The number of people I have slept with is higher than most women I’ve asked. At the end of the day, I’m not going to lie about my number — I am not ashamed. But I do wonder how I should talk about it in future dating scenarios.
Anyone else with a high sex number want to give me advice about talking open and honestly about it?
I got a bit of a late start when it came to sex. But I followed it up with what my mom calls my “busy” period — including a year where I worked as an escort. I don’t even know what my “sex number” is, because I stopped counting.
I told my partner early on in our relationship about my past in sex work (that did feel like the kind of thing I wanted him to know, although more for my own sake than his. I didn’t want it to be a secret that weighed more heavily on me with time, and I wanted to know right away if that was going to be a game-changer for him). I also leveled with him about that phase of my life in general; basically, that I’d had a lot of sex, with a lot of different people, some of which I regretted, some of which I didn’t. That was as much as felt relevant and important for me to share. (Again, it was the kind of thing that if I didn’t share, I’d wind up having to mince around certain topics in future, and I didn’t want to be with the sort of man who would hold any aspect of my sexual past against me).
He, on the other hand, chose to tell me about each and every one of his former partners, but that was because, unlike myself, he had a history of being very much Relationship Guy. So each of his “numbers” were women who had been, and in some cases still were, a big part of his life. I think talking about experiences in past relationships (and dissecting reasons for breakups) can and should be a healthy part of a growing relationship.
Talking about experiences in past relationships can and should be a healthy part of a growing relationship.
So we each approached our backstories differently in how much detail we felt the need to share. But in each case, it was relevant, and also information that we WANTED to share with each other. A mere number (if some portion of that number, at least, is not made up of people you really feel the need to talk about after the fact) is just not relevant in the same way. Though I think that there’s value to sharing the gist, anyway, because if you’re anything like me, you’d rather not waste your time on someone who sees you differently if you have had X number of partners. Better to find that out ASAP so you can skip off with middle fingers held high if need be.
That said… there are certain aspects of one’s sexual past (or present) that I think are relevant, or in some cases absolutely required from an ethical standpoint. Some obvious examples of things you should level with someone about, in my opinion, would include:
- you’re currently having sex with someone else, in a “relationship” or not — I’m just saying I think that people have the right to know what kind of situation they’re stepping into, so that they can make an informed decision.
- If you have any kind of STD/STI. Obviously that should go without saying! Being honest about these kinds of things is just practicing good sexual ethics.
This is totally a personal decision, but for people on the opposite end of the spectrum from our question-asker, I also think that it is probably wiser for your own sake, if, say, you are extremely inexperienced sexually, or very much in the process of recovering from sexual trauma, to give that kind of background information. If I was hooking up with someone who told me something like that, I would know to pay even that much more attention (even more than usual!) to how they’re doing at each and every step of the way, because I know it can be hard in those circumstances for someone to be as confident expressing their real feelings about how things are going for them when things get hot ‘n’ heavy.
I guess a short version of what I think is that it is NEVER okay or relevant for someone to ask about your number. It’s just such an arbitrary, judgmental thing to give one moment’s thought to regarding one’s partner. And your male friends need to take a good hard look at themselves and their double standards, because that is an even bigger pile of crap than caring about someone’s number in the first place.
How do YOU handle sex number discussions?