Everyone brings a little baggage to a new relationship: an ex-spouse, children, financial troubles or, in some cases, several years' history of dating other people. It's completely natural to be curious about the girls who were part of your boyfriend's past. Problems can arise, though, when that curiosity turns into obsession and jealousy. Learn how to handle the fact that your boyfriend has a past to protect your relationship -- and keep yourself sane.
Focus on strengthening the bond between you and your boyfriend. The stronger your relationship is, the more secure you will feel, and any concerns about his past should become less of an issue. Talk to each other about your relationship and clear up any issues as soon as they arise. Listen to each other and discuss problems calmly to keep conflict to a minimum, advises psychologist Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps in the article, published on her own website, "Five Guidelines for Resolving Conflict with Your Partner." Successful conflict management results in a stronger couple, says Dr. Becker-Phelps.
Accept that your boyfriend has a past that you weren't a part of. If he is no longer in contact with any of the girls he was with before you, there is no reason for you to worry. If you are worried that your boyfriend still has feelings for a girl from his past, talk to him about it. Explain the reasons for your concern -- for example, the fact that he talks about her a lot or is still in touch with her. Ask what happened between them and why they stopped seeing each other. Hopefully your boyfriend will reassure you that you have nothing to worry about.
Stop jealous feelings from turning into jealous actions. As soon as you become aware that you are thinking about your boyfriend's past encounters, take a moment to slow down your breathing and tune in to how you are feeling. Jealous thoughts are not representative of reality, according to Robert L. Leahy, clinical professor of psychology at Weill-Cornell Medical School and author of "Anxiety Free," in the "Psychology Today" article "Jealousy is a Killer: How to Break Free from Your Jealous Feelings." By accepting that you are allowed to have a jealous feeling, and simply acknowledging that it exists, you may find the feeling subsides, advises Leahy.
Recognize that every relationship has a certain amount of uncertainty. It's impossible to ever know for certain that your boyfriend won't hurt you, or how he really felt about girls in his past. Jealousy and uncertainty are connected, explains Leahy. Jealousy causes people to seek reassurance that they are safe and loved. It's normal to expect a little reassurance from your boyfriend that girls from his past pose no threat to your relationship, but if you allow your jealousy to take over, you risk putting your relationship in jeopardy. Non-stop accusations and reassurance-seeking may drive your boyfriend away.
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