Representing the other side of the argument — the ask and tell side — is the other half of the respondents from yesterday’s post. Their rationale’s are equally well thought out and effective meaning we’re essentially no where on this issue…
26, female, in a relationship
So…I was always of the philosophy, “Dont’ ask, don’t tell.” I had absolutely no desire to know how many people a guy has slept with before hooking up me. I consider myself a pretty self confident woman, but that is torture! It makes me all oddly jealous and insecure and I hate both of those things. It always makes me feel like shit. Sex is something that is very important to me and I hope to pick partners who feel the same way. And sure, maybe he has a past, but I’ve learned from mine and I like to hope he’s learned from his…I don’t need to hear about it.
That being said, I upheld this personal philosophy with my current boyfriend for a good 6 months. Right or wrong, it was only after than long that I knew I could handle knowing his number without going apeshit. (Perhaps noteworthy that I had gathered his number was much higher than mine.) So, I ballparked his number high, and then when I asked, it was lower! Everyone wins. And I was confident enough in our relationship that I knew he only wanted to be with me, blah blah blah.
26, male, married
I had a talk with all of my girlfriends in high school and college while we were dating about our sexual histories. I thought it was good to know where we were starting from. If we know what each other is comfortable with while we have our clothes on, it limits the possibility of surprises/awkwardness/uneasiness once they’re off. In terms of quantifying too many or too few, no number high or low would be a dealbreaker; that’s not to say high and low numbers did not catch my attention. If the number was low (0-1) I want to be sure to be respectful and have an idea early on what’s cool and what’s not just yet. If the number was higher (I’d say more than 4) I’d want to make clear that I am a slow mover and would hope that would fly.
The more I think about it, though, the more I think a person’s history is their history, and if I fall in love with someone, I fall in love with the whole package. So as I said above, many sex partners wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me even today, but it would be a signal to me to initiate a conversation about our attitudes toward sex.
27, female, single
I think eventually in a relationship I would ask, just out of curiosity, because I think it’s one of those things that just tells you more about a person (along the same lines of how many serious relationships they’ve been in, when they lost their virginity, all that kind of stuff).
So, I guess my answer is “Yes, eventually,” but I don’t think I would take their answer account anymore in my decision whether or not to seriously proceed with them. That being said, if their answer was more than 20, I would probably have some follow-up questions. 20 is somewhat arbitrary, and does sound like an awful lot, but I just feel like guys sleep around a lot!
28, female, single-ish
Yes, of course I want to know! I don’t know what I’ll do with the info yet, but I’m pretty sure I want to at least have it. Would you date someone who never told you how they voted in a single election ever? Or if they have any strange medical history in their background. Or, here’s a good one, how would you feel if you later found out someone had seen a therapist for a bunch of years on account of whatever issues? I can’t decide if those things are the same, but they feel similar…
If you say – that’s ridiculous it’s just sex, it’s not that big a deal? Then why don’t you want to know? And if you say – it’s sex, it’s such a big deal that I can’t handle knowing, well then what does that say?
I think people want to tell themselves that the # of people they’ve slept with means nothing, but I think by this point in my life I finally disagree. It means something. I don’t know what exactly, but whatever it is, I want to go into a serious relationship at least having the option of figuring it out.
Almost all these positions are rooted in the fact that these people think your sexual behavior is telling. It means something about how you view sex? how you view yourself? how you view the world after one too many drinks? I don’t know. I don’t even know how I feel about telling or not in the first place.
But with that question still unanswered we’ve arrived at another: what does your number say about you? And what would your significant other — if they want to know that is — hope that number is (or is at least under…) when they ask?
Tomorrow, two people’s opinions.