Her Number Doesn’t Matter

Every guy wants to know his partner’s number, but Hugo Schwyzer thinks it’s time for us to stop worrying.

Judging from what I read online and hear from my students, the question of the “number” is as compelling as ever. In February, Marie Claire ran an article, “What’s Your Number?” in which five women (whose numbers ranged from zero to 100) told their stories. The March issue of Cosmopolitan Australia featured the same discussion, noting that 59 percent of readers surveyed thought knowing a partner’s exact number was important, and that 33 percent of those same readers had lied about their own pasts, claiming fewer sexual partners than they’d actually had.

(A quick note: most people use “the number” to refer to the count of people with whom they’ve had heterosexual intercourse. Any kind of sex that doesn’t involve a penis inside a vagina usually “doesn’t count.” A lot of us are like Bill Clinton in that regard, not seeing oral sex as real sex. This is a very limited—and limiting—understanding of what sex really is. But that’s a topic for another day.)

♦◊♦

It’s understandable to be curious about the sexual lives of our peers. It makes sense to want to know what the averages are. (According to the experts at the Kinsey Institute, the average number of lifetime sexual partners for men aged 30 to 44 is around seven, while for women in that same age group, it’s four—both lower than you might think).

But the number has different meanings for men and women. The old double standard is still alive and well: a man with more sexual partners than his buddies may be teasingly called a “man whore,” but the epithet is a compliment, not an insult. Ask a woman who has dared reveal her number to someone who considers it too high, and she’ll surely tell you a story of being “slut-shamed.”

It’s quite common for a guy to worry about a girlfriend’s sexual past. Too many men are still raised to see sex as crude competition, in which bedding a woman who has already had a lot of lovers counts less than scoring with a woman who is “hard to get.” But I think the average guy’s worry is simpler than that. The more men his girlfriend has slept with, the greater number of lovers to which she can compare his skills. It’s easier to win a contest against two than against 20, he figures. And even easier to rank first when he’s the only one to have ever played the game. No wonder so many men—in this country and around the world—are obsessed with finding a virgin.

This is the real reason why so many men get so filled with rage at sexually experienced women. And of course, it’s the real reason so many women feel compelled to lie about their number.

♦◊♦

Too many women have told their boyfriends their real number, only to be nagged incessantly for explicit details. (One friend of mine recounted to me in horror how her current boyfriend stopped one day in the middle of giving her oral sex to ask how his technique compared.) Other women find that their boyfriends endlessly psychoanalyze the reasons for a number that they think is too high: “Did you sleep with so many men because your father left you when you were a child?” (If I had a dollar for every woman I know who’s been asked that question, I could buy everyone reading this a Slurpee. Seriously.)

At this point, some men are probably protesting: “But I don’t slut-shame or endlessly analyze. For me, it’s not all about competing with other guys. Isn’t the number an important thing to know about someone you might be serious about? Isn’t it something I have a right to know?”

That sounds reasonable. But again, why is it so important to know an exact number? What difference does it make? Knowing whether a potential girlfriend has ever been in love before is important; discovering (slowly and patiently) how her past experiences have impacted her view of men (for better or worse) is important. But really, what’s the difference whether she’s slept with four or 14 men? She isn’t defined by her number—and if there’s a chance you might change how you see her when you discover the truth (should she tell you), why ask?

This has nothing to do, by the way, with asking about sexual health. It’s a great idea to talk about sexually transmitted infections; it’s a great idea for a new couple to get tested before having unprotected sex. We have a right to know if a potential partner has herpes. But the exact number itself is altogether different.

♦◊♦

I lost my virginity at 17 to my high-school girlfriend. She was a year younger but much more sexually experienced. She was my first for anything that went below the waist; I was the fifth guy she’d had sex with. I’d asked her number, of course, and then fought hard not to obsess about the four boys who had “been there” before me. But I saw the pain my questions caused her. And I came to realize that it didn’t matter.

I don’t know my wife’s number. I’ve never asked her. She’s never asked for mine. I know enough from the stories she’s told to know that there was more than one guy before me; she knows enough about my past to figure out that she can’t count my lovers on her fingers. Beyond that, we—who have shared so much sexually and emotionally in our nine years as a couple, six years as spouses, and two years as parents together—don’t need to know more specifics.

When we’re in a monogamous relationship, what we have a right to insist on is that no names get added to the list after our own. It doesn’t matter if I’m number five or 55. I’ll be crushed if my wife adds a number six or a 56 behind my back.

But the right to ask to be last is not the same as the right to know how far we are from the first. And for me, part of being a good man is knowing what I don’t need to know.

 This piece was originally published in February.

—Photo Angelo González/Flickr

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About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website

Comments

  1. Why the number is important? Three reasons:

    1. It feels bad, if woman has slept with half of the village. Why it feels bad? It just feels, maybe it is a biological thing. It is nearly the same thing, when women don’t like men, who have used prostitutes. Women don’t like men who buy sex – it just feel wrong. You can not act agains your feelings.

    2. If women have lots of partners, probability of divorce is greater. Yes, it is a studied fact.

    3. My personal experience with loose women is not flattering. Let me explain. In my younger days I was seeking sex in bars. I ended up – naturally – with lot of loose women. Many of them did’n even liked about sex: they used sex as gift for attention they got from me. I think it’s problematic feature in their personality. I don’t have problem, if woman really love sex and she is OK with her sexuality. But if woman uses sex as a tool – as many loose women so – to get something else, like validation – it is a turn off.

    And the thing goes other way round too: men with zero partners are losers, wankers or hopeless mommys boys.

    • To Henry and all the other men:
      I don’t care if you care about the number or not. I only occasionally mention the precise number of people I have had sex with. I only occasionally ask how many my lovers have had. Usually, I don’t need to. The ones who have had lots of partners usually indicate that fact by vaguely recounting experiences, etc. The ones who have not had many partners, well, don’t have the same kind of stories. Sometimes, if it becomes clear that the man is significantly less experienced sexually, I do ask his number. It helps me figure out what I am dealing with. Then I can create experiences to help him open, to challenge him, to know where his edges are, and how to understand when he pulls back.
      Here’s my response to your three reasons why it is important:
      1) I don’t give a rat’s ass if the men I’ve been with have hired prostitutes. All I care about is if they have used condoms, are STD-free, and are able to respect boundaries…oh, and it helps if they have an erection. Sorry! I just don’t care about the rest of that stuff.
      2) My former husband was the first man I kissed or had sex with. I was completely monogamous with him for 17 years. I believe he was completely monogamous with me during that time as well. We still divorced and I initiated the divorce. Now I have sex with whomever I choose whenever I choose. I have zero desire to get married EVER again. I don’t care about the divorce rate of slutty women.
      3) Yes, some women use their sexuality to control men or get attention from men. I can understand why it is a good to have a vague idea of why the woman you are with is sexual. There’s a huge difference between a woman being sexual because of a lack of self-esteem or addiction issues and a woman who loves sex and is very open with it.
      I don’t know if men with zero partners are losers. I think it depends on the guy. If he’s super conservative or wants to get married or something I usually am not interested in being sexual with him. It has nothing to do with his number and more to do with widely different desires and views.

    • Black Iris says:

      I think your reasons for wanting to know about your partner’s past make sense, but the problem is you have a past yourself. It doesn’t seem fair to me to say that you slept around with women you met in bars but you don’t want to marry a woman who would have slept with you then. If they were loose, so were you. Why should a woman give you a chance to have changed if you wouldn’t give a woman like you a chance?

  2. Its hilarious the way the second headline says every man wan’t to know his partners number, except Hugo.

    • The subhead surprised me, too. I’ve never cared about “the number,” and I can’t imagine why I would.

      Also, I note that Hugo doesn’t invoke this “you don’t need to know” argument when it comes to a woman’s questions regarding a man’s personal history.

      • Well in Hugo’s feminist world women don’t have agency. They don’t act they are only acted upon, so things that a woman does, cannot effect a man, its only men that have agency and act and men cannot be acted upon themselves.

  3. Impressionable young gir says:

    You are not just 1 in a million, you are 1 in billions Hugo. At least there is one man, one pure man out there to protect us.

    x

  4. If a person’s sexual history is irrelevant and no indication of their future, then there is no need for him to disclose his history of how many times he’s been married or engaged.  The past is the past. It’s none of your business.

    Or, maybe people shouldnt be trying to force-dictate how other people feel about their personal relationships?  What a novel idea. If you cate, that’s your business. If you don’t cate, THAT’S your business too. Just find a likeminded person and leave everyone else alone.

  5. Do women ever do anything wrong Hugo? Or are men to blame for everything?

    I remember when this was published earlier this year, but I see no reason to feel bad about asking a woman’s number. Women ask what we do for a living, in large part to determine our financial standing. Some women ask what we drive, which again speaks to finances. Men and women ask each other what kind of music they listen to, to determine if they might be compatible. We ask about the past and family situations.

    All of these questions are asked to get a better idea of who the other person is. And I’m sorry, but if two 25-year-olds are dating and one of them (either the man or the woman) says they’ve slept with 100 people, that’s a huge red flag. I’m not saying it automatically makes them a bad person, but it certainly means a long-term relationship might be more of a challenge. And that matters Hugo, it really does.

    You put men down because you assume the worst of us. You assume we want to be with a woman who has less to compare our performance to. But I don’t think that’s the case. I have no issue saying I don’t want to be with someone who’s been with an alarming amount of people. And at 32 years old, I’d say “alarming” (for me and me only) would be 50 or more. That is a shit-ton of sexual partners, and if I was looking for something long-term then the number would be important, and in that case it would preclude me from dating her.

    Kind of like women who won’t date a guy who makes too little money or doesn’t drive a flashy enough car.

    • Would Hugo’s number mean much if he hadn’t cheated on anybody in the past?

    • Men are to blame for absolutely, positively everything. Apparently, acknowledging that is what it means to be a good man since we are told that over and over and over.

  6. There are two kinds of men. Men who cop to caring about “the number” and liars. We know which one Hugo is.

  7. “a man with more sexual partners than his buddies may be teasingly called a “man whore,” ”

    Lol. No. Or maybe among your feminized social group. Men with many partners are called “studs” – which is what every man wishes they were.

  8. Mervyn Kaufman says:

    Many years ago, a college buddy confided to his closest friends that he and his fiancée had just paid a pre-marital visit to a doctor for complete physical examinations. We didn’t know about herpes then, or anything other than wild stories told about the impact of syphilis, so getting examined on that occasion seemed rather extreme, but nowadays a premarital physical could be important—and yield significant results. At best, it could be a confidence-builder; at worst, well, let’s not go there. Regarding “numbers,” the truth may well be that the future of a relationship depends more on the intensity of mutual love and commitment and less on the catalog of prior sexual relationships. I’ll go further: I think that any man who, at any time, asks the woman in his life—his partner, spouse or girlfriend—how many men she’s slept with is a fool. And, you know, I don’t think many women would pose a parallel question to a man she was interested in.

  9. I really enjoyed this article. It was direct, decisive, and honest–just like all of Hugo’s stuff. I think the whole idea of the number is a little childish–very highschool.

    The comments, on the other hand…

    I’ll just say how interesting I find it that there seem to be the same group of men that follow Hugo’s posts and spend countless hours attacking everything he writes. If you hate Hugo so much, stop reading his stuff. Easy. It’s getting really difficult to care to discuss any of his articles, because the comment section is polluted with so much spamming. I wish that the editors would do something about it.

    • BMF, there are a lot of egalitarian people here that don’t want to listen to this sexist crap where women are cast as delicate flowers and deities and men are cast as the flawed adults in the equation.

      It has a market with some feminists, but its appeal is quite limited,

    • Hugo is a near daily source of amusement. A daily cringe if you like. He is amazingly wrong on everything – every post of a fun house mirror of feminist rationalization.

      He takes something simple and obvious and denies that its true. Or will explain it away by some insane rationalization. Like the rationalization that men avoid women with high numbers because they are intimidated by a woman’s past partners. Ridiculously false. If that was true men would not sleep with women with “high numbers”. But everyone knows men will sleep with loose women any chance they get – they just won’t commit to them.

      The simple explanation: no man wants to commit to a woman who other men slept with for free when she was younger and hotter.

      • So men only value women if women demand something in return for sex (e.g., a long term relationship, a diamond ring) rather than giving it away for “free”? Nice regressive attitude there. Hey, don’t you hate gold diggers and women who use sex as a prize they grant in return for a commitment? Sheesh, seems we can’t can’t win.

        • Jill – no. I value women if THEY value sexual intimacy as something other than “getting off”. I certainly don’t want a “gold digger”, but I do want a women that values her sexual intimacy as much as I value mine. I want a women that has sex with me because she loves and cares for me, not because she wants to get off.

          I will admit, there is something appealing about having a woman that wants to have sex with me simply because they think I’m hot, but I need more than that to even consider it. I have put off sexual intimacy with women before until I felt that they were interested in more than a ONS or a Friends with Bennies situation. I’m worth WAY more than that.

      • Oh Linguist… you’re a piece of work!
        Here’s some info from a loose woman:
        1) I don’t “sleep” with men I’m not in relationship with. I fuck them. I fuck them and then I leave. Period. There is no sleeping involved. The last man who fell asleep immediately after I fucked him, I walked out on him and he never saw me again. I was there for one reason and one reason only: to fuck. Not to watch him sleep.
        2) You’re right. Men are unbelievably easy. So easy! It’s not even funny. As far as I can tell all I need to do is indicate a willingness and men flock to me. It doesn’t matter what I look like, how old I am, or anything. I have a vagina and men want it. The only problem is finding men who pay attention to what I tell them and can last for hours on end.
        3) Similar to what Jill said. If you don’t want women who commodify sex, then stop playing the game. The women who give sex in exchange for a long-term relationship, a diamond ring, new boobs, etc., they want a man who can provide them with all those things. That means you have to compete with your fellow men for money and status. Once you’ve gotten commitment from your golden whore, guess what? She’ll continue to commodify sex. You won’t get any until you’ve done the housework, fixed the roof, bought her a new car, etc. But you’ll have to watch out because she may trade up for a wealthier man or she may divorce you and take you for everything you own. Sounds like a great life! Enjoy!
        Some of us don’t want a commitment from a man. Why would we? What does that get us? I mean, I don’t want to buy a home. I don’t want to have more children. What precisely would a commitment from a man give me? There’s nothing in my life that I want to build or create that requires a commitment from a man to attain it.

        • nextinline says:

          Once again-don’t expect anyone to treat it like it’s sacred when they get a shot at it. It’s not. Otherwise-legs in the sky-Huzzah!

          • I can never control another’s person’s experience of sex. I can be giving and generous while having sex but I cannot control the sacredness of the experience. What I will say is that, regardless of who I am having sex with, I am capable of turning it into a sacred experience for myself.

        • Anon. E. Muss says:

          Exactly. I figured this out long ago. Only now, I charge a lot of money. I love fucking and when men know this, they flock to me. But now I’m also charging and have become pretty wealthy.

        • The naivete surrounding this “progressive”notion about the irrelevance of your girlfriend/wife’s number of sexual partners is embarrassing. It matters. The fact that there is a message board (multiple boards, articles studies etc) evince its importance.

          Gender is not a social conscript everyone. Because men’s focus on a women’s promiscuity does not fit nicely into the fabricated utopia we hide ourselves in does not preclude that: it is a make or break answer. And, yes, you should know. Stop with the STD guise – it is about an unwillingness to invest in a cheap female advertised with non-existent amenities; whether it was in the far past or recent past. Choices are made and consequences stem from them.

          Past is in the past? Think about if we applied such a infantile standard to society’s other ills; “Honey, yes, I raped a couple of kids…but things were crazy for me four years ago.” We would also need to toss out the American System of justice including the very notion of justice itself. There are an abundance of other important considerations including self-worth, that daddy used to go on long business trips while Jerry came over and played house with mommy, a nasty divorce, drug use stemming from the perils of a upper middle class upbringing etc.

          Bottom line though? You never pay Benz prices for a 1984 Datson, and you certainly would be a fool to expect that it wouldn’t have maintenance issues. Live up those spring break days if you must, but understand that men care…and crafty ones will attempt to figure out early whether you are worth an investment (remember the biological urge to pass on genes in males). If you are that Datson? I might ride in it a while, recklessly, and if I crash? There surely will be another at the same discounted price.

      • “The simple explanation: no man wants to commit to a woman who other men slept with for free when she was younger and hotter.”

        That’s not true, just a minority of men would feel like that.

        • Ron – and do you have any real data proving it is a “minority of men” that would feel like this? I’m sure you don’t, any more than I can prove you wrong. However, add +1 to the men that WOULD mind a high number for me. ;)

          • Make that +2

            I would also add that many of the men that proclaim to have Ron’s values often don’t end up with promiscuous women as wives or LTR. When I point this out they would say its just coincidence and proves nothing. I tend to think its a concious or unconcious choice on the part of the man.

            What I see a lot of is women that lie to their husbands / boyfriends to secure a relationship, they know they will be rejected or at a minimum seen in a negative light with long term consequences. The truth will manifest itself over time and then the man feels he was tricked into the relationship. All her talk of love is just a well orchestrated farce. The usual female response is your insecure, can’t handle a real woman, whats in the past doesn’t matter etc…
            I find interesting that women are the biggest hypocrites when deciding what matters in a persons past. Judge a woman for her actions you are labled a misogynist but if she judges you she is smart and wise.

            I think this is a hot topic for two types of men…

            1. The man with a value system at odds with the woman’s. We tend to dislike women that suddenly change their value system to secure a relationship. We tend to wonder if we are being lied to when a woman says she has changed..

            2. The guy that is socially awkward with women and has infrequent relationships with low quality women. He tends to feel cheated and side lined until women want something from him. Long periods of rejection followed by sudden offerings of love tend to make us cynical of promiscuous women. They had their fun with more desirable men and now he gets to have her. The response from women that she chose him after sampling so many men is hardly flattering. Also proclaiming the guy a winner when he was told continuously he was a loser sounds like a sick joke.

    • BMF: Give me a break.

      I’ve disagreed with Hugo and I’ve defended Hugo. But just because I disagree with his column and speak up about it doesn’t mean I’m “spamming.” I find it highly amusing that whoever doesn’t agree with you is a spammer while everyone else is intelligent. Very fitting.

      • I don’t have a problem with anyone who disagrees with Hugo. It’s the flock of men that follow him around in the comments section and attack his every article that drive me crazy. It’s really strange and I don’t understand it or why the editors of this site haven’t picked up on it yet. Or maybe they have, but they just don’t really believe in censorship, which I completely understand. Gotta give everyone their chance to speak their mind. But I’m starting to understand why Hugo doesn’t participate in the discussions following; they’re dominated by people that don’t really want to discuss anything, rather, pick a fight with him, throwing out whatever personal attacks they possibly can. I say that because, rather than formulate an actual critique with thoughtful statements, we are left with ones that start like this: “Do women ever do anything wrong Hugo? Or are men to blame for everything?” Which right off the bat tells readers that you have a personal grudge against Hugo, and that you don’t really care to rationally discuss anything he has to say.
        The main reason I even give a shit is that it makes it difficult to participate in any kind of discussion with other readers–as they generally get sucked into debate with you all–which I suppose I am now guilty of myself, so all apologies for my hypocrisy.

        • Hi BMF – I’ve commented on quite a few of Hugo’s articles, mostly over at his blog (under a different nickname) and, I think, been fairly consistent in addressing what I thought were problems in his arguments rather than just generally heaping bile on them or attacking him personally. So, yes, I do roll my eyes at the more incoherent attacks he gets, and certainly wouldn’t try to defend it all (and no doubt there’s worse that never leaves moderation).

          But I can sympathise with a general attitude of simply “I am sick of this guy receiving a platform”, because frankly I think by now he’s earned it. Considering the sum total of his output, for all that he can string a decent sentence together, he comes across as little better than the worst kind of cable news pundit: wedded to a certain view of the world independent of whatever facts he is supposedly considering. Hugo “knows” that any negative feature of gender relations is due to men being the architects of both women’s misfortunes and their own in much the same way that, say, Ann Coulter “knows” any problem the US has is due to the malfeasance of stupid, wimpy liberals. The standard schtick becomes irritating even on those occasions where there might be some accuracy to it.

          And yes, it is a little embarassing to say such things because they sound uncomfortably close to a strawman whine: “He blames everything on men and never women!”. For what it’s worth, I don’t at all think that’s true of feminists in general, even ones I strongly disagree with. But with Hugo, given all he’s said (his worst moments in particular), it’s a tough conclusion to avoid. And, while I wouldn’t presume to know his motivations (would that he could occasionally show similar restraint when discussing men…), I don’t think the more mindless comments are what keep him from responding; if anything, he’s seemed slightly more inclined in the past to respond to incoherent abuse than to more thought-out, and hence harder to dismiss, criticism. One of the frustrations in reading is blogging is his frequent refusal to address what seem the most obvious holes in what he says.

          • Megalodon says:

            “if anything, he’s seemed slightly more inclined in the past to respond to incoherent abuse than to more thought-out, and hence harder to dismiss, criticism. One of the frustrations in reading is blogging is his frequent refusal to address what seem the most obvious holes in what he says.”

            You are correct on this count. Back in March, Thaddeus Blanchette published an article criticizing some of the previously essays here, including Schwyzer’s.
            http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/playing-the-victim/

            Schwyzer did not reply to it on The Good Men Project. He did link to it on his own website and cursorily dismissed it.
            http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2011/03/14/monday-link-love/

            Professor Blanchette replied on Schwyzer’s website and said he would “happily dialogue” with Schwyzer and suggested having an exchange on The Good Men Project. However, Schwyzer did not respond.
            Professor Blanchette said, “Dr. Schwyzer apparently doesn’t like to engage in discussions with people who disagree with him. Comments are now closed on his blog.”
            http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/i-know-you-are-but-what-am-i/

    • BMF: If you hate Hugo so much, stop reading his stuff. Easy. It’s getting really difficult to care to discuss any of his articles, because the comment section is polluted with so much spamming.

      ———-

      I do not know what can be discussed with Hugo’s articles. They are all – without exception – directed against men and are trying to excuse and justify any wrongdoing by women.

      To disagree with somebody, who writes frequently ONLY articles which are against men on a website supposed to be supportive for men is not spamming.

      Many male readers who had some bad experiences with females in their past dislike Hugo’s misandrist articles and this website would be better off with him, just my opinion. He should move on to one of these many feminist-only webpages, where critical comments about feminism are immediately deleted.

      About women, it matters a lot if she had 20 boyfriends each year, or if she had only a few men in her entire life. The same is also true with men of course, it depends on the individual. It’s a big difference between men and women, who like to find ‘someone for them only’ and men and women, who are going out everyday looking for hook-up and enjoy sex with unknown people.

      Why should a man not ask about the past of the woman living with him? People in a long-term relationship should trust each other and be willing to answer honestly any question from their partner.

      • Again, just because a woman has sex with 20 different men in a year or a month doesn’t mean any of them were her “boyfriend”. There’s a huge difference between a boyfriend, a fuck-buddy, and a group of men you met at a sex party. Just sayin’.

        • Wow. Well that says a lot right there. Fuck-buddy? Sex party? Ummm, no thanks.

          This is EXACTLY why the number matters. I don’t want to commit my time and energy to any women that thinks fuck-buddies and sex parties are OK. So, knowing you’ve slept with a lot of people can tell me early on that we are NOT compatible sexually. We would obviously have very different attitudes about sexuality that I would not be able to deal with.

          So, in a way, you just proved to me why the number matters. Thanks.

          • Ted, you are correct. We would not be compatible and it would be a good thing for that to be made obvious early on.
            Here’s the thing though: I’m not sure the number in and of itself matters. For example, I could tell you that I am in my late 30s and have had sex with about 25 guys. Is that a high number or a low number? Or that I had sex with only 8 people in 2008?…but that 5 of them were pretty much all at the same time?

            I mean, really, there’s a bit of variance there! ;-)

            • There certainly is a bit of variance, but for me all of the above would be deal breakers.

              The number is important, but when measuring the lower end context matters. So in your example, 25 is too high a number for me. If the number was 10, it would depend on how you got those 10. If most of them were LTRs, then I would probably feel comfortable provided the LTRs were also the most recent. If half or more of those 10 were casual/FWB/ONS type situations, then I would have to pass.

              Its about her “attitude” towards sex. I’m looking for:
              Deeper connection. Intimacy. Bonding.
              A woman that has spent most of her sexual history having sex without those qualities just likely wont have what I am looking for, and she would likewise probably not be into what I have to offer.

            • Yep, true enough. Perfectly understandable. I just wanted to make the point that it is not so much the actual number as it is the attitude that is important. The number can give an indication of the attitude but does not tell the whole story.

              That’s all! Wishing you a happy weekend Ted!

            • nextinline says:

              Good for you Jeni-just don’t expect me or anyone else to treat it like it’s sacred when we get a shot at it. It’s not.

            • There’s nothing about me that is any more sacred than anyone else. How you view it, is how you view it. I cannot control that. I can only control my experience or how open to god/the divine I am in any given moment. When I am open to the divine, most anything can be sacred. :-)

      • “I do not know what can be discussed with Hugo’s articles.”

        You’re right, nothing can. So I guess that means you wont be posting anymore? Oh wait, no, you went on to justify why you follow his articles only to attack them without any purpose of discussion. I think that might be the definition of trolling, but I’m not sure.

  10. I wish people would learn the difference between median and average. Does women have 4 sex partners and men 7 partners on average or is that the median? Big difference. Median means half are higher (possibly a lot higher) and half are lower. I’ve seen these numbers quoted both ways so I don’t know which it is, but I think it is the median NOT the average.

    In other words, if you take 100 people and 50 of them have 5 or fewer sex partners, the median will be 5 even if in the other group of 50 people, the numbers range from 6 to 600. If you take an average in that case, it will a lot higher because the highest numbers will bump the average up. It’s a lot more informative to look at the percentages in each range.

    • Black Iris says:

      Interesting question. Apparently it’s the median.

      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad362.pdf

      I like medians better than averages. An average can be pulled way up by a few extreme numbers.

      There may be some numbers somewhere in that report or on the Kinsey Institute website that give you a sense of the range.

  11. Never cared about a girls “number” because I figured there was no use in knowing. She wants to be with me right now and that’s all I really worried about. I think that men who concern themselves with fears about whether other men were better are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Even if a woman has slept with 50 partners chances are she can’t even remember more than half of them and probably only a select few will actually stand out in her memory as being really good lovers. And what made them really good lovers is a mixture of things totally disconnected with this particular point in her life. Maybe there was the 1 standout in college because it was an older guy or someone she had a connection with, or someone who she was really in love with and didn’t work out. There’s no shame in a woman sleeping with men in one-night flings as long as she doesn’t have STI’s or multiple kids from different men. I’m never going to be worried that a dozen one-nighters means this chick is crazy sexual and I’m not going to measure up. I would be more concerned that she gets bored easily and will leave or cheat on me, which if it happens, doesn’t make knowing her number any more important because it will still suck.

    • Jon – with all due respect. I have NO desire to be with a women that “can’t even remember more than half of them…”. That tells me right there that we are not compatible sexually. I believe that sex is more than a simple bodily function, and that sex should always have deeper meaning. If a women can’t even remember some of her sexual partners, she obviously does NOT feel that sex is meaningful for anything other than a physical release.

      • Ted,

        You’ve some mistaken assumptions on a few counts. First, sometimes a girl doesn’t need to know your name. Sometimes, all she needs is an erect penis and a semi-conscious male attached to it. Second, who you are having sex with is irrelevant if you see God in everyone. Names don’t matter. That’s all ego anyways. ;-)

        • Jeni,

          It is not a mistaken assumption. I am aware that some men and women are completely fine with the concept of random, nameless sex. But that is a view of sexuality that is not compatible with mine. So knowing that the woman I am considering for an LTR is OK with fucking nameless men is important early on in the process. That is why the number is important.

          I’m also not sure what God has to do with not knowing a name. Personally I usually find out a persons name about the time I walk up and say, “Hi, my name is Ted!” Since to me that is the barest minimal level of acceptable social interaction, I can’t imagine what kind of scenario you would have to be in to have sex with someone you haven’t at least introduced yourself to.

          At any rate, I’m not the religious bible thumping type, so God has little to do with my philosophy.

  12. Heres the only thing I care about “the number”, mine or hers. I want a relationship good enough and honest enough where neither of us has to lie, and neither of us judges the other person.

    The number itself matters much less than how my partner (and I) react to the number.

  13. Black Iris says:

    Hugh, I like this piece and I think a lot of the personal attacks are uncalled for, but, there are some things you might want to think about.

    If the number really didn’t matter, couples could ask about it and discuss it. It’s only because it does matter to us that we may not want to ask.

    In your case, it sounds like your number is significantly higher than your wife’s. I think many men have less trouble dealing with their wife/girlfriend’s number when that is the case. In fact, I think many women have an easier time dealing with that situation.

    In fact, you and your wife have some sense of each other’s numbers even if you haven’t discussed the exact number. Once you know that your husband’s number is too high to count, you know what you need to know.

    Your opinion that the number shouldn’t matter may be influenced by your own past. Your wife saw your change and was able to not worry about your past behavior, but some women might have reacted differently. So when you defend women with high numbers, it’s possible that you are also saying that fact about me doesn’t matter so long as I am now faithful to my wife. I would say that make sense, particularly from a religious point of view. However, the trick is knowing whether or not the person has changed.

  14. A few examples of things I can think of that someone might learn from a partner:

    1. They lived with their parents until they were 30.
    2. They’ve never been in a relationship for longer than a month.
    3. They’ve been to a lot of Twilight conventions.
    4. They’ve always been the one who got dumped.
    5. They’ve always been the one who did the dumping.
    6. They used to be a marine.
    7. They used to be homeless.
    8. They went to a very expensive private school as a child.
    9. They’ve only been in one relationship before this, and it lasted for 10 years.

    Now, can anyone honestly say that none of these things would ever shift their opinion of someone, for better or worse? Never alter their view, even slightly, about whether they wanted to be in a relationship with someone? That they would never be of any relevance because after all, they’re in the past? That doesn’t mean any of them are obviously inherently good or bad, or that they’d be the full picture in the absence of other information (any more than number of sexual partners is), but that’s not the same as being irrelevant. So what is it about the number of sexual partners that makes it so especially unimportant?

    People ascribe different levels of significance to sex. Some don’t want to have it in any relationship outside of marriage. Others will happily sleep with people with whom they have no connection beyond finding them physically attractive. A lot of people fall somewhere in between. Some people may not care about their partner’s sexual history just as some may not care about some other aspect of their history. But it’s their relationship, and since sex is hardly universally regarded as being of no importance I see no reason why this particular aspect should be so off-limits to them.

    As one last aside:

    “and if there’s a chance you might change how you see her when you discover the truth (should she tell you), why ask?”

    Er, because it might change how you see her? And it’s often good to know the truth about things that matter to you? I’d dismiss this sentence as just nonsensical but actually it does seem to provide some telling context for “Spermgate”.

  15. Of course you don’t article writer; you have zero self-respect given that you yourself have engaged in the same promiscuous behaviours that you have now learned nearly all women have engaged in (albeit not with you). Congratulations on understanding women are human beings, too.

  16. The number is important because we want to be special to our partner.

  17. No one wants to marry a spunk bucket.

  18. Wirbelwind says:

    Her (and his) number ALWAYS mattered and no amount of shaming propaganda can change that.

  19. - Well, I’m inclined to agree to a part. If someone has left their past behind them, and is physically and emotionally healthy, then maybe it’s worth it to try and have a relationship. But in the overwhelming majority of cases, a promiscuous sex life is indicative of other personality problems. I have yet to meet a woman who has slept with over 50 men and has managed to lead a successful long-term, monogamous relationship.

    Furthermore, I think that guys that don’t care about their partner’s pasts at all, don’t have intense feelings for her. When you really love someone, you want to not only know about who they are, but who they were. And when you really care for someone and you find out that lots of people before you had them, it can trigger a strong emotional response that has zero to do with our rational minds — which know that it shouldn’t matter — and is very difficult to deal with.

    I struggled with this issue for years. The only thing that ever helped me was a guide I bought over at http://www.SheWasASlut.com — the author was the first I’ve ever seen that gave a complete and accurate description of what we go through, why we go through it….and how to deal with it.

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