Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: “When it comes to the number of sexual partners a woman has had, do guys want to know? Even if they say they do, are they lying?”
Straight Single Guy (Mark Luczak): It’s the Information Age, and people in general are so conditioned to gather and dissect every morsel of information they can find, that it follows that this would apply in the bedroom as well. I suppose the number of partners someone has had can serve as somewhat of a guage of their experience, which in turn could provide a relative basis for expectations, or at least a starting point for communication about it.
But communication-wise, far more important is simply sexual health history, regardless of that conversation’s catalyst (again, number of partners could provide a guage, but one isn’t necessarily dependent on the other). Past the health factors, sure, there are going to be different degrees of curiosity about lots of things when entering into a sexual relationship with someone (likes and dislikes, sex drives, etc.). But at this point, we all have our pasts, sexual and otherwise, to decide to share or not share, and at least for me anymore, the strict
number of previous partners is fairly low on the list of need-to-know’s.
Straight Married Guy (James Glazebrook): Yes, guys want to know — as long as your number’s lower than theirs. And if you think that’s disappointingly cliche of me, wait until you hear this: I’ve been known to feel threatened by the former sexual partners of women who’ve had fewer than I have. I’ve fixated on their size, their confidence and athleticism, the fact that they persuaded my woman to do things they regretted (but I wouldn’t mind trying) — any aspect of their prowess, real or imagined.
My only defence is that when I said I wanted to hear about this stuff, I wasn’t lying — I really wanted to be okay with it. In these enlightened, post-Sex and the City times, even men believe in sexual equality — that the number of people a woman has been with is no reflection on her, or at least no more of a reflection than it is on her equally promiscuous male equivalent. But the thought of another man being with the woman I love (and it only ever mattered with women I loved) is enough to drive me mental… until I’ve been with her long enough to deal with/suppress those feelings.
It’s probably telling that while I was obsessing about my now-wife’s handful of previous partners, she was worried about my relationship experience — that I’d been in love before, while she’d never had a proper boyfriend. But whether it’s love or sex, if we never cared about this stuff, it’s probably a sign that we’ve stopped caring altogether.
Gay Single Guy (Daniel): Being a queer man, I have honestly never thought about this question, i.e. how a man is affected by the number of partners a woman he’s interested in has had. My suspicion is that it doesn’t really matter to modern men unless they are from a religious background. But frankly, as empowered women, don’t be ashamed about how many partners you’ve had. You don’t have to justify your sexual history to a man. If a man thinks you do, drop him, because neither one of you should have to justify your sexual history to the other.
Our “guys” are a rotating group of contributors. This week’s Straight Married Guy is James Glazebrook of Most Likely To; our Gay Guy is one-time stripper and sex columnist Daniel; and our Straight Single Guy is Mark Luczak, a tech geek at Carnegie Mellon University. To ask the guys your own question, click here.