I was pumped to have a new Thought Catalog article out yesterday on the “Top 5 reasons you should stop counting your number of sexual partners.” It was a little piece I’d been mulling on for a year. Lovely to see those things actually come to fruition. But the whole thing started out as my personal experience of why I chose to stop counting my number. In the end I cut that out since nobody wants to hear my sad sack stories of dry humping but I decided to include my personal “giving up the number” story here. Enjoy and don’t judge too harshly!
#personalstory: Why I stopped counting my number
Whenever I meet a new group of girls the “number” conversation inevitably comes up. Usually it happens some Thursday after work, a few martinis in. “So what’s yo-oar number?” they ask, eyebrows raised in anticipation. Always my mind does this mental calculation of trying to add together a lifetime of sexual experiences into a quantifiable number and then rectify that sum with whatever social construct I am currently in. I always feel like it is like this weird game people play to see if my number will fit in with their preconceived notion of who I am.
Yet I always felt safe as long as I could count my sexual partners on two hands. For some reason, I have always had this fear of reaching double digits. On the surface as a feminist I understand why this was an irrational fear. Nine is not so different from ten. A number will not define who you are as a human being. But as a flawed individual and an occasionally silly girl, double digits seemed like risky territory; the stuff terrible slut-shaming movies are made out of.
So as my second hand began to fill up with sex partners, I began to try to disqualify previous sexual soirées. Did it really count if he didn’t come? What if I didn’t come?
And then one day as I was pondering sex as I do too often these days, I realized how insanely ridiculous it was that I was equally weighing all my sex partners.
I could get into specifics here but I really don’t think I have to. For the most part we all have sexual experiences that range on the continuum of “paradigm shifting, what did the world look like before your dick/vulva” sex to “good god, I would rather dry hump chair arm than ever look at you again” sex. They don’t merit the same weight in our life story so why would they get the same weight when we count.
Besides a number doesn’t say anything about my sexual maturity, my sexual satisfaction, or my sexual health. Does it matter if I rank on the Charlotte or the Samantha side of things? I’ll always be a slut to one person and a prude to another.
Sometime last year, I just decided to stop counting. I decided that I would stop trying to quantify my experience and instead try to learn from each experience, learned what I liked, what I didn’t, and most importantly what I really wanted.
Now when that age-old question of “how many” comes up, I like to still a line from my brilliantly naughty and impossibly eloquent friend Jorge how told me: “If you are still counting your number, you should stop counting and start having more sex.”