What’s Your Number?

At some point in a relationship you are likely to either ask, or be asked, what your number is.

How many people have you had sex with?

At this point you can either lie, go higher to make yourself look more experienced or lower to make yourself look less slutty, or you can just tell the truth.

You can also refuse to answer but people do not tend to take this well and spiral into a panic that they’re number 9999 on your list.

So why does it matter?

This subject came up last night with a friend of mine. He’s a few years younger than me and worried that his number is too high. At his age my number was higher. On discovering this he then panicked that, as a boy, perhaps his number is actually too low?

The thing to remember is that regardless how many people you’ve had sex with in the past, it didn’t work out, so they don’t matter. Whether it was one person or fifty or three hundred. What matters is their relationship right now, with you.

Admittedly, if you are number three hundred it would imply that they do move through partners at a rate of knots and so you’re more likely to be cast aside quickly, but it’s no guarantee. And in my experience people are capable of betraying you or using you no matter how innocent their past may appear. So if you do care about their number, don’t automatically judge them as a good or bad partner based on how high or low it is.

The friend who asked me isn’t someone I have ever slept with, or have any intention of sleeping with, so telling him didn’t seem to matter. If we were sleeping together I might not have. Recently I have tended to avoid answering the question because I don’t like the associated judgement either way. Some people judge it as high, others low. But judgements are made and opinions formed. I also don’t ask. I don’t ask because I don’t want to know where I am on the list. I don’t want to form those judgements. I want to see our relationship as what it is in this moment, what it means to me, how it feels.

The only thing to bare in mind about past lovers is this; once you have sex with someone you’re having sex with their entire sexual history, and the entire sexual history of everyone they’ve had sex with, and everyone they’ve had sex with. STDs are not always visible on the skin, and there aren’t always any symptoms. Be safe. Use a condom. Because no matter how much you trust that person, and how much that person is being honest, all it takes is for them to have had trust with the wrong person once and they are then exposed to all that person’s mistakes too.

So don’t obsess over a person’s number. Everyone’s capable of changing, and everyone’s capable of lying. Don’t assume high or low makes you safe or at risk of either heart ache or disease. Just go by how it feels right now, and use a condom. Always use a condom.


About J.J. Barnes

Author of The Lilly Prospero Series Writer and Podcaster at www.SirenStories.co.uk Blogger at Rose And Mum And More Contributor to The Huffington Post
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