How Many Sexual Partners Is Too Many?

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You really want to know the answer? Okay, here's a number: 10, 234 -- safe to say, that's pretty "slutty."

But that's the only number we're giving out today. After all, one person might think that ten is acceptable but eleven is downright sleazy, while another could consider ten partners a year to be pretty restrained behavior. Where do you draw the line? And if you're toeing someone else's line, what happens when you meet someone new who has a different line? What then, huh?

Give up? So do a lot of people. They just end up relying on stupid tradition -- and lying. Studies have shown that women still fib about the number of men they've slept with, confessing to a smaller number than is actually true to avoid seeming slutty, while men tend to inflate their numbers to seem more studly. Yep, that ole double standard is still alive and well. But buying into double standards never improved anyone's sex life. So, ultimately, you've just got to do what feels right.

Oh, stop your hemming and hawing, it's true! How you feel about it -- not how your parents, nor your future partners, nor your friends feel about it -- is the measuring stick. We can't tell you what numberof partners you might regret, we can only tell you the kind of sex you might regret (and no, we're not talking about positions or orifices). No one ever woke up feeling sick and full of regret because they surpassed some imaginary quota, but you can bet plenty of people have met the new day feeling sick and full of regret because the previous night's experience wasn't satisfying or meaningful or fun or safe or sober.

Look, being "slutty" has nothing to do with numbers, but everything to do with motivation and situation -- if you only hook up with someone because you selfishly want to get something out of it (like a present or a committed boyfriend) or because you have a void in your life you're trying to fill with meaningless sex (no vagina jokes, please) or because you think it's cool to have sex "like a guy" even though you don't really like or care about the person you're hooking up with, or because you're totally out-of-your-head blotto, then that's nothing to be proud of -- whether you're a man or a woman. But if you like sex, are responsible with your body and the emotions of the people you're sleeping with, then who cares how many notches are on your belt? Sex (in whatever form: hand-holding, kissing, fondling, probing, etc) should be about the safe and mutual exchange of pleasure between consenting adults. When sex is all that, take it where (and while) you can get it!

Of course, sex that perfect is hard to find. But hey, that helps keep the numbers down (if you're still hung up on the whole numbers thing). If we haven't made it perfectly clear yet, the question is more about morality than numerology. The problem is that a lot of the "old fashioned" folks assume that to be sexually aware and proactive (at least, or especially, if you're not married) negates the possibility of being an upstanding citizen with morals and values and integrity. But you can have morals and still have a lot of sex and a lot of sexual partners! Sure, there are plenty of jerks out there who have a lot of sex irresponsibly, dishonestly and unsafely, thereby giving promiscuity a bad name. But that's all the more reason why the good folk who are having lots of good sex should be honest about it!

Some of our best friends couldn't tell us their total body count if their life depended on it (and they certainly can't recall last names...and even some first names) -- but they still get let into church. Another friend is proud to claim three as her lucky number. And guess what? There's not a single slut among them. As long as you consider each new partner a cause for celebration rather than concern, there is no magic number that, when reached, will magically transform you from a madonna into a whore.

Here are a few ways to have sex without feeling slutty: