No, I am not asking your [phone] number as a cheesy pickup line…I’m trying to tactfully and tastefully ask this: do you know/realize how many people you’ve had sexual relations with?

I’m also not trying to be perverse or gross in any way. I am just wondering if you know what “your” number of partners is? Have you ever discussed it with your significant other? How do you feel about it?

You should never feel ashamed of your “number.” What we’ve done (or, I guess, who) is not something to dwell on — the past IS in the past and you cannot change it. However, when you’re dating or in a relationship, does that ever come up in conversation?

When I was growing up, a woman with a large number of partners was “loose” or a “whore.” A woman with none or very little might be undesirable. I never did find out the “just right” number, because I honestly don’t think there is one. I have had friends that loved having multiple casual partners, which scared me from a pregnancy or disease standpoint for them (not to mention safety), and I’ve had friends who had just a few partners and never spoke of it, and others who bragged about their relationships/marriages being “perfect” but were either unhappy and/or being abused or cheated on. I tend to be very private about sex, as it’s between those two people, so I never ask others about their sex lives nor volunteer information on my own. However, if people want to tell you about things, they generally run at the mouth.

I have never asked my significant other about how many women he’s been with. It’s really none of my business. After all the abuse and neglect I’ve been through, I leave the past in the past — there are reason that they’re exes, so I don’t pry. If he wants to talk about past relationships, I listen without judgement. However, I did tell him my number. Honestly, I can count it on one hand. Does that make me sexually inexperienced or inadequate? I used to think so, but I’ve had to drastically change my thinking and be more kind to myself. Plus, I think if I had to hear about him having sex with someone else, I’d start to feel inadequate again.

My Ex-Abuser is counted on my one hand [of lovers], but my high-school rapist is NOT. I don’t acknowledge non-consensual sex, even though I counted my Abuser…I figure, we had children together, so I HAD to count him. My boyfriend is also on that hand. I think when I told him that, he was floored. I simply told him that I was VERY choosy and he made the cut. Despite being a bit comical, it really IS that simple.

I did volunteer that information to my boyfriend, when we were early in dating and considering making it plutonic. Honestly? He looked concerned, but I’m not sure if he was worried or apprehensive (LOL!) I did so because I needed him to know that I had been through so much sexual trauma, that he needed to know things in order to be a “safe person” to me. Thankfully, he let me talk things out and let me describe what I felt was “unsafe” to me, so he wouldn’t do those things. I respect the hell out of that! I think he is the ONLY man that has gone to those lengths, which made him sexier than I originally thought.

Again, I have never asked him about his number, out of respect for ghosts of the past. He’s told me some things, so I know it’s a vast amount of more partners than me, but it’s not a contest. I mean, he’d been divorced for over 20 years when I met him. He’d had other relationships after the divorce, and before me. I just feel like he thought me odd. I used to think that made me a “slut” or “immature” or “undesirable.” Truth is, it’s no one’s business. I am a real woman, living in the now, just wanting to be safe and happy. I define me — not the number of people I’ve slept with.

That being said, I’ve had a few of his former girlfriends make contact and I do let them know that he’s spoken for and I don’t appreciate their re-contact. They never resurface, thankfully. I’m not mean or aggressive, but I also let them know I’m not a woman who will back down. I will fight for our relationship, but he knows that I won’t fight with him. We have an understanding that if either one doesn’t want the relationship to continue, they’ll let the other one know. We’ve both been cheated on in the past and thankfully have a “no tolerance” policy for it. He’s my best friend and I would never hurt him intentionally. He’s my person, my safe person, and the protector and nurturer of my heart. I pray I am his, but I know this to be true about myself: I will NEVER beg anyone to love me, have sex with me, or help me. I stand by free will…and that can never be measured by numbers.