Oh, the body count. Before we even get into all of this, let me just put on record that although I know it's the immediate go-to phrase these days, I'm not big on that term when it comes to sex partners.
That's because I tend to be pretty word-literal and the true definition of body count means "number of casualties". Casualties refer to bodily injury or even death. Why we'd want to see sex in that context is beyond me. But since it's the term that basically took the place of "notches on the belt", we'll roll with it—today.
Hmm. Where to begin?
Numbers Do Lie
I think it's pretty safe to say it is common knowledge that many people lie about the amount of people they've been with. As I was doing some online research for surveys and stats to support this point, I saw one that said 41.3 percent of men and 32.6 percent of women lie about their sexual history. Not only that but (surprise, surprise) men tend to increase their number while women tend to decrease theirs (so when guys say whatever number a woman gives you, add three? There might be a bit of truth to that!).
Something else that was interesting about the study is reportedly eight percent of people were willing to end their relationship if they found out their partner had too few sex partners in the past, while (again—surprise, surprise) 30 percent would call it quits if they found out they had too many.
What’s Too Many Sex Partners?
For women, over 15. For guys, I guess I come in right under the cap, because they want a woman who's been with 14 or less. For both genders, numbers greater than that are considered to be folks who are "too promiscuous". Geez.
You can have an unwanted pregnancy, get an incurable STD or have your heart so broken that you set out to ruin folks after just one partner or after 20 of 'em, so the numbers thing is a bit…strange, if you ask me.
Hoe Is Relative
Anyway, all of this data takes me back when my own "count" was 10 (again, it currently stands at 14). I had to speak at Tennessee State University on the topic of sex. Because I was so, uh, forthcoming with my sexual history, someone in the class asked me how many people I had been with. When I said, "10", the reactions were hilarious. For the most part, half of the room was looking at me like "That's it?!" while the other side was like, "Girrrrl, you naaaaaaasty." In fact, someone actually blurted out that I was a hoe. It's fine. Live long enough on this planet and you learn that "hoe" is relative.
Anyway, so why did I find the reactions to be humorous? It's due to a few reasons. One, I just met those students; they aren't a part of my day-to-day life, so their perspective weighs in very lightly in my world. Two, the conflicted responses go to show that perception runs the gamut; you truly can't—and shouldn't want to—please everyone. And three, I'm open about my number because I'm not ashamed of it (clearly, I wrote an entire piece on it here).
The way I see it, if I'm too embarrassed or defensive to discuss the number of people I've had sex with, I should be more introspective about my sexual choices overall.
Ask Yourself Why
Just think about it. How many people know what your so-called body count is? If you're looking at your computer or smartphone screen right now like, "Girl, I would never disclose that!", ask yourself why because, within that answer, a lot can be revealed.
Is it because you're naturally a private individual? That's fair, but I'd venture to say that those kinds of folks is far and few between. I say that because some of those same "I'm private" people will turn around and document their entire day, day after day, on IG. Yeah, I'm thinking for many that "private" has more to do with fear of what people will think and/or shame and/or anxiety—feelings that should never be associated with sex. (Bookmark that.)
Here's another point to consider. How is it that someone who you're, at the very least considering sleeping with, wanting to know how many people you've been with is offending you because they are getting all up in your business but, at the same time, you're cool with letting them literally get…all up in your business? Something doesn't add up there either.
Your Body, Your Choices
The main point I'm trying to make is your so-called body count is a part of who you are. Yes, it's in your past (or maybe a couple of 'em are listed under "active duty"), but it still helped to cultivate your present being. If you love yourself, what should you be ashamed of? If the answer is because you're worried about how a guy will see you once he knows, well, doesn't that also reveal something about his own preconceived notions and maturity level?
To a certain extent, I think a lot of us have become so desensitized to how precious sex is (check out "We Should Really Rethink the Term 'Casual Sex'") that, while we'll let someone know about the mole that's on our inner thigh or how we sound when we orgasm, we think that talking about how many other people have that information is somehow "too intimate".
Again, if a man can't handle knowing about your sexual past, why is he even remotely worthy of being a part of your sexual present?
Deeper than that, if you feel like you have to lie about it, how is that a healthy way to start or continue a relationship? You remember the old school Mormon commercial, don't you? "You tell one lie, it leads to another. Then you tell two lies to cover each other. Then you tell three lies, oh brother." Oh brother, indeed.
So, what am I ultimately saying? That someone who wants to know your sexual history has the automatic right to it? Absolutely not. Personally, even with how open I am about my own sexual past, I don't foresee needing to know my future husband's body count. So long as he's had some time of abstinence (not as long as me, but some months would be good) and he's got an STD clean bill of health, I'm good.
But I will say this—if someone does inquire about your sexual history (numbers included) and you tense up, get all defensive and/or lie, is that really someone you should be having sex with? The body count isn't the issue. The reasons behind why you don't feel comfortable revealing that part of yourself is what I'm getting at.
If you Google the fact that one of the main reasons why 70 percent of women have a hard time having a vaginal orgasm, you'll discover that it's because they've got walls up with their partner; they might be having sex with their body but not their entire being. Moral to the story—the more open, real and vulnerable we are, the better the sex will be.
Bottom line, if he's not worthy of knowing your body count and/or if you're not comfortable enough to share it with him, revisit if he's worthy of you at all.
Do you have to share it? No. But should you fear sharing it? Never. And with the right partner, you won't have to. He'll make you so comfortable with sharing that it won't be that big of a deal—to you or to him.
Featured image by Jon Feingersh Photography Inc / Getty Images