My Boyfriend’s Exes Turn Me On

by Cay Crow, M.A., LPC, AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist

group of friends walking outside a man and woman are holding hands photo is taken from behind

Should I Be Jealous Of My Boyfriend’s Exes

Dear Cay,

My boyfriend and I have been together for about two years. Things are great between us however I find myself feeling jealous of his former girlfriends. I have met the exes that he remains friends with. Just the thought of him in bed with these women makes me angry yet it is also a powerful turn-on. I imagine him having sex with these women in great detail but more than being aroused, these thoughts just leave me upset and anxious. Why is this happening? Do I need therapy?


Is Jealousy Something That Can Be Cured By Therapy?

Dear WTF:

Here are some thoughts to consider and perhaps explore with a therapist.

Emotions are powerful but fleeting; it is what you do with them that matters. I commend you for wanting to understand yourself. Cognitive-behavioral therapy tells us that experiences lead to thoughts which lead to emotions. Balancing your thoughts is the most efficient way to alter your emotions. What is your jealousy based on? That is one thing to ask yourself.

Why Do You Feel Jealous?

Relationships indelibly shape us. Your boyfriend is the person you fell in love with partially because of his exes. The intimacy you share with him; the adventures, the talks, the moments of pain and sadness, are things the two of you will never share with another person. It is impossible to duplicate the rhythm and flow of one relationship in another. If that is true, then why do you feel jealous?

How Can A Therapist Help Me With My Jealousy?

Women have distinct sexual cues which keep romance novelists in royalties. Emily Nagoski in her book, Come As You Are, describes sexual cues as accelerators, those that are arousing, or brakes, those that shut down arousal. One powerful sexual cue for women is that their love interest only has eyes for them, a singular focus that takes on an obsessive quality. It seems as if part of you, WTF, wants to be your boyfriend’s one and only for all time. Maybe that idea is an accelerator for you. You also know that your boyfriend has had other girlfriends. This fact might be a brake for you. In the tension between these two opposing forces, eroticism can flourish. Did it occur to you that you can use the power of these jealous thoughts as fantasy? If you and your boyfriend are on board with it, you could describe what you are seeing in your mind and channel it into an erotic connection with him. This would require that you have less emotional conflict about these thoughts and a therapist could help with that. Harness the power of your emotions.


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