One day I was talking to a close friend of mine about dating and marriage. She mentioned that she would feel some type of way if she found out the guy she was dating had been promiscuous in the past, while she saved herself for marriage. She felt that it’s not fair for him to do all this fooling around and still wind up with a virgin, while she would have spent all this time saving herself only to end up with someone who had “been around.”
That got me thinking about my husband and I. I was a super-saved virgin before I got married. My husband wasn’t. I remember our first conversation about our pasts. He was so nervous about telling me that he had sex and wasn’t a virgin. He didn’t know how I would react, and felt regret that he hadn’t saved himself for me. But when he revealed that he had a partner before me, I didn’t really dwell on the fact. To me, it was water under the bridge. He had made mistakes, yes, but he loved me now. But now I wonder to myself if I would’ve been able to dismiss the past so easily if he had been in multiple sexual relationships before we got together, or if he had been a dog and been super promiscuous. Would I have been willing to forgive the past as quickly?
How do you forgive your partner’s past and keep it from putting a dent in your relationship with them? Is it possible to really forgive and forget in this kind of situation?
Lots of people struggle with the issue of their partner’s past. Here are some things to keep in mind when the person you love reveals their sexual past to you:
1. Leave the past where it is. I know it must be really awkward to face the reality that your partner had sexual partners before you. Do yourself and your relationship a favor: leave the past where it is. Don’t try to get all the gory details. You don’t need to have them identify each and every sexual partner they’ve ever had, how they got together, how long the relationship lasted, or anything else. You’ll just be torturing yourself for no reason.
The reality is, your partner is on a different path now. Their life is on a completely different trajectory, and they love YOU. Dwelling on the past will only make you feel insecure about the present, and cause you to start doubting your relationship.
2. You are not superior to your partner. The fact that you’re still a virgin doesn’t make you morally superior to your partner. You’re not better than your partner because you stayed a virgin. Your partner’s past doesn’t mean they’re a weaker person, or less intelligent. It just means they’re human. They made some bad decisions; so have you. Don’t start categorizing and comparing one another’s mistakes.
Another danger to avoid is using the past as leverage to manipulate your partner into getting your way. Your partner doesn’t “owe” you for the mistakes they made before you started dating them.
3. No comparisons. I once read a quote that says “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparing your relationship or your partner to others will blind you to the things in your relationship that are beautiful and good.
There's no such thing as a perfect relationship. Every relationship has its hurdles. Focus on the person your partner is right now, and who they are trying to be. Instead of doubt and insecurity, reward their honesty with trust. It's a much better foundation to build on.