I am a 30 (one child, once divorced) year old woman, have been seeing a 42 year old man (never married no kids) for about 5 months. For the most part our relationship is good, but he won’t stop bringing up my sexual past and asking seriously intrusive questions. He wants to know every single personal detail and exact numbers, all the way back to high school! I’ve told him Im uncomfortable talking about it and I think its unhealthy, since it is irrelevant now, but he just gets angry and emotional. He has some perfectionism issues and claims that he’s avoided one night stands his whole life in order to be the “perfect” partner to someone someday and wishes i would’ve done the same. He says this is my punishment, having to admit the things I’ve done and be ashamed. Im so confused I don’t know how to handle these inquisitions every month. or so. Im ready to leave if this doesn’t stop but I wish I knew how to make this stop. Or SHOULD I feel guilty for my past?! HELP PLEASE!
Clearly, your boyfriend is not happy with your sexual past. Whether or not he should be is of no relevance. I might say he shouldn’t be and you have already said that he should not be, but nonetheless he is. Why is he? That could be explored in counseling. It is unlikely that his unhappiness with your sexual past and his disapproval will ever change without help. He might learn to hide it better in the future, but his condemnation of your sexual activities will remain unchanged and simply secretly held.
One thing is certain, you cannot change your past. If you did not study enough in high school, that cannot be changed. If you experienced a rape or a carjacking or had been in a bad accident, there is no changing any of it. He can’t change your past and neither can you. Counseling can do many things, but it cannot change the past.
Perhaps his interest in the past is only as an indicator of the future. Perhaps, he wants to know that you share the same moral values that he does or that you are basically in agreement as to the nature of the world. Basically, what I am saying is that he may be interested in the past because he wants to know if he is safe with you and if you might have a future together. Counseling can explore why he feels the way he does.
It is very unlikely that a 42-year-old man will meet a woman who has no past sexual activities. It is far more likely that should he meet a 30-year-old woman, who tells him that she has had no past sexual activities, he has not met the pure girl of his dreams but has instead just met a girl who has decided to lie about her past. Many people, both male and female will lie about their sexual past. It is not that they are ashamed of their past or think it to be an example of moral debauchery but instead they realize that though they are comfortable with their sexual past others may not be.
The man may lie about the number of his sexual conquests. He may be 42 years old and have had sex with three women in the past. But when his new girlfriend asks him about the number of sexual partners he’s had, he may think the number three is too low, so he will pick a number that he believes would be appropriate for a real “stud.” He may multiply by 10.
When he asks his girlfriend about the number of sexual partners she has had, she might think that her number of sexual partners is too great and she might divide by 10 before replying. They may go on to have four children, a marriage of perfection which can only be achieved when two soul mates are united.
Was their marriage really not perfect because they lied about their sexual past or was it really perfect because they had the wisdom to lie about their sexual past?
The past cannot be changed. With counseling he may come to understand that his interpretation of your sexual past is inaccurate. If he continues to consider you as “damaged goods” you will have a very degraded relationship, one that neither of you should settle for. Counseling certainly could help but it’s your choice and his. Good luck.
Dr. Kristina Randle