My Girlfriend’s Past Was Up There On Screen. Eew!

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by Jeff Billings in Retroactive Jealousy Blog
July 15, 2016
my girlfriend's past

As you probably know, my girlfriend’s past used to be a major issue in my life. I was obsessed by thinking about who she once had casual sex with, and struggled for months to try and overcome retroactive jealousy

Unfortunately, when you’re in the grip of retroactive jealousy ocd, like I was, it seems anything can trigger it.

My girlfriend’s past would regularly leap to the front of my mind when hearing a song I knew she was turned on to by an ex… When I was introduced to a guy who looked like one of her former sex buddies… And whenever I’d see a gratuitous sex scene in a movie…

And that’s what I want to talk about in this post — needless explicit sex in movies.

My Girlfriend’s Past, Brought Vividly To Life On Screen…

I can remember back in 2011 when I was stuck in the grip of retroactive jealousy and my girlfriend’s past was a major issue, I went with her to see Blue Valentine, starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling.

I think it was roughly twenty minutes into the film that we were greeted with the image of Michelle Williams, nearly naked, being roughly taken from behind by her boyfriend. It was graphic. It was long. It was… Well, I just wanted it to stop.


Apart from the fact I’m not a fan of overlong unnecessary sex scenes in movies, Michelle Williams looked remarkably similar to my girlfriend. And all I could think was that it was her, rather than Michelle’s character up there on screen being ravaged by this guy.

In other words, I was witnessing my girlfriend’s past sex life as I’d imagined it over and over again in my head, up there on screen.

It stopped, eventually, several minutes later, but there was more to come. (In every sense of the word.)

Director Derek Cianfrance, found it necessary to include a further three graphic scenes of explicit sex, including a couple of Ryan going down on my girlfriend. I mean, Michelle Williams.

It looked real. It felt real. Heck, I don’t know why he didn’t just film them actually having sex.

Is Gratuitous Sex In Movies Really Necessary?

Was all that sex in Blue Valentine really necessary to our understanding of the characters? Or to the plot? Or anything? Or was it just an excuse to be “shocking?”

The arthouse French movie, Blue Is The Warmest Color, I think has to be the worst culprit of sexual excess on film in recent years. The movie is three hours long, and it feels like two of them are spent watching lesbian couple Emma and Adèle having sex.

Now I’m not advocating a return of the Hays Code during the 1930s, when Fred and Ginger got through nine movies together exchanging nothing more than a peck on the cheek, but surely there’s a limit to all this sex for the sake of sex?

I’d love to see a return to a situation in which directors know when they’ve given us enough information to inform us that two people are about to, or are having, or have just had sex, without leaving the plot for ten minutes to show us a big no-holds-barred sex scene.

I can understand if the sex helps our understanding of a character or a situation. Michael Douglas having his way with Glen Close in Fatal Attraction, for example. But on the whole, I wish they’d just leave it to our imagination.

Here’s all that needs to happen: Two people get into bed. They start to kiss. Cut. I think we can put two and two together as to what’s going to happen next.



Has your retroactive jealousy ever been exacerbated by watching a gratuitous sex scene in a movie? Do you also wish directors would just cut away and leave the rest to our imagination, or are you fine with it? I’d be interested to know what you think so let me know in the comments section below.

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