Friday, March 7, 2008

Numbers.

I lost my virginity at 18, after graduating high school, and I had kissed five people up until that point. I didn't need a list (I could recite everyone I had kissed in chronological order until the number reached around 20), but I had one. The list had the boy's name, as well as symbols signifying "how far" we went. Also, everyone I kissed received a journal entry (so quaint!). So, numbers were big to me. HUGE. Anyone I dated, I wanted to know their numbers as well - how many he had kissed, how many of them gave head, how many he slept with. Since my numbers were pretty low and I mostly dated guys who were a little older and little more experienced, sharing wasn't a big deal. But, once I hit six, I started to worry. My last boyfriend, who was two years older than me, had only slept with four. Was I a slut?

The next sexual situation I was in was with a friend with whom there was no chance of dating, since he lived in Maine and I live in Seattle. We were hanging out one day, and he kissed the back of my neck while we were in a toy store. My entire body responded, every hair on end, a current running through my spine. We couldn't get back to his house fast enough. When we were naked on his bed in the light of the afternoon sunshine, he said I was beautiful, and I believed him. I felt perfect in that moment. It was electric, one of the most arousing experiences of my life. And I stopped it short for the sake of a number. (We never went all the way. He has a serious girlfriend now, and once she found some old racy correspondence of ours, so he had to stop talking to me because it made her uncomfortable, regardless of the fact that we live on different coasts. But irrationally jealous girlfriends are another topic.)

A few months later, I had sex with someone else, and it was lousy. I had wasted an opportunity for GREAT sex for the sake of the number, then had mediocre sex with someone I had no intention of dating, or even sleeping with again. I felt defeated. I still had a higher number, and not even a good story to show for it. As anyone who has experienced phenomenal sex knows, it's an unrivaled experience. What had I passed it up for? I then vowed to never let myself miss another opportunity. (That was later revised to not allowing myself to miss an opportunity except for the sake of monogamy, but that's another story.)

I still kept the list, more for curiousity's sake, but I didn't allow fear of adding to it to interfere with whom I chose to sleep with. Now, I'm not proud of everyone I've slept with, and I would take a few back in the light of hindsight. But the lion's share, I don't regret one bit, number be damned.

This last Summer, I stopped updating the list. At first I panicked: was that really someone I wanted to be? I remembered with horror the first female friend who told me she honestly had no idea how many men she had been with. Then I thought about it more. I consider myself to be a sex-positive person, and I think the double-standard of males with a high number of sexual partners versus females is ludicrous. Tucker Max doesn't know how many people he's slept with, why should I? (Note: it's nowhere near as many as Tucker Max. I'm double-digits, not triple ((double-note: why do I feel the need to clarify?))). Also, I prefer to date a guy who has had many partners - he tends to have more sexual skill, be more confident in bed, and be more adventurous, all things that I value.

Rather than be afraid of how someone else would react to my number, I thought about it this way: Do I even want to date the kind of guy that would judge me for something like that? The answer was no. A relationship is about mutual respect, and trust; if my past makes him feel insecure, that's his problem, not mine. I would rather weed out guys who are uncomfortable about that sort of thing than pussyfoot around someone else's prejudices.

This was originally written in response to a question about whether "notches on the bedpost" really mattered, which he asked in advance of his own blog post on the matter. I don't think of his general readership as my peer group, so I want to ask you the same thing: What are your thoughts on numbers? Do you keep track? Do you ask? Does how many people someone else has slept with affect your opinion of them?

(PS- the timeline of my experiences with the "friend" is a little off - it made more sense this way, in order to maintain flow as well as to protect his anonymity.)

10 comments:

Scott Robinson said...

Numbers are unimportant to me.

They're fun to play with on a statistical basis. Want to know if you're a "slut?" Check your five year trailing average.

I've kept track. But, my number is small. Comparatively speaking, I became sexually active late.

Will in Seattle said...

Tried to post before but I keep messing up the login.

Anyway, just wanted to say it's like in Four Weddings and a Funeral - it really doesn't matter in the long run. On the other hand, some men can be insecure about it.

Once you're beyond counting former partners on one hand, or past obsessing on how many fingers on one hand the count is, it really isn't critical at all.

dana said...

funny you should post about this. i was actually just reviewing my list the other night (so, yes, i do keep a list). i've listed everyone i've ever fooled around with in any capacity(though i did notice the absence of this one guy that i gave an h.j. to, but never kissed.....classy right?).
i think one of the big reasons i keep the list is so that i can laugh later at what i called people whose names had escaped me in the light of day. i.e. 'random army guy', 'matt at the gorge', 'josh....i think?', 'lynn's boyfriends friend', 'bathroom at beacon pub'.
does a persons number effect my opinion of them? yes. not necessarily negatively or positively, but it does.

Daniel said...

Aislinn, I like your posts on Slog. I can relate to the "friend" situation, but from the friend point of view. My girlfriend was jealous of someone I had slept with who I was still in contact with and she flipped over it. We were never serious and it didn't even last all that long. There was nothing going on with us and there wasn't going to be; she just couldn't deal. I ended the friendship, but it bothered me: why should I stop talking to and hanging out with someone whose company I enjoy when I'm not doing anything wrong? I don't understand it to this day and am somewhat resentful. I miss the friendship; the laughter and the conversation. By the way, I don't think you're a slut and I don't think numbers matter. From what I can tell about you you seem funny, well grounded, cool and smart. Your confidence is refreshing. I hope you find someone who sees all that and I hope the friend's girlfriend someday realizes shes being irrational and allows you to resume your lost friendship. Best of luck.

Shelley said...

When I decided to stop keeping track of the numbers, my numbers we relatively low. It felt liberating though and in response I then went on the period of my life I refer to as my "sexin' spree". At that time, I found the numbers to be a restraint and without them I was free to do as I wanted, when I wanted, and with whomever I wanted. Clearly, I went overboard and made more than a few bad, rash decisions.
Now, years later, I'm still glad I let go of the list but only wish I hadn't grown up with such inhibitions to believe that the numbers directly related to how much of a slut a person is. Then I may have been able to deal with the 'new freedom' in a more responsible way.
In response to your "friend" situation: its bizarre to see a man with so much insight into the female mind get owned by one. You would think he could talk his way outa'that one.

Aislinn said...

Scott: I don't know what a five year trailing average is. Guess that makes me a slut!

Will: Sorry, the log-in is annoying. I don't remember enough of Four Weddings and a Funeral to see the comparison, but I'll trust you.

Dana: So, did you add him to the list? When I was still keeping a list, I moved it to the computer, so that I could change the order in case of omissions, and so I didn't have to dig out my ancient journal, since it was started in the one I kept in highschool. Also, those names are priceless. Another reason I love you.

Daniel: Thank you. It's been a while, and I don't necessarily expect you to check back, but if you do, do you mind telling me your Slog name? Just curious. Unless you're like me, and post under you're real name.

Thanks for sharing the story about you and your girlfriend. I guess what interests me most is why it was worth it to you to end the friendship? Is this girlfriend "the one"? Wouldn't "the one" be above irrational jealousy? The one thing I absolutely cannot stand in a relationship is jealousy. The way I see it, either my boyfriend trusts me, or he doesn't. If he trusts me, I should be able to choose my own friends. If he doesn't trust me: why is he my boyfriend? I'm not judging your decision, just interested in why you made it.

Shelley: Haha, "sexin spree." I love you, Shelley, I wish we got to hang out more.

Now, years later, I'm still glad I let go of the list but only wish I hadn't grown up with such inhibitions to believe that the numbers directly related to how much of a slut a person is. Then I may have been able to deal with the 'new freedom' in a more responsible way.

This sums up the point quite nicely. What's strange is that I grew up with a mother that in no way discouraged, uh, "sexual liberation," and I think you did as well. So where did we get the idea that it was such a shameful thing, worth repressing, and then acting out against?

Scott Robinson said...

Five year trailing average: number of partners in the last five years, divided by five ~= # of partners per year.

I hate to interrupt all the mutual empowerment. But, releasing oneself from the burden of numbers doesn't change the external definition. An above average number of sexual partners is tautologically equivalent to being a "slut."

Whether or not you care about it...

Mikki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dana said...

actually, i didn't get around to putting it on the list. but, i will eventually. though, i'm not sure exactly where it would fit in chronologically, but i have a good idea.
if i had a computer, i'd probably transfer my list to it. then save it on my desktop with the title "people i've fooled around with", so anyone that came over and used my computer would see it and look at it, then make fun of me. yet another reason i should really gets me a computer.

Honey said...

Hi,

I was just poking around Slog (I have friends in Seattle) and I found your blog.

I keep a list. It's in pieces, and it starts after the most significant relationship I've had ended. I keep track of everything from dates to kisses to proper sex. I love knowing the dates and full names of everyone I fuck around with. Perhaps I'm easily entertained.

I'm usually a lot sluttier than the people I date, so I tend not to have the 'numbers conversation' with my partner. Plus it doesn't really matter to me. It might be interesting to know in the context of learning more about how they relate to women etc, but that's it.

As far as your use of the word 'slut' -- after my obligatory freshman year women studies class, I became familiar with (and thoroughly rejected) the whole slut/stud double standard. So. Slut became a label that in recent years I've embraced. I guess my question to you is: What's so wrong with being a slut (slut, slag, ho, whore, etc -- take yer pick.)?