My Snooping Boyfriend Can’t Get Over My Sexual Past

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years. When we first got together we would have long conversations on the phone, getting to know one another and all, which included details about our pasts. To be quite honest, I had a pretty eventful past sexually and I am not proud of it.

Fast forward to about 8 months after we started dating: we moved in together and he discovered some old pictures that were stored in my Google drive album that I never thought to get rid of. The photos were of sexual partners.  I was in no way attached to the photos, I just was single for a while before him and it had never crossed my mind to delete them because I never looked at them anyway. Needless to say, it caused a big argument and was a turning point in our relationship. He, at that point became obsessed with my past and has been having a hard time getting over it ever since.

Here we are almost 2 years from then, and he is still finding things to throw in my face about my past. I have removed myself from Facebook, because he felt I had too much history there and it was causing us to fight. I have to be very selective with what I say and do because I don’t want to trigger his memory.

Recently, he went snooping in my emails and found very old emails between myself and my friend. Many conversations told stories of our sexcapades. There were things revealed that I kept from him out of fear of judgment. So now his eyebrow is always raised. I just don’t want to be reminded of it any more. I have never been unfaithful to him or anything.

Over these past 2 years, I have tried not talking about it, I have tried giving him time to get over it, I have suggested therapy. I told him how it hurts my feelings when he jokes about it or brings it up. Other than this issue, we have a great relationship. I just don’t know what to do any more. I’m afraid to lose him over this. Please help.

— Not a Virgin, Not a Cheater

What can N.V.N.C. do?
Let her know in the comments below!



  1. It’s a tough situation to be in. Nearly everyone has a past. I’m sure your boyfriend has a past that’s got a few things in it that he would not want you to know about.
    I think you’re in really troubled waters right now. The most troubling aspect is that he continues to snoop and obviously thinks it’s fine to go through YOUR personal things…that is not right! He is now shaming you for a past that had NOTHING to do with him. He’s using it to make you feel guilty or remorseful…and why should you?
    I’m sure you “enjoyed” your past sexual experiences and what’s so wrong about that?
    Your boyfriend is suffering from “retroactive jealousy” (do a search about it). He’s obsessing about your past and it’s a form of OCD. He needs treatment to break the cycle of his OCD.
    He’s been doing this for 2 years and it shows no signs of stopping and it won’t stop until he admits HIS problem!
    Remember THAT, it’s HIS problem and not yours! Don’t allow him to make you take ownership of HIS problem.

    I’m not trying to bash your boyfriend. I think MANY men suffer from this very same problem. But it is not the fault of the women. You can’t change your past and you should not be made to feel guilty for it, especially by someone who claims to love you. He’s using this to make you feel bad about yourself AND to control you.
    He needs to acknowledge his problem in order to start to move past this. He also needs to acknowledge his insecurities. If he was truly secure this would not even be an issue.

  2. He’s obsessed with your past. Maybe he’s less experienced than you. The thing is he won’t get over it. Never. Specially if he refuses therapy. But even if he gets treatment, I could say this will never work. Guys in his situation will never forget it. Will never get over it. If you are lucky you can be with a guy who can manage to control it. He won’t stop obsessing but he won’t tell you about it. He will stop hurting you over this and will keep the pain for himself.

  3. People who don’t respect you don’t belong in your life.

    If my wife found out something shocking about me I’d give her a month to get over it. If after a month she hadn’t mostly gotten over it, we’d have a conversation about how it is in the past and that she either needs to find a way to leave it in the past or we need to get a divorce.

    Life is too short to spend with people who can’t respect you.

  4. I agree with what everyone’s said so far but judging by the fact that you ended your story with being scared to lose him, I think you really need to think about why this isn’t okay.
    His behavior is concerning in a lot of ways– it’s an invasion of privacy, abusive, and really unhealthy. I agree with Dave– going to therapy could really help you begin to sort things out.
    I think the best way to combat this problem in your relationship is by talking to him honestly. Tell him how you feel– yes, you have a past, everyone, and it isn’t a part of your life anymore. Tell him he has to accept that and it’s not fair for him to keep holding it over your head. You haven’t cheated on him– you don’t deserve this behavior. If talking to him doesn’t work, then I think you need to talk to therapist about it and seriously concerned getting yourself out of the relationship.

  5. You and your bf are showing some of the signs of having an(one-way) abusive relationship. He tries to make you feel bad about things that require no apology, he’s attempting to isolate you with the FB deletion, you’re walking on eggshells so that you don’t set him off and there’s a general controlling vibe that has nothing to do with your behavior but rather his own insecurities.

    I’m gonna suggest something super-cliched: if he won’t go to therapy with you, then go by yourself. You’ve been in this for three years and could probably use some help extracting yourself from it. It’s evident to me that you’re not too far down the rabbit hole of tolerating abuse. The good: you talk about yourself in unapologetic terms. The bad: you’re afraid to lose this “great relationship”. When you go to the shrink, bring a print-out of Johnny’s comment – that’s some seriously good stuff. Believe him when he says he used to BE your bf, because you won’t find better characterizations of a neurotic personality out there.

    And lastly, don’t fall into the trap of “we used to be good together; maybe we can get back there”. The way I see it, for the first 8 months, he was managing his feelings about your eventful past – just holding it together. Then, he looked through your Google Drive pics and it blew the lid off his feelings. Fast forward to almost 3 years in, and he escalates by totally invading your privacy and discovering items that stoke his emotions even more. There doesn’t seem to be a rosy past with your bf, just a tea kettle that creaked and rumbled before it finally whistled.

  6. I totally agree *DumpTheMotherFuckersAss*. Our sexuality should be empowering, not something to be ashamed of. I’m really not sure why, after 2 years, you think “other than this issue, we have a great relationship” – he sounds like an immature, emotionally abusive piece of shit. And, it will only get worse, not better. Not only are you entitled to a life, you are entitled to a past. And, no one but you should judge it. Please – find someone who accepts you, and loves you, for who who were/are/will be. And do it now!

  7. “I had a pretty eventful past sexually and I am not proud of it.”

    … but are you ashamed of it? Because that would silly. Maybe you’re ashamed of your past because… I don’t know… the closest person to you devotes half his day to making you feel like shit about it?

    First of all, the bad news: your guy’s got some major growing up to do and there’s not much you can do or say to make that happen. It has to happen on its own, in his own head. But just to say you did your due diligence, tell him the following:

    “Look, bf, it’s obvious that my past is eating you alive. If we’re going to stay together you need to come to terms with it, like right now. I shared that information with you because it’s part of who I am and I thought you wanted to know me, but I now regret opening up to you, and that’s no way to run a relationship. You’re making me feel horrible but I didn’t do anything wrong and I can’t take one single further comment about it.”

    … but that’s not what he wants to hear. He wants you to apologize, to beg forgiveness, to admit you’re a whore, and above all to repentantly swear that the only sex you ever enjoyed is the sex you have with him. And even all that won’t be enough, because it’s HIS thoughts driving him crazy, not YOUR past.

    I take it you’ve had more partners than him? Maybe significantly more? The fewer partners a man has had, the likelier that is to drive him nuts. Lots of guys see success with women as a measure of their worth. Here’s his thought process:

    – you have more partners – you’re winning the contest that HE’S supposed to be winning. AARGH!

    – some of those partners were casual partners, meaning his special snowflake girlfriend is some guy’s half-forgotten drunken lay – THAT drives him nuts.

    – those casual guy partners? He imagines that they bedded you through superior game, and he compares himself unfavorably to them too. Another level of jealousy and insecurity.

    – a little good old Madonna/whore, “my cow gave that other guy guy the milk for free!”

    – he found their pictures, so now he can visualize exactly who was banging you (which is what he’s primarily worried about – not how much YOU liked it. It could have been the lamest sex in the world and he’d still be jealous). The fact that he’s actually seeking out stuff to go crazy over should show you that this is a downward spiral.

    I am embarrassed to say that many years ago, I was this guy. Hence my guesses into his thought process.

  8. Regardless of whether or not you are proud of it, you are entitled to your past. You were open with him when you started your relationship (probably more so than you had to be) and he was willing to accept you for who you are. If he had an issue with your past he should not have pursued the relationship. Now that he has, and after almost three years in, he has no right to criticize you for something that has nothing to do with him. While you say that you do not want to lose him over this, it may not hurt to reevaluate your relationship. Are you sure it is a good relationship? He is forcing you to stop participating in social networks (not that I’m a fan of them, but no one should dictate whether you can participate) and he is invading your privacy by going through your e-mail. In addition, he is unwilling to work through his problem with you and a therapist.

    I’ll give AlanK the nickle for you.

  9. Why is this a problem? DTMFA [vulgar acronym suggesting you terminate the relationship]. Today. I’ll bet you a nickle and even give you odds that everyone else makes the same suggestion.

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