My Partner Can’t Accept My Past (Top 3 Tips)

In this brief guide, we will explore why your partner can’t accept your past to understand what is stopping them from doing so. 

Why can’t your partner accept your past?

Your partner can’t accept your past if they are struggling with coming to terms with it. Let’s deep dive into why that may be. 

  • They have retroactive jealousy
  • They do not want to lose you 
  • They feel like they can’t live up to your ex in comparison
  • They have different values than you
  • They have trust issues 
  • Their past was less colourful than yours
  • They have low self-esteem 
  • They are afraid of your past discretions happening to them 
  • They have a fear of intimacy
  • They think you haven’t moved on from that relationship

How do you get your partner to accept your past? 

Here are some of the things you can do to help your partner accept your past.

  • Talk to your partner and find out what is actually bothering them
  • Ask them to put themselves in your place
  • Assure them with your words and actions, but only to a point

What are some of the red flags in a relationship? 

The following are some of the red flags in a relationship that you must keep an eye out for 

  • A lack of healthy open communication 
  • Controlling behaviour and excessive jealousy 
  • Constant put-downs 

Why does your partner keep bringing up your past?

Your partner may be bringing up your past over and over because of the following reasons. 

  • They want to maintain control 
  • They are not feeling emotionally safe or heard
  • They are diverting focus from their mistakes

Everyone has a past and while some people have more colourful ones than others, it is nothing to be ashamed about. 

If there are particularly unorthodox instances in your past, your partner may find it difficult to swallow those truths. This should not have any bearing on you because it has been done and dusted. 

Your past relationships or exes in no way should be a deal-breaker. Your partner can and should get over your past to enjoy and fully commit to the relationship they currently have with you. 

If your partner is struggling with your dating history, this is something that they need to deal with on their own first and along with your support, you both can get through this unnecessary hiccup. 

Why can’t your partner accept your past?

They have retroactive jealousy

If your partner can’t accept your past, they may be suffering from something called ‘retroactive jealousy’. 

This unhealthy obsession with a partner’s romantic and/or sexual past can be quite confusing for everyone involved, especially you. 

Unfortunately, if not quickly recognised and worked on, these negative actions can destabilise the relationship that you both share. 

Talk about casual sex in the past may bring up feelings of anger, moral judgement and insecurities in your partner even though they know you all too well. 

In fact, that may be the problem. Retroactive jealousy is almost always triggered by the knowledge of a partner’s past, which then spirals out of control. 

If your partner is privy to personal information and intimate details about your past, it can get lodged into their thoughts and take hold of them.

Then it’s only a matter of time when something happens and these feelings get flared up. 

They do not want to lose you 

Usually when a partner can’t accept your past, it has more to do with them than it is to do with you. 

Everything that is bringing them down is a product of their mind and thoughts. On some level, they are worried that they could lose you. 

It may not necessarily mean losing you to past lovers, but maybe to someone new in the present. 

They don’t actually care about your former lovers. The representations that they have created in their mind of what your past looked liked has compelled them to visualise their worst fear, which is to lose you. 

What they sadly do not realise is that this fear and their reaction to it can become the cause of losing their partner.

They compare themselves to your ex partners 

If your partner has put you on a pedestal and subliminally feels that they do not deserve you, they may not be able to accept your past. 

Your past relationships can be overwhelming for them because they feel like they can’t measure up to your exes (for example, looks, sexual drive, success, finances). 

While this has no bearing on you whatsoever because it is their internal struggle, it will affect the balance of your relationship. In this case it always helps to reassure your partner that your previous relationships did not work out for a reason or many. 

This is an emotional defence to hide their insecurity and with a little support from you, they should be able to confront it and deal better. 

They have different values than you

Everyone has their own moral code and values that they stand by. If your partner can’t accept your past, it could be because the ethics of your previous relationships may not match their own. 

For instance, if you were single and casually having sex before you two go together and they have only been in serious relationships, they could be judging you against their understanding of morality. 

This is unfair because as long as you both are now on the same page when pertaining to your relationship, it should not matter. 

The judgement on your actions in the past to that of their current worldview is not right and they will have to keep it aside if they want a shot at making this relationship work. 

They have trust issues 

Oh the cause of most problems are trust issues. To love someone, you must be able to trust them. 

If they have a hard time trusting people in general, it is probably why your partner can’t accept your past. It could be even worse if they have been cheated on in the past. 

Knowingly or unknowingly they are bringing their emotional baggage to your relationship and are failing to come to terms with the possibility that it may not necessarily happen again. 

While you can empathise with them, it is important for you to let them know that punishing you for something that was done to them by someone else is detrimental to a healthy relationship. 

Their past was less colourful than yours

Circling back to a partner’s stimulating sexual history or dating life can be daunting for someone that has not had nearly the same experiences. 

Such an individual may not understand these exposures simply because they have not had them and may slowly develop a strong negative feeling towards them.

If your partner lacks what they see as a colourful dating history, it’s on them, not you. It certainly does not mean that you should have to apologise for yours. 

They have low self-esteem 

Lack of self-confidence is a demotivator for many things and a relationship is one of them. It’s quite possible that your partner can’t accept your past because their low self-esteem won’t allow it. 

This compels them to compare themselves with your ex lovers and has them come off as second-best invariably, in their own eyes. 

Their feelings of inadequacy can become a breeding ground for other insecurities to creep in, and run amuck. 

Not being able to admit that it is the underlying problem and using your past as an outlet can wreak havoc in the relationship. 

They are afraid of your past discretions happening to them 

If you have opened up to your partner about the mistakes you have made in previous relationships, they might be afraid of being victim to those themselves. 

The number of sexual partners, immature behaviour in past relationships, cheating—any of these revelations can bring about feelings of distress in your partner and may be why they can’t accept your past. 

They obviously want to avoid going through the same thing and are looking for reassurance, so give it to them. 

Help them understand that every relationship has a different dynamic and the one you both share is different from the ones in your past. Show them that you have grown from prior experiences. 

They have a fear of intimacy

If your partner has a fear of intimacy, it may be why they withhold their affection and doubt your intentions. These emotional barriers unconsciously put up by them make it difficult to accept your past. 

Instead of confronting this fear head on, they hold you accountable for something you have moved on from. 

Being hung up on your history takes away from the real problem and until that is fixed, your past will always be the go-to topic of conversation when they feel backed into a corner.

Try to get through to them by having a real conversation and if they still cannot comprehend their own fears, it may be wise to seek couple counselling.

They think you haven’t moved on from a previous relationship

Your relationship with your ex can make or break your current relationship. If you bring your past lover/ lovers up in casual conversations constantly, compare your present-day partner to them or talk too fondly about memories shared, it will undeniably create a sore spot between the two of you. 

The whiff of unfinished business can’t help but make them think that you have not moved on. How can your partner can’t accept your past, if they feel that you haven’t? 

Have a hard think and consider all things and then decide if you are ready to fully commit to the relationship you are presently in. 

If yes, simply stop talking about your ex. 


The past is in the past and needs to stay there. Every relationship deserves the chance to begin afresh without the influence of previous ones and partners need to work together to make this happen. 

While you may have shared details about your past relationships with your current partner, it is crucial that they do not hold it against you and see it in good faith. 

Try to make sure they see what this relationship means to you with not only words, but your behaviour and commitment towards them, but this will not work if it’s only you putting in the effort. 

It takes both partners to offer support, to communicate and understand each other for the relationship to work. 

FAQs: My partner can’t accept my past

Can your partner accept your past? 

Spending too much time concerned about a partner’s past can hinder the growth of a healthy, meaningful relationship in the present and drive you away from them.

If they want to hold onto the love you share, they will have to accept your past and move forward or risk losing you.  

Does a person’s past affect their current relationship? 

Yes, issues in a past relationship can manifest in the current one even if the individual has moved on completely. 

Previous hurt and pain can creep up in the form of negative thoughts around relationships in general. For example, if someone has been cheated on, they may have a hard time trusting their partner. 

Should couples talk about past relationships?

Leaving the past behind and starting afresh can be the best thing to do in a relationship. However, having an honest conversation with your partner about your past relationships is perfectly healthy and can bring you closer. This helps them understand you, and you them. 


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