My wife doesn’t regret her long-ago hookups, and I can’t get past them: Ask Ellie


QI started dating my wife after she turned 15, I was then 17. It was magical, very intimate, but without sexual intercourse. Having previously signed up, I started army training over a year into the relationship.

I came home three and a half months later and still felt connected to her. We almost had sex, but were interrupted.

Days later when I had to return to the army, she broke up with me. I believed there was another guy when she mistakenly called me by his name twice. I dated other girls.

I returned home at 19. She was then 17 and a high-school senior. Unknown to me, she’d been pursuing this same guy throughout my absence. He was notoriously promiscuous, and they never really dated. She had her first sexual experience with him. I never stopped loving her and was distraught.

She drank a lot then and had a one-night hookup with another guy and further hookups. Then she had an eight-month relationship with another military guy, all still during her senior year.

She didn’t use protection. When I returned, I convinced her to break up with the military guy. We dated again, then married and we had three kids. We’ve been together for over 30 years.

I learned about her past 25 years into the relationship. I discovered she was using Google to find her past guys.

She blamed it on “curiosity” but continued for two years before I discovered it. Now it’s all I can think about.

I don’t know how to shake these feelings. She got HPV (Human papillomavirus), a sexually transmitted virus, resulting in cervical cancer. It’s another thorn in our marriage.

She swears that I’m “the one” and she was just “curious.” I also hate her longtime friends for advising her to Google him. We still have a solid intimate relationship, but I can’t shake the images.

It’s weird to know a 15-year-old was your soulmate, but being together nearly 40 years proves I was right. But it’s equally weird that we had that break where my innocent girl had so many experiences and I had to find out so much later.

Research tells me I have retroactive jealousy, but she’s not repentant at all. I think she should be more attentive to our marriage. Please talk some sense to me.

Hurting Husband

AForty years ago, teenagers’ raging hormones naturally aroused their curiosity enough (as they do today) to take risks few parents and schools had ever talked to them about.

They were far less exposed to the current understanding and precautions required regarding sexually transmitted diseases. You were 17 and eager for sex with a 14-year-old. Having been aroused, she became intensely curious. Only your army duty prevented further opportunities. So when other guys showed interest, she was willing and eager.

Your jealousy reflects your own part in this story. Once you returned to the army, she was left with only curiosity and desire. She had sex with a few other men. You dated other women. After you came home, she married you, had children with you.

Yes, like countless other people, the internet allowed her to be curious about those past few guys. But they’re not in her life. And she’s not “your innocent girl.”

She’s the wife and partner with whom you have “a solid intimate relationship.” She’s raised children, shares a life with you. Today’s women do not have to be repentant for their sexual experiences when they were young, single and carefree.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Don’t brood over long-ago hurts. Live in the present and enjoy the best life you can manage.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].


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