Problems with my girlfriends' sexual history. How do I change the way I think?
posted by Reaveg to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am 22. I was a virgin before I met my girlfriend, because I grew up in an abusive household and then spent time in a military hospital (injured in training), so I didn't have the social opportunities. My girlfriend is 24, so she's had more time to be an adult, and therefore has had many partners.
She's lived in the same town her entire life, so she told me about her entire sexual history upfront when the relationship began because she knew we would run into these people (some of them are friends, some she doesn't even want to speak to in public). In the six months we've been together, I've pretty much met all of them (over a dozen) at least once. It's been overwhelming, but I appreciate her honesty and that she trusted me with the information and I always worry that it being difficult for me to feel okay about makes her regret telling me.
To start, I have no negative emotions toward my girlfriends' sexual history that have anything to do with judging her. I don't view anything she's done as gross or morally wrong or slutty or embarrassing. This has to do with how I feel about myself.
I feel intimidated, inadequate, and sometimes I feel unimportant and/or irrelevant. We pretty much run into someone at least half the time we go out in public in her town, and I always feel awkward or upset about it. When we hang out with friends she's slept with (not often, they've all moved out of town so I only meet them when they visit - I haven't hung out with any specific individual in person more than 2 or 3 times), I feel uncomfortable and awkward. I deal with this by being as polite as possible despite feeling uncomfortable and treating the other person with respect. I used to feel bad that I felt uncomfortable, but I've learned to validate my emotions more (problem as an abuse victim) and separate my emotions from my behavior.
In addition, most of my encounters with these past people weren't fun. Only one person was nice to me. The rest were overtly jealous or weird. The worst instance is a couple that she had a threesome with, who she has been friends with for years. The guy was a total ass to me and ignored me the entire night. I'd ask him a question about his hobbies and he'd ignore me then talk to my girlfriend more. It made me feel really irrelevant and that there was some sort of weird inappropriate dynamic with my girlfriend - on his half. I've mentioned how that made me feel to my girlfriend before, but she didn't say much about it. It's hard to talk about it because she feels embarrassed about having a threesome with them. I don't think that has anything to do with me, because I've told her that I don't think it was weird or anything, so at this point I just have to respect that she feels embarrassed about it. I've never had embarrassing sex, so I can't empathize with that, but I can understand it.
However, whenever she mentions the couple (fairly often, they're friends), I feel upset. I don't have the years of history that she does with them, so all I think of is the threesome (which is the only bit of her sexual history that makes me feel intimidated/inadequate, as a virgin) and how the guy wasn't nice to me. I worry that it'll drive a wedge in our relationship. I feel like I'm dwelling and I don't want to do that. It's not like I can ask her to not mention them anymore.
In addition, I have no reason to feel inadequate. Our sex life is fantastic. We have sex regularly and it's always amazing. She tells me that I'm the best sex she's had and I feel sexually desirable for the first time in my life. She tells me that she orgasms more regularly with me than she has with anyone else. It's perfect. So I feel even worse for caring about it.
I know that it's all in the past. She's been very sweet and patient about talking about it all. She reassures me that I'm what's relevant and that her past sexual experiences either weren't good, or they were good but she doesn't compare me to them mentally and that all of it is irrelevant to her. I try to tell myself over and over that if it's not relevant to her, then it shouldn't be relevant to me, but the prominence of her sexual history in our lives makes me feel super intimidated.
Oh, another problem is that her best friend used to bring up her sexual history constantly around me. At first I thought he was just joking and I felt bad for being bothered by it, but then I realized he was being passive aggressive because he felt jealous that he didn't get to hang out with his friend as much (not my fault - they live further apart now, and I always encourage them to hang out alone when it is possible. I understand how he feels though because I've lost friends to the relationship coma). My girlfriend agreed he was being passive aggressive (because he does stuff like this a lot) and asked him to stop, though he still does it sometimes. I don't think he does it on purpose, and he's otherwise very nice, so I don't dislike the guy at all, but that's been another thing that was really hard to deal with.
I don't know how to deal with how I feel. I like to think I'm doing okay with dealing with it, and I've made a lot of progress in these short months, but I need direction because sometimes it feels like too much. How can I think about this stuff differently? It's hard for me to understand any of it and its super overwhelming because I've never had similar experiences (casual sex, embarrassing sex, etc) and I don't want it to be any more of an issue in our relationship. I've adopted the policy of not talking about her sexual history unless she brings it up (in which case I consider it safe to talk about), or if its super relevant (someone from the past acting jealous around me), but I feel like I think about this way too much. Please slap some sense into me.