After diving into a new relationship, it's normal to wonder about the details of your partner's past. After all, a significant aspect of getting to know someone is learning about the experiences that have shaped who they are. That said, when it comes to more intimate topics like sexual experience, navigating your curiosity can be tough. So, should you ask your partner how many people they’ve had sex with? Although asking about someone's number of sexual partners can be considered taboo, it's important to acknowledge that discussing sexual history isn't necessarily problematic for everyone.
According to Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D., host of the @SexWithDrJess podcast, in some cases, having an open dialogue about your sexual past can be beneficial. "Talking about your sexual history can help you to better understand one another’s needs, boundaries, triggers, and desires," O’Reilly tells Elite Daily. However, if you're curious about your partner's number, it's important to be honest with yourself about the real reason you want to know. "Some people are simply curious and believe they can learn about their partner by exploring their past," explains O’Reilly. "If you’re curious (perhaps because you’re self-conscious about your own number), you can ask, but be honest about your motivation."
On the other hand, some struggle with the idea that their SO may have had a sexual past before them. So, if you think someone's number of sexual partners correlates to their self-worth or values, then it's probably not a good idea to talk numbers. "Some people want to know because they see the number of partners as an indicator of sexual values, personality, and worth," warns O’Reilly. "These folks will judge, but ultimately, they’re judging themselves." Even if your intention isn't to judge your partner, if there is a response that might affect how you view them, then it may be better to forgo the discussion.
When it comes to talking about sex, O’Reilly explains that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. If having open conversations about sex is something you're interested in, instead of focusing on numbers, consider sharing memorable experiences. "You might talk about a memorable sexual experience and what you learned from it so that you can create new memories with your current partner," suggests O’Reilly. "You can also talk about sexual letdowns and insecurities so that your partner can gain insights into your unique needs."
It's also important to respect your partner's boundaries when it comes to what they are or aren't comfortable sharing. "You don’t have to reveal everything," says O’Reilly. "You're entitled to privacy and don’t have to answer all of your partner’s questions just as they don’t have to give you all of the details you request. Set your boundaries and respect your partner’s." Ultimately, it's up to you and your SO to decide what topics you're comfortable talking about. But, if you know you won't be able to remain judgment-free, or worry that the information might make you uncomfortable, then considering steering clear of this topic.