He Waited for Sex, But She Didn't
Q: I am 26 and have been dating my girlfriend (25) for two years. She is the first person I had sex with, though she's had three partners before me. We are now engaged to be married and I knew that I wanted to wait to have sex with the person I would marry. I just wish she would have done the same. She doesn't regret her past, and that makes me feel that our sex is not important or meaningful to her. Is it wrong for me to have these feelings? -- Scott
Dr. Susan: It's not a matter of feelings being "wrong," Scott, but of their being unhelpful. I assume you knew your girlfriend wasn't a virgin when you began seeing her. It would be wise for all those who believe in chastity before marriage to date only like-minded people before letting themselves fall in love. Perhaps unfortunately, this is the real world and the best we can do is adapt to circumstances, weigh and balance the pros and cons, and make informed decisions. I understand that you'd like your girlfriend to renounce her sexual history and express remorse for everything she experienced before she met you. But she is who she is because of her history. These things happened and they can't be undone. For you, wishing she'd waited is a dead-end thought process that's guaranteed to eat away at you.
What's most disturbing to me about your feelings is that they're based on a fallacy: that if you're not the first, you're not important or meaningful. How absolutely wrong! It's not as if she's suggesting she be allowed to love two men at the same time, or as if she's saying you're not the man she loves above all others. She wants to marry YOU. The past is the past. I know we all want to believe deep down that we're the best lover our partner has ever had, but some partners just aren't good at giving us that reassurance, even though it's true. You might talk to her about how you feel, focusing on your wish to be the best and most meaningful lover she's ever had. Surely she can find a way to reassure you without regretting what she can't erase. As time goes on, the two of you will surely create your own unique intimate history that is unlike anything either of you has experienced with anyone else. Trust in that, and trust in her love, or find a nice virgin to marry.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.