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Talking about the past…

Does your girlfriend get upset when you talk about women you dated in the past?

Do you find it difficult to hear about your partner’s romantic history, when she talks about the past?

This can be tricky.

Because communication is the key to a healthy relationship. 

But we always want to make sure we’re communicating in a way that makes us closer, more connected and better able to understand each other. We don’t want to communicate in a way that creates conflict and makes us feel misunderstood and frustrated with each other. 

So this is a big deal.

Why it matters…

The best way to have a good relationship is by building it with emotional intelligence. 

Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s histories and inner worlds. 

Getting to know each others’ histories is an important part of relating to each other in an emotionally intelligent way. 

But having these conversations is not easy for everyone. For some people, the thought of their partner having been sexual and emotional with someone else is too upsetting to think about. Jealousy gets in the way of them listening to their partner talk about people and relationships from the past. 

For example, I have a friend who’s girlfriend always gives her the silent treatment and freaks out whenever my friend mentions one of her exes. Even when it’s about something unrelated that just comes up in conversation, like if they’re talking about a vacation spot, and her girlfriend asks “who were you there with?” My friend knows that bringing up a past lover will get her in big trouble, so it’s easier to lie and say she was there with someone else. 

But lies create emotional distance.

It’s the opposite of intimacy. 

Our partners need to feel safe enough to tell us the full truth about themselves.

Reacting with jealousy destroys that safety.

The truth…

No matter how uncomfortable it feels, we always need to know the truth.

We need information.

Information is vital to our ability to function in a relationship.

Our partner should not be a mystery to us. We should know her better than anyone else, because it feels good to be known. It’s very comforting to have someone in our life who knows us deeply. It’s an act of love for us to ask our partner questions about herself and her life, and to listen with openness and curiosity.

The more we know, the better.

We don’t benefit at all from her hiding things from us. 

The fundamental truth is that there is no reason to be jealous of the past because nothing that happened to your girlfriend before you arrived in her life has anything to do with you. So it’s important not to take it personally. Taking your partner’s past love life personally means pushing her away and sabotaging the relationship.

But not all exes are the same…

Now it’s important to acknowledge that not all past partners are created equally.

There are all kinds of histories a person can have. Exes can come in all shapes and sizes:

  • ones who are men
  • ones who are women
  • ones who are younger
  • ones who are older
  • ones you left
  • ones who left you
  • ones you’re still not over
  • ones you’re totally over
  • ones you still think are amazing
  • ones you can’t believe you ever dated
  • ones you still run into all the time in the neighborhood
  • ones who live far away and you haven’t seen in years
  • ones you consider friends
  • ones you consider enemies
  • ones that you never talk to
  • ones that you’re on good, friendly terms with
  • ones who never ask you for anything AND
  • ones you’re codependent with

None of these are the same. 

It’s completely reasonable to be wary if your partner has exes that she still isn’t over or that she’s still codependent with. If you’re feeling jealous in those situations, it’s not because you’re paranoid. It’s because there are clear red flags that need to be addressed…

But when your partner and her exes are totally over each other, with no lingering emotions or weirdness, those exes pose no threat.

Getting through it…

So what can you do if you’re someone who feels uncomfortably jealous even about your partner’s exes who pose no threat to your relationship?

The first thing you have to remember is that your jealousy in that situation has more to do with YOU than it does to do with your partner.

So it’s important not to lash out.

Even though when we feel hurt, we want to lash out, the first thing to realize is that when your partner didn’t do anything wrong, lashing out will have the opposite effect of what you want. 

What you want in those moments of jealousy is to feel reassured, connected to her and safe in her love.

Instead of lashing out, try holding hands or cuddling with her during difficult conversations. 

It’s important to practice getting comfortable with uncomfortable emotions like jealousy. If you just shut down every time something makes you jealous, you’ll never get comfortable.

Instead ask questions and listen to the answers and let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling without blaming her for the way you’re feeling. Because if she hasn’t done anything wrong, your insecurity and jealousy are not her fault.

Work on being curious and breathing through your discomfort.

Help her through it…

If you know your partner has trouble with these conversations, try to remain in physical contact with her and be extra affectionate and reassuring while talking about this stuff.

Let her know that there’s nobody else you’d rather be with but her, and let her know how much you appreciate getting to share with her about your past because you want her to know everything about you. 

Beware of glorifying the past.

It’s important to note that there is one kind of discussion of the past that is very easy to take personally, even if you’re not a jealous person. And that is when our partner, in the present day, continues to glorify or idealize a person or relationship from the past.

Some people have a mental habit of idealizing the past. And they remember the past in a better light than they use to judge the present. 

If you still idealize a love you had in the past, it’s important to realize the impact this will have on all your new relationships.

Putting someone from the past on a pedestal can feel very threatening and unfair to your present-day partners. 

No matter how beautiful the past was, it’s gone.

And if we tell ourselves that nobody else is going to be as good as someone we used to love, that’s the filter we will use to see the world and that’s what will come true.

Believing makes it so. 

Telling yourself that someone from the past made you the happiest you’ll ever be and that nobody else will make you happier than they did is a recipe for sabotaging all future relationships, even if you were to meet someone “truly perfect” for you. 

Ultimately we control our own narrative. We choose what we focus on and who we put on a pedestal.

Love is not just something we feel. Love is something we do.

And the way to do it right, so that you have the most satisfying, happy relationships, is you make the person you’re with the pinnacle of your story.

Glorifying the past above the present just leads to disappointment and emptiness.

But what if she’s the one doing it?

If you find that your partner is still glorifying the past, that doesn’t automatically mean the person from the past is an actual threat. 

The best thing you can do, in that situation, is ask more questions.

It’s important for you to understand the full story about your partner’s relationship with that ex.

It’s important to ask question about where they are now and what their current relationship is with each other.

And it’s important to listen to the full answer your partner gives, even when we feel hurt and defensive.

Information is our friend. We don’t benefit from being ignorant to the details that impact our lives. If your girlfriend has someone from her past that she still holds on a pedestal, that’s something you want to know everything about. Even if you are devastated by what you learn, it’s always better to know what’s true than it is not to know. 

Most of the time your girlfriend feeling connected to someone from the past isn’t a big deal, even if they’re still in touch. 

But what you wouldn’t want is for your girlfriend to be constantly be comparing you to them, and you wouldn’t want your partner to be sharing time or resources with them that she doesn’t share with you, and you wouldn’t want that other person to be the one your girlfriend seeks out for closeness or advice or reassurance when things aren’t going well with your relationship. 

You deserve better than that.

But when someone gives you less than you deserve, that’s not a reason to fight with them or get jealous.

When someone gives you less than you deserve, it means you need to go find someone better.

Because the world is full of spectacular, open-hearted queer women who are looking to love and connect exactly the way you are, and there’s no reason to ever settle. 

But everyone you meet will have a past.

And your partner deserves to have you listen to her as she shares openly and vulnerably about her past.

And doing that for her will bring you closer together and make for a better relationship. 

So don’t let jealousy stop you from being a good listener.

And until next time keep remembering that hot lesbians are everywhere, that love is real, and that (if you’re not already with the woman of your dreams) she’ll be showing up in your life in absolutely perfect timing. 

With softness,

Jordana Michelle


If you want lesbian dating advice from me more often, follow me on Instagram @jordana.michelle.

If you enjoyed this article/video, then be sure to check out one of my other most popular ones: The Games Women Play In Lesbian Dating.