50 Women. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 14, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/04/03/my-boyfriend-has-slept-with-50-women/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.