My Partner Can’t Forgive My Past (5 key tips)

The ability to forgive and let go of past wrongdoings is crucial in a relationship. Let’s look at what makes forgiveness difficult and why your partner can’t forgive your past

Why can’t your partner forgive your past?

You need to realise that the burden to forgive your past does not lie on your partner. This is an insecurity that is theirs and not yours.  

Here are some of the reasons why it may be difficult for your partner to forgive your past. 

  • They feel inadequate 
  • They have trust issues 
  • They can’t get over your past
  • They are jealous and insecure 
  • They are afraid of losing you
  • Their need for control overrides reason 
  • They are emotionally stunted 
  • They have been hurt the same way before
  • They can’t move on from their own past
  • They want to make you feel guilty

How can I get my partner to forgive my past?

First, think about whether or not you even need to ask for forgiveness for your past. If yes, here is how you can go about it. 

  • Show remorse for the pain you’ve caused 
  • Allow them to have their space
  • Let them cool off before you broach the subject again
  • Don’t argue with them over this
  • Accept that they may not be able to forgive you
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself

What do you do when your partner won’t forgive your past?

It won’t be easy, but here’s what you can do when your partner won’t forgive you. 

  • Try to understand why it bothers them so much
  • Give them all the space they need
  • Consider how you might have expressed regret
  • Allow them time to think about it
  • Make a plan to revisit the situation, but move on and heal

How do you heal when someone won’t forgive you?

Healing begins when you do your best to make up for what you did even when the person you hurt won’t forgive you. Here’s how you can try to fix things.

  • Through admission of any wrongdoing
  • An apology followed by an explanation 
  • A genuine statement of regret 
  • A sincere offer to make amends
  • Ponder over what you have done and try not to repeat it

It’s perfectly normal to feel insecure from time to time, or to be concerned that your partner will develop feelings for someone else.

However, what about nervousness over who your partner has previously been attracted to? It turns out that this is known as Retroactive Jealousy. It’s when you’re envious of your partner’s previous relationships.

The curiosity, obsessiveness, and avoidance of a partner’s background can range from being interested to obsessive and avoidant. It can become compulsive at times, manifesting itself in unhealthy or dangerous ways. 

It could be why your partner can’t forgive your past.

Why can’t your partner forgive your past?

They feel inadequate 

If you’ve had many partners, your current partner may feel insecure and inexperienced and even intimidated.

Your partner can’t forgive your past, if their feelings of inadequacy get the best of them. It may also put a strain on your sex life and relationship.

The only way to move forward from this is for them to remember that the past is the past and that nothing can be done to change it.

They have trust issues 

If you’ve cheated on a previous partner, it’s reasonable to be concerned that they’ll do the same to you. Living in fear of past betrayals isn’t conducive to a happy partnership.

If they’re paranoid, this can be really tough to deal with because your partner can’t forgive your past and may nag you about it. 

Even if it’s exhausting, you’ll have to work extra hard to earn their trust. If you and your partner have agreed to be monogamous, they should try hard to trust you as well.

They can’t get over your past

If your partner spends too much time worrying about your past and can’t seem to let it go, they can’t forgive you.

Try to persuade them that by doing so, they would be missing out on the chance to have a healthy, meaningful connection with you now.

It could also push you away and make them insane.

They are jealous and insecure 

Your partner may feel insecure if you’re someone who has had a lot of partners, especially if their own history isn’t as extensive. Maybe that’s why your partner can’t forgive your past.

They are probably bothered by things like how many people you have slept with or what you have done with other partners. 

If they truly want to know about your past and end up asking you, they must not use it as a benchmark against which they evaluate themselves. Instead, a partner like you with an exciting sex life means both of you embarking on a new sexual adventure right now.

They are afraid of losing you

When your past is colourful and theirs is not, your partner may find it difficult to come to terms with. The presence of an attractive ex may be especially daunting for them. 

Your partner can’t forgive your past because it is just a cover for how they really feel. They do not want to lose you and all the overthinking they are doing is probably doing exactly that. 

Encourage them to talk to you and speak up about what actually is bothering them, so you can both figure it out together. Try to reassure them that you are not interested in anyone else and are not going anywhere. 

Their need for control overrides reason 

The need to have some control over the relationship or they feel like your slipping away may override your partner’s reasoning capabilities. 

When they can’t forgive your past, it indicates that something deeper is going on with them. It’s most likely not even about your past, but their own struggles to wrap their mind around how they got you in the first place. 

Now that they have you, they want to do all they can within their power to keep you. They need to give you your breathing space because a healthy relationship does not work that way.

They are emotionally stunted 

There needs to be some emotional maturity when it comes to accepting a person’s previous relationships. If your partner can’t ‘forgive’ your past, they are immature to say the least. 

Emotional immaturity can manifest as a lack of awareness and depth of one’s own feelings, as well as a difficulty to communicate and process relationship-related issues, as well as a lack of empathy and the capacity to understand your emotional experiences.

They need to get a grip and grow up if they want to make this relationship work. 

They have been hurt the same way before

Maybe in your previous relationship, you did some sketchy things that haven’t sat down well with your current partner. It could be why they can’t forgive your past. 

However, the past is your past and you can’t do anything to change it. You are not even the same person you were, say two years ago.  You have chosen to be with your partner and they have to come to terms with that. 

Either they get over it and build a relationship with you based on trust and understanding or move on. The choice is theirs, but they can’t keep bringing you down because they can’t decide. 

They can’t move on from their own past

It’s quite possible that your partner can’t forgive your past because somewhere they have a hard time making peace with their own. 

They could be haunted by the things that have happened in their previous relationships and instead of confronting them, it’s easier to project their issues onto you.

This is not acceptable and you need to have a conversation with them about not bringing up your past as an excuse to get away with theirs. 

They want to make you feel guilty

Your partner may be using your previous relationships as a tool for guilt-tripping you. It is why they can’t forgive your past. They may do this because they want to have a hold on you. 

Inducing the feeling of guilt in the other partner for the purpose of manipulation is despicable and toxic. Whatever hurt they may have does not give them the right to use anything they can to subdue you emotionally. 


Everyone has a past, for better or worse, and not everyone’s past is all good. Our lives are shaped by our pasts and when we’re in a relationship, we take on our partner’s past and interpret it in our own way.

Unless you’re the first person your partner has dated (which is unusual), you’ll have to deal with the consequences of those previous relationships as well – the good, the bad, and the ugly. What you have gone through in your life has moulded who they are now. 

To create a healthy future with you, your partner must leave behind your past and learn to accept or at least work toward accepting and understanding the less-than-ideal aspects of your life.

FAQs: My partner can’t forgive my past

Should couples talk about past relationships?

It’s sometimes preferable to forget about the past. Although it may feel strange to talk about ex-partners with your new spouse, having an open and honest dialogue with them about previous relationships is beneficial. It has the potential to bring you closer together and help you understand your significant other better, as well as the other way around.

Does the past matter in a relationship?

It’s a piece of advice you’ve definitely heard before but struggled to put into practice. When you’re starting a new relationship, however, moving on from the past is especially vital. It’s critical to keep in mind that each new relationship should start afresh.

What does it mean when your partner keeps bringing up the past?

If your partner, for whatever reason, brings up the past, it shows that they can’t let go of things. They may refuse to change this pattern of theirs because they are stuck in your past. They feel better about themselves when they keep harping on prior mistakes you’ve made.


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