A study out today says that one in ten women lie to their partners about how many previous lovers they’ve had. I can’t work out if that’s surprising or not but what does stagger me is why this conversation is happening in Stradas across the land in the first place. To my mind, this has ‘DON’T GO THERE’ scrawled all over it. For myriad reasons.
One. Everyone goes on about how ‘age aint nothing but a number.’ Well, why not the same judgement-free attitude towards sex? The fact that we worry about putting our number ‘out there’ shows that this bit of information is still loaded with assumption. I’ve heard all kinds of sane, smart men and women reel off their own utterly arbitrary rules on this. ‘More than 15 will make him think I’m easy. Less than 10 and I’ll look inexperienced...’ (Misguided.) ‘If I say the truth – three – he’ll think I’m frigid.’ (And you’re dating him because...?) ‘Saying more than 25 would make her feel insecure...’ (Misguided and offensive. Blimey. The double!)
Two. Why is it anyone’s business? Yes, of course you need to delve into your sexual past if a trip to the STI clinic has revealed you’ve got a very intimate NBF but since when did this conversation become a given? You’ve agreed to date this person, not endure an Apprentice-style grilling on your sex CV. If the question comes up, how about a simple ‘I don’t think that’s really relevant... Now tell me, if you could be any fish, what kind of fish would you be?’ (Trust me, this is the kind of question you want to be asking on dates. Piranha, yowch! But kinda hot. Goldfish... oh dear.)
And anyway, how come so many of you can pluck this number out of the ether anyway? I was an avid list-maker as a teenager. In fact, I had colour-coded lists so I could keep track of ‘boys I fancy’, ‘boys who potentially fancy me’ and ‘boys who are a sort’ (that was 1990s burbs-speak for ‘hot’). But I honestly couldn’t tell you how many men I’ve kissed or slept with. I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night.
So can we all agree that sex isn’t a numbers game? Give up the mental tally. Quit the grilling. And let’s see every new relationship for what it is: a fresh start. And a chance to ask people about the fish they most represent...