Well, I'm just going to come right out and say it. According to the creepy (and confidential) Excel spreadsheet I keep that documents my sex life, I've slept with 99 people. The vast majority of these people (let's call it 97%) were men.
I can see it now; my life as a dark romantic '90s comedy. Young woman tallies 99 sexual partners, decides that's "too many" partners, and saves herself for #100, and a knight in shining armor arrives. He is the hundredth mate, and he is her mate for life.
My life is not a problematically sex-negative and sexist movie plot like the above, but when I realized my "number" had reached 99, I can't say that I didn’t think about slowing my roll.
I've read so many articles that try to dispel the notion that one's number of sexual partners doesn't matter, but they all fail miserably. I recently read a piece that interviewed 10 women, and nobody had a count over 40. I personally believe that you can sleep with 0 people or a million people, and that's all fine with me as long as everything is safe and consensual. But I found that this article actually propelled the social construct of there being a limit on the number of people a person can sleep with.
Don't even get me started on how a woman with 99 partners is treated in comparison to a man.
While I look down upon the slut-shaming of anyone regardless of gender, let's be real; society was built upon texts that encourage — no, REQUIRE — women to be virgins until marriage if they want to be valued by society. A slutty man can earn his keep in the world, while a slutty woman is diseased, tainted, loose and immoral.
I could go on for ages about gender-identity and sexual promiscuity, but I'm just going to universally advocate for people of all genders who have slept with a quantity of people that elicits slut-shaming.
Do I regret sleeping with as many people as I have?
No, not one bit. While I don't need to provide an explanation or justification for my number being 99, I'm going to dissect my sexual past.
Many of these partners were the result of one night stands or short-lived flings during ages 19-21. That's really when most of the count accrued. I've been sexually active for 8 years, so that's a little more than 12 partners per year on average, or one partner per month, although I'd say over half of my count can be attributed to that fling-filled period of my life. I've never been in a long term relationship, either, so surely that contributes to my "number" as well.
I dunno. I kept track, because I like to be able to gaze at the list and recall all my awesome, sexy memories. I don't want to forget anyone, even the shitheads.
When I write educational sex articles, I often find that the very notion that I even HAVE sex causes people to jump to calling me names. I get "slut" and "whore" a lot, and people often like to attribute my sexuality to needing a therapist and having daddy issues. Nah guys, I just like having sex — a LOT!
Am I a "nymphomaniac?" No. Merriam-Webster defines the term as "exhibiting unusual or excessive concern with or indulgence in sexual activity," and in my opinion, that is a very relative term. What's unusual to one person is another person's "normal." I actually have a shitload of very vanilla sex. I'm all about the missionary position.
The definition also connotes an unhealthy approach to sexuality, and "nymphomaniac" is actually considered a clinical diagnosis even. I feel that I approach sex with a very healthy mindset, constantly check-in with myself and assess my actions. Of all my years (over a decade) in therapy, I have never had a therapist tell me that there was anything wrong with my sexual behavior. Maybe I just picked smart therapists!
Am I "loose?" Well, first of all, I've already discussed how one cannot become "loose" from too much sex. Also, fuck that terminology. Let's just say that I can masturbate with dildos that have a very thin diameter, and it's a nice, snug fit.
Everyone's body is different in what shapes and sizes feel good for them, and it has nothing to do with someone's sexual past.
Am I "diseased?" Well, I mean I had gonorrhea once, and that's actually an STI you can get without ever being penetrated. Other than that, nope, nothing. This is surely due to the fact that I am a safe sex nazi, but you can have sex literally one time and get any STI under the sun.
STIs are also not a big fucking deal as long as you are aware of how to manage your STI and are honest with your partners. I'm absolutely sick of hearing people say things like, "Oh man, watch out for so-and-so, they're crawling with disease," because A. You have no idea what the fuck their medical history is, nor are you entitled to know, B. So what 1 in 5 adults has HSV and according the CDC "nearly all sexually active adults will get HPV in their lifetime" so … shut up, and C. Gossiping about people in this manner only shows how insecure and judgmental you are. Whew, end rant.
I'm ready for you, #100.
I have jokingly begun using the hashtag #lookingformyhundo, as well.
Except when I think about it, I've never really counted myself as a sexual partner, and oh boy, I really do the best job out of everyone. Maybe I'm the man of my dreams. Maybe #100 should actually just be… me.
Be proud of your "number," whatever it is, even if you have no idea what it is (it really means nothing, anyway.)
Zoe is a sex educator and artist in NYC. She holds a BS in psychology from Fordham University and aspires to further pursue the study of human sexuality. Follow her on Tumblr.