So what’s your magic number? You know the number that I’m talking about…

Some of you might have shifted uncomfortably upon reading that or being asked? But don’t worry I’m not looking for answers.

The number in question, of course, refers to the number of sexual partners that you have had. What quite defines a number varies from each person’s list and each conversation. I suspect that this is due to each person’s desire to either increase or decrease the total for their own reasons.

Of course, this is commonly asked at the start of many a relationship, but why the hell do we care? And what is the impact? Coming into a relationship we may have many questions about our partners, while the questions may be free from judgment, what we are doing is trying to get a better picture of who that person is and their suitability as a partner.

As human beings, we tend to fill the gaps with our own imaginations and therefore we create an idealised view of that person from what we know. By getting to know them better we are testing to see if our perception matches reality. However, we all have history and that can be very different from the place that the other person finds themselves in at present.

By challenging our perspectives of other people we are inviting change into a relationship, for example if you felt your boyfriends figure was too high, would you still hold them in the same regard. Of course they have not changed as a person the only shift is our perception of them; of course if they are on grindr with their junk hanging out in their profile picture, you’ve got a pretty good idea that they aren’t sat at home at night sewing quilts for the church fete.

In male-male relationships, this can sometimes cause additional frictions, as there may be an on-going power struggle for the dominant male. If one man perceives himself as the alpha male in the relationship, he may feel emasculated upon discovering his partner has a higher number. In the short term, he may become isolated and jealous. In the longer term, it may become resentment.

Of course there is the flip side, I have known someone in the past who has called off an engagement because he found out that she wasn’t a virgin, and yes he was Catholic but when you’re in your 40s chances are against it? He admitted that it was a silly situation but the woman he had loved had become someone different in his eyes.

I think the crux of the argument is how much of your past defines your future. As a person centred counsellor I work with the here and now, clients are powerless to change the past but making sense of it allows them to begin to shape the future. The important thing to remember at the start of any new relationship is that both parties have intentions to leave the past behind and create a new future together.
If you feel that you want to know your partners number, ask yourself why? What are you hoping to gain? Asking that question is like opening Pandora’s box, once it is open there is it cannot be closed again and the consequences will need to be dealt with.

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Can a leopard change its spots? Yes, absolutely. If someone has an especially high number it may mean that they were unsure about what they were looking for, but they find something appealing in you that makes them want to change. Should they be ashamed of the person they were? Certainly not and neither should they be defined or judged by it.

And I’m not telling you my magic number.


Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you’d like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.

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About the author: Barry Heap

Back, back back again!

Fatter, more ginger and gayer than ever. Enjoying stints as a burlesque performer and stand up comedian, I bring a well travelled perspective.

I like video games, axifi, budget travel and cheap wine

Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.