Read­ers re­spond to ‘past promis­cu­ity’ col­umn

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­ DEAR EL­LIE

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 Oct. 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 No. 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 predates their five-year long re­la­tion­ship and be­hav­iour that ended be­fore they met, isn’t a grown up and needs to work through his own is­sues be­fore he can be a part­ner to any­one.”

Reader No. 2: “If an adult has no sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence, then any­one who’s ever had sex is go­ing to seem ‘pro­mis­cu­ous!’”

Reader No. 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 No. 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 “slut-sham­ing” 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.

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