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My boyfriend is jealous of my sexual past and is becoming verbally abusive. Will he ever get over this?

Tagged as: Big Questions, The ex-factor, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (11 September 2008) 16 Answers - (Newest, 21 July 2011)
A female Canada age 30-35, anonymous writes:

I've been with my boyfriend for 2 years now and we're great, no problems except for one which is big and is starting to make me go insane. I don't know how much longer we will last if we cant get this sorted.

So the problem is that he is very jealous about my past. Before we met I was a bit of a wild child, nothing too unusual though, I mean I was single so it's not like I was a bad person or anything. So essentially I slept with about... 15 guys (give or take) before we started dating. I had 4 'serious' relationships (lasted anywhere from 6 months to a year but not much longer) and the rest were what I like to call 'for fun'. Guys that I met at parties and liked or guys I was set up with by my friends... just goodlooking guys that I fancied a go with... I slept with most of them about 10-15 times but it wasn't really a relationship just dating, you know? I also had 2 drunken one night stands that I like to call 'mistakes' and I avoid talking about them because it's kind of embarrassing and my memory is fuzzy. Those two I regret! But I guess I don't really regret the rest except that they cause my boyfriend so much trouble.

Before we met he had slept with a few other girls (I never asked for the number but I know he had 2 serious relationships before me) and I don't feel jealous at all really, I don't ever think about them! But he spends HOURS like picturing what went on between me and these guys and it's ridiculous! I think he's spent more time thinking over them than I have and I'm the one who was involved with them! He's never met most of them (except for 2 of them who are actually friends of mine, and he hates being around them which I guess I understand) but in his mind they are all like, 6 foot tall, muscular, with 10 inch schlongs! Ummm most of them weren't like that but he won't believe me when I tell him (of course).

Anyway we have had a lot of fights about this. My understanding can only go so far, though so I get impatient with him. I understand that he doesn't like it, but I was honest and upfront about it, so he knew what he was getting into. For the first few months it didn't bother him or at least he never mentioned it but then it was like he became this crazy jealous person and I don't know what to tell him anymore. I tried reassuring him that the sex with him is better than with those guys because we love each other and I tried explaining to him that I have no feelings for any of them anymore but it doesn't get me very far.

Then he gets all angry and calls me a slut, calls me pathetic, calls me insecure, needy, etc, etc. I kind of have to roll my eyes when he says these things. I mean, I started dating and having sex when I was 18 years old, I always used protection (condoms AND the pill- don't want to risk it), I hardly ever had sex on the first date or with someone I just met (except for those 2 but everyone makes mistakes), and I had sex with 15 guys over the course of 5 years so it's not like it was a new guy every week, that's actually (mathematically speaking haha) just 3 a year... So how exactly am I a slut? When he calls me that I usually just tell him to leave me alone until hes calmed down. It's very frustrating to talk to him because he gets angry and insulting and never believes me when I tell him that I love him, they mean nothing, he's better in bed, etc, etc. I've never cheated on him or anything, he has no reason to mistrust me. I am a loyal girlfriend, I've never cheated on anyone in my life.

Sometimes I get the feeling he wishes I had been caged up all my life until he came along and unlocked the door... what was I supposed to do? None of my other partners have had a problem with my past (the last guy I slept with before my boyfriend was a guy who I dated for just over a year and he was never bothered at all). Why does it bother him? Is he just insecure? Will he ever get over it?

Last time we had a fight he called me a disgusting whore and told me I should be ashamed of myself. Hes becoming verbally abusive and I have too much self-respect to put up with this crap much longer. What is some way I can prove to him that I'm over my past and ready to settle down with him?

Please help! I love him and don't want this relationship to be destroyed by something so stupid.

View related questions: drunk, insecure, jealous, one night stand, sexual past, the pill

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A male reader, bodo United States +, writes (21 July 2011):

I am curently having difficulty with this same problem and it hurts.Not jealousy just pain. Wonderful woman and really love her. She des so much for and with me.We havent been apart since I met her 18 months ago. Thinking/ wanting to marry her and she wants to marry me.. I am absoluutely not jealous of anything in the present since I met her. Doesn't occur to me but her past does.I am fairly experiencced, educated and no spring chicken. She is a mature woman some 20 years younger but told me things I did not want to hear.Also came with nipple rings and 2 Tattoes. and had a clit ring in past. No prude here but really don't like tats. seeing it on breast and small of back turns me off seems something a porn star does. Got rid of piercings immediately.I do not consider her a slut in any way but she was an emancipted woman. Had good marriage for 13 years w 4 good kids-husband screwed her and she split. got married to a another guy a few years later big talker, sportsman, tats and alchoholic. lasted 5 years - last 2 pretty bad then became more emancipated. Her first choice always was a good man and marriage but life doesn't always give what you want. I see that. I am haunted by the thought of her bouncing up and down on someones cock. Seeing a picture of someone she dated hurts and infuriates me. I try and contain it but she knows me like a book. Trying to put this behind me. It is really tough.

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A male reader, williamswilliams Australia +, writes (1 April 2011):

I've come across this topic because i googled 'jealously of partners ex partners' and am really struggling with this right now.

I've been in a gay rship for 4 months with a guy much younger than me - I'm 31 and he is 18. He is very attractive and always thought he wouldn't commit to me because I'm not good enough. Objectively, I know I am very attractive, because of the amount of comments and attention I get - I have never felt great about the way I look or my body and it took me many years to felt sexually confident.

I've also had a very strong jealous streak. Not just jealous of other people's looks, but jealous of other people's achievements as well. I then feel very guilty and pathetic for feeling jealous after.

I can't really put it down to one reason why I am such an insecure person. I've had some setbacks in life and got bullied at school for being gay, but by and large I had a good childhood, got a degree, worked as a journalist and am now studying law. Although, I had a mental breakdown a few years ago and my life has been in a few pieces since. I haven't worked properly since having a work injury and don't feel like I have achieved much in the past few years. Getting my boyfriend, is almost like the greatest achievement for me over the past 4 years - particularly on a male-ego level - because I have felt really useless lately.

I met my bf six months ago, when he was just 17 and was not very sexually experienced. We started seeing each other and dating and sleeping together. I asked him for a rship and he said no, he wasn't ready. I was very upset about this. It was like yet another failure in my life at that time. Nothing was going right for me and this was just another thing. It was very humialiting to be rejected by him. I then did some very nasty things to him, like write a letter to his work saying he was bad at his job.

After, I wrote this letter we had a big fight. I felt terrible about it after, but I just wanted him never to speak to me again - because I didn't like being left hanging and didn't think a rship with a younger guy would work - but I couldn't help the way I feel.

We then started talking again and had another big fight. So I told him I didn't want to speak to him for two months and we didn't.

I thought that was the end, but in reality I couldn't stop thinking about him and hated myself for ruining something else in my life.

At the end of the two months, we started meeting up and I asked if we could move on from the past. We couldn't escape the chemistry and soon were attached at the hip.

He forgave me for the letter he wrote and I understood he was so young and wasn't ready for a rship.

I was his first ever relationship and first ever love.

He had also never received anally before and let me do it when we got together.

He has not had sex with many people for a gay guy. Probably only a tenth of what I have had over the years. Plus I have had a long term relationship before.

Anyway, in the first few weeks of us getting together he told me about a guy he wanted to give him a massage. He said he met the guy through a gay website and he was a massage therapist. I send this was okay. I saw the message he sent in his iphone and discovered a six month history of texting - sometimes about massage, but it seemed they were also having sex.

The texting started the same week we had the big fight about the letter I wrote and was pretty frequent - like they may have had sex 10 times.

The guy stopped texting him, but he kept messaging him about 15 times and the guy was ignoring him.

My BF lied about it for weeks on end, until admitting they had had sex.

What the truth now appears to be is that this guy was giving him massages - a sexual relationship developed - they met in parks - there was no love or feelings involved - the guy was 'okay' but not overly attractive and my BF just needed to experiment before settling down.

What really hurts me at the moment, is that I discovered he lied about the way the guy looks - he told me was short and dark, in fact he had fair hair, blue eyes, was bisexual and older - very similiar to me. Although, my roommate saw him and said he looked very rough and weathered and about 40. He also reckons my BF said they had good sex, but my BF denies this and often my roomate just causes trouble.

I have, to my detriment, asked for every last detail of when, where and why - now I have a hard time getting it out of my head. I hate the idea he was attracted to his grubby old guy and that he enjoyed the sex. He said he "always has a soft spot for guys with blue eyes" and this really grates me.

Even though I know this irrational and I need to get over it.

This is really effecting our relationship and I really wont to move in and work on the future not the past.

I love my bf to bits and it's one of the positives in my life at the moment which i need to cherish.

The lying didn't help - but if anything I think it was because he was embarrassed about it. I don't believe he was messaging this guy when we were together for sex, I do trust my bf. I also know there were no feelings involved. I know we have amazing sex and the fact he lost my virginity to me, not him, is a real indication.

Even if he was a little bit attracted to this guy - so what? It's not reasonable to think I am the only guy he ever found attractive. Although it does diminish the rship a bit that he found someone a bit off attractive and was on call for him sexually, almost whenever the guy wanted.

But I've done far worse things. Especially, when I was young and didn't think twice about it.

Just as I have written all this down, I realise how much I need to move on and how much I love my bf and want him in my life.

I really am very lucky to have found someone who I love so much and who loves me and who gives me so much love and attention and understanding.

I've broken up with him twice this week over it and this fucking shit has got to stop.

I am sending out to the universe right now - let me move on - stop dwelling on this - stop trying to control my by - the past is the past - I have fucked many more people - he loves me, not him - he prefers, sex with me not him - we have a very good sex life (the best I have ever had)- the affair started partly because of what I did wrong - we weren't together then - I imposed the break - I jeopardised the relationship and then complained about it.

Okay - GET OVER IT - or you wont have a relationship at all.

GET OVER IT.

GET OVER IT.

He loves me, I love him - I want to spend the rest of my life with him. I want to have kids with him and a house a good life. I am attractive, I am a good lover, I will rebuild my life, get over this injury, finish my degree and get a job. Everything will be alright.

I wish I could love myself a tenth as much as I love him and perhaps I wouldn't be so insecure.

If he didn't want me - even after everything I've done - he wouldn't be with me.

Hope this helps someone else.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (23 December 2010):

Keep in mind that this is still a male-dominated world (especially with with the population, according an actual study) and most girls are bound to sleep around with many people of the opposite sex and spread their seeds more often than guys, even though it is in a girl's nature. But, unfortunately, guys here in North America, for example, become very jealous when they know their girlfriend dated and/or slept around with other guys for fun and pleasure in the past because North Americans are very close-minded about female sexuality and it's no wonder guys here are pretty territorial over their girls, whereas in other societies like in Northern and Western Europe, (except Spain, Portugal, and Ireland) for example, guys are more open minded about female sexuality and are less likely to be jealous and territorial over their girls. They can easily tolerate worldly girls.

Well anyway, it seems like your boyfriend is not pleased with you enjoying yourself with so many guys in the past. It sounds like he's wondering about your fidelity to him and is concerned that you'll be tempted by some other random guy (especially if the guy seems predatory) and stray from him, although it is hard to resist, knowing other guys can be very nagging. And if you stray from him, better be careful, he could either stalk you, beat you and/or kill you, knowing how abusive he is, and don't even leave a trail nor tell him either. Better keep it secret and/or tell someone you know and/or trust very well what you did.

In addition to that, it is wrong for your boyfriend to jealous of your sexual past, he should learn to tolerate what you did before.

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A female reader, Katherine5 United States +, writes (19 February 2010):

I simply had to weigh in on this one, though it is not to offer an answer. I would give anything to have an answer. My own relationship--of 2 years--is unraveling fr this same reason, and I'm utterly distraught.

I'm not a teenager or any kind of party girl. never have been. I've been married twice (and had one non-married relationship), and am now single and dating a man who himself has been married three times. Obviously, this is not the way the world is supposed to work, but here we are. For a long time, we were so happy to have found each other.

But about 4 months ago, this started. Jealousy over my past. Sometimes he pushes me away when we're kissing because he can't stop picturing me kissing someone else. He gets so angry, never really at me, just at circumstances, but it's me he's talking to when he's angry. I never know when this topic will come in and blow up a lovely evening or weekend. I never feel like anything is a safe topic--I would NEVER talk to him about my sexual history or whatever, but if I tell any story from my past, he immediately jumps to whose bed was I sharing at that point in history. It's like walking through a minefield all the time. I could care less about his past loves--they're gone, and I'm the one in his arms. he just can't look at it that way.

I am so angry with him for taking away from me the happines we had. I feel very confident we are not going to make it through this, because I see no effort on his part to make this better, and it just gets worse.

In an odd way, I'm actually comforted to know this isn't a problem unique to us. I have never heard of another couple with this issue until tonight, and at least now I can feel that it isn't just because I'm the slut of the world with my three former lovers (in a 40 year lifespan). I know this post isn't helpful at all, but sometimes community itself is helpful. Thanks for listening.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (5 February 2010):

Wow, girl I feel your pain!

Generally I lie about my sexual past because men are so stupid and think that women should be little white gloved virgins until they just happen to meet their prince charming. Whatever- let them have their fantasy. The reality is women get just as horny and bored as men do. If we're beautiful we're going to get A LOT of opportunities.

What you have to do is lie if you know they can't handle the truth. Men have to think that they're little Gods. Just go with it. Tell them you had a few really serious boyfriends and leave it at that. be vague. If you don't have any life threatening diseases there's absolutely nothing they need to know about. If someone says something: denial is your best friend here.

Getting back to sympathizing with you- my boyfriend is the same way! This guy is great until he gets jealous. He berates me and calls me a slut for things I did 10 years ago! I can't help what I did 10 years ago! I don't have a huge sexual history but he's younger than me and has no experience other than me. I just pray he grows up before I get too fed up.

The only reason my boyfriend knows about my sexual past is because he went in my closet and read my private journals!! Since then I have destroyed these journals. Make sure you destroy all the evidence: photos, journals etc. Cut ties with ex-boyfriends etc.

One of two things will happen with my situation.

a) he will get the hell over it

b) I will find someone better and this new man will never know anything because the evidence has been destroyed- ignorance is bliss.

(Remainder edited by Mod)

To the man who compared women to cookies: WOMEN ARE NOT COOKIES!

GOOD LUCK GIRL!!!

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A male reader, df30 United States +, writes (26 January 2010):

I had to post on this subject. I wasn't nearly as abusive as your bf but alot of the feelings he displayed were exactly how i felt. I'm 21 i'm a college football player somewhat attractive, and I always have confidence and thought of myself as being very secure in who I was. I met the girl of my dreams 7 months ago, really when we met i felt it and i wanted to be with her. So I did. After a couple months we got serious and hooked up, things were great, it was my dream. I went off to summer camp for football and every night i would call her before I went to sleep. Well one night she brought up the question of how many I've been with, I knew this was forbidden territory so I was reluctant to say anything but she insisted.

So i told her I that before her I was a virgin and I had messed around with 7 girls, no big deal, I treated women with respect and passed on many opportunities. She then told me that she had had sex with two others before me and messed around with 15 guys, nearly all she dated. It didn't sink in yet but that was a timed explosion. I knew a handful and all these guys she had messed with were in a time period of about two years because she dated one guy, whose ass i came very close to killing (long story). So I calculated the timeline in my head and realized that these guys were very close to eachother within the same month. It ate me alive that she did this. I mean no joke sometimes for hours at a time I would dwell on that sh*t. I was stuck.... I loved her so much and I couldn't change the past and wow I know she loves me with everything shes got. The sex we have is amazing I'm the biggest, best, etc.. but whatever its obvious she enjoys things very much.

So there I was picturing things and being totally miserable and feeling so guilty. I talked with her about it and told her several times that was over it but I wasn't and it hurt me so bad knowing that I hurt her like I did. I came so close to leaving the best thing thats ever happened to me.

So that was my story but I want to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I sat in bed at night and prayed to god for forgiveness for my feeling and the pain it caused her and for strength to accept who she is and forgive her and understanding. I finally got it. I talked with her one night after we had a fight about the issue she said I love you and want to be with you Please don't let my past ruin this I'm begging you. Then like that and with prayer those thoughts happened less, now I try to think about it just to "test" myself and I for the last couple months I don't feel that pain.

If he truly loves you then he will realize its not the guys before him that matters but the ones after he is gone that will hurt, and hurt far worse. Be understanding and give him a chance it can be cured and your relationship will be so much stronger by it.

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A male reader, Flashbacks United States +, writes (28 January 2009):

I agree with the post from anonymous on 9/11/08 (an eerie date, btw for the posts). I am in a very similar situation, me being the man who has the problem with the sexual past of my gf.

Anonymous, you summed up how I feel very eloquently about the whole issue of my gf's sexual past. I have struggled with this issue for months, and have tried hard to come to terms with it. However, last night, we argued and in anger I lashed out and called her a "slut" after she randomly brought up a story from her dating past. I cannot begin to express the regret and shame I have for calling her that, and I feel a hollow sunken feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I love my gf very much, I want to be the best for her, and she is leaps and bounds better to me than my ex-wife ever was. I just can't get past this personal hell of the stories she has told me about random hookups, casual sex, and threesomes in her past. I realize intellectually that she loves me, that she doesn't do that stuff anymore, that she doesn't want to hurt me. At the same time, I struggle with the torturing images of her giving her body away to the nearest stranger who paid her a bit of attention.

I consider myself very stupid and foolish for letting the past grip me, but it is real and I know I can't deny my feelings. I want things between us to work out, but I realize it's not fair to her or myself to let this issue continually get in the way. If I knew how to make it go away, it would have gone away a long time ago, because I love my girlfriend and I don't want to get rid of her (or more importantly, her to get rid of me).

Both the man and the woman lose in this situation, and I'm sure there are women out there who are bothered by their bf/husbands past as well. I will not give up, it is not my nature, but it still doesn't lesson the personal hell I am feeling inside about this.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (26 December 2008):

I agree with your boyfriend. As guys we always talk about girls we want to get in the sack and that look easy, vs the girls that have virtue and we want to marry. Looks like he made a mistake and fell in love with the former type of girl. In all honesty your boyfriend isn't in the wrong, you were for sleeping around. Its not really your fault we leave in a narcassistic society teaching that its all about me and pleasing myself now. The problem is they forget to tell you about paying the piper. Everything we do has consequences, can you imaging if he was meant to be your husband? There's nothing you can do now, really. A friend of mine had a church thing for little girls. She had them all take a bite out of a cookie, (the same one). She then called the boys over from their table and asked if they wanted a cookie. Amongst the cookies was the one all the girls had taken a bite from. They all chose a whole cookie. Like it or not that's the way guys perceive women when looking to marry one. (All except the people on TV). This is one of the reason's there are so many failed marriages, broken families. Every with a sense of right and wrong goes through this. For his sake leave him and hope he finds a "whole cookie".

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A male reader, murphtom United States +, writes (28 November 2008):

murphtom agony auntYou are lucky to find her. I have been married for 12 years to a wonderful woman that does not have the past you complain about, nor do I. While this is great at first, we both admit 12 years later that it would have been fun to have had a bit of a past. We could have learned some tricks, had stories to tell each other, etc. Sex is such a small part of a relationship, if my wife were injured tomorrow and could not have sex again, I would stay with her as I love her, not the sex. Having someone with a colorful past can really be fun. Try to learn to engage her past, enjoy what she has learned, convert the jealousy into a turn-on (you win in this case), and count yourself lucky to have such a sexual partner. Your marriage will definitely be fun! Remember how LUCKY you are.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (25 September 2008):

30 years? I mean wtf posts like the one below give me absolutely no hope for the future.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (22 September 2008):

i experienced the same thing while dating a young lady, the more fond of her i became the less tolerant i became. all the previous answers i have read are true(mostly)but what you really need to know was only adressed in the first one.

the intimate feelings he has for you.however having said that i would also tell you he will not become more tolerant with time,probably less actually.you need to give him space and lots of it.it will change his perspective completly.it will give him the option of dealing with it or leaving it behind(and you unfortunatly)but none the less you need to continue on in a relationship like the like you need a hole in the head.You will both be better off i promise.i've been married to that "young lady" almost 30 years and have five children and two grandchildren and i'm still struggling with it daily.because she was never able to tell me to get lost and deal with it.you can't go backwardstime just doesn't.it's His issue now but he will have to decide if he want you enough to take you as you are,and you cannot help him make that decion,if you do it will be a tainted one and in his mind invalid.tell him you cannot change it and it is like it is.and don't call him he'll call you if he truly loves you more that he hates your past

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A male reader, Yos Netherlands +, writes (13 September 2008):

Yos agony auntThat last answer was very well written. Whoever you are, I can completely empathise with you. Have hope, it is possible to overcome, but it takes time, perseverance, and you have to take a very deep and honest look at yourself. Best wishes.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (11 September 2008):

Hello, I feel for you and your relationship. As a man who deals with the same problem as your bf, and whos story is remarkably close to your bf's I know all too well what the pain is like. In fact, its the pain that has me here right now, reading this post and other similar, day in and day out searching for help and answers.

Do realize that everyone views sex differently, and it appears that your bf probably view sex more conservatively than you. Im sure your bf does not mind you have a sexual past, in this day and age its near impossible to find a partner who does not have at least two or three partners in their past. But, in all honesty 15 partners in three years is a bit excessive. But that is only an opinion, but probably its a shared opinion by people like myself and your boyfriend alike.

Your bf probably did not have much distress over your past for the first few months until his emotions began to really develop for you. Two years into the relationship the emotions have grown stronger, but with it have grown the taunting images of your sexual past.

Also, please disregard what people here say about your bf not loving you. It may show a lack of dis respect, but in reality its more of a lack of self control. I would only imagine that he does love you, and the more he loves you the more confused he becomes about this issue.

Im just going to shoot off in my own little world here, and speak from my personal experience with this issue. Like you, my gf spilled a lot of her sexual past to me in the beginning of the relationship, which at that time was "who cares". I didnt think much about it, I was kind of put off by her sexual escapades, but I never thought in a million years it would have spawned into such an intense problem in our relationship.

Like your bf, months into our relationship things started coming out. Granted there were other problems which sparked this issue, but I really think that once I began to truly love her I began really face this issue. Imaging the woman I love, the woman I want to marry and spend my life with, to bear and raise my children, having casual sex with over so many men really began to eat away at me and my ability to feel special to her. She gave the most intimate part of her body to all these men, for fun...

The bond that we share sexually feels tainted. With all the love and all the emotion I put into my sexuality with her will always feel lessened because I know that she has experienced the same bond with people she had no love for, no affection for, and only had sex with for a thrill, or for fun. These people most definitely did not love her, and probably used her just as she used them. Some of these experienced she has explained to me as them using her as an object, or as a quick fuck. Knowing that the woman I love so much would sleep with people like this hurts me deeply.

It was not even just that, but the dangerous and risque sex she was having. She fell pregnant and had an abortion. She would sleep with guys that got her high, or drunk, or whatever. Unprotected, randomly, involving drugs or alcohol, or both. It makes it even worse for me, since my own personal morals and values have previously stopped me from using women like this, and even passing up opportunities similar to those of my gf. In a twisted way I wish that I could have acted on those opportunities just so that I wouldnt stress so much over the fact that my gf has done it. I in no way really wish to have slept with those women, and honestly pride myself for restraint and giving them more value than that... But knowing that my gf was not like that, and let herself be used by so many makes it very difficult...

Obviously you can see that I am upset over all of this. A year into our relationship it has not gotten any better really. There are times when I think I was fool to think of my gf as a slut, and that she is a loving compassionate person who deserves all the love I can offer her.

But then there are times when I feel the exact opposite. Like she is a slut who does not deserve the love and affection I have to give her. She is not worthy of my love, as she has so carelessly given herself away to so many before me. That she is somehow tainted.

And let me tell you, I hate that I think of her like that, and if I could do anything to change that thought I would do it in a heartbeat. I would love to be able to love her without this burning image of her opening her legs to all these other guys.

Anyways, I could go on and on about this situation. I have spent the past 7 months or so trying to overcome it. Its a roller coaster, and I starting to feel sick from all the ups and downs, and I am sure my gf is too. I love her, and I want to be with her, and I want our relationship to work. She is the first girl I have ever seriously thought I wanted to spend my life with. The first girl I have ever truly fallen in love with. And the first girl that I have ever experienced this problem with. Maybe they all fall hand in hand, who knows. I just wish, with all my heart, that I could rid myself of this all.

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A male reader, Yos Netherlands +, writes (11 September 2008):

Yos agony auntThis is not that uncommon. It's a complicated issue, but put simply, he's locked in an obsessive compulsive cycle. He thinks about your past, sets off his jealousy, tries to 'think his way out of it' and continues to trigger the jealousy. He doesn't really mean what he's saying to you, it's the jealousy talking, a kind of temporary insanity that distorts his feelings and his words. It's horrible. I'm certain it feels horrible for him too. He probably feels like he's trapped in an impossible hell.

You can take some comfort from the fact that jealousy is the shadow of love. If he didn't have very strong feelings for you, he wouldn't be behaving like this. It's partly because he cares so much about you that he finds the thought of you being with other men so unbearable.

Since you both love each other this situation is probably worth the difficult effort of salvaging. And i don't recommend taking the direct "zero tolerance" approach. He'll just get worse, or repress his feelings. He needs to get over this (it's 100% his issue), and the most constructive thing you can do is help him realise this. But you won't be able to do that by just telling him, he'll think you're deflecting blame or invalidating his feelings; you have to guide him into coming to this conclusion for himself.

Your boyfriends state is something I experienced personally (i was in his shoes). It took me a long time to get over it, including therapy. Although in the end I did. Something I'm incredibly thankful for. If you check in my post history you'll see very many answers from me on this topic, they go all the way back to the beginning of my post history. Rather than me quoting myself, please read some of them then post back here if you have any questions or comments. Or PM me.

I also highly recommend this book, it's an excellent explanation of what jealousy is and how it effects us:

"The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy is as Necessary as Love and Sex, by David Buss."

The first chapter is online here:

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/buss-passion.html

Best wishes

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (11 September 2008):

His feelings are pretty normal for guys to have, but he's not handling it in a mature & healthy way at all.

One thing that bears saying:

Do realize that "they were cute guys and it was just harmless fun" is something that men DON'T always get to do whenever they want. A lot of women absolutely cannot get it through their heads that not everyone can get sex (and sex with very attractive people) the way any decent-looking woman can. It's an easy way to spur big jealousy when you've had the sex life he's only dreamed of, you feel constitutionally entitled to it, and you think he could have done the same thing any time he wanted. Unless he's really a top-shelf looker himself he probably could NOT ever have done the same thing if he wanted.

There's no excuse for him to be calling you names and having a big grudge. It's not a fair way to deal with his feelings. He may get over it or he may not.

The best you can do is understand that this bothers him but don't tolerage abuse (verbal or otherwise) over it. He's not being cruel to you for fun, he's doing it because he can't get this out of his head on a daily basis and the more he cares about you the more it hurts like hell.

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A male reader, Replacement Canada +, writes (11 September 2008):

Replacement agony auntI tend to agree with Waz on this issue. Him calling you a slut or a whore shows a great lack of respect and love for you. I'm sure he's in pain over your past but it's no reason to lash out with ridiculous judgments. I am of the opinion that sexual experience is an asset and have never judged a woman for her history (mine isn't exactly pristine as it is). Perhaps you should take a break, let him see what he's missing. If he can't let it go, then he could try therapy. But ultimately, from what I've read, many men struggle with this issue for years and years, and it doesn't really disappear. If a man is insecure and lacks self-confidence he may be intimidated by a more wordly woman... and he'll probably struggle with it until the relationship is over, barring some revelation or epiphany which allows him to let go of his pain and stop judging you.

So it might be best to get out now before you find yourself 10 years in with a kid in tow, wondering why the man you're married to is calling you a slut and why you put up with it for so long...

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