Measuring Up: Competing with Your Man's Sexy Past

Dear Dr. Patti:

My boyfriend and I were watching a TV show about sex when he suddenly told me that he had had sex with two girls at the same time. It happened when he was 17; he is now 25. I'm 24, and we have been together for two years. What bothers me is that he seemed proud about it. It also feels dirty to me -- I think sex is a wonderful thing between two people, and hearing that he has been with two girls kind of messes that up for me. He has also said that sex isn't as exciting as it used to be, and I wonder whether this past episode is a reason he finds it boring with me. He says that it is in the past and that it shouldn't bother me, but it does.



Dear H:

Perhaps it's time to thank your boyfriend for spilling the beans about his sexual past. Many people long to know their lovers' sex history, especially the parts that may affect who they are as a sexual person today. In addition, knowing one's partner's sexual past helps you assess the risk of disease transmission and judge whether you should be tested for such viruses as HIV.

As for this experience, my first take is that you are being a little harsh on your mate. What happened with him eight years ago, in his adolescence, does not necessarily reflect the man he is today. Yet I also sense your pain. After two years together, it may be that this news is just too strange or threatening for you to offer instant acceptance. It is possible that this was just his manner of sexual experimentation, common to teen men and women.

The troubling part of your question, though, is that he has alluded to wanting more from your relationship sexually. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that he is panting for another threesome, why not assume that he wants more with YOU? Ask him what might be exciting to add to the mix at home. Would he like you two to share more of your fantasies with each other? Does he long to watch videos with you? I suggest that you find a way to integrate this episode of his past into the present fabric of your bond. Talk about it as a tease, use it as fuel for your own most private dance and allow the hurt about this foray to heal. Healing takes time, so be patient. And let him be your lover now, while forgetting the past that haunts you.

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