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Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
I have a boyfriend now. He honestly told me that he had many sexual encounters before entering our relationship. Although he already assured me that he was safe, I still feel the insecurity within me that he had slept with other people before me (I’m still a virgin, though).
My issue is he might have great experiences with other people so he might get disappointed with me. I know that it’s a “me problem.” But I want to address this insecurity so that I can be a better partner. What are the things that I can do about this?
Thank you for your message.
Fortunately we live in the internet age where knowledge is easily accessible. You can therefore partially address your insecurity by reading up, and viewing, as much about sex, relationships, etc. as you need.
However, this will not fully prepare you for what lies ahead. Theory is all very well, but the real thing is something else, dependent as it is upon not just you but also your partner (let’s call him Mario).
While two inexperienced partners can enjoy discovering the “mysteries” of sex together, an experienced partner can also be a boon because he knows what he is doing and can act as a teacher. This of course presupposes that he is a kind and considerate lover in the first place – one willing to prioritize the needs of his partner or at least take them into account.
The best way to assuage your anxiety would be if you and Mario discuss the reasons for your insecurity so that he can both understand your issues and be supportive on your journey together. The better you know each other, the better you can both manage your knowledge (or lack thereof) and your expectations.
As for whether Mario is safe, you can quite reasonably ask him to get the usual HIV, STI (sexually transmitted infections), and COVID tests – and of course practice safe sex.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. You are understandably insecure at having your first sexual encounter with your boyfriend, whom you know ahead of time has had many previous sexual encounters.
My feeling is that your insecurity may lie in two realms: one is the physical, the other is the emotional/psychological. Within the first are two major issues: the possibilities of STIs and/or pregnancy.
Your boyfriend’s many sexual encounters do not necessarily mean he definitely has an STI, BUT suggest that he has a higher probability of having one. Thus, it makes sense to suggest he (or even the both of you) have tests to reassure yourselves and each other that you are both safe as far as STIs are concerned.
As for pregnancy, unless you are taking the pill, using a condom correctly is the best way to avoid unwanted surprises.
Let us now go to the issue of emotional safety. Most women have their first sexual encounter only if they trust the man they have sex with and some need the reassurance of marriage before having it. My own clinical experience (but also backed up by one of the first UPPI and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation, Inc. studies started in 1982, called YAFSS – Young Adults’ Fertility and Sexuality Study) bears this out. The other finding of this YAFFS research, based on clinical experience, is that most men have sexual experiences if the woman will let them. Plain and simple as that.
It is very possible your boyfriend is not that sort of man. It is possible he loves you and wants to marry you. But please, please, don’t have sex with him simply because of that. Feelings can change, and for young people (defined by WHO as anyone between 10-24 years of age) feelings tend to change even more. It is not because he lied when he said he loved you; it is because circumstances can change so much he may not love you as much now (or at all).
It is possible that you have decided to have your first sexual encounter with your boyfriend because you love him. This is what many women define as safety: a man who you can trust because he loves and respects you. This is no ordinary man, this is the first man you loved enough to risk your insecurities and fears (and defy cultural and nay religious mores) out of love. Once more, please do not have sex with this man only because you love him. Because while it may seem unlikely, your feelings can change, too.
Many (but not all) times, this happens: the same YAFFS study (and my clinical experience bears out) that many men tend to become less committed after sex (though some of course do not) and most women tend to be more committed. Result: a woman notices her man has changed, and asks for more reassurance that he hasn’t, that he indeed still wants to marry her. The man now has an “excuse” to disengage because his woman has become “too clingy.'”
So why should any young person have sex if many times it results in emotional pain?
Because it is so much fun, that can be misconstrued as (or may actually be) emotional and physical joy, even if we feel no one understands.
But dearest Sally, to protect yourself, make sure you do it not just because you are overwhelmed with feelings, but because you have studied possible consequences and feel you can take it whatever happens. You will not regret things so much should the relationship NOT work out the way you wanted. And should it work out after all, hallelujah!
So think this encounter through and, should you decide to go ahead, may you have a hallelujah experience not just then, but many, MANY times.
Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to firstname.lastname@example.org.