I’m back, it’s Millie with Millie in the City with the number one dating and relationship forum in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Now that we have gotten that out the way, I want to discuss one question – Do you want to know how many people your partner has slept with? So in honor of that, this article is appropriately titled: What’s your Body Count?
In the relationship world, there are so many things to talk about and have long discussions. I was invited to speak, last week at a Relationship Forum with a small Male Panel, and the topic came up. I honestly felt that some of the men were not honest but, I digress. Now, after my talking to my 17-year old son about topic ideas, he suggested the same thing. Yes, think I will have a discussion with him later on about this but for now I want to write about it to get your thoughts.
It most certainly is inevitable that after a few dates with a new guy, the topic of sex would come up. If you were like most, this question would be avoided at all costs and if that failed it just wouldn’t be discussed. It really is such a touchy subject for most people. I know all about the double standard for men and women however, if you are a woman and amassed a hefty number of ex-sex partners, you might think this would make you scarred that you might not be wife-worthy.
This might be one of the most private pieces of personal information we have: our number of sexual partners. It is honestly more than a number, it is a window into our relationship history and any conversation about it can be a moment when new couples get closer. Of course there are many sex educators, doctors and friends say to discuss it as part of practicing safe sex. However, it really is not that easy to disclose.
There was a Singles in America study published earlier this year and research conducted by a research company with several academics and they say that just more than half of the 5,675 singles, ages 18 to over 70, surveyed said they did not want to know how many sexual partners their significant other has had. There also was a study in 2006 published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality indicated that people who have had more sexual partners are perceived as less desirable for dating and marriage. (#boom – there you have it)!
There are many people that are now dating when they are older, so they sometime would had more experience. Also, people’s numbers may differ quite a bit: Someone who is single in his or her 40s after being married for a long time will likely have a much lower number than someone the same age who was never married.
There are many people that are concerned with being too far above average because it will make them look promiscuous; others are concerned with being too far below average because it will make them look inexperienced. Sometimes being too far above average tends to be a bigger concern for women, who are judged more harshly than men for having a more extensive sexual history. (I started this earlier in the article) deep sigh! No wonder people often evade when they are asked how many people they have had sex with.
There was a new study, published online in April in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that about 60% of participants had at least once failed to disclose their number of previous sexual partners to a current sexual partner. A study, conducted by Sean Horan, an assistant professor in the department of communication studies at Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas, surveyed 183 people—whose average age was 22—in Chicago and Austin, Texas, and found that the average number of sexual partners they’d had was eight. (The results weren’t broken down between men and women.)
Dr. Horan asked participants if, before engaging in sexual intercourse, they’d ever told a new partner about the number of people they’d previously had sex with. And he asked if they’d ever withheld this information from a new sexual partner. He found that about 40% of participants never omitted their sexual history (meaning number of partners); 40% omitted disclosing their sexual history to at least one partner, and 20% omitted disclosing their sexual history to all partners. The individuals with the highest number of sexual partners disclosed their number less often.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicated that women were more likely to report having only one partner, and men were more likely to report having had more than 10. Experts believe that the men and women may have been defining “sex” or “sexual partner” differently. Or it may be that women underreport and men over report.
In conclusion, intimacy and trust, of course, are needed to discuss the number. It can help to frame it in the context of a general conversation about sex. If the frame of the conversation is caring and safety-oriented, you can explain that you are with your partner because of who he or she is now, not before you met. And show that you feel vulnerable, too: “Just as you have a past, I have a past. In retrospect, most people do not wish to divulge his or her number—-ever!
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