Saturday 20 January 2018

Dear Mary: I'm worried my girlfriend is as promiscuous as my mother

Q: I am very worried about my girlfriend's past history. She has had loads of sexual partners, and often they seem to have been just one-night stands or else lasted for only a couple of weeks. On the other hand, I have always had long relationships, so I've had far fewer lovers than she has. We have been seeing each other for about nine months and we are going to be moving in together very soon. In fact, she is three years old than me -- I am 33 -- and I know that she is very keen to have a baby.

Now my question is: how can I be sure that somebody who has been as promiscuous as she has been can ever really settle down and be happy with just one partner? I don't want to go down the same route as my parents, although my father seemed to turn a blind eye to a lot of my mother's roving.

In fact, my folks seemed to get on really well when I was growing up, in spite of all that was going on. My mum worked outside the home and I know for a fact that she had a number of affairs. They got married really young when she was already pregnant with me, and I don't know that she ever really settled down.

Sometimes when I am making love with my girlfriend, I cannot get out of my head her being with other guys and saying the same things to them that she says to me.

AIsn't it strange how culturally we are programmed to look on a woman as being promiscuous if she has had a lot of lovers, and yet a guy with the same history will be called, at worst, a bit of a lad?

I feel that, even though you are talking about your girlfriend, you have unresolved issues regarding your mother. You saw a situation being played out between your parents that made you uncomfortable and you don't want to find yourself in that position again. And yet you find yourself attracted to a woman who you feel is likely to do the same as your mother did.

Your father had a choice in all of this and what he decided to do, for reasons best known to him, was to ignore what she was doing outside the marriage; by doing this, he seemed to have kept the marriage intact. I sense from your letter that your girlfriend often had sex for the sake of having sex, which again is a bit of a role reversal from the norm, as it is usually the guys who are accused of doing this.

However, what exists between the two of you is obviously much deeper than this, as you are about to move in together and you are even thinking of having a baby. So you have quite an emotional component to your relationship as well, probably to some extent similar to what you had in your earlier experiences.

Why do you think that she is more likely to stray than you? You will both be faced with choices as time goes by and it will be up to both of you to decide whether to be faithful or not. Is it something you have spoken about to her? Does she know of your concerns?

I cannot look into the future and predict what will happen, but I feel that some ground rules would need to be laid down between you regarding your fears and her views on all of this. Explaining how you felt regarding your mother, if you have not already done so, will help her understand why you feel so vulnerable. However, she may be very upset that you are even thinking this way and so you need to prepare what you will say very carefully before you have the conversation.

Submit your letters to Mary anonymously at dearmary.ie.

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