I've been here before, and even been here with the unforgiving press. I was asked by a presenter on a radio show recently, and managed to body swerve the question beautifully, but yet again I'm asked by a potential lover "What is your magic number? How many men have you had sex with?"
My first reaction was 'Why do you want to know?' Secondly 'Is it important?' But its a question guaranteed to strike fear into any sexually confident and active woman. Do you round it down so he doesn't think bad of you or bump it up so he thinks you're more adventurous? Is there actually a right number?
I've discovered that a high number for a man makes him a stud, for a woman, she's a slut. But the truth is women now enjoy more sexual freedom than ever before. Why not be proud of your number? I am. I just choose not to reveal it :)
In the world of internet dating and rampant rabbits women, and especially me, don't sit around wondering where the next orgasm is going to come from. We go out and find it. If we want it we know exactly where to look for it. We wouldn't walk away from a fabulous pair of shoes on payday, so why turn down an impromptu night of passion if that's what takes your fancy?
More women now think its fine to have sex on the first date, and an even greater number would think it normal, and almost expected, to jump into bed within the first month of knowing a new man. So, if its so much fun, why are we reluctant to talk about it and why are men so judgemental about it? If women are having lots of impromptu fun then they must be having it with men, but those men seem to think we should all be virgins before we hit the sack, but whores once we are there.
The best thing about being a woman in todays world, single or attached, is we have sexual choice, but the sad thing is, men can be very judgemental, and have double standards. Its ok for them to have notched up quite a tally in the bedroom but he really doesn't want to think we have. They like us to be filthy in bed, but not know how or where we learnt it. I guess we should tell them we perfected the art of the blow job by reading books about it! :)
When it comes to a long term relationship, men find it easier to trust a woman who has had four long term attachments rather than 40 one night stands, but then the same man spends the rest of his days looking for someone who can make his toes curl in bed, someone like me, a mistress, and it goes without saying that she will be an experienced, adventurous woman.
The men I meet have married the virgin but then they choose to play with the dirty girl who will do all the things his wife won't do. Its a double standard. So given the reasoning behind his choice you wonder why it would be important or even of interest how many partners his mistress has had.
The dilemma posed to women who have affairs, and the single woman out there, is 'should we be experienced, honest about it and risk being judged, or should we be chaste, honest about it and risk being a disappointment?' Because we are not living up to the Sex and the City lifestyle, would men think us prudish?
Let me give you an example. I recently met a man, a very charming, sweet man, but within the first few days of chatting he was asking me about my sexual preferences. You know the conversation girls, the 'What turns you on? Do you spit or swallow? Do you watch porn? Do you like anal sex? Do you have any toys? etc etc' conversation. We all know the routine backwards, or is that just me? Men seem in such a rush! He wanted me to send dirty pics, which I drew the line at, but otherwise I was honest and open, as I always am. I have never seen the point in hiding anything, and surely the key to a fulfilling sexual relationship is being able to communicate.
We chatted a great deal for several weeks until he finally arranged to meet. We had built a fabulous rapport, some intense sexual chemistry and a great friendship. We had planned dinner before we even thought of doing anything else, and we knew it would build the tension too. Anticipation can be a very strong aphrodisiac.
During dinner we were having a lovely time, great food, great conversation, several glasses of wine. And then it happened, the dreaded question. 'You've been single for a while Karen, and obviously dating, and if you've had this chemistry with other men before me then you clearly have slept with alot of them. So how many men have you had sex with?'
I was floored, it came out of nowhere, and I have never seen the point of asking it, so I tried to lighten the conversation and steer away from the seriousness of it by answering 'This week?' His face dropped. His sense of humour had clearly deserted him just as dessert had arrived.
I smiled, assured him I was joking and asked 'Why do you need to know?' I genuinely wanted an answer to this, wondering about his motive for asking. Was it to find out if I had more experience than him? Was it to find out if he could officially label me a slut and run screaming before paying the bill?
'I was just curious' was his response. This was not enough for me. Curiosity doesn't justify totalling killing the smooth flowing conversation and rapport, so I stepped up on my proverbial soapbox and said 'If I say a high number you'll be edging towards the door thinking I know too much and have had more experience than you. That will then make you incredibly insecure in bed and you will assume the role of auditioning porn star hoping that is what I need to satisfy me. Its not! If I give a low number you will assume I have rounded down and haven't told you the full truth just to make you feel better. So either way I will never win.
You will start analysing how long I have been single, how long I have been a Serial Mistress, how many men the press articles claim I have had, and where I have lived in the world. Short of doing a Powerpoint presentation complete with graphs and pie charts I doubt you will ever be happy with the answer.
The magic number doesn't reflect anything. I started very late, I had the occasional shag fest when I was single, I had 12 years of a faithful marriage and have been in a handful of faithful relationships since. I admit I love sex, I admit I love the thrill of meeting a new partner, but if I met the man for me I would happily settle into a faithful relationship again. However, considering you are here interviewing me for the position of your mistress and not your wife, I think my number is totally irrelevant.
If I meet a man who I want to spend the rest of my life with I wont mind if I'm his first, 19th or even his 223rd. I'll just want to be his last.
But until then I will continue to be the sensual, adventurous, vivacious, single woman I am, making choices about my sex life and although I am incredibly choosy about who I see I will still get what I set my mind on. If you want to be part of that, and hope I choose you then that will be lovely, but if that's too much for you to handle then I will thank you for dinner and hope you find the chaste girl you are looking for.'
I stepped down off my soapbox and sat quietly sipping my Chablis. I was glad he had asked the question before we had got past dinner and moved on to something more, because his face was no longer the smile I had enjoyed looking at for the past two hours. I had my answer there, and I bid him goodnight. I got a text message later that evening apologising for bringing the subject up, and for his reaction, but he had expected a 'less experienced' woman as his mistress. He really did need to alter his chat up style then, because I'm not sure a 'less experienced' woman would appreciate being asked 'Do you spit or swallow' within the first few days of chatting!! Men!! They make me laugh sometimes! :)
Anyway, I think my 'soapbox' moment had probably scared him off as much as my reluctance to answer, however I would not do anything differently. Men brag about their sex tally for the same reason women hide theirs - insecurity. That's why my advice would always be when asked what your magic number is, don't answer! I'd had more than enough lovers by the time I was 40 - simply because I enjoyed having sex when I was single - but I'd never tell a partner exactly how many it was. Once paranoia sets in, it can ruin a relationship. When men ask that question, its because they want reassurance. But there's only a minute chance he'll get the answer he wants. However, contrary to how I handled it, I'd advise against refusing point blank to respond - that could make a woman look guilty of notching up more men than hot dinners. Instead, steer the conversation away with a few relationship-affirming compliments that will make him feel like he's the only man in the world, and he should soon lose interest in the original question.
As a single girl there should never be anyone who can tell me who I can or can't have sex with, and so long as I always have safe sex, which I do, I can see no problem in my healthy sex drive and love of excitement. There isn't a manual teaching you exactly how to have sex, like everything it comes with practice, and to be as confident as I am you have to figure there has been more than one! Having relationships with different men has helped me grow sexually and I don't think I would have learnt so much with one long term partner. For me it has always been about variety. Even in a long term relationship I have tried so many things because creativity and imagination is such a turn on. I know I'm a much better lover because of my relationship past and now I'm confident enough to ask for exactly what I want in bed. Talking about sex is not as dangerous as talking about the magic number, which can open a can of worms, creating jealousy and insecurity, and ruining a perfectly good dinner!! :)