Patricia Redlich

Friday, January 22, 2010

Her Sexual Past

I'm in a relationship for the past two years. During this time, my girlfriend has brought to my attention that in the past she's had sex with my uncle, who is only a few years older than I am, and with my cousin, who is slightly younger. I am having a real problem dealing with this. I often find myself envisioning situations which are very disturbing to me about the sexual experiences they had together.

I really love this girl and she is very wonderful. But this really does kill me and it is starting to play a major role in our relationship, with me being bad-humoured and withdrawn. I badly need some ideas on how I can possibly cope with this nightmare.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a friend who explained to me that there is such a thing as an unmanageable situation. Put plainly, there are some situations which are beyond us, things we simply haven't the power to change. This can be due to us and the limits of our ability to cope. Or it can be due to the nature of the situation itself. For example, try as we might, we can't make someone else happy.
For you this relationship is a nightmare. You love a wonderful girl, but her sexual past is too close to the knuckle for you. It's important that you recognise this is not a moral judgment you're making. This is about your capacity to handle an emotionally complicated situation. And it is emotionally complicated. It's one thing for a partner to have a past. It's another thing entirely for that past to be living, quite literally, in the bosom of your family.

The point I'm making is that you're not wrong to find this hard. In other words, you must at least give yourself permission to say that it's all too much. You don't have to be able to cope with it. You don't have to make such demands on yourself. I know you love this girl. But sometimes we have to walk away from what we want because the price we're paying is simply too great. Sometimes loving someone is an unmanageable situation because of the baggage that comes with that loving.

No, I'm not telling you to end your relationship. Sometimes admitting that it's all too much is enough to take the pressure off. If you allow yourself to be sexually jealous, that can take much of the sting out of it. I mean, have you talked to your girlfriend about this? Have you told her how tortured you are? Or do you think you're a wimp for feeling this way and therefore hide all your feelings, letting them seep out as bad humour instead? Are you living the lie of being a happy liberal, who can take everything in his stride? That's not a good idea you know. Far better to let your girlfriend see how troubled you are, so you can face this, together.

On the other hand, it's possible that you won't get past this. And all I'm saying is that that is OK. All of us have limits to our tolerance. Knowing those limits can save us - and everyone around us - a life-time of unhappiness.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design