Is It Okay to Ask for Her Total?

Have you ever asked a date how many people they’ve slept with?

As a rule, I don’t ask this question. I don’t think it’s fair to put someone on the spot in that way. I love talking about past relationships, and through that, over time, I gain a rough idea of the total partners she’s had. But I never directly pop that question.

That isn’t to say that I’m not curious. I’m so curious. Sexual histories fascinate me. But it’s a matter of privacy as well as avoiding a potentially awkward exchange. Not only do the totals mean different things to different people, but the variance between the two has different meanings as well. Plus, if there truly is a relationship-threatening difference between the two totals, I think it’ll rise to the surface without that question being asked.

On the flip side, I actually don’t mind being asked that question. I’ll give an honest answer (although, for kicks, I want to give the answer, “I could count my total on two hands…if each hand has five hundred fingers!”), but I still won’t turn around and ask the other person. That’s just how I roll.

What do you think? Is this a question that you ask? How do you feel about being asked it? Also, if you end up writing a blog entry about this (which happened several times following the “Can Guys and Girls Be Friends” entry), let me know and I’ll link to it here!

Penelope and I wrote contrasting entries about this subject today, so head on over to Penelope’s blog to see if it’s okay to ask for his total!


17 Responses to “Is It Okay to Ask for Her Total?”

  1. Dionne says:

    There is someone that I’ve been talking to for awhile in hopes that it might turn into a committed dating relationship and we’ve had this talk. I was completely honest and felt that anyone I intend to seriously date should know my # upfront and if they choose to judge me then I know that they are not the one I need to be with. Luckily, the man I’m talking to was somewhat surprised at first, but didn’t have a problem with it.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That’s cool that you were upfront about your number. To some extent, I would say that I am too. But I try not to put it in the context of, “Okay, I’m going to tell you my number so you’ll tell me yours.”

  2. Josey says:

    Not gonna lie, I’ve asked the question, but I really didn’t mind NOT knowing the answer. I guess b/c I really didn’t care… and if he’d have cared that much about my number (or judged me b/c of it) then I wouldn’t want to be with that guy anyway.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That’s a great point about not wanting to be judged about your number…that’s one of the reasons I don’t ask. Not that I think I would judge–I hope I wouldn’t–but I’m human, so the possibility is there. I’d rather find out in small doses as I get to know the person.

  3. Harley says:

    I said this on Penelope’s blog, but I’d prefer not to know all the gory details. There are some things better left unsaid. We all have pasts. I would like to know if they’ve had over 100 partners, though. I’m pretty sure I would not care for that so much. 🙂

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      So, 99 sexual partners is okay?

      I don’t like all the “gory” details, per se, but I’m curious about some aspects of sexual histories. I’m curious about anything that has formed a person into the person they are today.

  4. Trisha says:

    This is a topic I don’t mind discussing, either, because I’m interested in people’s past relationships. I don’t think the actual number means much – unless as Harley pointed out, it’s like 157. That would scare me.

    If the number is 1 it would be just as interesting as if it were 6 or 10. I think. That said, I don’t bring it up unless it’s a friend relationship. Sometimes if it’s a guy I really like, maybe I’d rather not know.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Interesting. I think the key difference I mention above is that I’m interested in people’s past relationships, but I want to slowly unfold their history like the peels of an onion inside a Russian Doll carved into the rings of a Sequoia. I don’t want to jump to that number outright.

      • Dionne says:

        Unfolding someone’s history/ past like an onion is a great way to approach it. Why overwhelm one’s self with too much at one time.

  5. Megan says:

    Here’s my question: WHY?

    I mean, these people who have a “magic number” that is too many?

    Over 100 is too many? But is 99 okay? 59 is okay? I don’t get it.

    I mean, I can see A) wanting someone who is a virgin – if you are too and that is your value system. So that would be a reason to ask. Or, B) I can see wanting someone who only slept with “major” boyfriends/girlfriends – so that number would be relatively low, maybe 2 or 3 (depending on how loosely you define “major”).

    Beyond that, I don’t see the point. If your potential lover has had 20 partners, I’d assume that includes a fair number of one night stands. Why is 17 one night stands better than 25, or 50? It all basically points to the same thing… and if you are okay with 17, why aren’t you okay with 50?

    So I guess my point is this: If you care about the number because you want to know if they only sleep with “important” or “meaningful” partners, ask that question: “Have you ever had a one night stand/meaningless sex?” If you just want to know so you can gloat (on one end of the spectrum or the other), don’t ask at all. But no good comes from knowing actual numbers, in either scenario.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Megan–Great comments on both my blog and Penelope’s. I totally agree that the importance isn’t about the number, it’s about the meaning behind the partners (as you say in the last paragraph above). And that meaning is going to mean different things to different people. So, if it’s really important for you to date someone who has only slept with meaningful lovers, that’s the question to ask, not “How many?”

  6. Megan says:

    And here’s another thing to think about: age.

    I was 34 when I got married. I had been sexually active for 16 years.

    My numbers are going to look very different than someone who is 24’s numbers are, by virtue of the fact that I was single for a long time. What if I had one “major” boyfriend a year, every year? My “major” number is 16! Is that too many? But they were all “serious”.

    Like I said – this is just too personal and complicated. I say avoid the whole thing. Love the person you are with because you love them, not because of what (or who) they did or did not do four years ago.

  7. Biscuit says:

    Straight up, I don’t like being asked…it’s my deal and if I’m with you, I’m with YOU. The past does not matter. Ask ME (me, not speaking for others) and I’m clamming up, and closing shop. I will instantly become self-conscious that you’re judging me based on my number, whether it’s high or low. It just makes for a real awkward situation. I just don’t see what people really get out of knowing..but that’s me.

    I love the dueling blog posts you and Penelope do, always gets the wheels turning.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I’m with you, Biscuit :). We have another post coming next week that I think you’ll get a kick out of.

  8. Amanda says:

    Here I am again commenting on a blog that’s months old, I’ll read everything eventually I swear! I actually enjoy being asked my number, I love the reactions and the follow up questions. I’m shy as all get out so I never ask, plus it’s not important to me as long as he doesn’t have any sexually transmitted cooties. I do ask that question of him if I’m contemplating having a relationship with him. Thinking about it now, “have you been tested for STDs?” might be more uncomfortable for a guy than me asking him “how many people have you got it on with?”,oopsies lol guess I’m a scary person to date. I should strike a superhero pose and heroically yell out “No question is safe from the Amandinator!”

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