It's likely that you're not your boyfriend's first love. Which means you have to deal with the dreaded ex factor. Whether your boyfriend has gone full-disclosure or not, if you're insecure about his past history it may be time to take a closer look at your thinking, says The Telegraph's relationships expert Sarah Abell. If you really want to make the relationship work, you will have to tackle your insecurities over your partner's history -- as long as he's game to be just as committed and faithful. You might not be his first girlfriend, but with luck and lots of work you may just be his last.
Adjust Your Expectations
Almost all boyfriends come with baggage. If you feel insecure about your man's history, then you're likely wishing for something that will never come to pass -- that you could simply erase all trace of those pesky exes. That said, if you're serious about your man, you truly love him, and you want to have a future with him, it may be time to accept him and his history as they are, Abell advises. After all, that history helped make him into the man you love today. So put aside your ex-hating and focus on accepting the person your boyfriend is, baggage and all.
Keep an Open Ear
Every mention of his exes makes you inwardly cringe. Toby Salter, a Los Angeles-based marriage and family therapist, advises that you shut out that shudder and practice listening to his ex tales with an open mind. If you boyfriend trusts you enough to discuss the likely painful subject of his exes, he's demonstrating trust in you. He needs to feel like he can be open and honest without resorting to sharing every little detail. If he feels like he can share and that you'll still accept him, then this level of trust will bode well for your relationship.
How Committed Is He?
If your boyfriend has a history of cheating, on you or with other partners, then your insecurity may be well-justified, says Abell. It's important to evaluate whether your partner has really changed his cheating ways and what's more, that you trust him. It's counter-productive to demand he shut out his exes. What's more important is whether your feelings of jealousy stem from insecurity or if they are justified. You then need to evaluate whether you can date someone who may not share your desire to have a monogamous relationship. If you can't trust him and you can't see eye-to-eye on a value so basic as monogamy, then your relationship is going to be very difficult. Try talking it out first and seeing if you can work through your differences. (ref 1)
Reflect and Discuss
You need to talk to your honey about your insecurity. But first reflect on its cause -- whether it's justified or if it stems from insecurity. If the latter, you may need to talk to a friend or therapist to help you increase your self-confidence. Insecurity can drive a wedge in a relationship and it's important to do your own work to fight it. Once you've thought on your insecurity, talk to your boyfriend about your feelings and explain that it's important for him to listen, as it's a hot topic for you. Then return the favor and listen to his comments. You may have different views about exes. Still, it's most important to air your fears. Then try to put his ex files behind you and leave the past where it belongs. Abell recommends seeing a couples therapist together if the issue gets especially thorny.
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