Nobody Cares How Many People You’ve Banged. Really.

Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Lucysexy67
Comment: I feel like damaged goods sometimes. I always cringe when a man asks me how many men I’ve slept with. I never ask him his number ’cause I genuinely don’t really care that much, as long as he’s clean.

I’ve been out with this guy a couple of times in the past couple of weeks. Last night I was with him, and he asked me about past relationships and told me he’s slept with 4 women. He asked me how many men I’ve slept with. I told him blankly that I just didn’t want to answer that question and kept my mouth shut. I don’t know him well so I was shocked.

My number is 10 which to me feels like a lot. I’ve had 2 long term relationships, some shorter term, but I’ve had a bit of a casual sex too. I haven’t had casual sex for years, and it was during a time when I was suffering depression and went through an impulsive phase (I have never had an STI). When a guy asks that question, he opens up a can of worms and I feel like he is judging me. I’m upset that my sexual history is going to make some men think I am only good for one thing.

Why would a guy ask that beyond simple curiosity and what’s the appropriate way to respond?
Age: 25
City: Edinburgh
State: United Kingdom

Lucy, you’ve submitted a number of letters in to this column that I feel I can be straightforward with you.

Stop being such an attention seeker and stop manufacturing drama where there is none.

If a man asks you how many people you’ve slept with, and you respond by saying, “I don’t want to answer that” you’re just creating conflict for no reason. A response like that says the opposite of what you’re hoping to convey. Just. Lie. It’s not that hard. Say four people. Boom. Done. He’ll never know the difference. Trust me.

and he asked me about past relationships and told me he’s slept with 4 women.

He offered that information? asked for that information, which then encouraged him to ask you the same question? Because that simply is not a question that comes up randomly. It’s not. Nobody willingly shares that information unless they are prompted to do so. Based on how you phrased this as well as your behavior around here, I’m going to guess you asked him first. Stop doing that. Don’t want to answer that question? Don’t ask that question. Simple.  You have a troubling need for attention, Lucy. That’s what you need to work on with a professional.

I have said over and over again that the conversation about how many sexual partners people have had is pointless. It is indicative of nothing. It’s just a backdoor way to find out if the person you’re dating is sleeping with other people. This honestly is not a conversation mature confident people have. Maybe this is common amongst single people in their twenties or so. But after a certain point, people figure out that no good comes from hearing that answer and so they avoid the subject. They also realize that the number doesn’t matter.

The “What’s Your Number?” conversation is another dating trope. It’s one of those topics that people like to bring up time and again so they can continue to believe it’s  a thing.

It’s not a thing. Most of these conversations about getting tested together and how many sexual partners people have had are grossly exaggerated if not completely made up. Most people just do their own due diligence and get tested on their own, slap on a condom, and go for it. “Oh, my BF and I got tested together…” Bullshit. Sorry, but it is. That’s a story told to demonstrate just how badly or in luuurve a guy is with the woman. He maybe went and got tested but probably didn’t and just lied about it to get laid. If it’s true, and they did go hand and hand to the clinic, that’s just weird.

I pinky swear to you, Lucy, that nobody really cares about this. The people who do are immature and insecure and inexperienced. Buh bye! You don’t need those people.





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34 Responses to “Nobody Cares How Many People You’ve Banged. Really.”

  1. Ben Iyyar Says:

    As a guy, I have a hard time trying to imagine a male over the age of fifteen actually bragging about what “studsmen” he is to impress his date. As well, I doubt that very many adult men, on their first date, or even any date, ask their lady partners about the number or quality of their sexual relationships. And Moxie’s answer is pretty good, just lie, because it really is an inappropriate question, deserving of contempt.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

    • Joey Giraud Says:

      Asking about “bangs” is gauche, but every serious and semi-serious girlfriend and I have talked about previous relationships.

      You can learn out a lot about someone by the way they talk about previous relationships.

      But I’ll gently call BS on Moxie’s contention that no one really cares. If the numbers are truly high, ( way more then 10, OP ) then women worry about being played, and men worry about not measuring up.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    • Noquay Says:

      Yep, this must be an age thing because no one in their 50’s is uncouth enough to ask such a question. If a person speaks about previous rship, you listen carefully, that’s all.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. HammersAndNails Says:

    I have never in my entire life asked any woman her number of partners. It is not a normal conversation and outside most very religious communities 10 partners at 25 seems pretty low to me. Certainly wouldn’t raise my eyebrow at all.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 7

    • J Says:

      I’ve been asked this plenty of times. I’ve also had someone volunteer their number a few. I think maybe guys in their 20s really like to ask.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. The D-man Says:

    I sometimes ask this question, but the number doesn’t matter to me. I just get turned on hearing about her sexual history. I’ve never seen it get awkward or weird, but that’s probably because I make it clear why I’m asking the question. I don’t volunteer any info about my own sexual history, but respond honestly to questions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

    • PGH_Gal Says:

      It is one thing to want to hear about your partner’s past (as in specific experiences) if it is a turn on. But asking for a number of partners is a completely different conversation.

      My ex grew up religious and felt that sleeping with 3 women by 30 was the average. I had been with…more than 3, but fudged down and said 9. He flipped out! His insecurities just got the best of him and he could not handle it. One of many red flags I wished I’d picked up on at the time.

      I think asking for a number is an insecure/immature move. It makes no difference whatsoever in your current relationship. (However I am a hypochondriac though, so I’m totally waiting to on std clearance before I go condom free)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  4. LaRubia Says:

    My answer? “Enough to know what I’m doing.”

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 4

  5. Julie Says:

    Smile coyly and say, “Dont worry, hon. I’m not a virgin.”

    I dont think I’ve had a hot discussion about numbers since college.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  6. Lucy Says:

    I honestly never asked the guy this. He’s the one who brought it up, not long before inviting me back to his place (which I declined). But yeah I’ll bear in mind what you said about attention seeking. In my own defence, I don’t think I do this so much – I think I just over analyse everything and blow it up into nothing. I just need to learn to chill out.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  7. Selena Says:

    For several years I read and participated on a message board dealing with relationships. Occasionally someone would ask the question “What’s your number?” as conducting a poll. Invariably, the person who started the poll had a number between 4-6. I believed they started the poll because they wanted to see how their own number compared with others. Normal range? Too low? There seemmed to be a level of insecurity present in the question and the person asking it.

    I think that might have been the case with the fellow who asked you, Lucy. There is nothing wrong with having slept with four people, but he might have thought it was a low number compared to his peers. He may have been seeking reassurance in the form of you telling him you had a similar number. And he may have been seeking reassurance that you weren’t way more “experienced” than he was.

    Up to you how you want to respond to this impertinent display of insecurity. I don’t believe you owe someone you just started dating total honesty about this. But if you lie, the lie may come out if you become a couple and grow closer. Talking about previous relationships/ dating situations happens organically as two people get to know each other well has been my experience. I like LaRubia’s response, “Enough to know what I’m doing.” :)

    If someone pressures you for a direct answer, you need to consider if you really want to date someone that rude anyway. Your sexual history is no one else’s business. If someone thinks it IS their business, they have no respect for your privacy.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  8. LostSailor Says:

    Like Moxie and the commentariat, I don’t believe that discussing the number of one’s sexual partners is actually a “thing.” Especially very early in a relationship, or before there actually is a relationship, it would be a huge red flag to ask this. Sure, past relationships will usually come up in conversations at some point, but I can’t recall ever being asked about my “number.” If someone were to ask, it would pretty much disqualify them as a long-term prospect.

    My response would be “Don’t know, didn’t keep count.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • Joey Giraud Says:

      I worked with an older blues guitarist back in the 80’s who was keeping track and up to 375 at that that time. Seeing him horn-dog his way from gig to gig ( with very little discretion I might add, ) got me thinking he may be honest, if not precise.

      Two years ago he hired me for a one-night sub and out of curiosity I asked. Without missing a beat, “491” he said. He’s pushing 70. We all slow down in our own way.

      OTOH,Wilt Chamberlain *has* to be exaggerating. I mean, no one can count that high, right?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. D. Says:

    I think this is an age-related thing. Tracking numbers seemed way more common in my early-to-mid 20s. Certainly, past that point, people aren’t asking as if it’s a “thing,” like “Well this is part of dating protocol.” A lot of this, I think, comes from many people having spent the better part of their 20s either in or recently out of a scholastic environment, and it’s that kind of environment that carries on the high school “tradition” of tracking one’s number and knowing the number of one’s partners. A big part of that comes from the fact that, at that point in life, most people aren’t dating the way adults do, meaning that most people aren’t going on a handful of dates, possibly sleeping with someone, and then moving on to the next person.

    Seriously, stop and think about it. In adult dating, you probably go on between 1 and 6 dates with someone and then it ends for whatever reason, right? Some people you sleep with, and some you don’t, but if you even averaged 5 partners in a 12 month period…that’s actually what I’d consider on the low end of “average.” And that’s factoring in taking a break during the year, dating someone for a few months, etc. I mean, hell, you could even get as high as 10 in a year and it still would be a plausible number, if you’re assuming consistently dating people (e.g. no breaks due to your choice or not finding someone interesting/interested in you), and you’d still be averaging a new partner every 4-6 weeks.

    This is why, in the adult world, a person’s “number” is — if anything — merely a matter of idle curiosity. Nobody really gives a shit because everyone shows up with a past of their own, and everyone has skeletons in their closet.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  10. AC Says:

    The “how many people have you slept with?” Question is asked by two kinds of people:

    The immature and the insecure. The last time I even remember this even being discussed was when I was in college.

    As a man, I know I have nothing to gain by having that knowledge. From a woman’s perspective, I would think it’s the same. What good can come of knowing the answer to that question?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  11. AC Says:

    To edit to my last post, a few years after college, I learned what I consider to be a good response to the “how many people have you slept with? Question:

    Woman: “How many women have you slept with?”

    Me: “Less than 10. How many men have you slept with?”

    It ends the conversation and sends a message that it’s a rude and inappropriate question.

    If the number 10 seems too high or too low then adjusted accordingly to what you feel comfortable with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  12. jane Says:

    While I don’t ask for specific numbers I do always try to gauge the persons history. I do not want to become involved with a virgin or a man whore. It doesn’t matter if other prior think its ‘immature’ but when it comes to who I allow into my body, if I want a partner who has made similar life choices and has similar values regarding sex I don’t think anyone should say that is dumb and childish. I also think it’s very irresponsible to shrug off sexual testing and risk of STDs. You may have been lucky but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or that it’s nagging and immature for someone to want to make sure you’re both clean. You may be able to take a casual and meh attitude to your health and deem it a small risk, but to some of us herpes doesn’t have to be a cost of doing business.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

    • Julie Says:

      Exactly what number makes someone a manwhore?

      Theres nothing to prevent the high school “slut”/”manwhore” from becoming very religious, conservative and dedicated to their family, and theres equally nothing to prevent the virgin bride/husband from deciding they missed out on their youth and need to start screwing strangers in bars while the kids are with the sitter. The purpose of asking for numbers is to feel superior.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

      • jane Says:

        It’s relative to my own experience. Everyone has different definitions, I don’t deny that. And I’m not saying my own number is the only perfect number, or is superior. I’m simply saying a sexual partner for ME, similar sexual history is important part of compatibility. I’m also not saying a promiscuous person or a virgin is a bad person, or their choices are bad in general but they do not match my own values, and shared values and experiences is important to me. No different than smoking or recreational drugs, or even being overly religious doesn’t make you a bad/weird person, but it may rule you out as a romantic partner for some people.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

        • Julie Says:

          I see what you are getting at but I think you are barking up the wrong tree. The number tells you about a persons past but very little about their present. The better question to ask is about recent relationship history and relationship goals. A 35 year old guy who is newly single after a 15 year marriage is more likely to want to play the field than the 35 year old guy who spent the last 15 years playing the field and is ready to settle down and start a family. Its of course your prerogative to hold out for a guy with whatever attributes you want, but dont confuse numbers with similar values or relationship goals.

          Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

          • Nicole Says:

            “don’t confuse numbers with similar values or relationship goals.”

            Exactly. A lot of someone’s “number” is just chance. Mine is probably unusually low for a woman in her mid-thirties, but that’s because I started dating the guy I eventually married at 20 years old. If I’d met him a few years later – or gotten back in the dating scene again a few years sooner – my number would probably be much higher.

            I completely understand wanting to be with someone who has a similar attitude about sex. But … I’d be wary of a guy whose only sexual experiences were a dozen one nighters, and totally ok dating someone who had been in the same number of relationships and slept with all of them. It’s context, not number.

            I think at best, trying to guess at someone’s number (or ask directly) is a waste of time. Much worse is that it can give you a false sense of “shared values” that you’ve had a similar number of partners, and keep you from doing the real work of determining whether you have compatible sexual drives and relationship goals.

            Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

        • D. Says:

          I suppose it depends on why the partner’s sexual history being similar to your own matters, and how you interpret said history, but in any case, number alone doesn’t tell you much.

          For example, if you want to be on the same page in the sense of sex being new and interesting, a low number doesn’t actually mean anything. A 33-year-old guy might have been in, say, 3 serious, long-term relationships since his mid 20s, and might only have a number of, oh, 6 total. Within those three relationships, the guy might have experimented with all kinds of stuff, to the point where maybe one or two of the guy’s number came from threesomes done within a relationship. So, his number being only 6 doesn’t really mean that sex itself is this uncharted, new and exciting world for him. He’s had a LOT of sex, it’s just been with only a handful of people.

          If you’re trying to gauge a person’s likeliness of “just wanting sex,” numbers still tell you nothing. A guy could’ve been desperately searching for love and marriage over the course of a decade, and still slept with 20 women in that process, all within the context of dating with an eye towards a relationship. Things would progress, he’d sleep with a woman, and then they’d fall apart for some other reason. So, even a number like 20 partners in 10 years doesn’t necessarily make the guy a player who’s just gonna scam you for a piece of ass.

          Now, if you don’t actually mean number alone, but rather coming to the table with a similar sexual history overall, I guess I can understand that. It seems…limiting, though. As a “nice to have” feature of another person, hey, go for it. As a disqualifying factor, though, it seems like cutting yourself off from a wide range of people who might make you very happy, including in the bedroom.

          Basically, I guess I’d just ask yourself why similar sexual history matters to you, and whether it’s reasonable to hold out for something like that (e.g., how likely are you to find it, realistically speaking). Have whatever dealbreakers you want, but be realistic about the impact those dealbreakers can have on your options.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

          • jane Says:

            Fair point. I actually really like what you wrote about someone being in a relationship but having 3 ways etc..I can see where it can work both ways and neither is a guarantee. I still think that a guy who has slept with 50 women will always be a bad match for me.. I can’t see someone like myself who takes sex seriously and courses sex partners very carefully, being compatible with a man who sees it as something casual that can be done with any decent girl with the right body parts. But I acknowledge what you say, even with the ‘right’ looking background I still need to be careful his sexual preferences and values match mine and number may only tell a small fraction of what I’m looking to know.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Tinker Says:

      Using a number as shorthand for someone’s values is lazy. Not to mention ineffective- if asked, most people will lie. The only way to tell if your values mesh with someone is to spend time, get to know them, and pay attention.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  13. Selena Says:

    “While I don’t ask for specific numbers I do always try to gauge the persons history.”

    I’m curious… what you actually do/say/ask to gauge the person’s history?

    Care to share?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • jane Says:

      A mix of learning their experiences with relationships and dating, and learning their personality and values and attitudes towards sex can usually give you a good estimate. Is it scientific or a guarantee, no, but an ex playboy or a virgin is going to have a hard time lying consistently every time they reference stories from their past to align with lies.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  14. joan Says:

    I ended a relationship in November, I have started to see a guy, only for some fun and stress relief. One day, out of the sudden he asked me, what is your number? I said, well, you have my “number” already, why are you asking me for my number again?
    Seriously, I am 42 years old woman, who cares about how many I have had sex with? Is not like anyone will believe me, whether I say two guys or two dozens.
    You can lie, you can say a joke, say whatever you want to say, just don’t fall for the immature questions asked by immature and insecure guys.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  15. johnovic Says:

    0 is the only number that might matter….thats kinda my number…and i’m 33…hey what can you do….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. Steve from the City Next Door Says:

    It might be a stupid thing, but it is definitely a thing. It is not a first date thing…no:
    Me: Hi what is your name?
    her: Sara, whats yours?
    me: Steve
    her: Nice to meet you Steve, what is your number?
    But before adding to the number…many women have asked me and certainly seemed to care.
    I recommend trying “Well, my johnson is no Magic Johnson’s johnson”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • LostSailor Says:

      Me: Hi, what’s your name?

      Her: Sara, what’s yours?

      Me: LostSailor.

      Her: Well, hey sailor! What’s your number?

      Me: 876-555-1212, what’s yours?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. AnnieNonymous Says:

    I used to care about “numbers” (in the sense that, as someone else mentioned, a guy with a high number at 22 was likely a player), but as you exit your 20s it’s largely meaningless. If you’re single and having one-night stands twice a year, you’re racking up more unique partners than people in relationships, even though they’re having sex far more often. You also don’t have to be particularly sexual to completely lose track of your past partners, especially if you’ve been single for a long time. You get to a point where you’re probably not going to get an accurate answer anyway, even if the person is being honest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  18. Jenny Says:

    I have a male friend who has a new girlfriend every two weeks. I’m sure he sleeps with most of them. But in recent discussions he said he wouldn’t want a girl who sleeps around. “well then why do you sleep with these girls if you think it ruins them?” I ask. He actually sort of thinks he’s special, and the only date they’re sleeping with…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  19. Gabi Says:

    10 is a lot? You’re 25 and live in Edinburgh, not some town with more sheep than people. Unless you don’t get out much, that is a pretty normal-to-low number for a 25-year-old living in a major metropolitan city.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  20. CoolDude Says:

    Aside from the fact that no one should be talking about “Numbers” these days, I don’t think 10 is damaged goods at all. Seems fairly average for people in their 20’s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

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