General Question

fallingtoofast's avatar

How can a relationship possibly work when one partner has a large sexual history, and the other partner does not?

Asked by fallingtoofast (63points) June 25th, 2009

I really need help figuring out whether I should stay with my boyfriend, who I’ve been with for a year. It has always bothered me that he has many many sexual partners in his past whereas i only have one other…I know for sure that i want to be with him for the rest of my life..but i feel that i need to experience more men before i settle with him. im so young still….and i dont want to have regrets when its too late. im just afraid i will lose him forever if we take a break. and i dont even know if i want other partners for sure…i might just feel like i do because he’s had so many. im naturally conservative about sx, and im in love with someone whos perfectly ok with the one night ‘hook-up’. please help. is this going to work, or should i end it?

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40 Answers

pats04fan's avatar

Why base your relationship only on Sex? Why worry about any of that? If you love him then I don’t see why you should worry about that. Why not get more experience with him instead of with other men?

whatthefluther's avatar

The only valid point in your detail section is “i need to experience more men before i settle with him.” Your mind is made up…your question is meaningless.

cak's avatar

I’m trying to figure out why you are holding his past against him, if you are so in love with him. You are revealing that you only are concerned about the amount of sex partners and wondering if you need to go out and experiment more, before you “settle down” with one person. If you really feel that way, maybe you aren’t so in love and maybe you aren’t so set on this relationship.

I think you need to read what you wrote and see what you are really saying. Don’t use his past experience as an excuse for you wanting to experiment with other people. Own it and accept responsibility for your feelings. You want to see what else is out there. Don’t push it off on his past.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I don’t think experiencing more men is going to make you love your boyfriend any more or less if you are “sure he’s the one you want to spend your life with”. Don’t worry about his past… what happened before you came into his life has nothing to do with you.

fallingtoofast's avatar

it is hard to see my situation as so black and white, being that i have been dealing with it for so long. its true that i do tend to hold his past against him..and im sure i do it out of pure jealousy. i feel that breaking up with him is just tooo big of a risk to take. and i do truly love my boyfriend. it is ME that i need to focus on. what do i need to do in order to feel satisfied with my life.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

If you really felt you wanted to be with this particular guy for the rest of your time then how many sex partners he’s had (or you’ve had) wouldn’t be much on your mind. How he feels about you and you believing in it is what will bring decision about who’s the one.

kenmc's avatar

Let shit go.

If he’s had all this sex you claim he’s had, at least he’s (or should be) a good lay.

cak's avatar

@fallingtoofast – going out and sleeping with a lot of guys isn’t going to make you feel satisfied. If you are feeling empty, not so complete, you need to look for the issue that is causing that feeling. I can tell you, with almost 100% certainty, that it isn’t sex that will fix this. Sex is a temporary fix, when that ends, you’ll feel unsatisfied, again.

You need to really do some looking inward and see what is going on. You also need to let go of your boyfriend’s past. He could have lied to you, but he was honest. Don’t punish him for being truthful. That will ruin the relationship…eventually. You’ll find a way to really hurt him with these feelings.

Sounds like you need to work on things, on things about you. Sex isn’t the problem. What’s going on to make you feel so insecure?

cak's avatar

@fallingtoofast Please understand that I’m not trying to beat you up, here. I can just be very direct, at times.

kheredia's avatar

I think you should leave the past in past. I don’t even like getting into this conversation with my boyfriend because I know I’m a bit jealous and I rather not talk about it. If you want to be happy with him then live in the moment. If you’re not sure he’s the guy for you then move on but don’t base your decision on his past. I really hope you make a mature decision for both your sake.

fallingtoofast's avatar

i guess i always feel like i am competing with him. the # of sex partners is just one of the things hes ‘winning’ at. he has a better job, more financially secure, more friends, even better at mountain biking (which is a hobby that WE as a couple started together) it goes on and on…i guess i shouldn’t view it as a competition, but that is the type of person i am. i’m so used to being the one ‘on top’ in a relationship. and this guy…he gives me a challenge. i realize that i am feeling empty inside, and i can seee what you mean when u say that sex isn’t going to solve this problem. i need to be more sure of myself, and stop looking up to him as this ‘perfect’ person who’s experienced everything and has a more enjoyable past. i feel like if i have as many sexual partners as him or more than i can finally ‘win’ at something and feel more adequate. its lame i know.. maybe i should be happy with what i have. and the moment, and i need to stop trying to plan everything out so perfectly.

fallingtoofast's avatar

and to CAK…i really appreciate that you’re so direct. its what i am here for.

cak's avatar

@fallingtoofast – If you can learn to stop competing and to start being his partner and maybe learning from him, things will be so much nicer. It’s not easy, but if this is someone you are really trying to have a real, serious relationship, you have to learn how to compete on a lower level and to be his partner.

My husband and I are very competitive. There is a time to compete and a time to realize when you yield to the other person, to learn from the other person. You compliment each other, when you learn to do this. You become a couple that works together.

I’m not sure how old you are and how old he is, it may be that you just need a few more years behind you to “get” this – to understand to relax and let some of these things happen in due time, not to force them.

My husband and I have different pasts, it part of what makes us the who we are, as a person. If we had the same type of past, it could be a bit boring, don’t you think?

Try to be happy in the moment and don’t look back. You are here with him, now and that is what matters.

If you “take a break” to catch up and have an equal amount of sexual partners, I just don’t see that as something that will keep this relationship moving forward. I see disaster, in that plan.

fallingtoofast's avatar

yes we are quite young, myself being in college. and hes 22. i understand where you are coming from, and i hope to fully ‘get’ what you are saying in the near future. we are both naturally competitive. but i think we need to work on the ‘yielding’ that you are talking about. and yes, i do think if we were the same type of person it would be quite boring. i need to live in the moment,,and stop looking so far into future. (and definitely stop looking in the past). i guess the hard part of figuring this all out is gonna happen when im with him next time and im tempted to hold his past against him…..i will try my hardest to grow up a little bit and realize what is realize what is really important.

Garebo's avatar

It will matter, if it matters to you.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

DO NOT break up with someone you love for the sake of gaining “experience”... I promise you, it is not worth it at all. If I could go back right now I would trade every girl I’ve ever kissed or more with for just ONE girl that I loved and it worked out with…. I wouldn’t even think twice. You will eventually regret doing that if you do.

His sexual partners are his past, he can’t change it, don’t hold it against him.

fallingtoofast's avatar

wow. hearing from someone who’s personally went through this is really REALLY comforting. i must honestly say im tearing up over here… ;’) thank you

SeventhSense's avatar

Well maybe, but you can’t live with regret. I loved someone more than anyone and I left her because I wanted more experiences. She may have regrets or she may regret staying. Either way, she has serious misgivings and there’s enough doubt to make one really stop and question before anything further gets too involved. The level of competitiveness sounds to me there is still some growing up to do and that’s fine. Sometimes you have to fly before you build a nest.
I’m guessing she’ll unconsciously push this towards a conclusion, either by resigning or pushing a fight.

fallingtoofast's avatar

well the reality of my problem is that there are 2 obvious solutions: stay or go. one thing i know i need to do either way is to straighten myself out. i need to find out who i really am before i worry about my life with someone else. but i must say that it is a more comforting feeling to know that i can find myself and become more emotionally/mentally secure while in a relationship with my boyfriend. i am quickly realizing that i need to prioritize my problem of feeling insecure compared to him.

kenmc's avatar


The old adage goes, “If you love something, let it go. If it is truly yours, it will come back to you.”

Follow that advice.

RareDenver's avatar

If after a year you are thinking about other partners then it probably won’t last

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

@SeventhSense Well the part I left out, was that even with that advice, she’ll probably still do it. Its one of those things you kind of end up having to learn on your own unfortunately. I know it because I made that mistake, and went on to cause a lot of problems for a lot of people. But let no one say I didn’t try to advise this poor soul before she did the same thing.

sanari's avatar


I actually see where she is coming from. I also had a similar situation – my husband was a “dog”, and he was my first.

Whenever you come into a relationship like this, a girl tends to feel inexperienced and like she can’t satisfy her husband. I let him know that all he needed to do is teach me what he likes, and I will discover what I like. But it’s hard. This makes men less willing to talk because they are afraid the girl will not react well to his desires, so he doesn’t share any.

This makes the girl feel more inadequate. Everyone is jumping on her and chewing her out for asking a question as if her mind is made up – but it’s not. She wants to stay with this man. But she feels severely inexperienced. Lighten up on her – she’s looking for answers.

I know for sure that i want to be with him for the rest of my life..
I really need help figuring out whether I should stay with my boyfriend…
im naturally conservative about sx, and im in love with someone whos perfectly ok with the one night ‘hook-up’..

I mean, the last statement belies her entire meaning, not the statement everyone is jumping on her for. It’s stressful knowing that he’s completely ok with hooking up with just anyone. If she leaves – will he forget her and jump in bed with another girl? This is her worry.

Now to you, young lady – I believe you should talk with him and let him know your thoughts. Let him know that you need him to teach you his desires and what he likes. Try it and see. If he loves you, he will support this idea. Frankly, if he scoffs at you, leave him.

If he intends to marry you someday – since what you want is marriage – he should make his intent known within the next 6 months. Some will say “you can’t put a time limit on a proposal!!” But this is for your emotional, social, physical, and mental well-being. If you stay with a guy who you want to marry but does not want to marry you – you will die inside a little every day you are with him. Don’t give him an ultimatum, just feel him out.

prude's avatar

the sexual history isn’t something that should get in the way of a meaningful relationship. If it is, then maybe it isn’t meant to be? maybe?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

it could absolutely work out
i’m the one with ‘more experience’
and it was never a problem
i don’t rub it in
he doesn’t let it bother him

believe, more experience doesn’t always translate into what you fear, it is just that, experience, it didnt’ have to be good

wundayatta's avatar

Sex isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The experience of loving someone else, though, can be quite different. Sex contains all kinds of feelings, and is a way of expressing love. Your bf was able to separate love from sex, and call me old-fashioned, but I think that’s a problem. I’d want to know his current feelings about that.

You can learn to be a good lover fairly easily. It hardly matters, though. What’s more important is if you and your partner make each other happy. That requires communication. You really have to be able to talk about everything, or else your hidden resentments will grow, and break out in the worst of ways. I think you really need to understand what those experiences meant to him, and how you are different from those other women. It’s kind of like asking whether he really loves you, or what does his love for you mean.

It’s really not about sex at all. It’s about your relationship. It sounds like you each need to feel better than the other in some way. I don’t know where that comes from. For me, when you love someone, you are just as proud of their accomplishments as you would be of your own. If you compete, it’s just for fun. It’s only bothered me that my wife has always made more money than I do when I feel insecure about our relationship as a whole. When I feel unloved. The rest of the time, I am sure that my contributions to the relationship are the equal of hers, and vice versa.

Every relationship is different, and I’m sure some can thrive on competition, if it is done in a friendly way. When the competition is serious, and you seriously want to get over on your partner, I worry. @sanari is giving you excellent advice when she tells you to talk to him about it. It has to be in the open, and you both need to understand what these things mean to each other.

If you can’t talk about it on your own, you can get help—from a pastor or a counselor, or someone knowledgeable about relationships whom you trust. If the first person isn’t helpful, try another, until you find someone who is good for both of you. Or work it through yourselves.

But don’t fool yourself. This is not about sex. I also don’t think it’s about you. I think it’s about the relationship, and the only way I know to deal with relationship issues is communication. You have to understand the underlying issue, and negotiate about it. If competition is the issue, you have to figure out what you want to do about it. If it makes you uncomfortable, you have to resolve that. You guys can change the way you relate if you discuss it and negotiate a solution you both can live with.

fallingtoofast's avatar

yeah my bf in the past has been able to separate sex from love. i have never do that, and ive always wondered whether i could just have sex with no attachments.and yes we do communicate very well i feel. but im coming to realize that i am the problem, not him. i have gotten therapy for my insecurity (kind of) and it did help a lot. but i think i may have just lost a little of that understanding over the past couple of months. besides my insecurity issues, i honestly just crave the spontaneous and enjoyable sexual life that i feel a 19 yr old should have. he had it when he was 19, now i want it. but then again i may just be trying to compete…hopefully all of this will be cleared up when i get my own head in order and start to believe in myself more.

Darwin's avatar

@fallingtoofast – Some of that separation between love and sex comes simply from the different things that drive men and women. Culturally boys are supposed to be sex-seeking missiles and are praised by their peers for being successful. Biologically, male organisms are driven to spread their sperm to as many females as possible.

OTOH, women are still expected by society to be more chaste and are often driven not so much by sex drive but by a need for intimacy. It is hard to achieve real intimacy with multiple partners. Again biologically, women are designed to seek out only a few partners because if they become pregnant they will need help and protection to ensure the safe gestation and raising of the child.

And who says that 19 year olds should have a crazy and spontaneous sex life? And sex without attachments is nothing special – it is simply a release of physical tensions but is riskier than masturbation because of illnesses you are exposing yourself to. Very sexually active women run a greater risk of illness that could cause them to become sterile as well as getting pregnant without knowing who the father is of the child.

In addition to ridding yourself of the notion that sex is a competition, have you considered trying to make your sex life with him crazy and spontaneous?

fallingtoofast's avatar

i would love to achieve spontaneous sex from our relationship! we do try different things once in a while…but at times i get hesitations from him when it comes to certain desires. i will definitely voice my opinion on this matter to him.

amoreno06's avatar

for me, it’s the other way around. i’m the one with a large sexual history while my boyfriend has only had one partner before me.
he doesn’t deal with it very well.
in fact, he downright hates me for it.
but what am i supposed to do? erase the past?
just deal with it. forget about it. quit dwelling on it and enjoy the time you two have together.

loser's avatar

Isn’t a relationship about love? What does sexual history have to do with it?

fallingtoofast's avatar

well i guess i can relate to your boyfriend, amoreno06. at least i know im not the only one who is going through this.

Zaku's avatar

You have an idea that number of partners or variety of sexual experience is an important life goal to rival love. That’s just an idea, not a basic human need nor a desire everyone has. You get to choose whether any idea is valid or important to you. My question for you to consider for yourself might be what are you hiding from yourself? Are you maybe afraid of admitting that you are feeling jealous and/or interested in sex with others?

ubersiren's avatar

It only doesn’t work if one person has a problem with it. I was a huge slut- I think my husband marked my 20th lay or something. I was his second. Neither of us care because we love each other.

If it bothers you that much, then it might not work. But if you really want to be with him the rest of your life, like you say, then you’ll find a way to get over it. Also, if he’s the one, you don’t need to experience anyone else.

prude's avatar

@amoreno06 he hates you for it?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

The problem here isn’t who has had the most sexual partners, the problem here is settling down too young. I had plenty of sexual partners before I met my wife, and she didn’t have any. We met, dated, found out what we had in common, and after discovering that we were compatible (six years of dating, and two years living together) we got married. That was 20 years ago. Getting married too young is by far a worse mistake than getting married with a difference in sexual partner numbers.

Staying with someone for the rest of your life means doing it through good times and bad, and while the vows describe that plainly, when the bad times hit, and they will hit you like a speeding truck, it takes courage, compassion and guts to stick it out. If you aren’t mature enough for that, then the whole ‘who slept with who’ question is pretty much pointless. Maturity is more important that partner numbers.

fallingtoofast's avatar

thanks everyone for you answers. this was A LOT of help, believe me. my bf and i talk about this a lot and after all the arguments…im still set on making our relationship work. if fact, this past weekend i felt a lot more secure and my boyfriend supports me entirely while i work to make changes for myself. thanks again

amoreno06's avatar

@prude yup. his exact words.
it’s like, it’s not my fault he didn’t want any more from whatever girls he was talking to before. or that he wasn’t comfortable sexually to go any further.
he keeps bringing it up a lot more and more.
we’ll be ok for a few days but then he’ll just remember and not talk to me for a day or two.
exhausting. but what can i do?
i love the kid.

prude's avatar

@amoreno06 I feel for ya, hope he gets over it….
—not good, not good at all—-

snapdragon24's avatar

My god, who cares? Your going to dump a guy because if his past? You seem to love him and he is with you. Its very simple. Ive had a past too… only because I have a strong sex drive, im attracted to good looking men, and I know how to seduce…also because people with high number of sex partners havent found what their looking for. Once they do, none of it matters anymore.

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