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A Numbers Game — Why We Need To Stop Letting Our "Number" Define Our Character

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Far too often, we gauge our happiness according to numbers: the number on the scale, the number of zeros in our salaries, the number of our age... The list goes on and on.

Our focus — or more often, obsession — with these numbers allows them to carry a heavier symbolic meaning than just a simple mathematical figure. Numbers signify whether we’re old, fat and whether or not we’ve been successful in our careers. Furthermore, society places an idea in our heads about specific numeric figures. If you’re over 65 years old, you’re a senior citizen and if you’re over X pounds, you’re overweight.

Since when did numbers become such defining factors in our lives?

We even turn to numbers as a means to measure our self worth and character as we lend a great deal of power and societal interest to a number that often sparks controversy and even ends relationships: the number of people with whom someone has slept. Sleep with too many people and you’re a slut; too few, you’re a prude.

Yet, with this irrational statement comes a vital question: What constitutes “too many” when it comes to sexual partners? Five? 15? 50?

Different strokes for different folks, right? Should the number of people with whom one sleeps with carry such meaning? Why do we frown upon women who have had “too many” sexual partners? I’m not advocating for reckless sex, but sometimes, a girl’s gotta experiment.

While I won’t discount the fact that sex can indeed be incredibly intimate and emotional, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity. Be it wild, kinky, intimate, friendly or romantic, there are different genres of sex. How can we decipher if one has had “too many” sexual partners if we cannot commit to an agreed upon number that constitutes “too many”?

Sex is a colorful element of life that often lacks black and white answers, so why let our number of sexual experiences link to a seemingly concrete evaluation of one’s character and values? We need to let go of this idea that “good” girls and “good” boys don’t have sex with multitudes of people. Last time I checked, having sex doesn’t make you a bad person and abstaining doesn’t make you an angel.

Far too often, we label women who have had numerous sexual partners as “sluts” and “whores.” Since when did number of sexual partners and good character have any kind of correlation? Having had sex with “a lot” of people (however you choose to interpret “a lot”) does not automatically make you irresponsible, slutty, insecure or naïve.

Societal pressure leaves us questioning our number: Is it too high? Too low? Should I lie to my significant other? Will he think of me differently now that he knows the number of my past?

Just as the act of sex itself isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity, there is no one-number-fits-all when it comes to “your number.” One’s number is just a mere piece of an intricate — and oftentimes — complicated story of sexual experiences and needs to be taken at face value.

“Your number” is simply a piece of your history, not a summary of your life; what’s important is that we stop giving it such power. Stop seeing it as something of which to be ashamed or feel the need to lie about.

Take it for what it truly is: just a number.

Photo via We Heart It