What’s in a number? CityKat Katherine Feeney mashead pointer
Inevitably, you have that conversation.
“So, how many people have you slept with?”
“No! Tell me.”
“Why not? Are you embarrassed?”
“No. Just guess.”
You’re both in dangerous waters now. Whether you play that game of seduction deduction, or come clean and claim it, there’s a bit riding on the answer. Will it be higher or lower than expected? Will it be more or less than your own tally? Will the sum total irrevocably alter the way you feel about your new flame?
These are important questions, sure, insofar as everyone wonders about them. But not everyone cares to the same degree about the outcome. Some people care not a jot how many sexual partners have come before.
Hence, the focus should not be on the number but the outcome.
Because, let’s face it, there’s only really a ‘problem’ if there’s a large (or larger) number proffered by one party. Large meaning…?
According to the benchmark Australian Study of Health and Relationships (which, at nine years old, is now getting a little out of date), heterosexual blokes reported more partners over their lifetime than did heterosexual women, homosexual or bisexual reported more partners than straighties, and gay men, bi-men and bi-women had had more partners than lesbians had overall. How many, I hear you ask.
Sadly the précis is short on black and white batting averages. This high-profile book published in 2008 said the average Australian woman had 13 sexual partners in their lifetime (the findings were drawn from an online study). But condom manufacturers Durex suggest Australian women will have 11 sexual partners on average over their lifetime, with men ringing in at 24. Not quite the lore of the academy, but there you go. Interestingly, the latest official figures from the United Kingdom are quite a bit lower – 9 partners on average for men, 4 on average for women…
Of course, these numbers refer to the sum total of sexual partners over a lifetime, not the number of people you’ve slept with so far. Thus, presuming you’re a single in the 20-to-30-something age bracket, that number may not have been reached yet. You might want to factor the median age of first-marriage in Australia (30 years) into your calculations…
Meaning “large” might well equal around 30 people for fellows, and 20 for ladies. Whether this is a ‘problem’ or not depends on a few things, namely safety and security. To wit, if unsafe sex has been practiced, you have a problem. And if insecurity has played a part, you also have a problem.
But as mentioned, the focus shouldn’t be so squarely on the number and the problem shouldn’t be so wrapped up in comparison. Safety and security aside, who really cares if someone has slept around…
…so long as they know what they’re doing, that is.
If they don’t, call Houston. You do have a problem. That problem being this: how can someone have sex with so many people and still be so bad? How can they not learn? Best-practice sex is supposed to be about learning and discovery and profound connection – either they’ve a record built on rubbish or they are… Well.
Happily, I have no complaints. I’ve been beyond fortunate. I’ve loved my lovers. One stands out especially. But quite a few of my friends – male and female – have not been so well endowed. And with every year that goes by, they worry. Learning is for life, but some things become harder with age (oh irony!).
So what’s to be done?
Not having the conversation in the first place would be a good place to start… Indeed, the only real important conversation you need to have regarding history relates to disease. Instead, focus your efforts on the present moment. Who cares about the sex that came before? It’s the sex you’re having now that matters. How is it? Could it be better? How could you improve? What could be done?
Hence, the question should be:
“So, how do you like it?”
Do you want to know how many people your partner has slept with? Why? Why is it important? Are you happy with your record, and are you happy to share? Or is it all water under the bridge – is it better for the past to remain well and truly passed.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.