Asking your partner about their sexual history can be like watching a scary movie through your fingers: You want to know what's happening, but you also don't really want to know. All the while, your #stress levels are rising higher than the sea. Although open communication and transparency are crucial, it's not always easy to get into the specifics of your past flames. If you're wondering if you need to tell your partner how many people you've had sex with, I'll tell you right now that you get to do whatever the heck you want to do.
"You are not required to tell your partner the specifics of your sexual history," Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert, love coach, and author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache, tells Elite Daily. "Your partner does need to know your current intentions with them, what you're looking for in a relationship, and if you have an aversion to commitment and/or monogamy."
According to Winter, while it may feel right for you and your boo to share your numbers, swapping statistics can sometimes make everyone feel a little competitive or uneasy. Though you get to determine what you want to share about your past, Winter attests that it's more important to be transparent about what you want in the present. "Being open and honest about your feelings and intentions is vital to a healthy relationship," Winter says. "Being detailed about former sexual history can create problems for your mate, as this type of information creates comparison and insecurity."
Opening up to your boo about your dating past is an important part of any relationship. However, Trina Leckie, host of the Breakup BOOST podcast, says that pinning down a number can be more trouble than it's worth. "There are a lot of people who literally don’t even know the number, so they would be picking a number out of the air just to give a response," Leckie says. "You had a life before them, and it really isn’t any of their business what happened in your life before they met you." Though you and your boo may love to swap stories about the people you dated (cue me giggling in bed about someone I literally called "Back Tat"), it's always OK to demand some privacy about your sexual past.
Regardless of how much you share about your sexual history, Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, explains that it's never OK to be judgmental or presumptuous about someone's number. "If they feel it somehow speaks to your character, that’s a huge red flag," Martinez says. "The number of people doesn’t speak to whether or not you’ll be a good partner — or a good lover for that matter. It’s just a number."
Maybe they make a hurtful comment about how many people you've slept with or imply that your past defines who you are in the present. Regardless, Martinez attests that your partner showing negativity or shame around your sexual history is a big no-no. Though they may be inquiring about your past from a place of general curiosity, Martinez shares that inquiring about past relationships can be more productive than asking for literal numbers. "Better questions are: 'Have you been in a long-term relationship before?' 'Have you been in love?' 'What kind of relationship are you hoping for?'" Martinez says. "These questions give insight on their intent and whether or not they have some experiences that are heavily influencing them now (especially if it has nothing to do with you)."
According to Martinez, figuring out why your partner wants to know about your sexual past can be more productive than wondering if you should tell them. "I recommend you get to the bottom of why your partner is asking for this information. Why [does] it matter to them? What are they really asking? Are they questioning your commitment to them?" Martinez says. "If you are able to address the real concern, then it’s possible that you can proceed stronger. If not, you may answer that [number] question, but the insecurity will continue to come up again."
As Martinez shares, getting into why your boo wants to know can help you both feel closer. If your partner has never seriously dated someone, questioning your number may be their way of unpacking their nerves. Additionally, if you and your boo haven't talked about exclusivity yet, asking about your sexual history may be their way of trying to DTR. Though experiencing insecurity is totally natural, being transparent about your needs can really get to the bottom of how you feel. Perhaps you're worried your boo is seeing other people, or you're not sure what type of relationship you're currently looking for. In this case, literally asking, "What are you looking for?" can be more productive than, "So how many people did you sleep with before me?"
Additionally, while you don't need to share how many people you've slept with, discussing you and your boo's STI status can help you both feel safe moving forward. "It doesn’t matter if you slept with one or 100 people — you could have contracted something," Leckie says. "I feel what's more important is getting tested for STIs; this should be more about protecting each other from a health standpoint."
Whether you literally don't know your number or you just aren't comfortable sharing it, you never need to feel pressure to tell your boo about your sexual past. While it's important to be open and honest in your relationships, you're allowed (and encouraged!) to have your own boundaries and privacy. When it comes to your sex life, you decide who you're doing it with and who you're telling about it.