My “Number” Is High, But That Doesn’t Mean I’m Easy

It’s radical as a girl to say that my “number” is high and I don’t care what you think. Sure, I’ve slept with a ton of people, but it doesn’t actually mean anything, nor does it tell you anything about the type of person I am. I may have a colorful sexual past, but it doesn’t make me easy.

I have a history of unhealthy past relationships. I started having sex way before I should have. I realized early on that relationships and sex were a way that I could escape from the pain in my life. Basically, I learned what many people in our culture learn: that people can be a temporary escape from reality. I don’t treat relationships like this anymore, but my history is riddled with using people and sex to escape.

I’m used to moving too fast. For so long, I wanted relief from the ache I was feeling, so I learned to manipulate men in a sexual capacity. It wasn’t very hard; I found that most men were very easy to figure out. Because of this, I got physical too quickly. This tactic helped me to feel better in my skin for a while… until it stopped working. Now, the last few years have been a process of learning to put the brakes on. Sure, I may have a high “number,” but it doesn’t mean I live the way I used to. Now I actually try to get to know someone before I sleep with them, which is a radical idea in the hookup culture we live in.

Alcohol resulted in quite a few mistakes. I loved alcohol as much as I loved men. In many ways, alcohol was a vehicle to help me get what I wanted. I could cheat on a partner or hook up with a stranger and blame it on the booze. After cheating on my boyfriend for, like, the fifth time, I put down the bottle. As I’ve been sober for almost three years now, I’ve really learned to minimize hooking up with strangers or cheating in relationships. My mistakes involving alcohol are a historical part of me, though, and they definitely contribute to my high “number.”

Don’t mistake my past for my present because I’m a different person. Why are people so laser-focused on all the partners I’ve slept with in the past, anyway? If I choose to be with someone today, that really should be all that matters. The person that stands before you today is a completely changed woman, and you can expect my behavior to be totally different now.

I don’t even talk about my “number” because it really doesn’t matter. If someone asks me how many people I’ve slept with, I’d raise my eyebrows. Really, who even cares? It’s not relevant. You’re welcome to ask me if I presently sleep with anyone, if I have an STD, or if I’m going to sleep with you — but you couldn’t glean any of those answers from my “number.” There’s no need to know how many people I’ve slept with because you’ll only try to fill in gaps when you really don’t know anything about me.

After so many years of not waiting to have sex, I like to wait now. Some people can have casual sex or sleep with someone they just met, then have a relationship. All the power to them, but I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I wait. I leave my dignity intact when I hold off on sleeping with someone until after I’ve gotten to know them. The way the person reacts to me saying I’d like to wait is also a huge indicator of their level of respect and care for me.

I’ve learned to stop objectifying people. We love to objectify people in our culture. Men, women, and everyone in between — we treat people like slabs of meat waiting to be consumed. It’s awful. After too many years of treating people like they were purely objects, I’ve learned to treat others like the human beings they are. When I’m attracted to someone, I treat them like I would want my brother or sister to be treated by giving them respect and care. I can thank spirituality being a huge part of my dating life! I don’t just jump into bed with any old person. I do my best to wait until we’re both sure.

I’ve started treating my body with the love and care it deserves. Beyond treating others with kindness, I started to realize that I didn’t like being objectified. It started to feel dehumanizing to let someone who hardly knew me put their hands on me. It’s been a slow process of learning to treat my body with care and expecting others to do the same.

I demand respect and nothing short of enthusiastic consent. I show others how to treat me by being very vocal about what I want and don’t want. As a result, I end up giving most men I date a low-down on enthusiastic consent. I refuse to have my boundaries violated if I can help it. If I put myself in the hands of someone, you better believe we’ve had a bunch of conversations about what constitutes respect and consent. Any guy or girl who’s turned off by this gets weeded out early; it’s great.

As a huge plus, I’m great in bed. I say good riddance if my “number” scares someone away. If a guy or girl sticks around and we decide to sleep together, they’ve really hit the lottery. My history may be messy, but the experiences left me with tons of tricks up my sleeve. I have to say, I’m a wonderful sexual partner. I have a plethora of experience to draw on and I’m not shy once we get to sleeping together.

I think the “he’s a stud, she’s promiscuous” double standard is BS. I’d be a lackluster feminist if I failed to mention the total bullsh*t double standard that plagues sex and dating. Jessica Valenti, one of my favorite feminist authors, literally titled her book: “He’s a Stud, She’s promiscuous, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.” Think of a teenage boy and a teenage girl. If a teenage boy has sex, his family is likely to shrug it off or even congratulate him. If a teenage girl of the same age has sex and her family finds out, she is shunned. It’s an awful double standard that’s drilled into women early on. In my life, I give a big middle finger to this and instead am proud of my “number.”

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