Jealousy over past girlfriends can harm your relationship if you do not keep it in check.

How to Deal With Your Boyfriend Being With Girls in the Past

by Anna Green

Although in previous generations, you might have been your boyfriend’s “one and only,” today, it is likely that he has been with other girls in the past. Even if things are going well in your relationship, jealousy can slip in, especially if you entertain thoughts about your boyfriend being with these other girls. However, it is important to stay grounded in the present and stop yourself from ruminating on your boyfriend’s past.

1. Accept Your Emotions

Often, feelings of jealousy and insecurity about past girlfriends stem from your own worries about the relationship or your own sense of self-worth, writes psychologist and relationship author Margaret Paul in the "Huffington Post." Jealousy is a type of anxiety and a valid, adaptive emotion that can protect you, explains clinical psychology professor Robert L. Leahy in “Psychology Today.” However, if your emotions interfere with your ability to interact with your boyfriend or cause worry that distracts you from work, school, sleeping or socializing with your friends, this could be a sign that your jealousy has become unhealthy. Understanding when your jealousy has gotten out of control can be a wake-up call that tells you to make changes in the way you view your relationship as well as your own worth as a girlfriend.

2. Do Not Act on Jealous Feelings

While jealous feelings may be normal when they are limited to passing thoughts, when you engage in jealous behaviors, this is when you may start to harm both yourself and your relationship, warns Leahy. For example, feeling upset after finding old pictures of your boyfriend’s ex packed away in a box is relatively normal. However, if you scream at your boyfriend over them or begin to question your relationship because you saw these mementos, this may be a sign that you need to step back from the relationship and figure out the root of your insecurity. In such cases, professional counseling can be a good option, as insecurity often stems from childhood and the relationships with parents.

3. Maintain Healthy Thought Patterns

If your boyfriend is still on good terms with girls he’s been with in the past, this can be a sign of maturity, psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker tells Psych Central. Likewise, if your boyfriend can maintain a positive attitude about his past relationships, this is usually a sign of good character on his part, not an affront to your relationship. In all cases, you are in control of how you respond to relationship challenges. If you choose to focus on the negative and give into negative feelings such as questioning your boyfriend’s commitment to you or getting angry at previous girlfriends simply because they were with him first, you are doing little besides harming yourself and your relationship. Each time you take note of a negative thought about your boyfriend and his ex, mentally tell yourself “stop!” and remind yourself that your boyfriend is choosing to be with you. Afterward, focus on the positive qualities of your relationship and any future you are planning together.

4. Talk to Your Boyfriend

If you have sincere concerns that your boyfriend may not be entirely over an ex -- for example, if he calls her daily or compares her to you -- address your worries in a non-confrontational way. For instance, you might say, “I felt uncomfortable when you compared the trip we took with the one you took with Jennifer.” Ideally, your boyfriend will be receptive to your concerns. Likewise, if you sense that your boyfriend is not fully committed to your relationship and you have specific examples of this, bring them up to him. For example, you might tell him that you feel lonely when he talks to his ex on the phone when you are spending time together. If he dismisses these concerns, this could be a sign that you are not on the same page with regard to your relationship expectations.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

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