Imagine you’ve found the perfect partner—attentive, caring, funny, attractive—but there’s a catch: you can’t get over his past. Maybe he cheated on a previous partner, maybe he’s had more sexual encounters than he can count, or maybe he’s closed off and guarded and doesn’t want to share the details of his past with you at all.
Being unable to get over your boyfriend’s past can lead to uncomfortable feelings of jealousy and self-doubt that can fester and cause unwanted damage to your relationship. If you find yourself in this situation it’s important to know that there are several things you can do to help you move on when your boyfriends past bothers you.
1. Normalize Your Emotions
Retroactive jealousy is expected; it reflects the emotional expression of the primal human urge to be “the one” for the person they are in love with. This means that any form of competition is considered a present danger.
Don’t think you’re abnormal if you’re experiencing these emotions. Know that it’s okay to feel jealous—it’s just not okay to act on this jealousy.
2. Acknowledge the Suffering
Jealousy is a complex emotion to experience. It makes you feel nervous, angry, depressed, and powerless, making it difficult to focus on your current emotions.
No matter how much you love your boyfriend or how much you trust him, when you’re feeling jealous you can reach a point where nothing makes sense. You feel a false sense of comfort in overthinking about things that don’t matter.
So, when these feelings rear their head, be kind to yourself.
3. Don’t Make Your Relationship a Test
Your concern about the past can sometimes cause you to do things that only exacerbate your anxiety and alienate your partner. Interrogation, consolation seeking, accusations, and retreating should all be avoided.
Everything about your boyfriend’s past has contributed to him being the person he is today. If he hadn’t gone through the rough patches in his life, he never would’ve met you.
Tactics that intend to test or hurt the other person can exacerbate the problem. Try to be understanding.
4. Recognize That the Past Is in the Past for a Reason
The majority of partnerships come to an end because they have run their course. They end on an amicable note with no hard feelings.
Perhaps one or both people in your partner’s previous relationships parted ways because they were not receiving the love or compassion they required. It’s possible that your boyfriend no longer cares about his previous relationships or exes.
You don’t have to go back in time to go on with your life, so neither should he. He has left that part of him in the past. Try to let it stay where it is.
5. You Can’t Control Everything About Your Partner
We often try to control our partner’s ideas and feelings—it’s a form of romantic perfectionism. This is unhelpful and simply reinforces your partner’s belief that you will be impossible to please.
You live in the real world, where healthy, wholesome relationships are possible, so you must understand that everyone has secret thoughts, feelings, and dreams. Your boyfriend’s ideas and feelings are his own, and you cannot and should not take those away from him.
6. Everyone, Including You, Has a Past
Think of it this way: What if the roles were reversed, and your boyfriend suddenly started asking you why you liked other men before you met him? What if he told you he wants a “clean” girlfriend—one who doesn’t have a past? Sounds ridiculous, right?
He has a past just like you. The only difference is that he isn’t insecure about yours.
7. Understand the Truth
You must accept that your boyfriend is human and, therefore, he will likely do human things. No human being is perfect, and everyone has at least one relationship they are ashamed to discuss.
So, he most likely has some former relationships he doesn’t like to discuss, as well as some wild ex-girlfriends he’d rather keep hidden. Accepting the truth about his previous relationships means you shouldn’t condemn him for the people he dated before you.
8. Respect One Another
It takes a lot of courage and trust to tell your partner about your sexual history. If he trusts you to that extent, you should do everything you cannot betray that trust. Don’t make him regret telling you about his history.
Rather than focusing on his former life and the people he used to date, try to determine if he still has any love for the women he’s known. Use this moment to show him how much trust you have in him and how much love you have for him, regardless of his past.
9. Let Him In
If you have a question regarding your boyfriend’s history or past relationships, rather than waiting and wondering, find the right time and place to ask him about his past.
Is there something you’re worried that he’s hiding from you? Does he keep repeating something that bothers you? If yes, then tell him what is wrong and ask him to explain.
One benefit of asking questions is that they will erase the worries and unproductive thoughts from your mind. So, rather than letting your thoughts spiral, just ask him to address your concerns.
10. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Nobody enters a relationship without baggage. The difference is in the size of the baggage. Always keep in mind that your boyfriend’s past is in the past; don’t waste time comparing yourself to his ex-girlfriends.
Was she better in bed? Was she prettier? Did she understand you better? Do you still like one of them? These questions have no “right” answer and will only steal your joy.
11. Give Him to Have the Benefit of the Doubt
Your boyfriend may have had a colorful past—some scandals, maybe even an instance where he cheated on someone—but he is not that person anymore. Give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he has changed. This means that you should realize he is simply human and not immune to making mistakes.
If he has turned over a new leaf and has decided to never go through that kind of phase again, your job is always to trust and understand him.
12. Work On Your Trust Issues
Many women (maybe due to their previous experiences) find it difficult to trust anyone, let alone a man with a past. Such women find it hard to wrap their heads around their boyfriend’s sexual past specifically, especially if he had quite a lot of sexual encounters. This can distract them from the enjoyment of the relationship.
Your trust issues are something you need to work on as you work on strengthening your relationship, too.
13. Avoid Bringing Up His History
During a relationship, couples can go through a period of tension that could have been prevented if the boyfriend’s history had not been brought up.
It’s pointless to keep reminding him of everything he has done in the past every time the two of you fight. You should be sophisticated enough as a woman to resolve conflicts with your boyfriend without resorting to using his history against him.
14. Take Care of Yourself
Some women have a natural tendency to be envious of their partner’s ex-lovers. When you have to deal with your boyfriend’s past or extensive sexual history, heightened jealousy can make the situation worse, so try to be more open and understanding.
It’s critical that you resist the impulse to delve into the history of his former relationships. Jealousy, wrath, confidence issues, and nagging are just a few ways envy manifests. The best thing to do is to shift your focus to something positive about your relationship.
15. Ask Your Boyfriend to Help You Move Forward
Maybe thinking about your boyfriend’s past makes you envious, or you don’t want to go to the same cafe where he took his ex on their first date. Putting a lid on these problems only exacerbates them. So, talking to your partner about your anxieties, doubts, and concerns will help a lot.
These are concerns that you can discuss and resolve with him. Remember that life is too short to waste time ruminating on the past; instead, engage with your partner now to save your relationship.
16. Consider the Positive Aspects of Your Relationship
Seeing things in a new light means finding something positive in even the bleakest situations.
The fact that your boyfriend has undoubtedly had more sexual exploits than you and has met a large number of women before you may be alarming, and you might feel envy or resentment towards him.
However, the advantage to this is that he is likely to have more sexual experience and emotional experience than you. That implies you’re dealing with someone who, hopefully, understands how to best please and understand a woman.
17. Make Yourself the Greatest They’ve Ever Had
The best way to deal with such a scenario is to show your man just how good he has it with you and how you are the best he has ever had.
Rather than settling for cheap, petty jealousy, learn from your boyfriend’s past, utilize it as a guide, and provide him with all the things that were missing in his previous relationships.
18. Admire His Sincerity
The fact that he’s talking to you about his sexual history demonstrates how much he values you and how much he loves you.
He didn’t need to talk about his past, but he still did. That shows he wants to be honest and upfront with you. So, instead of taking offense, admire his sincerity in telling you all of this and don’t make him resent his decision.
19. His Past Has Nothing to Do With You In the First Place
Dealing with your boyfriend’s sexual history can be difficult, especially if you are prone to jealousy. However, it is beneficial for you to understand that none of his previous relationships had anything to do with you.
Rather than focusing on the lovely moments your boyfriend may have shared with his ex, you should focus your thoughts on the best ways to make your relationship even better.
20. The Past Makes Us Who We Are
You must accept that you are only with this person because of his past. This means you wouldn’t be dating him right now if he hadn’t broken up with his ex-girlfriend.
He would not have learned how to treat a girl properly, developed his self-confidence, or known what to do on a first date if he hadn’t met so many other girls. He wouldn’t know how to rub your shoulders when you’re stressed or listen to you when you’re angry.
Let bygones be bygones and focus on the future.
Retroactive Jealousy Is Real
Retroactive jealousy is a psychological condition in which people have a strong desire to learn about their partner’s past sexual and romantic lives.
This obsession is so strong that it follows you around at all hours of the day and night. You can find yourself unable to concentrate on anything because you’re afraid your boyfriend is cheating on you.
This is a unique form of enmity and it stems from a lack of self-esteem. All you want to do is compare your relationship to your partner’s past partners or experiences.
Retroactive jealousy can cause you to become paranoid and inspire unpleasant thoughts and even violence toward your partner. You may begin to suspect your partner in everything they say or do.
Retroactive envy frequently has no justification. There may be nothing wrong with your relationship. However, if this problem is not handled as soon as possible, it has the potential to damage your relationship. It can also be incredibly harmful to your mental and physical health.
If you feel inadequate in your relationship and don’t address this issue, you might run into hurdles and tension that could sour it.
However, the good news is that there are steps you can take to stop dwelling on your partner’s history. Being honest with your partner about your worries and insecurities is just the first of them.
Communication and openness are crucial in this situation. Your partner won’t blame or condemn you for your insecurities if they are tolerant and kind. Indeed, it could pave the way for them to disclose their own. While self-validation is vital, obtaining affirmation and reassurance from your partner is also beneficial.
It’s also crucial to acknowledge any negative ideas you may have so that you can let them go mindfully. The more you practice letting go of your partner’s past in a nonjudgmental way—paying less attention to these thought patterns—the more your brain will be programmed to be consciously in the moment rather than fixated on fantasies of the past. This deliberate exercise will free up your mind and spirit, allowing you to engage more completely and tenderly with your partner.