Arts & CultureSex & Relationships

Advice column: How to deal with past loves in a relationship

Dear Katherine,

I have been with my girlfriend for a little over a year now. I’ve had a few relationships before her, but nothing like this. I can confidently say she is my first love. And the only thing is, I kind of wish I were hers. She had another love before me, someone she dated for over four years (since high school), and loved very much. I want to be open to talk about our pasts, but I won’t deny that it is hard, sometimes, to feel like she had something just as big, or even bigger, with someone else — I worry I may never amount to that.  How can I shake this irrational jealousy?


Dwelling on the Past


Dear Dwelling on the Past,

You said it yourself: It’s irrational to feel jealous of a past you had no control over. And though these illogical thoughts do occur, we can’t allow them to drive who we are, who we become, what decisions we make. Our pasts are an important part of ourselves, and even if it may feel romantic, it’s hard to pretend there was no one before your current love, especially when there was, in fact, someone else.

If you feel like your girlfriend deliberately shoves her past love life in your face, that is a problem. But, if you find the subject is brought up at the appropriate times — in a healthy way — really listen to her, ask her questions, and instead of viewing her past as a threat, view it as an extra layer to explore that brings new insights to light: your girlfriend values deep and loving relationships, your girlfriend is so great that of course another person would fall in love with her just like you did. And, keep reminding yourself of this one fact: she is with you, and no one else. And that counts for more than anything.



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Katherine Marrone

Katherine Marrone

Katherine Marrone is the sex and relationships writer for the Emerald. A feminist and activist, she likes writing about gender issues and social justice.