Don’t play the numbers game with sexual past
Dear Readers — Does the number of past sex partners matter? What do you tell, and what do you never confess?
They’re among the most sensitive personal questions that advice columnists get asked.
But readers also have opinions on the topic, and don’t always consider that people asking the question relate it only to their own lives.
The answers, then, mostly apply directly to those asking, not to everyone else.
This was the case of a woman who wrote about her boyfriend of five years being “bothered about my past promiscuity” before they were together (April 21).
She wrote that, although any regrets she may have about her past is her business, the couple now want to get more serious and “decided to pursue healing together.” Her words.
I responded directly to those words. But I don’t feel smug about my answer, and many of you have challenged me on it.
I’ve previously advised others, to NOT play the tell-all “numbers game.” From October 26, 2004, this was my Tip of the Day: “Past sexual partners should be accountable for health reasons, but not counted for comparisons.”
From December, 2014, “It’s not a ‘right’ for one person to know another’s past sexual history — I discourage the numbers game. The only answer that should’ve been given is that you’ve had sexual experience before.”
But the recent writer had agreed to her boyfriend’s “need to separate what I was like before, from who I’ve been with him.”
She labels her previous behaviour, “promiscuity.” Healing together implies they’ll be talking to a therapist. Her choice.
Nevertheless, some of your responses should be read here. In general cases, they include valid points:
Reader #1 — “Your response implied that her past was something she needed to work through with her boyfriend. It’s not.
“At no point does she imply that she’s disturbed by her past. The person with an issue is her boyfriend. And he should be her ex. Someone who’s still that insecure about a past that pre-dates their five-year long relationship, and behaviour that ended before they met, isn’t a grownup and needs to work through his own issues before he can be a partner to anyone.”
Reader #2 — “If an adult has no sexual experience, then anyone who’s ever had sex is going to seem “promiscuous!”
Reader #3 — “Why is it wrong for women to have numerous partners when young? Why is this an illness? It’s never described as such with young men. I feel that this is between the woman and herself and none of her boyfriend’s business.
“If he has issues with his lack of experience, the best advice for him is to go out and get it before he settles down so he won’t come back and harp about it later.
“This is a form of bullying and will always remain between these two people. Better they seek partners who either don’t care or see nothing wrong in it.”
Reader #4 — “If he can’t get over the fact that his girl is hot and likes an orgasm, he should find a new girl. It’s his hang-up, not hers. The image of a male stud and female slut if they both ‘got around’ is nonsense.” Ellie — To those who wrote that they believed I was “slutshaming” the original writer, or any others who’ve been sexually active by choice, I regret anything I wrote that conveyed that perception.
She doesn’t feel ashamed of her past. And I was not shaming her.
Q :I’m a very introverted college freshman, working on being more social. I’m best friends with my roommate, who’s great at meeting new people and making friends.
She’s made many guy friends who inevitably become my friend. But they all do this because they like her. They admit feelings and the friendships get ruined.
Now a new guy friend has admitted the same thing to me about her.
What can she or I do to not mess up this friendship or prevent this in the future? — Frustrated Socially
A: Be a friend. Your loyalty is to your roommate, so if a guy confesses feelings, say that’s between them. But meanwhile, suggest going for a snack/drink/meal/game together.
Also, when you go anywhere with your roommate, separate and talk to others.
Most important, learn from your roommate’s social skills. Get out on your own to events/ activities that interest you, and start chatting with others who are there for similar reasons.
TIP OF THE DAY
Past sexual partners should NOT be counted, only their health checks, re: STDs, should be open.