“What if my partner has a sleazy past?” is a common concern among retroactive jealousy sufferers.

If you’re worried your partner has a sleazy past, you are not alone.

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: Okay, today I’m answering a young woman named Claudia. Claudia writes:

My partner has a sleazy past. My question is how do I overcome the fact that my boyfriend didn’t really have standards in the past? I’ve always admired his personality, but now I’m disappointed, but I love him and I want to get over it.

Okay, Claudia, juicy question. Interesting question. I don’t mean to make light of it, but this is a question that I get quite a bit, and it’s an interesting question. It’s not always the easiest question to answer, but I’ll do my best.

So the first thing I’d say is define the word standards. What do “standards” mean to you? Realize that what standards mean to you do not represent standards for the world.

For example, I get emails from guys who are concerned about their girlfriend’s past or wife’s past and they ask me my opinions.

And if they’re coaching clients, I respond to them and I’m very honest about here’s what I would put up with in this regard, here’s what I think is acceptable or not, here’s what I think is a glaring red flag and what is not, but it’s a difficult thing for me to do because my values are not these men’s values.

Your values are not my values.

So the first thing I suggest is remember that standards is subjective to a considerable extent.

The second thing I’d say is if your partner has a sleazy past and was sleeping around, shall we say, for a period of time, ask yourself why. Why was he doing this? And do you accept that?

For example, was he sleeping around because he just wanted to explore a sexuality and explore different relationships and learn about his sexuality, what he likes and what he doesn’t like, et cetera, et cetera? In my view, there’s nothing wrong with that. You might have different standards and that’s fine.

Did he have low self-esteem? Was he seeking validation from the opposite sex, as so many of us are guilty of in different moments in life? Very, very, very common for men and women alike.

Was he bored? This is something else to consider. Sometimes people sleep around for a while because they’re feeling bored and uninspired, whether it’s in their job or in their career, in school, et cetera.

Is he a sex addict? And could that have real consequences for you and your current relationship? Also something to consider.

But above all else, I’d encourage you to think about why your “partner has a sleazy past.”

Why was your boyfriend was acting this way?

And just above all, do you accept that? Can you understand that to some extent?

Try to practice empathy and so far as you’re capable and remember that your boyfriend is likely flawed in many ways. Likely learning about love and relationships and sex and dating just like the rest of us, bound to make mistakes in many ways.

Another thing to consider is the “mistakes,” mistakes in air quotes, that your boyfriend may have made in the past. Maybe you didn’t make the same mistakes in your dating life, but it’s very likely that you have made mistakes in your dating life as well. Mistakes in your relationship life perhaps.

Ways of acting or behaving or choices you’ve made, which you later look back on and regret a little bit, or maybe you don’t regret them, but you realize that you weren’t at your best, shall we say, in certain moments in your dating life.

We’ve all been there. I certainly have years ago, and to this day, I continually have moments where I’m not at my best.

My point is simply that each of our mistakes in life and love and relationships and dating takes slightly different forms, but we all make mistakes.

And frankly, you should be grateful to the women in your boyfriend’s past because it’s very, very, very likely that those women have taught him to some extent that you are the best choice for him.

If your boyfriend had no basis for comparison, he wouldn’t truly appreciate how wonderful I’m sure you are because he’d have no basis for comparison. He’d have nothing to compare you to. And thus, in a very real sense, you should be grateful to your partner’s past lovers.

If anyone watching this is cringing at me saying that, I completely understand. I would have cringed myself probably hearing this 10 or 15 years ago, but I’m telling you it’s true.

The older I get and the more experience I get and the further in the rearview mirror retroactive jealousy is for me, the more grateful I am to my partner’s past lovers for teaching my partner that I really am the best choice.

I’m grateful that they have a basis for comparison, because if they didn’t, how would they really appreciate me? They wouldn’t have anything to compare me to.

I hope this helps. I hope this gives you some comfort or clarity or guidance or something along those lines.

But above all, I’d say continue putting in the work to overcome retroactive jealousy and this feeling of disappointment with your boyfriend will become less and less and less over time. Retroactive jealousy can really skew our perspective.

And for you, the more you can put retroactive jealousy in the rearview mirror, the less this issue will be an issue for you.

If you want help overcoming retroactive jealousy and you’d like access to a proven step-by-step system that works, since 2014, it’s helped over 1,500 men and women from around the world overcome retroactive jealousy for good, click here to learn more about my premium course for retroactive jealousy suffers, Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast.

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 RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.