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My Girlfriend Had 41 Lovers Before Me, and I Can't Deal


Dear Athena,

I've got this girlfriend. She's my second serious relationship, and I think I love her. At least, I can see a future with her, and there is something between us. Recently I asked her how many sexual partners she has had, and she told me 42. I was completely blown away, and it made me feel sick. I don't want to admit it, but it may have changed the way I see her. She's not the innocent girl I imagined she was. I do care deeply for her; I just don't know how to get over this. To me, sex is something very meaningful and special. And for her, how can it be special when it's something she's done with 41 other people? I love her, and she is amazing, but I don't know if I can deal with this. I appreciate any advice you can give.


I Wish I Didn't Know That About Her

Dear Wish,

Wow. You think you know someone, and then she hits you with that!

Can you smell my sarcasm?

Truthfully, I'm bummed that you're so devastated about your girlfriend's past. I'm assuming she was honest about her history because she wanted to become closer with you. So my question for you is, who do you think you are? Because you're being really judgmental.

Ponder this: If she were one of your male buddies, would you be as flabbergasted at her number?

What's changed isn't her. It's you. From a number, you've decided she is no longer "innocent." You've decided her past experiences couldn't have been meaningful. But she's the same person, with the same feelings and characteristics, with whom you were falling in love.

What are you really afraid of? Are you worried she's comparing you to all of her past partners? Are you nervous she has more experience than you?

It's her past that makes her the woman you love. In that regard, you should be grateful all those ex-lovers led her to you. She's chosen you! Doesn't that mean anything?

If you want to be with her, you need to move past your preconceived ideas about what is acceptable behavior. Basically, you need to come down from that high horse you're sitting on. Who are you to determine what is OK and what isn't? Who said you had the monopoly on how many people a gal can sleep with? And while we're on the subject, what number would you be OK with?

Your girlfriend's past is her own. It's not for you — or anyone — to pick apart. There's no room for judgment when you love someone.

If you're unable to be open-minded, do her a favor and let her go. She deserves someone who loves her for who she is — and someone who can accept how she became that way.