It’s not easy dating someone who has had many partners. The past can wear you down. Be it yours or your current partner’s past which seems to be troubling you. It’s already painful to deal with your traumas from the past. Now you feel burdened and jealous of your significant other’s sexual history. There’s a term for that. It’s called retroactive jealousy. When you obsess about your partner’s past, it can lead to a lot of trouble.
You might not know the full story of what happened in your partner’s past. Did the two of you sit down and have a chat on this subject in order to get a little clarity on what happened in each other’s lives and how to not let it affect the current relationship? If yes, then that’s one of the mature ways of handling your emotions.
Even though you can’t go back in time and change what has happened, it still bothers you. Isn’t acceptance the key to inner growth and happiness? Why not give new relationships a fresh start? You deserve it. So does your partner.
We reached out to counselor Ridhi Golecha (M.A. Psychology), who is a food psychologist and specializes in counseling for loveless marriages, breakups and other relationship issues, for her insights on dating someone who has had many partners.
She says, “First, there are a few things you must clarify with your current partner. Are they in this for the long term or is it just a fling? How serious are you and the other person regarding the relationship? Once that’s established, you must address each other’s past. Not to incite curiosity or jealousy but to let each other know that they’ve been through some tough times.”
10 Things To Know Before Dating Someone Who Has Had Many Partners
When two people meet for the first time, they focus all their energies on getting to know each other. They fall in love and it’s all good while the honeymoon phase lasts. And when the honeymoon phase is over, you both unravel a lot of things about each other that might be difficult to digest.
Ridhi says, “There are certain things you need to keep in mind. Your partner’s past is their past and you need to keep it where it belongs. Whatever happened in the past shouldn’t be brought up in the current relationship. This will only lead to unhealthy comparisons. The comparisons will pave the way for a lot of insecurities and self-doubt.”
Holding on to intrusive thoughts about your partner’s past sexual relationships will take a toll on your mental health. If you are currently dating someone who has had many partners in the past, then this is the perfect time to understand how to navigate this equation:
1. How many are too many partners?
First, you need to ask yourself what does it mean to have many partners? Be clear on the terms. Has your partner had too many sexual encounters or too many relationships? If your boyfriend has had a lot of partners, ask him if it was purely sexual or were they actually serious or was it just casual dating? Different emotions come into play when you segregate the above-mentioned things.
Ethical conundrums come into play as well. Some are orthodox in their beliefs and don’t like dating a man who has slept around too much. That isn’t true for women alone. Even some men don’t like to date a woman who has had many sexual encounters. They might feel that they won’t be able to satisfy a partner like that.
So you need to be sure what it means to you if you are dating someone who has had many partners. Are we talking sexually or in terms of exclusive dating? Clear this up before you plunge into the deeper details.
Related Reading: Why Does My Boyfriend Hate Me? 10 Reasons To Know
2. Deal with curiosity the right way
Ever heard of the phrase curiosity killed the cat? In this case, it is absolutely true. Don’t go prying into your partner’s past. If they share something with you, it doesn’t matter how small or big it is, listen to it and try to empathize. Find out ways to be more empathetic. Don’t go digging up graves. It will only create havoc in your life. I say this from personal experience. When I went around digging for more than what was required, I ended up in hot water. All you have to do is resist the urge to dig too deep.
Ridhi advises, “To avoid getting disturbed about the fact that you are dating a girl who’s had many partners or a guy with a rich history of sexual experiences, work on your own security. Work on your own self-esteem. If you are more fulfilled with yourself, your body image and your lifestyle, then you will feel a lot more secure. You are a complete ecosystem in yourself.”
Instead of starting an investigation on your own, ask your partner if they would like to share more with you about their past. Sit down and communicate. If there is lack of communication, then find ways on how to fix lack of communication in the relationship. That’s the only way to quench your curiosity. If you are dating someone who has had a lot of partners, share your concerns with them. Honesty is the only way of dealing with your partner’s sexual past.
3. Good old FOMO
When you find out that your partner has indulged in a lot more sexual activity than you have, it’s natural to have the fear of missing out. Their sexual experiences are far more diverse, they’ve probably done a lot of things that are new to you. Their sexual history might make you feel insecure. If your partner has dated a lot of people in the past, it is possible for you to even get jealous of their dating history.
Ridhi says, “The fact that you are dating a man who has slept around – or dating a woman who has had many sexual partners – should not bother you, but it can bother you because we are human at the end of the day and we end up comparing ourselves to other people. I would again recommend zero comparisons. The comparison trap is real. Don’t fall for it. You don’t need to talk about what they did, or how their past sexual relationships were.
“If you are dating someone who has had a lot of partners, then you need to build new ways and experiment differently in the bedroom. Try different things. Play around with each other. Roleplay. Blindfolds. Do kinky stuff with each other and create new memories. Write a new story together. Whatever happened in the past and how many sexual partners they had doesn’t matter. You need to constantly remind yourself that their present partner is you.”
It doesn’t matter if your partner took some important steps sexually for the first time with someone else. Steps that might be new to you. While this can be a very difficult emotion to process, all you need to remember is not to compare yourself with other people’s experiences.
Life cannot be lived that way. You can’t be happy by looking at someone else’s life, or by comparing yourself constantly. Whether it’s regarding appearances or sex or life. If sex is what’s bothering you, then find out ways on how to spice up your sex life with your current partner. Everything comes down to how you process your own feelings with all the new information you have.
4. Emotional availability
I can’t tell you how overthinking and stress got to me when I found out a few things I wasn’t supposed to know about my current partner. My own thoughts began to terrify me.
My negative reaction ruined a happy relationship. And for what? Something that had happened in the past. For something that has no place in his present or future. Was it worth ruining the happiness of two people? NO. I realized this after the damage was done. Learn a few ways to cultivate emotional safety in your relationship.
I also realized that as long as there is no emotional connection between my current partner and his ex there is no need to worry about anything. You can’t cry over spilled milk. Just because your boyfriend has had a lot of partners, it doesn’t mean he loves you less.
Or if your girlfriend has had a lot of casual hookups in the past, it in no way signifies that she is incapable of forging a stable, long-term, committed relationship. Address critical emotional needs and look for ways to understand each other. As long as they don’t have any kind of emotional attachment with their exes, their past shouldn’t become a thorn in your side.
Related Reading: What He Thinks When You Ignore Him – 11 Surprising Revelations
5. You didn’t exist in your partner’s past
Ridhi says, “Even though they have done the same things in the past, you need to keep in mind that those experiences were with someone else. With you, it’ll be completely different. Let’s say you go to a restaurant in London and you try pasta. And then you come back to your city and try the same penne arrabiata, there’s no way both have the same taste.
“The experience, the ambiance, the flavors and the ingredients will be different in each relationship. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that one is good and the other is bad. It’s just that they are both different despite being the same dish. So neither will similar experiences with different partners be the same. The problem should arise only if he is still in love with his ex.”
So, it’s okay if your boyfriend has had a lot of partners before you came into his life or your girlfriend can boast of far more diverse sexual experiences than you. You didn’t exist in his life at that time. Stop acting like a victim when dealing with your partner’s sexual past. That’s what I did to give a fresh start to our relationship. I cleared my values and asked myself what was more important.
Should I lose an opportunity of being with the love of my life by focusing on the time he was unaware of my existence, or choose the present time and have a happy life? I chose the latter. It took a lot of communication and understanding to re-start our relationship but I’m glad I made the right choice.
6. Ignorance is bliss
I made a terrible mistake by going through my current partner’s social media account. I found pictures that messed with my head. I created a lot of problems for myself. I’ll share a confession here. I had a bit of an inferiority complex after seeing his ex. It’s hard to admit, but it is what it is. I am also ashamed of my actions, but curiosity got the better of me.
Social media isn’t real life. It is a fact that social media affects your relationships. It’s, at best, a filtered, airbrushed version of reality. Maybe their relationship looked ideal on Instagram but what if it wasn’t so perfect in real life? Now that’s something to think about.
If you are dating someone who has had many partners, it’s always better to accept what they have to say. Doubts may pop up in your head, but ignore them. Ignorance is truly bliss in these cases.
7. It is okay to be jealous
Retroactive jealousy can threaten the foundation of your relationship if you are dating someone who has had many partners. If you keep dwelling on it, many questions will stand at the threshold of your relationship. All you have to do is look for strategies on how to stop being a jealous girlfriend.
Am I a better lover than my partner’s exes? Will my partner leave me for an old flame? Does my partner miss former lovers? I’ve even wondered if my companion is having a better time with me. All of these thoughts will consume your better judgment and things may go haywire.
Ridhi says, “There are certain emotions you cannot control and jealousy is one of them. Jealousy is a strong human emotion and it mainly stems from our insecurities. So, get to the root causes of your insecurities and find ways to improve those aspects of your life. Learn how to deal with jealousy in relationships. Find a way to evolve. Talk to your partner about it and grow together.”
8. This is your issue
What you feel after finding out your wife has had a lot of partners or your husband has had diverse sexual experiences before you is your problem. They can’t help you in altering those feelings. All they can do is be sensitive toward your insecurities. Don’t make your partner feel guilty for having many partners before they found you. As they say, you will have to kiss many frogs before you find your prince or princess.
If you are dating a girl who’s had many partners – or a guy for that matter – and anxiety creeps in, know that you are responsible for your feelings. You can look for ways to deal with relationship anxiety. Take time out to clear your head.
Put yourself in their shoes before you take any hasty decisions. Talk to a dating coach or a trusted family member. Share your concerns. Don’t let overthinking destroy your mental health and your relationship.
Related Reading: Expert Suggests 7 Ways To Help Someone With Trust Issues
9. Don’t worry about meeting their sexual needs
“Even if you are dating someone who has had many partners, never ever bring up your own sexual experiences with former partners, definitely not to rub it in their face to feel better about yourself. If you are new to a certain sexual act that your partner has already tried before, then they can guide you. You can have a mentor and a mentee relationship. That could be really nice as you will have someone to guide you step by step on what to do and what not to do,” says Ridhi.
There are many simple tips to be a better lover. For instance, if you are dating a man who has slept around, you might worry about not meeting their sexual expectations. His experience with multiple sexual partners in the past determines his experience in his current intimate activities with you and might spice up things in the bedroom. Likewise, if your girlfriend is more sexually experienced than you are, she can help you hone your sexual prowess in the bedroom.
Just because you had a limited number of lovers, it doesn’t make you an inefficient lover. While dealing with your partner’s sexual past, it is important to see how they treat you now rather than how they were with their former lovers.
10. Start from scratch
Ridhi adds, “If the fact that your boyfriend has had many partners – or your girlfriend’s sexual experience – is still bothering you, talk to your partner about it and find conducive ways to work around it. Create different experiences. Travel together. Explore new restaurants. Visit museums and libraries. Spend quality time with each other. Talk. Ask open-ended questions. Try couples therapy. All of these things will help strengthen various areas of your relationship.”
Normalize your emotions. It is normal to get jealous after finding out that you are dating someone who has had many partners. Whether it’s jealousy or FOMO or insecurities, normalize them. Accept them. If you are dealing with your partner’s sexual past, you and your partner must validate the pain. Jealousy in a relationship brings a lot of other emotions with it. Anxiousness, sadness, anger and getting restless are all companions of jealousy.
Who hasn’t had a past? We all go through many partners before we find the right one. Try to seek assurance from each other. Love, loyalty, support and respect will help the two of you go a long way. Your current relationship will flourish on the merits of your efforts and appreciation for each other.
There is no perfect number. You can fall in love and fall out of love as many times as your heart desires. There is no perfect number to determine how many exes are normal. Some get cheated on, some cheat on their significant other, some find casual relationships are their thing and some love to be in serious relationships. No one number fits the question.
It will definitely bother you, but it shouldn’t matter as long as your partner is committed to the relationship. As long as they regularly test for any STDs, it shouldn’t be of any concern. How many sexual partners they have had in the past should never determine their faithfulness to you.
There isn’t a specific answer to this question. It varies from person to person. According to the reports from the site Relationships in America, both men and women have partners anywhere between 3 to 8 people.