"My girlfriend asked me how many women I’ve had sex with—should I be honest? It’s not, like, an army, but it’s more than a handful. And do I want to know her tally? What if she tells me she’s been with the whole football team? I’m not sure I’m ready for that…" — AARON Z., NASHVILLE, TN
Better to build a relationship based on honesty than deception. So come up with a rough number rather than a specific one (specific means you remember each and every partner; rough means that, except for the woman in front of you right now, they were all completely forgettable), then round down to the nearest 10 and give her that.
But in my experience as a sex therapist, you know what I’ve found is worse than having had too many lovers? Having had too few! I’ve never worked with a couple who’ve split up because they’ve had too many partners, but I have worked with couples in which one partner (often the woman) has broken it off because she feels she hasn’t had enough sexual experiences and wonders what she may be missing out on.
So don’t worry about what the numbers mean—they don’t mean anything. Casual sex is an important way for both of you to learn about your own unique sexual template, to gain experience pleasuring and being pleasured, and to understand the contours of your turn-ons and turnoffs. Your partner now could potentially end up as your life partner, so whether she’s your fifth or your 50th (or you’re hers), just treat her like she’s No. 1. — Dr. Ian Kerner, Ph.D., psychotherapist and sex counselor
No—don’t ask her, and never be honest. Tell her you can’t remember the number because ever since you met her, no woman has even counted — Jena Friedman, writer and stand-up comic.