Dealing With Your Partner's Sexual And Romantic History

Here's how to deal with weird feelings about your partner's ex

If you're looking for a surefire way to trigger your insecurities, quietly approaching your significant other's ex via social media is the quickest way to do it.

One minute you are in a stable, healthy relationship, but what about the next? You find a photo of your partner on holiday with their ex from three years ago, looking perfectly happy, and you start to question everything.

Are they happy with me now like in the photo? How do I get along with their ex in the bedroom? As a partner? Does their family like this ex more than me? Will my partner leave me to get back together with them?

Dealing With Your Partner's Sexual And Romantic History

If this spiral sounds familiar, you're not alone. As if hearing about your partner's past relationships isn't uncomfortable enough, social media makes it easy to relive the past through photos and videos.

But why does hearing about your partner's past make you feel so bad? Is there any way to overcome it? Here's why this situation is difficult for everyone, and some tips for making it more bearable.

Deal With Past Relationships

As certified sex therapist Dr. Jenni Skyler, LMFT, explains, hearing about your partner's romantic past can be triggering.

“It creates a sense of powerlessness,” she said.

If the relationship ends poorly, this can also create mixed feelings around trust.
Dealing With Your Partner's Sexual And Romantic History

Schuyler adds: "If a romantic past is filled with impulsive behavior or poor choices (we've all done it), this can be scary to the current partner, who may wonder if it could ever happen to them. "

Social media has certainly made it more complicated to deal with your partner's sexual history or past relationships, making it harder to let go of the past.

“We used to just have Polaroids or photo albums that were often hidden in my parents’ living room,” Skyler said. “Today, we have social media and we have easy access to record everything.”

When a detailed visual timeline of your partner's past relationships is easily accessible via social media, it can be extremely difficult to try to ignore it entirely.

However, even if you give in and peek at these past posts, Schuyler says it's important to take everything with a grain of salt.

"When we see a picture, we tend to make up a story (often worse than the truth) when we don't have facts and data," she said.

Tips For Moving Beyond The Past

Learning about your partner's past so easily can be a challenge, but one that can be overcome with time and effort. Here are some tips on how to let bygones be bygones.
Dealing With Your Partner's Sexual And Romantic History

1. Remember Your Partner Chose You

"They're here right now, with you," Skyler said. "This can be hard, but you can self-soothe about your triggers and remind yourself that this moment and this relationship is what matters most."

2. Don’t Ask Questions You Don’t Want The Answers To

There are healthy ways and harmful ways to talk about past relationships.

Understanding why their past relationships ended from your partner's perspective can help make them feel more secure about choosing to be with you now.

Dealing With Your Partner's Sexual And Romantic History

Asking your partner about their past sexual experiences with an ex is likely to do more harm than good.

3. Tell Your Partner Honestly How You Feel

“I’m a big fan of being vulnerable and expressing my insecurities,” Skyler said. “That’s the cornerstone of trust.”

Talking to your partner about your feelings may be just what you need to hear to move on from the past. It also prevents these feelings from building up and being released in other ways.

4. Try To Address Your Underlying Insecurities

Be honest with yourself – is your partner’s past making you feel insecure, or is it just amplifying an insecurity you already have that needs to be addressed?

Dealing With Your Partner's Sexual And Romantic History

"Your partner can hear you, see you, and validate you—but make sure you do the same for yourself," Skyler says.

5. Consider Talking To A Therapist

Dealing with your partner's past in the age of social media can be a challenge. If you're still having problems, Skyler recommends talking to a skilled therapist to help you navigate and learn to self-soothe and validate yourself.