Scarier: You might not even know you have it.
Do you get a horrible, queasy sensation in the pit of your stomach whenever you think about your partner’s past? And by “past” I don’t mean the six months they spent traveling around Southeast Asia. I specifically mean the casual sex they had while in Southeast Asia — or anywhere for that matter — before they met you.
Learning about a partner’s past one-night stands, threesomes, or sex buddies affects different men in different ways. Some are able to take it in stride and just move on; others find themselves overwhelmed by increasing feelings of insecurity, fear, and judgment.
If you fall into the latter camp, you’re probably familiar with the repetitive, anxious, judgmental thoughts about your partner’s past symptomatic with a condition known as “Retroactive Jealousy OCD.”
In this post, I’d like to shed some light on how to begin to cure Retroactive Jealousy OCD by rethinking your partner's sexual history.
A Societal Construct
The first step in overcoming Retroactive Jealousy OCD is forgetting a lot of the nonsense we’re brought up to believe about human sexuality. Unless you’ve been raised in a strict religious household, the only reason why you’re being so judgmental is because you’re buying into societal “norms” that tell us that men and (especially) women shouldn’t “sleep around.”
Herein lies a big reason why you’re so disturbed by your partner’s past: you’re not seeing human sexuality in a clear, realistic, light. This is why it doesn’t matter how many times your wife or girlfriend says, “I love you” or “The sex is so much better with you than with him.” It’s the fact that they did these things in the first place that burns you up and is the cause of your Retroactive Jealousy OCD.
You’ve somehow divided sex up into “good” acceptable sex, i.e. within a monogamous relationship, and “bad” unacceptable sex, i.e. casual sex with people your partner wasn’t in love with.
By subconsciously viewing your partner’s sex life as “bad” you’re actually viewing them in a negative light: that of a promiscuous sexaholic who may leave you at the drop of a hat for the first George Clooney or Ryan Gosling look-a-like who comes their way. (Which, of course, is all in your mind.) In reality, you need to think of the casual sex your partner once had with random people as being just as valid and “normal” as the sex they had while in a committed relationship.
It’s important to realize that women love sex just as much as men. This whole concept of women not being allowed to have as much sex or enjoy sex as much as men is merely a societal construct.
Women And Casual Sex
The simple reason why your partner might have had casual sex with various people in the past is because they wanted to enjoy themselves. Can you honestly put your hand on your heart and say there’s anything “wrong” with that? Or that you’d have turned down the same comparative sexual encounters your partner engaged in if they’d be presented to you?
Everyone occasionally engages in a variety of sexual acts for a wide variety of reasons but in most cases, if your partner was “sleeping around,” they were probably single and therefore free to do whatever they liked. Maybe they’d just broken up with someone and were feeling lonely. Maybe they were young and wanted to experiment. Maybe they just wanted to enjoy themselves for once.
Imagine for a moment you’re on trial for being too jealous of your partner’s ex-lovers. Would you really be able to stand up in front of a judge and jury and state in your defense: “I don’t like the fact she had fun in the past. And she had fun by having sex, but women aren’t supposed to enjoy that sort of thing”?
Also, it’s very beneficial to remember that whatever sex someone had in the past most probably failed to change their life. No sex is that great. The chances are very high that it wasn’t some earth-shattering event in which they forged an amazing connection with the other person and which both of them will never forget. The truth is more likely that they had sex and moved on.
A Function That’s Hardwired Into All Of Us
In his influential book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill states, “As a therapeutic agency, sex has no equal.” This is true because scientifically, sex can be viewed as a strong but subconscious urge to simply make ourselves feel better. Not just in the twenty minutes of sex (or one, depending on the partner) but emotionally and physically as a person.
Countless studies have shown that sex produces health benefits that most people aren’t even aware of, ranging from better sleep patterns to lower stress levels to increased immunity, and that subconsciously fuels our desire to have sex whenever we can.
All in all, humans need sex almost as much as they need food and water. It helps, therefore, if you start to view the casual sex your partner once had as a mechanical function rather than an emotional function. Think of it as a necessary process: something they were wired to do by evolution in order to feel better rather than as an unnecessary “dirty” desire that should’ve been avoided.
Remember, too, there doesn’t need to be anything “magical” going on between two people in order for them to have sex. The fact that your partner had casual sex in the past is much more indicative of their basic human need for sex with a half-decent mate rather than any desire to be intimate with one guy in particular.
Realize what you have with your partner — commitment, real intimacy, love, friendship, etc. — far outweighs the fleeting moments of instant gratification found in mere sex. A real connection with your partner is something these ex-lovers probably never had.
Jeff Billings is a writer, entrepreneur and founder of the website Retroactive Jealousy Crusher. He is the author of the book “How To Stop Being Jealous Of Your Partner’s Past In 12 Steps” and video course “Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy 101” and currently lives in the UK. (But hopes one day to return to the sunnier climes of Los Angeles, if he can persuade his wife.)
This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.