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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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Hello, Ive recently posted on PC. About having trouble with my gfs past. I wan

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I've been dating my girlfriend for several months now. I only knew her a few months before we started dating, but things progressed and here we are. She's an absolutely amazing woman. She has everything I seek in a partner, except for her sexual past. I'd like to clarify that we are both 27 and both have been in relationships before.

My problem is not that she's been with other people before me, but the actual number. I've always held myself to a certain standard when it comes to this, but being with her and knowing her sexual past has taken me outside of my comfort zone. Now, her sexual past is very similar to mine, but mine is slightly more promiscuous - I feel a bit of a hippocrit here, and I know it. I just can't seem to get this out of my head because, like I said, I'm used to dating girls who haven't been with many guys. For the record, she voluntarily gave me this information which I very much respect her for. She's very comfortable with who she is.

She's a very successful girl, with a great job and great family. Her parents were divorced when she was 7 or 8 due to her fathers alcohololsim. Dispite her parents divorce, she remained very close to her Dad - even her brothers and mom remain close to him.

Everything is absolutely great between us. She's an extremely caring and loving person, and shows her love to me everyday. I've found lately, though, that I can't get her history out of my head. We've had a discussion about it, and she was surprisingly very open to discuss, in general, her past. She was in a long relationship, six years, which was always off and on. She would date in between breakups. She would always find something wrong with the guy/or she didn't see a future with him and break it off. She also told me she's only had one one night stand. She dated before and after the six year break up. I know she lost her virginity at 17 which is quite normal. I guess I'm troubled that she could go through so many sexual partners, well more than I'm used to, and was in a relationship for so long. Her number was 16 before me. She knows my discomfort with this and that's why I don't bring it up.

I realize my thoughts are selfish, immature and insecure, but I absolutely can't help it. I've always had an idea with what I'm comfortable with. I hate that I'm judging her by her past, but I can't help it. I love her so much and I'm at the point in my life where I'm thinking about a future, and so is she for that matter. I'm worried her history will taunt me forever if I stay with her..and I just don't want to be in a relationship like that. It's not fair to her or me. My ultimate wish would not to think like this, to know she's all mine because what she's gone through has brought her to me (and likewise in my life situations to her), and that her life experience's has molded her into the beautiful, confident and smart young woman she is. That's what I want, but it's not what I totally believe/understand.

My questions are
1.) How do I deal with this and accept her past so I can concentrate on just us? And why do I get so angry and hurt when I think about it?
2.) Why am I having these feelings/thoughts? Is it insecurity/immaturity/selfishness/passing judgement? If so, how wrong of me is? Is there a right or wrong here?
3.) Knowing myself, having a hard time letting go of things (stubbornmess), could this be something that inevitably haunts the relationship for as long as we're together? Or is it just a speed bump that has come about because I care for her so much?
I know all of these answers will be answered in summary. Thank You.
Sean
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

Your wise, rational and 'adult' mind---your intellectual mind, knows that you are being unfair and irrational about this double standard. On the other hand, you have a more immature, emotional mind that somehow feels worried, anxious and cheated by the fact that she has slept with fewer guys, than you have girls. So you are having an internal CONFLICT inside of your head. The bad news is that you have this double-standard belief, supported by your less mature, emotional mind (and we all have such a 'mind'); the good news is that you have a wise rational mind that knows you are being unfair, irrational, sexist, etc. about this. I'd like to hear your immature, emotional mind 'speak up' about this clearly. Exactly what self-talk do you engage in about this inside of your head. That is, exactly what does your emotional mind say about your girlfriend and why you should be worried. I'd like to see you put this into explicit words, things you actually was put into words and say to yourself, and write these down so you can actually see them. THEN, I'd like you to actually write out a list of the names of each woman you slept with, and though you don't know their names, write down a pseudonym for each guy your girlfriend claims she slept with---I'm assuming she told you a number. Then, I want you to just look at the list, and study it, and compare the two columns of names side by side and tell me what your FIRST reaction is. So I'm sort of giving you a homework assignment here on two issues---your self-talk and verbal content of your emotional thinking, and this paper task.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, I'm guessing you received my revised post which went into this subject into greater detail..correct? If not, I will give you this right here. Thanks. My reply is below this longer explanation of my current situation. Thanks again.

I've been dating my gf for a few months now. She's an absolutely amazing woman. She has everything I seek in a partner, except for her sexual past. I'd like to clarify that we are 27 and both have been in previous relationships.

My problem is not that she's been with other people before me, but the actual number. I've always held myself to a certain standard when it comes to this, but being with her and knowing her sexual past has taken me outside of my comfort zone. Now, her sexual past is very similar to mine, but mine is slightly more promiscuous - I feel a bit of a hippocrit here, and I know it. I just can't seem to get this out of my head because, like I said, I'm used to dating girls who haven't been with many guys. For the record, she voluntarily gave me this information which I very much respect her for. She's very comfortable with who she is.

(Beginning)

She's a very successful girl, with a great job and great family. Her parents were divorced when she was 7 or 8 due to her fathers alcohololsim. Dispite her parents divorce, she remained very close to her Dad - even her brothers and mom remain close to him.

Everything is absolutely great between us. She's an extremely caring and loving person, and shows her love to me everyday. I've found lately, though, that I can't get her history out of my head. We've had a discussion about it, and she was surprisingly very open to discuss, in general, her past. She was in a long relationship, six years, which was always off and on. She would date in between breakups. She would always find something wrong with the guy/or she didn't see a future with him and break it off. She also told me she's only had one one night stand. She dated before and after the six year break up. I know she lost her virginity at 17 which is quite normal. I guess I'm troubled that she could go through so many sexual partners, well more than I'm used to, and was in a relationship for so long. Her number was 16 before me. She knows my discomfort with this and that's why I don't bring it up.

I realize my thoughts are selfish, immature and insecure, but I absolutely can't help it. I've always had an idea with what I'm comfortable with. I hate that I'm judging her by her past, but I can't help it. I love her so much and I'm at the point in my life where I'm thinking about a future, and so is she for that matter. I'm worried her history will taunt me forever if I stay with her..and I just don't want to be in a relationship like that. It's not fair to her or me. When I think about it, it absolute hurts and makes me angry/jealous/confused/distant from her.
My ultimate wish would not to think like this, to know she's all mine because what she's gone through has brought her to me (and likewise in my life situations to her), and that her life experience's has molded her into the beautiful, confident and smart young woman she is. That's what I want, but it's not what I totally believe/understand.

My questions are
1.) How do I deal with this and accept her past so I can concentrate on just us?
2.) Why am I having these feelings/thoughts? Is it insecurity/immaturity/selfishness/passing judgement? If so, how wrong of me is? Is there a right or wrong here?
3.) Knowing myself, having a hard time letting go of things (stubbornmess), could this be something that inevitably haunts the relationship for as long as we're together? Or is it just a speed bump that has come about because I care for her so much?
I know all of these answers will be answered in summary. Thank You.

Sean

(End)

In explicit words, when she told me the number, my irrational and immature mind said that she's been around and she's not dating material. I thought, being a bit conceded, how can you expect a guy like me to want a girl like you with those kind of numbers. It's too much. It's the double standard I know, but it's too promiscuous on her part. No guy will think your special when you've been with that many guys at this age, no one. When she first told me her number, I automatically thought, "She must be so easy to get in bed. It's a done deal".

Saying this, is immature as I type it, but I like getting it out. That's about as explicit as I can get. And that's what I was thinking initially and, somewhat, over a period of time.

I'm glad you asked me to put down all the names of women I've slept with. I actually did this the other day. I think of all the names and say to myself "the don't mean a damn thing to me...really. I had some good times, but this is now and that was then". Which brings up the point of your exercise because that's exactly what she thinks as well. BUT, I still have a problem. I have spoken with her about it and I feel much better about the issue. Still have some internal problems with deal with this but I'm very eager to understand.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
I have to run to an appointment right now so I can discuss this with you further, later this evening. Let me know if this is o.k. But right now, what I'd like you to next do is sit back, picture your girlfriend---visually, standing in front of you, as vividly as you can and have her REPEAT exactly what your internal, emotional voice said above. Simply substitute the word 'girl' for your use of the word 'guy'. And substitute 'her' for your use of the word 'him'

Ditto for the second automatic thought, "He must be so easy to get into bed. Its a done deal".

Also, you need to amp up your level of empathy for her. Were she to review her list of the guys she slept with she might very well have thought the SAME thoughts you did. So put HER words and fact to the point you make in the 3rd paragraph. DO IT!!!

Do the above exercise 3-4 times, separated by an hour or two today and then get back with me. Tell me what you experienced. THIS IS WHAT WOMEN EXPERIENCE when they know their boyfriend has a long sexual history!!!!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much. Totally fine by me that you get back with me later today, will give me time to digest this scenario. I will put this all down and put myself in her shoes like you said.

I'm guessing i can send you my thoughts once i put everything together. If not I'll wait for your reply.

Thank you Dr. Michael

Sean
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It hurts hearing it from that perspective. It's a bit demeaning. It makes you feel, I guess, a little empty and possibly breaks your self-esteem?? Not exactly what you want to hear from someone you care about. So, basically, I can't hold standards on her that I can't hold on myself. I can't use society's "double standard" because, in essence, your saying - or more so making me realize - that it's more about our mutual experience that makes us compatible. Along with empathy and understanding and acceptance of ones path??

It does hurt me to know she most likely has thought those things as well. I tell myself she hasn't, but she had to think of them. It is quite possible that she really didn't care - well, to a certain degree. I know everyone has standards and/or limits. But I know the way she has spoken, she's glad I haven't been with every woman that I could possibly sleep with.

I get this. My mind is wrapping around it slowly. It still stings to think about it because I guess all guys want "an angel". But to be honest, how I lived my life, and still do, gears me towards certain people. I guess these certain people, being into similar things as myself, will have similar faults as I, if not more or less. So, water under the bridge is water under the bridge.

I just don't want this to be a problem down the road. I want to squish this now. I want a future with this girl, not a disaster. Figure, the more investigating I do to as why I'm thinking these things, the better.

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
I can tell from your posts that you have the ability to adjust your perspective on this because you have two abilities: 1) to be introspective and self-evaluating (not everyone can); and 2) you can clearly put yourself in other people's position i.e., you have empathy. So you are quite correct, it would be unfair and immoral and sexist of you to hold women to different standards than you hold yourself. It is just that simple. You were raised to believe in this double-standard, but it is illegitimate.

You can 'take to the bank' the notion that the #1 concern women have about men is that they will cheat on them, because they realize that men are given a free pass during their adolescent and adult lives to sleep around. So you do have to ask yourself, "why would a woman believe I won't cheat on her if I have slept with more women, than she has men? Logically, one would predict that my greater numbers of sex partners places me at higher odds or 'risk' of doing it again----past behavior IS the best predictor of future behavior. It is far from perfect, but we have to rely on it as a yardstick for taking risk with others.

What you would focus on is the likelihood of this woman being true, honest and loyal to you going forward. You can guage this by whether she flirts with other guys when she is with you, whether she seeks out attention from other men at social gatherings, is secretive about her friendships with guys etc. In other words, you don't have a right to judge her, given your own behavior, but you DO have a right to do an ongoing risk assessment regarding whether she is up to standards going forward. What do you think about this shift in focus and values?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Your perspective is spot on. I feel that I pretty much can't hold her sexual past as a standard because it's to similar to mine. And to be honest, it's probably not as bad as mine. So, that being said, I think this will be something I can ideally deal with. I wouldn't want her bashing my head in about my sexual past so it's fair that I don't about hers. I think this will take a little time to totally come over, but in the long run I think this has done me a tone of good.

I can see where your coming from about cheating. I know that would kill her, being her dad did cheat on her mom (which I did forget to mention) and is a reason they were divorced (on top of his drinking problem). I would never want to hurt her like that. Ever! Nor would she! But I'm sure it's a concern with her, as you've stated.

I think a huge positive of her sexual past, being more on the optimistic side here, is that she is experienced which equals a plus for me. I've been in relationships before where woman have not been as experienced, or maybe comfortable, as I would like. And to be honest - it's quite a turn off. A woman that is comfortable in her shoes is a great turn on and a great partner in my opinion. I guess it takes some understanding, and conversation in this case, to really comprehend these issues. I do have one more concern though..

Problem is, I feel I'm almost trying to find something wrong with her - in ways. There are a few other issues that have been in and out of my head, which I would love to discuss with you.

I know you've spent plenty of time regarding this issue, and I think you've done outstanding. Anyway I can compensate this service/you for this current/previous session and go ahead and move on to something else (which I will be more than happy to compensate you for)?? Also, If possible, I'd like to keep you as my therapist on the next session.

If you think this issue needs some more attention please let me know. If not, I'd like to move on to something else if at all possible.

Sean
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
Sean:

Thanks. I think you've 'got it' and are wisely re framing this sexual activity issue. Let me know if I can be of help in the future. Please click on the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen. THANKS.
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience: Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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