I fell in love with a wonderful woman who used to do pornography and other sex work. I think of myself as progressive and I don’t want to pass judgment on anyone for their past. I think women who do sex work deserve respect. But I was raised in a very conservative Christian household, so my views on sexuality were rooted in modesty and shame. I love our sex life and she is my best friend. But I find myself feeling jealous or insecure about her past and I worry that I will let these feelings ruin an amazing relationship. How can I talk to her about my internal struggles without making her feel judged? How can I work through these feelings and find acceptance and security within myself? I know my feelings are wrong, but I don’t know how to overcome them and love her the way she truly deserves to be loved.

Feelings are never right or wrong. They just exist. Accept them as valid and ask her to do so as well. It is natural to have some jealousy or insecurity about a partner’s past, no matter what that might have been. I imagine she expects that you may harbour some of the feelings you describe, so if you think it will help to share them with her then perhaps you should. Ideally, start by reaffirming your positive feelings for her, then tell her your issues. Be sure to follow that by asking her for something you need – explanations, reassurances? Identify what help she could give and then ask specifically for it. It is always best to follow what could be taken as a criticism or complaint with a request that – if granted – could rectify the situation.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

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