When you reach the golden gates of relationship heaven, life starts becoming less about words and more about numbers. 36. The number of years it took to finally meet someone who wasn't completely insane. 942. The number of days it took before he popped the question. 9500. The average amount of money a young couple has to spend on bond repayments in order to afford the luxury of a 3-bedroomed house. It all adds up, and while some numbers can represent a lifetime of happiness and dedication, there is one number that most of us would rather take to the grave than share with anyone else, especially when that someone is our current significant other.
Just like Britney Spears' 2007 MTV VMA performance, the number of sexual partners one accumulates before meeting "the one" is something we'd rather black out than blurt out in public. No matter how low or how high, we fear the potential embarrassment. Most of us would rather talk about salaries and overdrafts before discussing our number of sexual conquests. Is it really something to be ashamed of or do some people prefer to keep the matter private out of respect for their partner's feelings? One night stands, casual hook-ups, de-ja-who's and somebody that I used to blow. It's hard to keep up in this promiscuous day and age, and while nobody likes to be judged, some of us are quick to develop a convenient (and sometimes genuine) case of sexual amnesia when it comes to spilling the beans. Are we afraid that our sexual past might affect our romantic future or do we fear that our partner might look down on us for having more than what's socially acceptable?
Who decides what's socially acceptable or not anyway? A friend of mine had recently come across a survey called "The Perfect 10", a well-known study suggesting that the perfect number of sexual partners in a lifetime for both men and women should be no more than 10 (cue laughter). More than 10 brands you as a she-slut ho bag whereas less than 10 makes you a pearl-clutching granny-panty prude. If that's the case, then I might as well be shipped off to the red light district. While Aiden may have been aroused by the number of notches I had on my bedpost BC (before commitment), the same could not be said about my Hungarian friend, Anja, who was petrified that her magic number would somehow be revealed to her new boyfriend.
While most good girls eventually turn bad, Anja's life seemed to work in reverse. She had been known as the village bicycle back in her home town and had gone through a very promiscuous stage of her life between the ages of 16 and 24. Safety had always come first with Anja, well at least 80% of the time and while she can't really remember the actual number of men she had slept with, she remembers certain glimpses of her sordid past. Walks of shame through hotel lobbies at 3am, public displays of erotic affection and all the glory hole goodness you could possibly think of. Anja was definitely no angel.
Her life did a complete 180 the day she arrived in South Africa where she got a job working in tourism and met the most wonderful man, a chartered accountant by the name of Andrew. Andrew had come from a very conservative English family and had always been a by-the-book kind of guy. Once night over a bottle of delicious Grenache and a roaring fire, he openly admitted to Anja that he had only been with 5 girls his entire life and not once had the sex ever been meaningless. She wasn't sure whether it was the wine or the heat, but when Andrew asked Anja the same question, she lied and told him that he was her 4th lover - more like the 74th.
"I couldn't bear the thought of him looking at me in any other way than the way he looked at me right there and then. His eyes were so full of love for me and I did not want him to think of me as some kind of cheap whore from a third world country." Was Anja doing the right thing by keeping certain parts of her sexual history private or should she have just told him truth? Fortunately no one from Hungary was going to rock up any time soon, but why did she feel the need to lie? Was it nobody else's business but her own? Surely if he loved her as much as she said he did, he would have understood and accepted her for who she is now and not what she was then. Would he think of Anja any differently or would he have been able to laugh it off?
We're all entitled to a
bit of mystery in life and perhaps some numbers are better left
unaccounted for. Whether it's by choice or early signs of sexual
dementia, no one has the right to judge who you based on some silly
number. As long as that number remains one and the same during the
in a committed relationship, it really ain't nobody's business. Our
sexual past shouldn't really matter if
the number of people we're currently sleeping with has whittled
down to one.
When it comes to a person's sexual past, why should one number affect our relationship's present?