In today’s video, I’m going to offer a few thoughts for men troubled by the fact that their girlfriend or wife used to be promiscuous.

Read or watch below to discover my response to the question “My Girlfriend Was Promiscuous in Her Past… Should I Be Concerned?”

Zachary Stockill: For almost 10 years of one on one coaching, there is one comment that I receive on a fairly regular basis. It is from mostly the men who come to me. And that comment, or that concern, or that question goes something like this:

My girlfriend was promiscuous in her past. What does this mean? Should I be concerned? Is this a problem? 

I’ve been putting off recording and releasing this video for a while. It is because these are troubled waters that we’re about to enter. There’s a good chance that someone could take my response out of context. 

But as always, I feel like I owe it to you to be completely honest about where I stand and what I think. So in today’s video, I’m going to offer a few thoughts for any men who are troubled by the fact that their girlfriend or wife used to be promiscuous. 

There’s some throat-clearing, frankly, that I need to get out of the way. I need to provide a little context before I go into what I think about this question:

Number one, it may surprise some people watching to realize that I have heard similar concerns not just from men, but from many women as well. Now, to be fair, I’ve heard this concern largely for men concerned about their girlfriend’s past or wife’s past. However, I have heard from many women who are concerned that perhaps their husband or boyfriend was once highly promiscuous in his past. So some people may want to look at this video and say, “Oh how sexist is that!”

As I always say, 

Retroactive jealousy can impact just about anyone, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation, and all the rest. 

my girlfriend was promiscuous

In other words, this is not a concern that is only prevalent among straight guys. I mean, anyone can struggle with retroactive jealousy. And frankly, just about anyone can struggle with the fact that maybe their girlfriend or boyfriend was promiscuous in their past. That said, I’m going to speak mainly to men in this video. It is because that’s the majority of the people who come to me with this question. 

When it comes to your girlfriend or your wife being promiscuous in her past: as usual, I think the extreme voices on both sides of this issue are wrong. In other words, on the one hand, you have a totally crazy PC crowd who says, “Any man with any concern about any woman’s past is a sexist, terrible person who just deserves to be alone for the rest of his life. How dare you question anyone’s choices? You should go to hell…”

You’ve probably seen those people floating around the internet. These are the same people that attack and chastise any retroactive jealousy sufferer for having any of these feelings. I encountered these people a lot back when I was struggling with retroactive jealousy more than a decade ago.

These people exist, and they’re pretty judgmental, and they’re not really open-minded when it comes to the fact that some men have these questions or concerns about a girlfriend’s past

On the other hand, you have the kind of “red pill manosphere,” men’s rights activist crowd who say, basically, “Any woman with any past is a red flag. You need to go find a virgin. If she was promiscuous for a month in her past, that immediately disqualifies her ‘wife material.'”

So there are extreme voices on both sides of this issue. 

And as usual, in the year 2022, in these weird times that we live in, I think the extreme voices on both sides are wrong.

I think it’s ridiculous to say that a woman could have been with 8000 men and there’s nothing necessarily wrong, there’s nothing concerning, there’s nothing troubling about that. And at the same time, I think it’s ridiculous to say, “Oh, a woman who has been with eight men is immediately disqualified from wife consideration.” I think both extremes are wrong. 

The modern sexual marketplace is really confusing, and we’re still trying to figure things out. The sexual revolution of the 1960s was not that long ago. We’re still trying to come to terms with that. Trying to come to terms with the miraculous advances in technology and all the dating apps and swiping… 

We’re trying to figure a lot of this stuff out, and it’s messy. We are a deeply complicated species. Human sexuality is deeply complicated. 

my girlfriend was promiscuous

So beware of black-and-white opinions when it comes to anyone’s past choices.

That said, if you’re concerned that your girlfriend or wife was promiscuous in their past, one thing that I have learned, especially as I’ve gotten older, is that many people go through distinct phases in their dating lives. 

It’s really not so unusual for a woman to have a period where she was dating more frequently, and she didn’t really want a boyfriend. She wanted to kind of suss out her options. And see what she truly wanted and needed in a partner. 

By the way, of course, men do the same thing. I’m guilty of that, definitely. I’ve definitely had some experience with that in my own past when I didn’t want a girlfriend. I wanted to date casually. I wanted to have some fun, and I wanted to date around because I was really trying to figure myself out. It was less about a voracious sexual appetite; it was more about trying to figure myself out as a man. Many men and many women go through the same thing. That said:

Phases are phases, and there’s generally a beginning point and an endpoint. 

my girlfriend was promiscuous

Of course, phases can repeat throughout one’s life. But at the same time, you can also look at a phase as a distinct period. I guess I’m in a phase right now in my mid-30s, where that doesn’t really seem appealing to me anymore. It’s kind of been there, done that. I’ve been on the apps, I’ve had some fun. I’ve had some good times, and kind of got it out of my system. 

Casual dating feels a little boring and hollow after a while. What becomes much more appealing, especially as I’ve gotten into my 30s, is the stability of a long-term relationship; going deep with one person rather than shallow with many people. And many of you watching this video, I’m sure, have followed a similar trajectory in your dating lives. 

But of course, not everyone goes through that phase where they want to be a little more adventurous, and date multiple people. 

Many people don’t feel that need, don’t feel that hunger, don’t feel that yearning at any point in their dating lives. Nothing wrong with that either. 

This is to say: dating is more or less “choose your own adventure.” What works for you may not have worked for your partner in the past. And, what works for me may not work for you. 

And when we’re looking at the choices of other people, we shouldn’t be trying to project our own viewpoints, motives, and personalities onto other people. People are so different. 

So I don’t think you should necessarily consider it a dealbreaker if your girlfriend was promiscuous. For example, if you never went through a phase where you wanted to date multiple people, but your partner did. That said, you can ask yourself if was this more or less a phase or if this is a marked pattern throughout this person’s entire life. 

So if you’re concerned about entering a long-term relationship, or a marriage with someone, because maybe they’ve been having multiple casual partners for 10, 20 years, something like that, that makes a little more sense to me. I understand that hesitation, because the person has less practice at being monogamous and being in a long term relationship. 

And in addition, someone’s patterns throughout their life will tell you a lot about their priorities. 

So maybe their priority hasn’t been a long-term relationship for very long. And in that case, if someone is just getting out of that period of their life where they were dating multiple people, it might be worth giving it a little more time before making any kind of serious commitment. 

If you met your girlfriend or boyfriend, however, many months or years ago, and they were promiscuous, dating multiple people in that period in their life, I would also say just because maybe you were 100% “sold,” so to speak, on your partner, when you first met her, doesn’t necessarily mean that she was 100% “sold” on you. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. 

Some people open up a lot more slowly when it comes to dating and wanting to commit to someone, wanting to be exclusive. 

Some people fall in love at a snail’s pace.

They’ve got trust issues, maybe, or it really takes them some time to build up that intimacy. Maybe they need more time make sure they’re making the right choice, often because they fear being hurt.

Sometimes, it takes people time to really commit to someone. And maybe that was true for your partner. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a dealbreaker.

As I’ve said in other videos, when it comes to your girlfriend or wife’s “number,” of course, a lot of guys struggle with this. And by the way, many women struggle with the same thing. And what I always tell these guys is impulse control is way more important than someone’s number. 

In other words, if someone’s been with 20 people, but at the same time, they were 100% conscious of what they were doing, that, to me, is more important than their specific number. 

Impulse control is the ability to stay calm, grounded, centered, and make rational decisions. And sometimes, to deny some of your perhaps weaker, base impulses. 

Impulse control is very important in long-term relationships because we’re all going to have moments of temptation over the course of a long-term relationship or marriage.

And if it seems like your partner fundamentally lacks impulse control, eventually that will show up in the present. So you don’t even necessarily have to worry that much about the past.

Because if you give this person enough time to show you who she is, eventually she will.

If she lacks the ability to stay loyal, and lacks emotional control, eventually that will show up in your current relationship. You just need to pay attention and keep your eyes open. 

And once more I want to emphasize this point because it’s so important: 

Give her time to show you who she really is before you make a serious commitment. 

Nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

In conclusion, I want to make it clear that of course, a woman can do whatever she wants in her dating life, in her sexual life. Of course, a man can do whatever he wants in his dating life, in his sexual life–as long as it doesn’t hurt other people. At the same time, of course, you can make whatever choice you want about your dating life. 

And if your partner has a number that represents a serious dealbreaker for you, of course, I’m not going to judge you for making the decision to walk away–as long as you’re kind to your partner as you do it. 

But needless to say, I have so much to say on this topic. And I’ve been saying it pretty much daily for years now on one-on-one coaching calls with men and women from around the world.

Many retroactive jealousy sufferers struggle with questions about their partner’s past choices, their partner’s number, their partner’s morals, and their partner’s compatibility. Many of them have come to me over the years for one-on-one coaching and: 

I have boiled all of these conversations and lessons and research down into an all-new masterclass I call “The Path to Peace.” 

“The Path to Peace” is my brand new masterclass for retroactive jealousy sufferers who have questions about their partner’s morals, who have questions about their compatibility with their partner. This class is for people who are wondering: “Is my retroactive jealousy rational or irrational?”

If that sounds like you–if you’re having trouble with these questions around your girlfriend’s past your wife’s past or anything else–please click here for all the details about my newest project, my new masterclass “The Path to Peace”.

Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.