How much sexual experience is TOO much, for a prospective partner?

Let’s say you’re beginning a new romantic relationship. Agreeing to be monogamous, you and your partner are being über-careful, by which I mean that before having sex for the first time, you both get tested for all the major sexually transmitted diseases; your prospective partner comes up clean. You also exchange sexual histories: not names of previous partners, but numbers and varieties of experience.

  1. How high does the number of previous partners have to get before you are taken aback?
  2. How high does the number have to get before you call things off?
  3. What experiences might a person have that would be a deal-breaker?
  4. What makes the answer to #s 2 & 3 a deal-breaker for you?
  5. If there is no deal-breaker for you, why not?
  6. Have you ever been in the reverse situation–that is, had a partner be taken aback or break things off because you had too much experience?

Past histories cease being as important around 30 or so. Who a person is now and if they have a healthy attitude towards sex mean a lot more than any number could.

Assuming that you and your partner are being über-careful, have been tested for all the major sexually transmitted diseases, and come up clean, why on earth would you ask any of that other stuff? Seriously, what exactly do you hope to accomplish here?

What DianaG said.

Plus, frankly, for some who came of age in the post-pill, pre-AIDS era, an exact count isn’t necessarily possible.

Or so I hear.

  1. It rather depends on the person’s age (40 partners at age 45 is not an astounding lot, but at 18, it’s a huge number), but I’d have to say that I’d be taken aback if my first thought was “when did you find time to go to school, work, sleep, and shower if you were getting around that much?”

  2. If the answer to that question is “I didn’t do very well at going to school or work or showering or sleeping” then I’d call things off. Have as much sex as you want, but if you can’t manage to run the rest of your life in the time that remains, you’re having too much sex. (In the case of multiple partners, you can have as many partners as you can select by your own criteria, but if the time you’re spending “fishing” for them is sucking up your sleep time, it’s too many.)

  3. Anyone who’s an unrepentant violent or coercive rapist, or a child molester, or who’s lied to get others into bed, lied about disease or contraception, or used sleight of hand to avoid unpleasant safety precautions (i.e. “whoops, the condom came off halfway through intercourse, good thing the lights were off and she didn’t notice”) is totally unwelcome in my bed.

  4. I don’t want sex bad enough to sleep with an unwashed rapist or unemployed liar. I also don’t want it badly enough, come to think of it.

  5. I don’t think the number should be necessarily the deal-breaker-- after all, if you’re a person who thinks that sexuality should be reserved for within marriage, you don’t want to get serious about someone who’s had 100 partners. On the other hand, you also don’t want to date someone who’s had no partners, because that could simply mean that they’re socially inept and can’t get anyone to date them, and they’d be having a lot more sex if they could! I’d really rather that the above-mentioned monogamous sex-with-love person NOT get attached to me that way, but they shouldn’t need to ask the number of my sexual partners, or even figure out that I’ve had 7 relationships lasting over 2 years each, plus a five-year relationship, in the past 12 years (I’m poly)-- they should get that idea by saying, “So, what do you think is the ideal relationship that includes sex for you?”


I have to admit I love the idea of some guy ditching the woman he really loves and then sitting around whistfully thinking, “If only she had had 99 previous lovers.”

Well, it’s not a recent issue for me, but when it did happen, I was the asked, not the asker, and the number did give her pause.

I don’t ask those questions, and I don’t answer them. There’s no answer one can possibly give to “How many people have you had sex with?” that’s going to make another person happy. Skip it.

Unless she has to use scientific notation, I have no issue with the number of previous partners. In fact I think I would prefer a partner with more rather than less. She would be bringing more to the party if you get my drift.

Why is it always women with a lot of former sexual partners saying this?

Okay, everyone excuse the sexual “double standards” I’m about to throw out, and even the greater sin here on The Dope, arguing from evolutionary psychology, but I also beg that we avoid any claims of misogyny because I really don’t think that I am. If women wish to apply the same rule to men, I’m not going to object.

Okay, let’s start with all of the “objective” reasons to be concerned about the number of past partners like STD’s. Let’s face it, STD’s are a stochastic event and even someone with just one previous sexual partner could have HPV, crabs, chlamydia, and syphillis, but it’s a lot more likely with someone with multiple sexual partners. Okay, so the crabs etc. aren’t a wholly fatal concern, and I suppose that one really ought to wait for a recent negative HIV test prior to sleeping with anyone but who’s realisicly going to ask for or be able to provide a negative HPV test?

Okay, moving on to the less objective reasons. I know that I am going to have a fair amount of, “investment” with anyone that I choose to sleep with or at least I would like that. Drunken sex or random sex or one night stands really don’t appeal to me. I would encourage anyone to tell me with a straight face that a 25 year old with 40+ prior sexual partners will take sex as seriously as someone with three prior partners. I might view any act as having a moderate level of commitment attached while I doubt that a person with a large number of past partners will attach the same level of commitment. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but it’s my body, I get to choose my sexual partners, and it’s what I want. So nobody get all huffy about how I’m judging people.

Finally, let’s move on to the most nebulous but pervasive point for me. This is also where we invoke the (horror) evolutionary psychology. It should be, I think, pretty obvious from that standpoint that a woman with a lot fewer sexual partners is much more attractive than someone with five dozen prior sexual partners. And what can I say, I’m a guy, and that’s the way it works in my head. I fantasize about virgins and there’s a certain je ne sais quoi for women that I know that have had 0-5 past partners as opposed to 12 in one year. Let me promise you that my attraction to a woman decreased about 15 fold after learning that she had had 12 partners in one year. Again, I’m not judging that behavior from a social standpoint or saying she’s a bad person, but from a personal attraction standpoint, “bleeeah.”

Point being, I don’t respect people with a lot of prior partners any less as people, but I know for me at least, an inordinately high number of ex-partners does make them significantly less attractive to me.

To answer the OP directly:

  1. 4
  2. 8
  3. Cannot think of any off the top of my head
  4. See rest of post
  5. N/A
  6. No, I haven’t

Oh yeah, and another thing. If you were a hypothetical potential partner, saying, “I take the 5th,” is fine but lying about the number is completely unacceptable.

I think that people have a responsibility to be honest and forthright in what they tell other people about themselves when each part of the couple is deciding, “should I have sex with this person?” I have met a fair number of women that have justified lying by saying that, “a silly little number doesn’t matter and I don’t think it’s important therefore it’s okay to lie about.”

People, think whatever you want about that number but don’t impose that judgement about its importance on your partner. If they ask, either tell the truth or refuse to say at all.

As long as the person hasn’t worked in the sex industry in a professional capacity, I don’t think I would be particularly concerned.

I suppose if the number was, like 1,000 I might pause a bit. I would certainly expect the guy to have mad skillz, yo.

As an aside, according to cosmopolotin magazine, the only correct answer to the question is “3”, so the last time I was asked, I said “According to cosmo the only correct answer to that question is “3”, so 3.”

I admit, I find the notion of a guy being concerned about the number of partners his new partner has had, assuming she’s healthy, and in her 30’s to be sort of…quaint.

[Rolls up newspaper, proceeds to smack Skald the Rhymer over the head with it repeatedly*

If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a million times: NEVER EVER tell them the truth about this!!

Seriously tho’ ignorence is bliss. This is one thing I really don’t want to know.
I used to have one GF who happened to tell me (once) in a very casual way that she used to date a guy with an 11 inch penis.

Now why the fuck did she have to tell me that? :smack:

To let you know how you weren’t measuring up. Duh.


Maybe she thought you were a foot fetishist.

To encourage you to put your best foot forward.

I have a friend whose numbers are probably approaching that (male). No mad skillz there.

He does have at least one mad skillz - the ability to convince ~1000 women to sleep with him.

It isn’t. I’m a guy and I say it too. Your concern is genuine, but if you want to avoid STDs you’d be better off getting to know the person and developing a relationship where she cares about you and feels comfortable discussing it. Just bluntly asking about the number of sexual partners is useless because a) it only takes once to get anything anyway, b) you don’t have to have actual sex to get herpes or HPV, c) people lie either from embarrassment, to get laid, or because they don’t see the harm in it.

The real answer never pleases anyone, and has more to do with a person’s need for emotional reassurance than any realistic plan to avoid the clap.

And you deduced the number of partners I’ve had how, exactly?

I’m not a misogynst, but… :rolleyes:

Did you miss the part where the OP specifically stated that both partners had been tested and come up clean? And what exactly is so unrealistic about providing a test result? And did I miss a recent recall on all brands of condoms or something?

Um, we all get to choose our sexual partners, and I assume we’re all somewhat judgy about it. You’re welcome to have sex with whoever you like. So is anyone else. The argument is whether that person is *obliged * to share their information with you. They are not. I share your feeling that they shouldn’t lie, but don’t ask don’t tell is a perfectly valid policy amongst consenting adults.

So essentially you fantasize about non-threatening women who have no one to compare you to? How quaint.