What Does Your Number Mean to Him?

Is it ever the right time to have that conversation?

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The number conversation: You're lying in bed with each other and you have no idea how it came up but all of a sudden he wants to know how many people you've slept with. It's uncomfortable, and there's often a number he thinks might be yours, but at the same time, he knows it might be higher or lower so there's no need to lie. Here's what your number says to him.


Your Number: 1-8

There's something very endearing about the one to eight zone. A guy may be cautious though if you are in your mid-twenties (or even a bit older); statistically speaking if you're thirty and he's the second guy you've slept with he may be confused. If you're a bit younger and it's one, two, or three, the guy likely assumes you had a string of very long-term relationships and that's about it in the sexual realm. Alternatively, he may think you maintained your virginity for some time and be curious about that. It's almost intimidating to be guy number two to four. You are easily forgiven any awkward moments in bed, but the guy might actually feel a lot of pressure as you may still be easing into your sexual life.

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From four to eight we still assume you have been in some long-term relationships but there's likely a one-night stand in there somewhere (and that's okay!). I remember a friend was dating a woman and after a few months the number conversation came up. "How'd it go?" I asked. "Great," he said. "She was an 8." It was his tone that made me realize he was considering marrying this woman. Eight says this woman has been with other guys, is comfortable but somewhat discerning about hopping into bed, and yet might be willing to settle down with one guy moving forward.

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Your Number: 9-15

The nine to fifteen zone is still pretty average in the mind of a man. You probably had a few one-night stands, some short-term flings, and some long-term boyfriends. You've run the gamut and know what you want. Nothing wrong with that, right? For the modern woman, anything up to fifteen should not surprise a guy. If your guy is surprised, it's because his number is likely significantly less and he didn't expect that. A gentleman that is shocked by a number in this range reveals more about himself then you just did by telling him your number.

Your Number: 16-30

This is where age does become a factor. If you are twenty and have slept with twenty men that says something different to a guy than if you are thirty and have slept with that many. The older you are, the more a man might assume short flings, relationships that went south earlier than expected, and even those guys whose last name may have gotten lost along the way. If you are in your late teens/early twenties and have slept with this many men you might get an eyebrow raise and some questions.

Your Number: 31-50

When I was in my early twenties I dated a woman who was in her mid-thirties. It was a long-distance relationship and I remember asking her, during a weekend together, about her number. She estimated it around her age, which shocked me as my number was much lower than my own age. Today I am not shocked in the least. A woman in her late twenties or older may very well have a number in this range. A friend told me the other night that at this point she refuses to give an honest answer to the "what's your number" question anymore. Ladies–don't be ashamed. If you are in this range it tells a guy that you kissed some frogs. We have too. That's okay. Unless you were in a ten year relationship that ended last month and jumped from five guys to fifty then don't expect an adverse reaction. That is, unless you're dating a naïve waife such as early-twenties-me.


Your Number: 51 or more

Ah, the experienced woman. Some men may not like the idea that the woman they have their heart set on has been with this many previous suitors. Some men might be glad you know what you are doing. I'm not going to lie: there could be guys out there who might gasp if the woman they share a bed with turned out to have slept with more than fifty men. But that's because they had an idea of how many men you slept with and it was much lower. In these sorts of cases it might be best to get "the talk" out of the way early on, if you're going to have it at all. Your sexual history is a part of you and it's just as worthy a topic of discussion as your family history or other aspects of who you are.

At the end of the day, if you have the right chemistry and the sex is incredible, a guy isn't going to kick you out of bed for having slept with a certain number of people beforehand. We all have preconceived notions of what our partner was doing before they met us (ideally: sitting on their hands idly waiting) but those expectations are often wrong. Many of the men I know don't even consider this a productive conversation; sometimes it's okay to sidestep this question by pointing that out and seeing if your partner agrees. The more we can loosen our own notions of what we think of our partner and their sexual history, the more we can relax with who they are today. Our past shapes us in ways both good and bad, but to be with someone in a meaningful way will always feel fresh and precious. Enjoy it.

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