Q&A. My Boyfriend is Obsessed with My Past Sexual Partners

Q. Sulagna, I am facing serious problems in my relationship now which are affecting the relationship and also both of us.

A few details on our background:
My boyfriend is also my colleague. He is a Tamil Hindu living with his parents.
I am a catholic from Mangalore, Karnataka. His is a very traditional and orthodox family while mine’s quite liberal.

Our relationship has now become a torture for me.

It is almost a year that we’ve been together. I was in a relationship before him which was more of a Friends with Benefits type. After 4-5 months of being together he found out about my past relationship from colleagues and started making enquiries about it. I realized it’s better to put all the truth on the table now rather than a few years later, which might cause disaster. So I told him the truth, minus the details. That’s when it started.

Past Sexual PartnersPhoto by Geórgia –

For me it was pure shock. I watched as my partner metamorphosed into the kind of typical backward-looking misogynist Indian male I don’t want to be with. Every single day he would remember some bit of my past history and ask for minute details, then abuse me if I refused to answer and abuse me if I did. Once he even caught hold of my neck in a moment of frenzy.

He never trusts me. He wants to dictate every aspect of my life from what I can wear to who I’m allowed to talk to. And to top it all – he makes me swear all of these things on some family member.

But – and this is the embarrassing part – I can’t think of him as just another petty misogynistic abuser. He’s a wonderful person inside. Every time he misbehaves he comes back to me and begs for forgiveness with tears in his eyes.

Here’s the thing Sulagna. We love each other. For real. But my past is something he’s not able to cope with (the fact that I’m the first real sexual encounter of his life makes things that much more touchy). But I can tell you this much – I’ve never really loved anyone before.

I want to be happy again. Tell me what I should do.



A. One of the golden rules of a happy relationship is: NEVER try to change who you are for someone you love. No matter how much you love someone, you can never live your life under a forced disguise. It will eventually get to you and cause stress in your relationship, if not an eventual breakdown.

Your boyfriend has a very high need for control in a relationship. This approach might have worked with someone else (or in some other era), but given the person you are – this is going to cause disaster because you’re not going to be able to take it lying down forever.

Now since you haven’t left him already I assume that in spite of his interference in your independence and other unwarranted actions, you care for him and want to work through this. So that’s what I’m going to help you do.

The first step to bringing a problematic relationship back on track is to start drawing boundaries. 

What are boundaries?

A relationship is a mutual agreement between two people. Boundaries are terms on which this agreement is based. These are rules which both partners are to follow if they want to stay in the relationship.

How do you come up with these rules?

For that, you need to have a calm, mature discussion with your boyfriend. The objective of this discussion is to come to an agreement on the rules. Remember it’s you who’d be initiating the discussion. Hence you cannot afford to lose your cool, even if your boyfriend does. The key to creating balance in your relationship is to set its terms in the most calm and mature manner. Your boyfriend should realize that this is NOT a blame game but an honest attempt on your part to make the relationship work.

Past Sexual PartnersPhoto by leannaphotographs

So where do you start?

Enumerate clearly which specific behaviours of him hurt you. For example, you can tell him something like, “It hurts me if you 1. Tell me what to wear 2. Make me swear over simple things 3. Ask for details from my past.
These actions and behaviours of yours are causing me intense pain and stress. I know you care for me and you don’t want to hurt me. Hence I’m sure you wouldn’t want to continue these behaviours, now that you know how painful they are for me. So let us please agree on which behaviours you’re going to stop or modify so that our relationship can become happy and deeply fulfilling, like it was. Also, I’m more than willing to listen to and act on anything about me that’s bothering you. Let’s please talk about it.” 
This way you serve two purposes:

1. Lay down clear conditions of what is acceptable to you and what is not. Your mature and calm tone should convey your firmness to him.

2. Open him up for sharing his feelings with you. Through such dialogues, you convey to him that you’re that you’re willing to help him get over whatever is bothering him.  
Sex before marriage is an explosive issue in India, with emotions running feverishly high around it (just check the comments section here and you’ll know: Q&A.My wife had sex before marriage! :D) Hence, if your boyfriend is one of those guys who’re really particular about their wives’ virginity, you might have to reconsider your relationship. But before that, give yourselves a chance. If there’s true commitment, it’s possible that your boyfriend would change his views in order to accept you.

All the best. 

On Sex Before Marriage (Again) – Part 1

Yeah. Again, after Q&A. My Wife Has Had Sex Before Marriage!

Because sex is serious business.

Especially if it happens in India.  

Especially if a woman is involved. ;)

And totally, if the woman is not married to the man.

Well we all (should) know these petty facts, but I felt the need to repeat them here as I was reminded of these once again (quite forcefully), after I wrote that piece

As you can see, there are 46 comments on that piece up till now (thanks so much guys for taking out the time to share your views :)). Let’s just say not all of those friendly commenters did me the favour because they wanted to convey their unqualified support of my views (the piece contained none, but more about that later).

moving out of homePhoto by Sephiroty Fiesta

These comments let me see how strongly the youth of this country feels about sex before marriage. That was quite an eye-opener. So much heated discussion started around this that I thought it’s time I gave it a little more prominence. In the form of actual posts, to be precise. So starting today I’d post my responses to some very interesting comments and questions about sex before marriage from time to time.  

I’ll start with one of the very commonly raised questions:

It’s the girl’s fault to have not disclosed the facts about her past affair before marriage. Why are you silent on that?

“It’s the girl’s fault to have not disclosed the facts about her past affair before marriage.” Theoretically speaking you’re right. But knowing the practical reality of India, I think we need to go a bit deeper here before coming to a conclusion. If a prospective groom doesn’t enquire specifically about a girl’s virginity – and I’m sure you’d agree – the girl would hardly have any reason to take the initiative to convey this info to the guy. So in this case unless the guy had asked this question specifically, she had no way of knowing how particular he was about this issue.

You’re right, telling the truth is undoubtedly the right thing to do under all circumstances. But I believe if you expect anyone to tell you the truth about anything, you should provide them a safe environment for it (unless we’re talking about illegitimate activities, or activities which violate others’ rights etc.). If a person knows they might be compromising their own safety, security, mental peace etc. by telling the truth, is it really fair to hold them fully accountable for not telling the truth? (Don’t get so angry just as yet. Read on. :D)

Think of it from the girl’s perspective. With the vilification of premarital sex in the Indian society, would it have been safe for her to tell a prospective groom about her past? What if the guy announces it to her family and walks away from the relationship? What kind of consequences do you think the girl can expect, from her own family and the society? How easy do you think it would be for her family to get a guy for her subsequently?

arranged marriagePhoto by The People Speak!

Given the realities of our society, if a guy is too particular about his wife’s virginity pre-marriage, the onus lies on him to find out the truth without hurting the girl’s dignity. Here’s a suggestion for how you can go about it.

At a very initial stage, find a way to have a discussion with the girl alone. Tell her, “Marriage is a life-altering decision. I believe we should have a clear understanding with each other before such a decision is made. I’m sure you understand the gravity of the mistake that we would be committing if we take such an important decision on the basis of incomplete information. Given this context, I want you to know that there are certain things which are unacceptable to me when it comes to my future wife. I respect your privacy, hence I won’t ask you any questions about these aspects. I’ll just tell you what these factors are and request you to cancel the marriage from your side (telling you don’t like me) if any of this applies to you. The list goes:

1. She should not smoke/drink…
2. She should not be a non-vegetarian…
3. She should be a virgin at the time of marriage… ”

The list here is just an example (I’m by no means supporting or opposing the values espoused here). The point here is, you need to provide her a list instead of a single criterion like virginity, so that her privacy is protected. If she cancels the marriage you’d know she ticks one of your “strictly prohibited” boxes, without knowing which one.

I’m sure you understand, as one of the several prospective grooms the girl would meet in the process of her arranged marriage, you have no right to ask for private information like whether she’s a virgin. (If you don’t become her husband, you’re just another guy on the street, remember?) However, you have a right to cancel the marriage if she doesn’t satisfy your criteria (which, in this case, includes virginity). The only way to protect both her rights and yours is through mature and respectful dialogue, as suggested here.

What do you think guys? Bring on your views. I’m waiting. :)

Q&A. His “Rakhi” Sister Keeps Getting Physically Close to Him.

Q. My boyfriend has this “Rakhi” sister who, in my opinion, is an extremely unpleasant girl (in the vernacular, a pure b***h). She is nice to me on my face but bitches about me to my boyfriend. I feel like I just can’t stand her anymore. She also tries to get physically close to him all the time. I have talked to him about my problem but I don’t think he gets it. I have come to a point where I just can’t deal with her any more and I also know that my boyfriend won’t give her up for me. I also don’t want to keep irritating him with this matter time and again. Should I break up with him?

-Sheetal, Mumbai

A. One of the basic rules of life is:

You cannot change other people.

You can only change your own response to them.

If our partners’ actions hurt us, the first thing we should do is to let them know in a calm & mature way. This is meant to give them an opportunity to change their ways if they want. If they continue to behave in ways which hurt us, we have two options:

  1. Break up with them if that particular aspect is central to our needs from the relationship.
  2. Adjust our expectations from our partners and take actions accordingly.

Rakhi sister jealousyPhoto by oline221296

“Mutual need fulfilment” is one of the three main elements of a successful relationship. Assure yourself that if your basic needs are not getting fulfilled in a particular relationship, breaking up is not only acceptable, but the most natural and healthiest solution for both of you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why am I in this relationship? What do I want from my partner? (Intimacy, emotional support, sharing, pride, stability, peace? … There can be practical reasons too.)
  2. Is this development preventing my partner from giving what I want from him? (Is this hurting my pride so much that I’m unable to function? Is this creating emotional distance between me and him? Has this broken my trust irreparably? … )

Irrespective of whether you feel like you can’t go on anymore, or you continue, I’m sure you’ll at least give your relationship another chance before giving up. The rest of this post is about what your best attempt at making this work should look like.

You can’t stand this girl but she’s important to your boyfriend. You have already discussed this with your boyfriend but he’s unwilling to do anything about it. Your immediate next step is to stop requesting him to change his attitude towards her. Like I said, you can’t change his priorities. Trying will only make you feel out-of-control.

Being around this girl causes you immense nervous stress, right? So consider her non-existent in your life. Stop interacting with her. Stop talking about her. And stop thinking about her. Just let her go.

For you, she doesn’t exist.

Let your boyfriend know that you’re unwilling to interact with this girl any longer. Be calm & mature but firm while stating this. Do not use strong language like “because I don’t like her”… Or “because she’s xyz…” That is likely to lead to another fruitless argument. Instead you can mention something like, “as you know, we don’t really gel well…” or something mild and reasonable like that.

Unless he wants to break up with you he has no option but to accept this decision of yours. He’s made it clear that you can’t control who he makes friends with. But no one in the world can deny the simple fact that you can control who you make friends with. Hence you have a right to stop interacting with this girl, even though you cannot force him to do the same.

If he ever mentions her in conversations detach yourself emotionally for that moment and give vague, non-committal replies like, “OK”, “I see…”, “Oh right..”. Overcome your curious urges to know what she tells your boyfriend about you. You don’t need to know that. ’Cause you don’t care. Believe me, you really don’t.

Rakhi sister jealousyPhoto by jaroslavd

Do not demand that he stops discussing her with you. Because – again – we can’t control what others do. You can’t control what he says to you, but you can control how you react. If he’s worth his salt, he’d get the cue and after a point stop bringing her up in conversations with you.

If you can do this right you’d have scored a major achievement in your relationship. You’d have established a simple but crucial term of the relationship – that it’s between equals, with none more important that the other.

Sure, you can’t expect him to stop being so close with this girl just for your sake. But in that case he can’t expect you to do something that you don’t like just for his sake either – accepting this girl as a part of your life, for example. :D

In the meantime, focus on yourself. Focus on your career, dive headfirst into that long-forgotten hobby, reconnect with old friends, make new ones… Do everything you have to do to find happiness and balance within yourself. It’s the key to enjoying a healthy relationship. Always remember:

Your partner is a very important part of your life, not your life itself.

This is not to say you shouldn’t be affected by any action of your partner’s. We all are, and it’s most natural to be. But you cannot let his actions determine your self-worth or sense of wellbeing.

All the best Sheetal. :)

Penguins – what would you have done if you were her?

Let me know by leaving a comment. :)

Q&A. My Wife Has Had Sex Before Marriage. I’m Devastated. Help!

I’ve been married for three years. It was an arranged marriage. At a very early stage I’d started suspecting that my wife had had sex before marriage. This disturbed me deeply and we’ve had innumerable discussions about this since then.

We live with my parents. Recently others in the family eavesdropped on us and unfortunately managed to listen in on some of our private conversations regarding this issue, i.e. her experience of sex before marriage. This was deeply humiliating and painful for both of us.

My father has recently taunted her with this overheard info first time in three years. I can’t tell you how guilty I feel.

At the same time I can’t drive away the visions of her having sex before marriage with another man. I find myself wondering about the details like how she managed to have sex before marriage with anyone in a small town, how deeply in love she must’ve been to have disregarded the most important family restriction, whether she gave him farewell sex etc.

She hasn’t confessed anything about any sex before marriage to this date in spite of my insistence. Whenever I ask her anything about this she gives vague replies, urging me to move on and look at the future instead of the past. I’d expressed intentions of joining Facebook and connecting with her batch mates in the hope of finding out about her past and whether she had sex before marriage. She vehemently opposed this and refused to give away even the names of her classmates. Incidentally, one of her friends visited us and hinted that my wife is “not as simple as she pretends to be”.

As of today I’ve planned to post questions about her past relationship(s) in the confessions page of her school. I’ve let her know of my intentions. This has made her very nervous and disturbed. Ironically, me too.

In spite of what all this might suggest, I love her. Genuinely. Please help me.


wife sex before marriagePhoto by banzainetsurfer

Sex before marriage? Don’t dwell on it

Normally I would tell you to close your eyes, take a deep breath and let it go. Usually you achieve nothing by finding out the details of your spouse’s sex-life before he/she met you. That kind of probing is guaranteed to make any relationship worse.

However, there’s another aspect to this in your case.

You’ve mentioned one of her friends has tried dropping you hints about her past. The only way knowing everything about one’s spouse’s past life can help is in tackling nosy outsiders like this friend, eager to spill the beans and laugh as the two of you shred your married life to pieces. That’s something you have a right to protect yourself against.

So the middle ground here is to know only as much as is necessary, and in this case you have a right to demand that information from your wife.

What you need to know about sex before marriage

Have an open discussion with her. Tell her first that you love her as she is, and that you have realized that finding out intricate details about her past life is not going to help your relationship. So you don’t want to know any details.
This will put her at ease.
Then mention to her that, at the same time you don’t want to receive info about her past life from outsiders and look like a fool. Between the two of you, you might have issues (every couple has). But to outsiders, you must put up a joint front – you must look like one inseparable unit. Hence you need to know at least what others know – i.e. basics like how many past relationships she’s been in, how many of them she’s had sex with and who was the last. Emphasize that you don’t want to know any details. This would increase her trust in you manifold.

Believe me Anon, you do not need to know any more than this to ward off well-meaning hints and suggestions from outsiders.

At the same time you must promise (her and yourself) never to entertain these advances from outsiders.

How to tackle “sex before marriage” blackmailers

What does not entertaining their advances mean?

wife sex before marriagePhoto by VishalSinghx

It would mean the following:

  • When someone hints to you that they can give you info about your wife’s past life, the first thing you should do is change the topic and discretely make it clear that you don’t want to discuss your wife’s private life with them. Yes, I know it will be difficult to overcome your urges of curiosity in such situations but youhave to do it for the sake of your relationship.
  • If they persist, you might even have to tell that to them in as many words. Tell them, “If there’s anything you want to tell me about my wife, you needn’t, ’cause I already know everything about her. And I’m sure if you had to choose whom to trust between your spouse and anyone else, you’d choose your spouse. Me too. :).” That should kill their excitement as they realize you’re not going to believe anything they say.
  • In the rarest of rare cases, if they directly give you unsolicited information about your wife in spite of your lack of interest, you should stay calm and just say, “I already know the truth”, without confirming whether you believe them or not. (If they’re telling you the truth, they should get the impression that you already know it. If they’re making up lies they should get the impression that you can see through them.)

Sex before marriage is a private issue

Coming to the question of your parents’ reaction – you should remember that your wife is living with your parents. It’s she who’s moved to a new home and made a new family her own, not them. Hence it’s your responsibility to make sure she doesn’t receive unwarranted treatment from them. You have to make it very clear to your parents and the rest of your family that you and your wife respect them and have responsibilities towards them, but your private life is yours. And their interference in it is entirely unwelcome.
Spouses might have the right to ask each other private questions. Their parents and extended families have absolutely none.
But each Indian family works in its own complicated way (don’t take it personally, I know “we’re like that only”;)). I understand it might be impossible for you to convey this to your parents in as many words. If that’s the case, tell them politely (not in front of your wife, of course) that if they have any questions about your wife, they can ask you, not her, and not in front of her.

Let me know what action you took.
All the best. :)

“Sex Has Got Nothing to Do with Love or Marriage”, Tamal Pal

In Converstation with Love in India’s Featured Facebook Fan

Today I’m glad to bring you the promised feature on the 50th lucky fan of Love in India Facebook page, Tamal Pal.

A Computer Science engineer from Jadavpur University (Kolkata), and an MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur, Tamal works as an automotive marketing manager with one of India’s biggest manufacturing companies.

Love in India feature Tamal PalCopyright @Tamal Pal

When he’s not working, Tamal believes in enjoying life to the fullest, through engaging in (really really) varied hobbies and activities. A trained vocalist, Tamal’s eclectic tastes span everything from Stephen Hawking to SRK movies, and from Tagore’s music to fantasy cricket. In his own words, “I hate being stuck in the same thing for too long. I feel suffocated if there’s nothing new to learn, no new challenge to overcome every day. Even when it comes to career, I’ve changed my path whenever I felt like doing something different, and I’ll continue to do so in future.”

Excerpts of my chat with Tamal on love, marriage, life and his own story….

On love…

Pyaar dosti hai. Love is friendship…..

This may sound oh so stupid/corny/filmy, but after being in a string of relationships (yes, there have been quite a few) for the last 8 years, I have come to believe that friendship is the only true and sustainable basis of any relationship. Love is, at the end of the day, understanding someone, appreciating them for who they are, and craving to be with them because you just feel so comfortable in their presence.

That mad rush which you feel in your head when thinking about someone – at least for me, it’s just a sophisticated variant of physical attraction.

It’s of course natural to feel it for someone you love. In fact, I feel no romantic relationship can blossom if that madness is not there to start with. But just six months into a relationship, what remains is the understanding & the comfort that you share with your partner. If it’s worth it, you’ll stay together. If it’s not, you’ll start feeling uncomfortable subconsciously, leading to incessant silly fights, and ultimately break up wondering where it went wrong. It’s that simple, really!

On finding love…

You don’t find love, love finds you.

In today’s peer-pressure driven, competetion-obsessed society, even having a relationship has become a parameter for competition! Many “get themselves” a boyfriend/girlfriend, because they are supposed to have one, just like other essentials like a college degree, a job or a mobile phone.

I myself have got into relationships (yes, more than once) just because I was desperate not to stay alone after a breakup.

Gotta say, it doesn’t work that way. You can have an arranged marriage through a conscious decision and dedicated efforts.

Par pyaar koi karta nahi hai. Pyar bas ho jata hai. (You can’t “find” love, you fall in love.)

You’ll find it when & where you least expect it. And when it’s love, you just know…..

On essential traits of successful relationships…

There are relationships which are meant to be, and then there are the rest. If it’s not meant to be, I don’t think there’s anything in the world you can do to make it work. When it comes to spending your every waking moment with someone, it’s impossible-and more importantly a disservice to yourself-to try and be something different from what you are, naturally.

And if it’s meant to be, you just know it.

You trust them as much as yourself without even wondering if you should. When you are with them, you feel as relaxed & comfortable as you’d have been if you were alone.

You start caring for them and feel concern almost like your mother would feel for you.

Things like going out on a date, exchanging gifts, pampering each other with sweet words – yes, they make the moments special. But I would say they’re just the surface. A few moments don’t make a relationship. Your feelings and actions, day in and day out, do.

On marriage (and the love vs arranged marriage debate)…

Marriage is the decision to stay together with someone for the rest of your life. Marriage is the basic unit of society. To me, it’s a much more conscious decision than love. You have to think long & hard about who you are compatible enough to stay together with & raise a family. Quite often, it has got nothing to do with your feelings for that person. You can easily be madly in love with someone whose nature is completely incompatible with you, in which case you’ll never be happy in a marriage with them.

That brings me to the question of why so many arranged marriages work so perfectly. If your parents have put in so much efforts and thoughts into choosing someone for their child (you), they’re very likely to be from the same social background as you, with similar experiences and likes & dislikes as you. Hence although you may not know them at all, you probably don’t find it so difficult adapting to them, and end up living quite a happy life.

That said, I personally would never agree to an arranged marriage.

I don’t think anyone can do a better job of deciding who I’ll be ok staying with, than me!

It’s quite natural to be more comfortable spending your life with someone you’ve already been in a relationship with. I think getting to know someone as a person is much easier in the context of a relationship, than an always-already marriage, because the compulsion of liking each other is not there in case of the former. You can interact freely, express yourself, understand the other person closely, and then think about marriage if you feel that compatibility. Marrying someone unknown & then starting the process of knowing each other from scratch is just too painful compared to this!

On premarital sex…

To me, sex or any form of physical intimacy is completely separate from love or marriage.

Sex is just about enjoying the excitement of the moment. It has got nothing to do with love or marriage – you can very well get excited by an absolutely unknown woman.

Hence there’s no point in forming linkages between these, Yes, sex is more enjoyable with your partner, because the presence of emotions & the knowledge of their likes & dislikes makes the act much smoother. Yes, sex after marriage has got its own charms because you can express yourself much more freely with someone you’re habituated to. But using marriage as a boundary condition for having sex is just stupid, because the two have got zero correlation.

As an extension of this logic I would even go on to say that while in a marriage, you can very well enjoy yourself physically with other people while still remaining committed to your spouse. It’s not rocket science really, provided the trust between the couple remains intact. If they can remain truthful to each other while also being serious about their marriage, then why not? Swinging is not a very rare phenomenon, & many couples are happily married despite enjoying regular sex outside their marriage. After all its just sex – nothing compared to the emotional fulfilment a true relationship brings you.

Tamal’s story…

The most significant story of my life is that of my last girlfriend.

Love in India feature Tamal Pal 1Copyright @Tamal Pal

We know each other for more than three years and were in a relationship for more than two and a half years. We broke up very recently.

Let me tell you a bit about how we met.
After knowing her for 3 months, I knew I had feelings for her. But I decided not to tell her because she was in a complicated relationship with a married guy. She loved him, but he never made his stance clear. Even after filing for divorce, he finally reconciled with his wife. At this time, my ex-girlfriend was so emotionally confused that I decided not to make the situation more complicated by letting her know about my feelings. I came to know later that she’d already guessed, but at the time, she also chose to remain just my friend.

We would have remained so unless we had gone for our MBAs. I was to leave Kolkata earlier than her. Just a few days before I left, we had a fight. I was mad because I felt that the management school she had chosen to join was far below her standard, & that she was ruining her career. The next day, I expected her to be very angry, but she behaved perfectly normally with me. Then, on the day I was to leave Kolkata, she called me up & professed her love. She said that my impending departure had made her realise that she was going to lose her closest friend, the only person who would care for her so much as to rebuke her for her bad decision. Thinking about this made her realise that she had also started falling in love with me, 6 months after she had first realised that I had feelings for her.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about her now is that she loved me for who I was & had accepted all my shortcomings with endearing compassion. She was and still is one of my closest friends. None of us have ever been as open to anyone as we have been to each other.

She happened to understand me more completely than I can describe.

Our bond stemmed from the fact that we complemented each other. She was spontaneous whereas I am typically more thoughtful. We balanced each other perfectly. Even physical intimacy was easy & spontaneous with her. She has been the only woman with who I have felt so relaxed & comfortable during intimate moments….

Tamal’s bold and entirely original views make me take a step back and think, what is love? What is its place in our lives, in our marriages? How importance is intimacy, in case of relationships, or marriage?

What do you think? Let me know.

Like Tamal, do you want to feature on Love in India and share your stories and views with the community? Email me at sdasguptaaa@gmail.com.