Is It Healthy to Keep Count of Your Sexual Partners? Three Experts Weigh In

Article by Katie Skelly /
The Latch /
February 14, 2020 /
Click here to view original /

For whatever reason, the number of sexual encounters a person has experienced comes up in conversation more frequently than many of us would deem necessary or even relevant.

Whether you’re questioned by a potential new partner, an obnoxious match on Hinge, or a nosey friend, your ‘number’ is somehow still a topic of conversation, even now, when surely everyone should know the number of people you’ve been with is no one’s business but your own.

Totally fine if you’re happy to share intimate details with people of your choosing, but in the increasingly liberal and supportive world we should be aiming and working to create in 2020, the antiquated judgements around sex really need to cease and desist.

On a mission to seek a definitive answer to the question of whether or not we should bother counting our sexual partners, we sought the counsel of three experts. Here’s what they had to say.

Natajsa Wagner, clinical psychotherapist

Is it healthy to keep count of your sexual partners?

In my experience keeping count of sexual partners is usually an indicator of your own personal mindset around sex and what it means to have multiple sexual partners and experiences.

The real question is, how does it make you feel to keep count? Because how many sexual partners we have is no one else’s concern apart from our own, and how we feel about that is really the indicator of how we feel about ourselves.

If it’s impacting your self-esteem and confidence or your judging yourself, then perhaps it’s time to look a little deeper at what’s really going on.

Is there an ideal number of sexual partners one should have before ‘settling down’?

There is no ideal number of sexual partners we should have before finding ‘the one’ or settling down. However, I will say that research has found there is a negative bias towards people who have had “an extensive sexual past”, and it seems that we are more reluctant to get into a relationship with people who meet these criteria.

This being said, having no past sexual partners or limited partners (ie. 1-2 sexual encounters) is often seen less favourably as well.

How many sexual partners we have before deciding to be in a committed relationship is about our own personal choice that aligns with our values, not anyone else’s.

Check out Natajsa Wagner‘s work here.

Dr. Lauren Rosewarne, social scientist at the University of Melbourne

Is it healthy to keep count of your sexual partners?

It’s neither healthy nor unhealthy to keep count of your sexual partners — it’s just data. The unhealthy aspect is obsessing over this and deeming the number, be it high or low, as somehow reflective of your worth as a person.

Is there an ideal number of sexual partners one should have before ‘settling down’?

There is no such thing as an ideal number of sexual partners. The number of sexual partners we’ve had, however, can prove to be a complicating factor in relationships.

Some people might judge a partner who has had “too many”, while some people will feel inexperienced if they haven’t had as much sexual experience as their partner.

And then you may come across some people who will feel short-changed if they don’t “sow their wild oats” before committing.

See the latest from Dr Lauren Rosewarne.

Simone Milasas and Brendon Watt, co-authors of Relationship: Are You Sure You Want One?

Is it healthy to keep count of your sexual partners?

Would we call counting your sexual partners productive? No.

There is so much judgement around the number of people we choose to sleep with, and honestly, we would rather focus on the joys of sex and the fun involved, not the number of people we’ve copulated with.

Is there an ideal number of sexual partners one should have before ‘settling down’.

I think it’s more important to question why you might be counting — not what you are counting. If you’re a person who counts, ask yourself: What are you counting your sexual partners for? Is your number a way of validating oneself, or are you trying to prove something?

We’d rather not think of any number as an ideal, and if we could have it out way, we’d forget counting altogether and instead focus on the fun of sexual experiences with and for your own body.

More on Simone Milasas and Brendon Watt‘s book.