How to Pick a Lover

Keeping Score

How many arms have held you,
And hated to let you go?
How many, how many I wonder
But I really don’t want to know.
—Don Robertson, Howard Barnes

Sooner or later, everybody always asks, “How many men have you slept with? How many affairs have you had?”

If you are about to enter into your first affair and are still virgo intacta, then you probably should tell your prospective lover that you have chosen him for your first time. The loss of one’s maidenhead can be a momentous occasion, and if he knows of your innocence, he may be more solicitous of it.

If you have had one affair, you can say demurely, “Only one.” Nowadays, only a minority of men is likely to insist upon a virgin bride although they might prefer such a circumstance. Unless you are about to marry a Mormon missionary, admitting to one previous affair is probably safe.

The trouble with the more-or-less-acceptable answer of “only one” is that you can use it only once. When the truth is that there has been more than one previous lover, the truth becomes more treacherous. Under those circumstances, you might admit to “a passel.” This term is appropriately vague, referring to an indeterminate number. And if he insists upon a specific number, then there is only one correct answer, which is to give a range: more than one, less than five hundred.

Why does your man want to know? What difference does it make to him what your scorecard reads? Why does he want to view a scalp collection? Don’t buy the “I’m-just-curious” answer from anyone except a researcher from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, and then, only after you have seen his interviewer identification badge. The man to whom it’s not very important he will not press the issue; the man for whom it’s very important he will keep pressing, and that alone tells you that any answer will be the wrong answer.

Don’t be led into the trap of the man who confesses all (all?) of his affairs and then insists that since he has told you, so you must tell him. Wrong. If he wants to confess his sins or brag about his conquests or whatever he is doing for whatever reasons, fine, but that doesn’t obligate you to do the same. The entire game of “Did you ever . . . ?” is a dangerous one. It leads to other games like “Who all did you sleep with? Did you ever make it with Jack? Did you ever have a black man?” (Or a white man, depending on your race.) That leads to still more games like “Who was the best? Am I the best? Was Jack better than me?” Some conversations are just not worth having, and this is one of them.

Ashley Madison 74%

Ashley Madison 74% (Photo credit: thelampnyc)

It would be nice if teenagers could fall in love once and once only and then live happily ever after, remaining true to each other year after year for fifty years. It would be nice, and it does happen, but it isn’t the way to bet. Men, including husbands, have long retained the option of pursuing more than one woman. More recently, women in general, including wives, have begun to realize their potential to do the same. Evan Esar, the American humorist, predicts, “In the future, a woman who sticks to one man will be regarded as a monomaniac.”

Comments on: "Keeping Score" (4)

  1. If a man was to be threatened by whatever number of lovers I had, whether it was five or fifty (especially that you are suggesting ‘more than one’ is already an issue), then that’s his problem with insecurity. I am not one for double standards – if a man can have lovers, so can women, that’s quite obvious to me. Seriously – does any rational, thinking person have an issue with that anymore?

    If they do, they would not be a partner for me, because that sort of attitude points to a lot of deeply ingrained issues and prejudice in a man that I would not want to involve myself with.

    • I didn’t mean to imply that one or two lovers is an issue for all men; but it may very well be when talking about a rabid born again Christian. I definitely don’t believe in double standards. Unfortunately, even in this day and age many people – men and women – still hold a double standard when it comes to the number of sex partners men and women have. We have far more pejorative terms (slut, whore, nymphomaniac) for women who are perceived as having had too many sexual partners than we do for men. In fact, a man’s sexual prowess is often viewed as a plus rather than a negative. Additionally, we continue to try and divide the world of women into good girls and bad girls, with the bad girls being those who engage in too much sexual activity. I’m glad to know that you wouldn’t have a relationship with a man who judged you negatively because of your number of previous lovers.

  2. How about I answer, enough and I married them all. Now he will have to ask me how many times I have been married. Horribly mean, I know.

    No, I wouldn’t really answer that way but it might be fun to watch his face. I wouldn’t answer this question at all except as follows, “It isn’t your business, unless I choose to share and I don’t.”

    • LOL. You and Elizabeth Taylor have a lot in common. Taylor once said that the reason she has so many husbands was because she never slept with a man she didn’t marry.

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