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Disgusted By Your Boyfriend’s Past? – 5 Relationship Experts Share How To Handle When You Can’t Seem To Get Over His Past

by Anita Gadhia-Smith – PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW, Barbara Bourgeois – MBA, MS, LPC, NCC, Rachel Orleck – PsyD, Cheri McDonald – PhD, LMFT, Tracy Kelly – LMFT

Disgusted By My Boyfriends Past

“Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way.”

~ Mavis Mazhura

Emotions Can Get in the Way Mavis Mazhura Quote
Tracy Kelly

Past relationships and sexual behavior are just that, in the past.  Still, these past behaviors can help predict future behavior.  

Learning about your boyfriend’s past dating practices and sexual relationships and experiences can help you understand him and help you know what to expect in your relationship with him.  

If what you end up learning about his past sexual behaviors bothers, concerns, or disgusts you, this is worth exploring. 

  • Has he been the type of man who loves them and leaves them? 
  • Has he contracted an STI (sexually transmitted infection) or an STD (sexually transmitted disease)? 
  • Was he able to have past healthy committed intimate relationships, or is does he struggle and purposely avoid monogamy? 
  • Has he been degrading to women in the past?  
  • Has he explored same sex relationships and is unclear on his sexual orientation?

Take a moment to identify what it is specifically that troubles you.  

Is it merely the fact that he was sexually active with someone other than you?  

This could be insecurity and unrealistic of you to expect another person to not have some sort sexual experience, especially the older you are. 

If insecurity is the issue, think why a person he was intimate in the past threatens you in the present.  

After all, if this person was the right person, they would probably still be together. If it is a moral issue, and you are seeking someone who has saved sex until marriage, maybe you should keep looking, if that is something that is a deal breaker.

Perhaps your man’s past sexual activities disturb you for other reasons.  

Are you afraid of his behavior, has he been unsafe or irresponsible, is he violent or aggressive, is he too vanilla or too much vanilla and sprinkles?  

All of these reasons are important and deserve the time to be explored.  

When sex works well for a couple, it takes up a small percentage of the relationship.  However, when desires, needs, frequency, and style do not line up, it can cause continual challenges and distress that leads to resentment that can take up a large portion of the relationship. 

Dr. Tracy S. Kelly, LMFT – www.DrTracyKelly.com

Anita Gadhia-Smith

Unless you are very young and just starting life, most people have a past.

  • What is it that bothers you about your boyfriend’s sexual past, and why?  
  • Are you uncomfortable with the number or type of partners he has had? 
  • Are you uncomfortable about things that he has told you he has done with them and you don’t want to do those things?

The first question to ask yourself is: Does it conflict with your basic value system in a fundamental way? 

If so, you may not be able to resolve your own inner conflicts about who he is  and stay with him. Where it comes to sex, there is not necessarily a right and wrong, unless someone is being harmed. Two consenting adults can do whatever they choose, as long as no one is being victimized. 

If your value system leads you to feel that he is not the right partner for you, and you have only found out about his sexual past after you have gotten deeply into the relationship, you may need to assess whether you can go any further. 

You either need to accept him for who he is without punishing him for it, or set him free. 

Whatever he did in the past does not necessarily dictate what he is going to do in the future. People go through phases and changes in their lives, and evolve over the course of different stages of life. 

For example, if he had not been monogamous in a past relationship, that does not necessarily mean that he cannot be monogamous with you. If you love him and want it to work out, give him the benefit of the doubt, and treat your relationship as a new entity, rather than as a re-creation of his past.

The next thing to do is to look at yourself and your own past. 

Do you have character issues around being biased, judgmental or rigid? If so, you might want to consider enlarging your range of flexibility in what you can tolerate and accept in life. 

If you live your life in a narrow box, you may limit yourself unnecessarily. 

Do you need to be more flexible? You are not going to find a saint or perfect person anywhere. 

If you love him, accept him for who he is, and recognize that his sexual past makes him who he is today. 

Your past also makes you exactly who you are today. You can both create a new and different kind of past in your current relationship, complement one another,  and have a loving and fulfilling relationship – if you want to. 

Give it a chance and think positively about your boyfriend. 

After all, his good qualities are what attracted you to him in the first place. Remember that whatever you focus on will grow, so focus on what you love.

Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com

Barbara Bourgeois

It might start something like this, “So….have you been with a lot of girls before me? How was it? What did you do?  Was she better than me? Thinner than me? Sexier than me? You did WHAT? She was into WHAT?”

Before you even ask….ask yourself what the answer to this question is going to add to your relationship and general happiness.  

Is this question helpful? Relevant? And….will your boyfriend’s answer enrich your relationship?

Chances are the answer is no, no, and no.

Relationships are comprised of two people and the experiences they bring to the table.  Our experiences, whether good or bad, are what help us to grow and learn about ourselves, our likes and dislikes, and also inform us about the type of person we feel most comfortable with.  

Dating is necessary to choose well. 

You wouldn’t buy the first pair of shoes you tried on, would you?  So why would you stay with the first person you went out with?  

It is important to try on a few partners before deciding which one is juuuuust right! (Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?)  

Some of his past may sound extreme, some of it boring, but what the two of you create together may turn out to be JUST RIGHT!

“Without experiencing others, we cannot know ourselves.”  Another way of saying this is “We can not know what we do not know.”  

If you find yourself disgusted over your boyfriend’s past relationships, sexual or otherwise, you may be feeling jealous or a need to compete.  Both feelings stem from insecurity. 

Your thoughts are within your control.  Insecurity is about comparison, the belief that you are less than, not good enough, or unlovable…you get the picture.

Worst of all, you are comparing yourself to someone who isn’t even present! 

Security begins with staying in the present, feeling what you feel and trusting that the present experience, as it unfolds in real time, is the only experience that is relevant.   

As your boyfriend gets to know you, get to know him too.  Understand that every prior partner has helped him to become the person he is now.  

If you found a great guy, say a secret “Thank You” to all the prior women who brought him to you!  

His history has value, and so does yours. 

Time and experience are what makes us who we are. Trust your instincts and check in with yourself….you will feel the answer before you know it!

Barbara L Bourgeois, MBA, MS, LPC, NCC – www.bbtherapyct.com

Cheri McDonald

We start relationships with great intentions of this being the new beginning and the first day of us, claiming there is no need to know your boyfriend’s past, until you do…

Despite the past being the past, it can feel painfully triggering to hear of past relationships the man you love has had before you. 

This is not so unusual, it’s common to feel some discomfort or jealousy at first. Yet it’s important to move through, and on, from these initial feelings so to create the happy, loving union.

I offer the following steps to re-orient yourself in keeping your eyes and heart on just you and him!

1. Live with what IS-The only reality is now.

Remind yourself you knew there was a past when you said, yes, I’ll be with this man! And,you also knew that his past is not part of your life with him now. It is what it is and it’s important to accept what you already know.

And it’s easy to get caught up in feelings of insecurities, and ask yourself and him ‘what if’ what was, was different? Hence, away from the beautiful reality you are creating with your man in this moment.

If you are still struggling with the what if, reflect on the fact that you too had a life before him. Romance or not! And the past is the past and no longer exists! Hold yourself accountable and move on!

2-Don’t be afraid to inquire, if you think it, speak it. 

One of the greatest attributes for a successful relationship is being personally vulnerable. Any lack of transparency will come out in displaced and negative ways that can introduce chaos to the union. 

Although, pretending neither of you existed before entering one another’s sphere is a fun idea, you know better. Therefore, ignorance is not bliss. In fact, we tend to gravitate, engaging our imagination, and as the saying goes, our imagination is much worse than reality.

Part of being transparently open is sharing any insecure thoughts, so together you can dissipate the angst and stop the rumination by getting the insight to remember what you have now.

3. Love in the very same way you want to be loved!

If you want love, love. If you want openness, be open. If you want hundred percent acceptance, accept fully and wholly. 

Everyone comes from different backgrounds and places, expects some surprises, and keeps all information in perspective. Keep your reactions in check, as you remember, once again, he is with you now.

He is with you and left behind any one from the past. And at the end of the day, the animation between him and anyone in the past, as with you, are no longer important. Let it be.

This is a good time to take a deep breath, literally, and come back to the present. Then, look deep into his eyes and embrace the love you are this moment.

Cheri McDonald, PhD, LMFT – www.aplace2turn.com

Rebecca Garetz

It’s natural to feel uncomfortable about your boyfriend’s past. 

No one likes to think about them kissing someone else let alone be in the same bed with them! 

Here are some things to think about!

1. Let’s start with the basics 

Is there a deal breaker about someone’s past? What are you willing to let go and what are you not?

2. Ask yourself, would you want someone to judge your past? 

If the answer is no, can you bring that same consideration to him?

3. Get really clear about what exactly it is that is making you feel the way you do and think about why it is bothering you. 

Ask why is this bothering right now?

4. Sometimes we don’t like to hear about a boyfriend’s past because it reminds us of an ex or a time we felt unsafe. 

If it’s bringing up old wounds, it may be helpful to explore that some more and try to separate those feelings.  Remember he is not your ex!

5. We can feel bothered about someone’s past when we still believe that is happening or could potentially happen in the future. 

Ask yourself is this currently happening? 

If you’re worried it could happen again, this may be a good time to reassess the trust in the relationship.

6. Maybe his sexual past feels dirty. 

If this is the case, this is a good time to ask yourself what your expectations for sex are. 

  • Was shame attached to sex for you? 
  • Has sex been a positive or negative experience for you? 
  • What do you want your sex life to look like? 

If answering these questions are hard for you, it’s okay to talk to a sex therapist or to read more about sex!

7. If you would like to start talking more openly about sex with your partner, download the Gottman Card Decks app on your phone. 

There are some fun and interesting sex related questions to ask each other. Sometimes just putting it all out there can ease the tension.

Rebecca Garetz, LPC Intern – www.rosehipwellnesspdx.com

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