From Our Readers
February 08, 2014 6:00 am

When I first met my boyfriend, before I fell madly in love with him, we talked in detail about our pasts. Some of what was said still haunts us both to this day. He spent his ’20s working as a musician, and with musical power comes reduced responsibility when it comes to girl’s hearts. He told me that he had spent most nights a week on stage, and the amount of girls he had slept with reflected that. I had spent the last year single and alone (but happy!), and the five years previous to that in a relationship. So when it came to our sexual history, you can do the math. This might make me sound as if I’m precious, or prudish, when in fact this is far from the case. I’d be the first one to text my friends with advice on how to get a booty call to leave in the morning. I’d love hearing about their hook ups; cheering and wide-eyed as they recounted stories. Judgmental I ain’t. So why, 8 months into our relationship, when my boyfriend told me that he had spent the other night hanging out with a girl he slept with once – someone he now considers a friend – did I react so badly? There was no shouting, no crying, just a sick feeling in my stomach and an instant need to run away from him. I couldn’t look at him in the eye, I couldn’t engage in conversation with him, all I could see was them together. It was an embarrassing reaction to have, but I just couldn’t help it.

I didn’t feel angry with her in any way, I felt angry with my boyfriend because it hurts to think of him with someone else. I felt angry that he hadn’t thought about how his actions could hurt the girl he ultimately ended up with. When we started getting serious, the numbers topic inevitably came up. I remember holding my breath as he sighed sadly and told me how scared he was about having to explain his behavior; that he never thought he’d find someone he’d want to explain himself to. As tears formed in my eyes I thought about how unfortunate it was for both of us that the person he never thought he would find also happens to be a) pretty much the most sensitive person in the whole world and b) very much behind him in the numbers game. It’s funny how I’m completely fine with casual relationships and promiscuous living until I have to compete with it.

And no matter how many people told me that it was me he wanted to be with, me that he had picked over all the other one-night stands, it didn’t help. Because when it comes to love, rationality always loses over emotion. Which sucks. I worked myself up into such a state that night that even episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer couldn’t make me feel better. The one thing that I did find comfort in was the fact that it’s not just me that has to deal with this. Misery loves company. For me, listening to No Doubt made me feel better. Even Gwen Stefani, coolest girl ever and all round superwoman, has written songs about the exact feeling of being overwhelmed by a loved ones past – I especially recommend ‘Bathwater’ and ‘In My Head’ for those in need of some musical therapy.

At my worst, I started thinking that maybe I’m just not built for relationships – that it’s easier to go through life on your own, not having anyone to mess with those icky feelings people seems to rave so much about. I think the thing about love is that it seems to heighten every emotion you feel, good or bad. When I was single my emotions were a straight horizontal line. Now they are a scribbled zigzag; scattered and irregular. I know in time they will level out.

Everybody has a past, whether it’s been colorful and wild or simple and homely. But it’s making a future that’s the important thing. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in it, or put too much importance on things that don’t warrant it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t acknowledge the past – it’s what makes you who you are today. And ultimately, I know that everything (and everyone) he’s done has led him to me. After all, as the great Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Hannah Moultrie is a Creative Writing and Publishing student living in Bristol, England. Her interests include coffee, cured meat and trashy pop music (shhh don’t tell anyone). Find her on Twitter @hannahmoultrie and on her blog.

Featured Image via Shutterstock.

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