I’ve been dating a girl for over six months now. We met on Tinder late last year, and after a couple weeks, we started being official. I think she’s fantastic. One fly in the ointment, however, is that she frequently brings up people she’s hooked up with in the past, and has no real hesitation in telling me (sometimes in detail) the things she’s done with her exes and flings.
She is still friends with a handful of the people she would booty call, and nearly every time she mentions someone she knows, the follow-up is always that she’s hooked up with them a few times while knowing them. I’ve even met one of the guys a couple times (like running into someone in town or at an event), but obviously didn’t have much to say.
The last relationship I was in lasted six years, and I have always been one to take the long ride versus a series of one-night stands. When she talks of her past in this regard, it triggers my competitive nature in a really bad way. It makes me feel pretty worthless—or worse, jealous—and I find myself thinking she’s only granting me a turn with her, rather than allowing me to be her man. It just seems like she still has a foot out the door in case something goes wrong, and that’s making me feel like I’m not good enough, that there’s this stable of guys that she has kept in her pocket just in case.
I’ve tried to go along with these types of conversations by bringing up times with my exes too, but it makes me feel uncomfortable talking about my past sexual exploits to someone I am currently involved with; it just doesn’t seem polite to me somehow. I don’t know how to handle this. Am I unnecessarily jealous? Please help if you can, because all I can see are the ghosts of the people she’s had before me, and it’s really depressing.
Trouble in Paradise
It bothers me that you can’t handle her talking about her past, because I can see that it cheapens her in your view. Why does it “depress” you to know that you aren’t her first, second or even third boo? It’s because men are taught to seek out and keep women perceived as virginal and therefore “clean,” even if they’re not. It’s why blondes are at the top of the female beauty standard—paleness/lack of color conjures images of cleanliness in our minds. Your garden-variety dude isn’t into dating (or even being seen with) known, proud sluts. Honestly, I worry that you see your girlfriend as a barely reformed tramp.
I think you definitely have jealousy issues, not to mention some unaddressed learned misogyny. That doesn’t mean you wanna beat up whores or anything, but that you have picked up the systemic misogynistic principles of modern culture during a lifetime of living in a world that hates women. These tendencies are as ingrained in us as racism—for example, the sight of a black man on a dark street striking fear in the heart of a white person, even if he’s in his neighborhood and not doing anything wrong.
It’s not that the white person hates black people, but that he’s had a lifetime of media and shitty adults teaching him to judge and mistrust people of color, and it is his gut reaction to fear black males in certain environments. I don’t think you mind the women you’ve dated having a past, but you can’t handle hearing that your penis isn’t the only one they’ve ever ridden. That makes them look bad to you, and you doubt their sincerity when they say they like you. Sluts don’t get dates, so why even try to date that obviously slutty girl?
You emailed me again to let me know that you asked her to chill with the ex talk, but I still wanna run your original letter. This is a conversation I’ve wanted to have with the men of this town, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so. Guys, you’ve got some soul-searching and heart-opening to do. You’ve gotta unlearn these judgments and start seeing these women for who they are, not just what they can be to you. Go on dates with sluts, OK?
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