General Question

wundayatta's avatar

What does knowing the number of lovers of your significant other tell you about them?

Asked by wundayatta (58571points) January 14th, 2009

I guess not everyone asks this question of their significant other, but I think many of us do, eventually. Why do we ask? What do we hope to hear? How do we interpret it when we hear it?

I guess I’m interested in both your personal experience and interpretation of this, as well as your perception of what the general interpretation of the answers to this question is.

Also, if you want to divulge your number, feel free to do so, but I don’t expect anyone will want to. Which leads to this question: why do we want to hide it? Is it that we don’t trust the public, in general, to understand?

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30 Answers

loser's avatar

No, it really does not.

cage's avatar

Right, I’m gonna try and word this carefully. (since both my gf and best mate are on here)
It does bother me a little. and I think that’s fine really. As long as you understand that your partner is with you now.
I’ve slept with 4 girls, 2 of them a lot of times.
My gf has slept with a lot more guys (and a couple of girls) but has had sex sparsely with them.
Originally when I found out her number, was shocked, but the fact she hadn’t had sex with them that much (at all) made me feel a lot better. I think that’s something people need to find out before they get upset if the number is high.

dynamicduo's avatar

My number is one. I don’t care if anyone knows my number, because I won’t care about whatever generalizations they’ll make based off it. I’m secure in my knowledge that I’m a great lover even though I haven’t had a large number of partners.

Why do people put so much value into it? Probably for whatever reason people put value into other numbers, such as number of pushups one can do in a row, number of countries one’s visited – it lets us compare ourselves against others. Why anyone would want to be easily compared, especially with something as delicate and different to each as sex is, I have no clue. It’s just one of the weirdnesses in the world and our species.

jessturtle23's avatar

I would care more about quality than quantity.

nebule's avatar

we all have our reasons for sleeping with or not sleeping with people, all sorts of factors, like background, childhood, class, religion, education, hormonal differences, medical needs, opportunities, family, friends, all sorts of factors, hell we can even go as so far as to talk about DNA and nature/nurture… we are all different and all have our own story….

some of us will most likely have less substantial reasons why we have “slept around”? and likewise some of us may have not have had many partners – not because we wouldn’t want them…but because we have not had the opportunity perhaps???

I still maintain that everyone has there own personal reasons and if you love someone – you’ll love them for how many people they have slept with…I personally want total acceptance from my future partner and not a half-hearted “oh..right..uh, ok then…” I’d want them to understand why i have done what i’ve done in my life and love me for that…

telling someone this information is vital i think… it’s one of the most intimate parts of a relationship and i think you both need to know how much you have given yourselves to others and why… mainly because there should be no secrets….

mea05key's avatar

I am creating a scenario here on my own. If let say a guy happen to ask a girl about her past relationship and she is willing to tell a story about it. The guy likes the girl very much and adores her attitude , charm and so forth while the girl is taking response from the guy.
Then she casually admit that she had sex with 10–20 (exegerating probably) people throughout her entire relationships while putting a smile on. What impression will the guy get? The guy probably get a whole new perspective of what kind of person she is. I am trying to state here that we can learn a lot of a person from his/her past experience. We might know very little about a person than we actually realise.

cage's avatar

@mea05key story of my life ;)... exactly
Like I said, stick with her because she is with YOU now.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I’ve had 8…I’m not sure why I ever want to know it from my SO…I guess it’s just something I like to know to see whether I’m on par or not with the average person. It ultimately changes nothing about the relationship I am currently in though. I am never really shocked or anything…maybe intimidated if she’d had lets say 5 times as many men as I had women. But thats about it. I would never consider it grounds to terminate a relationship though.

augustlan's avatar

I always ask, and answer, eventually. For me, it really is just curiousity. The number has never made me jealous, though in my younger years the number zero was an automatic turn on for me. I liked to teach ;) I have had negative reactions from guys about my own very high number, but they have always overcome their initial reaction.

scamp's avatar

@cage I have a feeling your gf is going to be upset with you when she reads this thread. ( unless of course she gave permission to answer for her) I suggest you run and hide!!

Jbor's avatar

I’ve personally had a lot of partners, no need to divulge numbers. But I have a very hard time accepting that a grilfriend has had many as well. Yes, I know I’m a hypocrite, and I sincerely believe that women should be judged by the same standards as men. But sadly that doesn’t seem to apply to my feelings.

nebule's avatar

@Jbor your honesty is admirable…at least you can work on the acceptance with awareness of your faults. It’s a good thing baby!

cage's avatar

@scamp naah, she’s quite open about it. Besides. I think she’d be happy I’m actually telling people it’s okay with me because I understand it’s her past and I love her what ever :)

bodyhead's avatar

Not everyone eventually asks this. I don’t really care personally. In fact, I probably don’t want to know. Also, I won’t tell them because I have no idea. I stopped counting after the first time. I would be hard pressed to come up with the number (it’s not that many really) because I place no value in having that knowledge.

tinyfaery's avatar

I have never asked that question of any of my lovers, male or female. When my wife and I first got together she told me she had never been with a man. I could tell from her seduction skills that she had to have had many female lovers. Many. Either that or she was just born with it.

Conversely, she has never asked me my number. She knows me, and knows how I feel about my sexuality, so I’m sure she knows I’ve been with a few people.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Atleast for me, its something I ask because I want to know if its something that she only does with special people or does just because she wants it. To some people it makes a difference to others it doesn’t. if she was my age (23) id be fine if she had 3 or 4 but I wouldn’t be too enthused to hear 20. I actually read on here the other day someone was with a girl who had 30 or some thing and she was 25 that seems like a lot, so to me that would be a problem too. I think people don’t like to tell the number because we instantly get judged, just like If I told you mine everyone would have an opinion and none of them would be the same and would probably be wrong.
I think most of us like to hear a low number when we ask because most of us want it to mean something when we have sex with the person.
Also I think it comes from when we hear about other people we aren’t involved with. Like gossip and such. For example you hear someone say sussy slept with a whole bunch of guys and you think wow what a…. and then you find someone you like and you find out and its more than you think is appropriate you think hmm what kind of girl am in getting involved with, so you carry that sympothy over with you. But some people dont care like I said. It really depends on your values when it comes to sex and what not. By the way my number is 0, but I was intimate with 1 person before my current relationship. So you can see where my values are on that issue. But thats just my perspective. I would have a hard time having a really serious relationship with someone who had a really high number I think.

scamp's avatar

@cage well, you are lucky because if my SO posted something that personal about me he’d have to sleep with one eye open for quite some time!!

wundayatta's avatar

@LKidKyle1985: very complete and informative answer. Thank you.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’ve only slept with one person and that partner slept with… 30 or so people by about 24. That shocked me, just because I can not ever imagine sleeping with that many people, even by the time I’m old. I asked him the question out of curiosity, knowing that I may not have liked what he said. I accepted his answer, without judging him.

Knowing the answer to that particular question definitely helps you get to know someone. It can tell you a little bit about their general view of life, but only after you’ve gotten to know them. They may have slept with a lot of people because they felt worthless and wanted to prove something to themselves, or they may just view sex as sex – no emotional aspect involved. They may have had something horrible happen to them, they may just thoroughly enjoy sex but never met anyone they wanted to have a serious relationship with, etc, etc.

Personally, I would have wanted to hear a lower number, but only because I want to connect with someone, knowing that they understand why my number is so low, or in that case – nonexistent altogether. Just like I can’t understand why people (generally) tend to sleep with other people so easily – those people can not understand why I don’t. I got very tired, when I was growing up, of constantly having to explain why I hadn’t had sex yet. I didn’t go around asking everyone why they had, because despite my personal feelings on the matter, I could see it from their perspective. Typically they could never see it from mine. It was very annoying.

As for hiding our numbers… I think it works both ways. I no longer hide it (and haven’t for a long time), but after being scrutinized so many times when I was younger by so many different people, I started lying and saying that I had had sex, just to avoid feeling alienated, because no one ever got it, even after attempting to enlighten them.

Based on my own experiences, I don’t think it boils down to trust. It’s more about being made to feel different. People don’t typically feel okay about being different, and so adhere to whatever everyone else is doing, most of the time.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@daloon you’re welcome hope it helped some

introv's avatar

I like to know as I believe it adds colour to the personality. I like to know people on as deep a level as I can and I feel that how many people they have slept with and their reasons for that are really quite an important part of the person.

Ultimately it will not make any difference to the way I feel about them other than as just another facet of their overall personality, history and makeup which I will love as a package.

wundayatta's avatar

@DrasticDreamer: I loved your response, too. Thanks for explaining your opinions so well.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@daloon Hey I found that other question that I mentioned in my answer, I didn’t read through it again but it might give some more insight into your question

laureth's avatar

Things you might be able to surmise about a person with an arbitrarily high number:

—Like sex a lot
—Has low self esteem, and felt it was a way to feel loved
—Lived in a culture where their friends had sex a lot
—Are very attractive and not given to turning people away
—Are very comfortable in their bodies and enjoy their sensuality
—Don’t think that having a low number really matters
—Enjoys one-night stands or furtive encounters
—Not all that young, has lived life
—Polyamorous
—Has had no long term relationships
—Has had many long term relationships
Has taken a virginity pledge
—and more

Things you might be able to surmise about a person with an arbitrarily low number:

—Very young, has not had many relationships
—Possibly waiting for marriage
—Just got out of a marriage they got into too young
—Not very attractive, haven’t had many offers
—Respects self, doesn’t want to be considered a “whore”
—Has low self esteem, doesn’t make first moves very well
—Lived in a repressive culture where they couldn’t have sex, even if they wanted to
—Doesn’t like sex very much
—Has had only a handful of long-term relationships
—Has had no long term relationships
—Has taken a virginity pledge
—And more

As evidenced by the wide variety of overlapping and conflicting conclusions that one may draw, one could say that someone’s “count” is a pretty useless thing to know, except as how it affected the person doing the counting.

augustlan's avatar

Laureth, I lurve you.

tinyfaery's avatar

her hee, not attractive

wundayatta's avatar

Has low self esteem, doesn’t make first moves very well

Fortunately, it doesn’t matter any more. Let’s hope it stays that way. Problem is that if you have low self esteem, you don’t talk about things that need talking about. You need confidence to carry off a good relationship. When you lack self-esteem, you hurt your relationship, too.

maybe_KB's avatar

It gives me a window of how different they are now or then

timeand_distance's avatar

@cage

sleep with one eye open, buddy.

(jokes.)

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