YOUR SEXUAL PAST: Fighting Flashbacks

grieving sexual past AdobeStock_100073926 copyA sexual track record tends to follow us. Some people have so much baggage tattered to their psychological and sexual self. There are so many little name tags that have never been completely torn off. It gets very difficult not to compare this man or woman you deeply love and respect to someone you slept with in the past.

Since this has, unfortunately, become so prevalent in our society, let’s talk more about dealing with your sexual past.

Being Realistic

I wish I could say that if you’ve been sexually active, don’t worry —you can be just like a virgin again. But if I said that, I’d be lying. God will forgive you. Your spouse can accept you. But it’s far healthier to be realistic if you’ve had previous sexual experience. A recycled virgin still brings more baggage to the marriage bed than a true virgin. There’s a reason God tells us to save sex until marriage. There are consequences if we step over that line.

For starters, you may have flashbacks. Sexual memories are a natural phenomenon if you’ve had other lovers in your life. Unfortunately, these flashbacks can interfere with a health marital sex life. I’ve had several patients confide that flashbacks were a significant problem. This is particularly true for those who had a strict upbringing and who didn’t live up to it. For women, the guilt can feel almost overwhelming at times. They’re making love to their husband when suddenly ex-boyfriend Richard comes to mind. Since sex is such an emotional experience for women, a flashback robs them of the meaning and the moment.

Men Are Different

Men, on the other hand, tend to compare the physical reactions, and their flashbacks are more likely based on comparison. What if a former girlfriend knew how to touch you in a particularly satisfying way? And what if your wife is worried that she’ll never be able to compete? And when she asks you about it, she can tell that, so far, she hasn’t come close to pleasing you like that other woman used to? The pain of such a realization cuts very deeply. Men who have previous sexual experiences may also have a hard time valuing the emotional connection of married sex since they’re focused more specifically on physical pleasure.

It’s not easy, but you’ve got to start anew, and that means letting your spouse start anew as well. Remember what we talked about in the previous section: Once you’ve asked for forgiveness, God has forgiven you. I realize it’s easy to accept it emotionally. If I knew how to keep the thoughts away, I wouldn’t be a psychologist; I’d be a magician! The things we want to repress and not think about are usually the things that pop up in our minds during the most inappropriate times.

Here’s a Little Trick:

As soon as you get that memory, start talking to your husband. Tell him how much you love him, how much you want to please him, what he means to you, or how aroused you feel. If the latter isn’t true, take his hands and help him please you. That way your conscious thoughts and words are focused on him instead of thinking of another.

In other words, your assignment is to relearn how to have the best sex possible with our spouse. Whenever any memories intrude on your current sex life, try to make your present sex life that much more satisfying. You get rid of the old by focusing on the new. This is a conscious choice. I’m not going to dwell on that memory. Instead, I’m going to daydream about how to make my spouse cry out with pleasure.


How well this works will depend in part on how much damage has been done. You can get away with not brushing your teeth once in a while. But if you neglect your teeth for months or years on end, you’re going to get gum disease. If, at the first onset of that disease, you suddenly decide to become the best flosser in the neighborhood and start brushing your teeth after every meal, you may be able to prevent further infection. But you’re still going to have to recover from the previous damage.

It’s like a smoker who quits. As a former smoker myself, I know I’m much healthier now that I haven’t lit up in over 35 years. But while I’m much healthier for quitting, I’d still be better off if I had never smoked a cigarette in the first place.

The article featured above can be found in this revealing book entitled, Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage. It is written by psychologist Dr Kevin Leman published by Tyndale House Publishers. This book “isn’t intended to make you feel guilty for what you have or haven’t done. It is to help you pinpoint what goes on in your brain and in your relationship with your spouse. This is so that you can have a fulfilling sex life.” It’s a really good book that we highly recommend that you read.


Below are additional interesting articles, which are posted at different web sites. We believe they will give you further help in this area of your life:

Dealing with Your Spouse’s Sexual Past

Haunted by Premarital Sex


Five Ways to Find Healing from Your Past

— PLUS —

You can visit the web site for the ministry of Barbara Wilson to listen to her audio testimony on “how to heal from your sexual past, whether it’s from your own choice, or someone else’s choice forced on you, as in abuse or rape….” As Barbara testifies, “Maybe you’re one of the causalities of casual sex. I was. And then God healed me. The great news is… He wants to do the same for you.” You just may find healing help waiting for you by visiting her web site.

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7 responses to “YOUR SEXUAL PAST: Fighting Flashbacks

  1. (QATAR)  It’s very true, as a young female adult who has just started to grow in the Lord. I wish I never engaged in premarital sex. Many days I get flashbacks of all the encouters and wonder a lot. Since then I have never had a boyfriend. 3rd year now and wonder if God will ever provide a good spouse. Everyday I have to remind myself that I’m new in him, though history and surrounding says otherwise. Some things are better left unexplored… thats the biggest lesson I learned.

  2. I became a Christian in my late 20’s and since I dealt with my sexual past. I am single and I really want to marry a Christian born again man, in love with Christ.

    However, the more I understand the reality of Christian intimacy, the more I have thoughts of regret and pity and uncertainty if I will ever be able to forget, if my body will forget and forgive. I hope that when some conversations will arise that my future husband will see me as Christ and Our Father God sees me and sees us: wonderfully made, precious, forgiven and righteous. I can’t wait to marry and have a second everlasting chance on love agape and intimacy.

  3. Hi , I was so glad when I was getting and reading this article for the first time. As I understood from the article it is very constructive and gives ideas and ways of direction for those who separate from their previous boy/girl friend!!! Thank you so much for your advice!!!

  4. Will God punish me if I did not want to engage in premarital sex? It wasn’t my choice and I don’t want to go to hell for something I did not choose. God gave us the freedom to choose Him or go against Him. My actions went against Him but it was not my choice.

    1. Angel, you will not go to hell if you confess your sin–that, which you have done wrong. We are told in the Bible, in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I just want you to know that. God is a good God. He will draw near to you as you draw near to Him.

      I sense from your comment here that you had sex against your will. Isn’t that rape? If you were raped — forced to have sex against your will, you did not sin. The person who did that to you sinned–horribly so. You are carrying around a weight of guilt that you should not carry. God would never want you to carry that. I encourage you to find someone you can talk about this to… someone who is wise scripturally, as well as in everyday issues. It sounds like you need help to get past the guilt you have been carrying.

      I pray you are able to find emotional and spiritual freedom on this. I also encourage you to read through the following linked article: The enemy of our faith is trying to make you feel guilty and hold onto that guilt. If you did anything wrong, confess it and don’t do it again. But if you didn’t (as in the case of rape) don’t allow the devil to guilt you into holding onto horrible feelings, and condemnation. This is not God’s will for you. He wants you to draw closer to Him–not stay away from Him out of guilt. That article could help you to discern the condemning promptings you are hearing in your subconscious.

      I pray the following over you to bless you: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:2) I encourage you to lean into Him–not away from Him. “May the LORD bless you and keep you; may the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)