How to not slut-shame yourself when talking about your sexual past

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So many of us know this little new-relationship nugget – that funny conversation where, for some reason, someone wants us to quantify our romantic history.

An important conversation
To be clear, I’m not saying we should not discuss our romantic histories or past bedroom dalliances with the new person in our life, because, as we all know, it’s really important to have some knowledge of your lover’s sexual past. But that’s related to their health, not their number of sexual partners.

An open discussion about safe sex, and negotiating the terms and conditions of your romantic rendezvous is an essential step before you slip between the sheets with someone new. But why is all the attention so often settled on a number?

All about the numbers…
We regularly get caught up in some quasi-competition where it boils down to the number of partners we may or may not have had over the course of our lives.

There’s even been oft-peddled jokes spawned about this and, frankly, they’re so very boring and indicative of some relatively patriarchal perspectives, that seek to demonise women who have had more than one partner, and give men a quaint little pat on the head for allegedly being so effortlessly virile.

Heck, I read this piece and wanted to vomit up my lunch. Apparently, the more people a woman has slept with can be directly correlated to how likely she is to cheat on a man.

It gets a little more interesting when it’s your friends
Aside from that potentially awkward situation where the new person in your life wants to “know your number”, your mates might even chime in on this, with a subtle hint at who’s been busier or who is more pious. Simply put, the number you share with someone else will be viewed as a benchmark by which to judge you. By being forced into sharing any sort of number in that conversation, you’re potentially slut-shaming yourself.

So why share it at all?
What happened ten years ago in my romantic history probably has zero bearing on my life today – unless of course there was an STI that resulted from it. But this is where discretion really is the better part of valour, because if you share that number with someone who demands it, you’re only opening yourself up to being judged in some way.

Remember, you don’t have to respond to every question asked to you – this is not a courtroom (although if anyone does ever ask you to share that number in a courtroom, you can happily tell them to sod right off too).

Demanding an answer
If your new beau or beauty uses their demand to know your number as an ultimatum, before proceeding then, I’m sorry. It’s time to ditch them, because if they can’t respect your boundaries right now, they’re probably not going to respect them further down the line either.

They might offer up their number too, as a consolation but, really, what evidence do you have that they’re telling the truth? Relationships need to be founded on trust, and if you’re battling to find that already, you’ve got yourself a non-starter already. Sorry.

The number doesn’t matter
What matters is that you’re contemplating having sex with someone who has an interest in and desire towards you, today, as you are. Give them the respect they deserve, and ensure that they reciprocate.

If you’re both in it to add another notch to your headboard, or you’re working towards a long-term relationship, be clear on that. But, after all, it may be time to lose someone’s phone number, when they’re demanding to know your number.

More on relationships:

4 relationship myths for girls debunked

Why social media makes break-ups so much worse

How to tell the difference between Mr Right and Mr Right Now

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