Neil Sandhu is a biomedical engineering senior and Mustang News opinion editor. The views expressed in this column do not reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Please, forgive me as I offer another exposé of heteronormative relationships. I know, it is a fruit so low to the ground that the clumsiest of us could trip over it. Unfortunately, I can only offer the perspective of a heterosexual man in a traditional relationship, as it is all I have experience with.
Most people know their number. Not talking about the one that starts with an area code; the number of people you’ve consummated your love with.
I’ll give you a minute to finish tallying up your score.
Got it? OK guys, how completely does that number describe your sexual health, wellbeing, likes, comfort, safety, paternal status and sexual identity? Great, glad we’re on the same page.
Our numbers don’t mean shit, but we still seem to think our partner’s number does. Our partner’s number can tell us if they are a slut, if they get around, if you can trust them, if they have commitment issues, if they are good in bed and if you have to worry about getting an STI; our partner’s number matters to us.
No? Well OK, moving away from this sarcastic caricature of the male mind, let’s talk seriously about why we care how many people our significant other has slept with. When we think of our number in the context of our own life, we know that it doesn’t define us as a person, yet we still get hung up on other peoples’. So, why the double standard?
When I ask other men why they are curious about the number of people a girl has had sex with, they usually offer semi-rational reasons. Some wonder if she’s open to having a relationship, or usually goes for something less committal. Others are interested in knowing if they are a step up from their significant other’s ex, or if she’s settling. Some guys just like knowing because they want to know who has
The point is that most guys don’t care about a number for its own sake. They are actually concerned about real, substantive issues that they have a right to be curious over.
No one is entirely unconcerned with their significant other’s previous relationships. That isn’t to say that they worry you or keep you up at night, but there is always some level of curiosity when it comes to whom your significant other used to be with. The curiosity itself isn’t nefarious. But attempting to quantify it is, because we aren’t giving the subject the level of conversation he/she deserves.
These conversations are hard, awkward and difficult to navigate with someone you don’t know well. Asking someone what they’re looking for in a relationship or how important sex is to them can be terrifying. It is an unscientific process with no clear path and it would just be easier if we could boil it down to a few digits but we can’t.
Most of the time, numbers help us make sense of the world. They ostensibly offer objectivity in situations that are otherwise indecipherable. However, the number of people someone has had sex with is not one of these metrics. It really doesn’t matter.
If you find yourself wondering how many sexual partners someone has had, I implore you to think a little more critically about what you’re actually curious about. Forget about the number and just have a damn conversation. You’re not a brute for caring about someone’s past, but when you pretend that you can sum someone up with a few digits, you sure are acting like one.