Why Your ‘Number’ Shouldn’t Matter


“So, how many people have you had sex with?”

This is not a question anyone is ever supposed to ask. And if it is asked, you are not supposed to answer. This system seems to be working pretty well and makes complete sense. My husband doesn’t know how many people I’ve slept with, doesn’t want to, and I don’t ever plan on telling him. To be clear, I’ve always been open and honest with him about my past, and he has been with me as well. But neither one of us believes that a number should make any difference in our relationship. What if I slept with fifty people before we met? What if he slept with a hundred? Would I love him any less? No. Would I be a different person in his eyes? Never.

The problem here is that for a lot of guys that answer is yes. We are all familiar with the double standard that when men sleep around they’re just being men and when women sleep around we’re sluts. Well then, maybe I was a slut for a year in college, and then another year or two post-grad. But all the rest of the last decade I spent in long-term, monogamous relationships. Is it slutty to want to get laid when you don’t have a boyfriend or husband around to do it? Is it slutty to have sex just for sex, or is it OK if you think you might end up dating them? Or is it that all sex unattached women have is totally dirty and slutty? If you agree with the latter, I disagree with you. And women that are calling other women sluts are an equally large part of the problem.

The sexual landscape of our world has been steadily changing for quite some time now. At this point sex and dating are mutually ambiguous terms. People are having more sex on the first date, sex before they even start dating, and casual partners and hook-ups can be found in just about any bar in the country. I’m not arguing that people should be going out and fucking every other person they meet. Sex isn’t a way to get a guy to like you and it isn’t a weapon. But a lot of people enjoy having it whether or not they’re in a committed relationship. For all these people, I would like to take a brief moment to highlight the importance of practicing safe sex and getting tested on a regular basis if you have multiple partners. Guy or girl, you’re an idiot if you don’t practice safe sex. Everyone agreed? OK. But what I most want to draw attention to here is the reality of how sex has changed in our generation while the judgment of females who engage in this behavior hasn’t. 

We all make choices in our lives, some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them absolutely terrible. We all have sexual histories we feel we have to lie about or distort in order to protect the ones we love, or to protect ourselves. But that history is part of you. Your choices define you, they make you who you are. And if those choices include having casual sex, I don’t think anyone should have to hide it, be ashamed of it, or be punished for it.

I’ve been in love five times in my life, I’ve had my heart broken (and simultaneously broken others) almost as many times. I’ve had casual sex, friends with benefits, one night stands, and a whole string of almost loves that never quite made it. I’ve traveled the world as a single girl and you better believe I wasn’t celibate the whole time. They were all my choices and barring one or two glaring exceptions, I don’t regret a single thing. And if I don’t, then neither should anyone else.

If you never had sex outside of a serious relationship and you want a girl that’s lived a similar life, fine. It certainly won’t be me. But if you want to love a person who’s great in bed while pretending she’s still a virgin, well then go find a virgin to love. Good luck with that if you’re over 22.

People need to accept your histories as part of you. And that includes all the boys and girls and bad decisions. You should definitely try to avoid telling your significant other graphic details about any of these things, but they need to be OK knowing that they exist. Being aware of someone’s history isn’t the same as asking for a number in order to quantify your judgment of that person. Too many women feel forced to lie about this for the sake of some guy they’re dating, while men are busy bragging to their friends about it. This needs to change.

Every guy I have been with has taught me lessons about what I want and don’t want, what is important to me, and what is important to avoid. Does my husband need to know my number? No, but I know that if I did tell him, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. I married him because I knew after everything I’ve been through that I would never meet a better man. I found the best one. If I hadn’t dated all those other guys, maybe I would still think there was something better out there.

So to all the boys out there who thinks a girl is a slut because she had sex with ten guys or fifteen or fifty, lay off it. Women are allowed to have sex just as much as men are. At the risk of sounding like I’m standing on a feminist soapbox, the sexual revolution happened. Sex is something that should be talked about openly and honestly, but most importantly, considerately. Instead of our current policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ I think we need to upgrade it to ‘don’t ask, don’t care.’