Hugh Wilson, contributor, MSN Him, 15/10/2010 12:19 How to deal with her romantic past Unless your girlfriend has lead a very sheltered life, there's bound to be the skeletons of one or two (or 10) serious exes hanging in her closet. Which is fine of course. Perfectly normal. Just how it should be. After all, if she hadn't had a romantic past you'd be inclined to start asking what on earth was wrong with the woman. At the same time, knowing too much about the ex files can be uncomfortable, especially in the just-getting-serious stages of a relationship. OK, you know she's had a boyfriend or two, but what if an ex turns out to be the one she thought was 'the one', or the one who taught her some amazing bedroom trickery, or the one she still sees three times a week (albeit in the guise of 'mates')? "Previous relationships can initially feel quite intimidating, but they really shouldn't because, well, it's you she's with," says Natalie Lue, a relationship expert and author who runs relationship workshops (www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/workshops). "Trust me when I say there's a reason why she's no longer with her ex." Still, it's easy to let her ex files knock you for six. So to help you come to terms with her romantic past, here are five nightmare exes - and five reasons you really shouldn't let them get to you. The first love They say you never get over your first love. They say that - deep down - all women are looking for the white-hot fire of lust and passion that only a first love can ignite. Happily, 'they' are talking baloney. First love is intense precisely because it's new. For most people the novelty soon wears off, leaving very little in its place. How many people do you know who are still with their first loves? "Unless you've met your partner straight out of that first relationship, the likelihood is that even if she is still fond of her ex, the rose tinted glasses will be off by now," says Lue. The one she got engaged to Hmm, in the league of nightmare exes, this one's a biggie. So not only did she go out with him, sleep with him, share secrets with him, she PLANNED HER ENTIRE FUTURE AROUND HIM! In other words, he was, albeit briefly, 'the one'. She loved him so much she wanted to marry him and have his babies (probably). How on earth can you compete with that? By not thinking about it, at least in that way. "The key is not to focus on the fact that she was engaged but to remember that for whatever reason it ended," says Lue. "Getting engaged might be a big thing, but getting out of an engagement is even bigger - you have no worries here." In other words, change your perspective. She made serious plans with him and then ditched them, meaning something was seriously wrong. The one she had blinding sex with That thing she does - how on earth did she learn to do it? How come she seems to know the male anatomy - and how to manipulate it - so damn well? How come she's so sure you're "guaranteed" to like it? As Natalie Lue admits, "it's difficult to meet a woman who doesn't have that one ex that she had blinding sex with," but that doesn't mean she's thinking of him when she's sleeping with you. "Sex just isn't enough and after a while it becomes a pretty hollow experience when there isn't a relationship to back it up. As long as you're offering more than sex, you already have a leg up on the ex," she says. Are you offering more than sex? Are you giving her sex, companionship, love, friendship, kindness and romance? Because if the other guy was she'd still be with him. And remember, just because someone else was giving her great sex doesn't mean you're not. Stop comparing, start enjoying. The local celebrity He may have played for the town's football team. He may have drummed for a local band. He may simply have owned a car before most of his peers could drive. Whatever it is, in the insular world of small towns and suburbs, he was a very big fish indeed. And however many years ago he was on the scene, he can still cause you the odd sleepless night. Maybe she likes being wined and dined? Maybe she's got a yearning for even a hint of the highlife? Maybe she likes the idea of having a boyfriend who can walk straight to the front of the queue? "This is likely to have been a flash in the pan," says Lue. "Unless you're a celeb yourself, it's clear she's not lured by status and that whatever it was that attracted her, it's very much over." Maybe she WAS a little impressed by status...for a microsecond...when she was 18. But once she scratched his surface she probably found there was nothing much there at all. And if you want proof that status doesn't matter to her, remember, she is going out with you! The one who is now her best friend Out of all of her potential nightmare exes, perhaps the one who went from boyfriend to best friend is the most troublesome of all. Clearly, their relationship went wrong...but not that wrong. If he is one of her best friends, she confides in him (perhaps about her new boyfriend), laughs at his lame jokes, and spends fun time in his company. In fact, apart from one obvious exception, she does everything with him that she does with you. And don't they always seem to have SO much fun. Natalie Lue suggests you qualify this friendship. "If they are recent exes, I'd be a tad suspicious, but if they've been friends for quite a while and they clearly have their own lives and have moved on from their romantic phase, you'll have to trust her on it. If you're very much the focal point and he is respectful (to you), I wouldn't worry about it." If he is a very recent ex, or he treats you more as a rival for her attention than her bona fide new boyfriend, you might need to talk it through with her. In this case, a boundary may need to be drawn.