while i don't think its fair to try and shame someone for having many partners, its similarly unfair to get upset when it makes people uncomfortable. being uncomfortable with how many people your partner has slept with is a valid thing (as are a million petty, rediculous, and stupid other things that end relationships) but you take the tone that the guy is at fault for being uncomfortable.
Definition of "slut" in it's purest form:

Someone who has more sex than you.
Sounds just like a young, insecure straight guy who can't get his mind off the fact that his girlfriend has some experience. He's afraid that his skills are not up to par
Maybe your boyfriend just didn't see the need to count bedpost notches. You got a good thing going CAN, so try not to shoot yourself in the foot over a trivial part of your boyfriend's history. He's clean, he fits you pretty well, and you are happy together. Lighten up already, and let the past stay in the past.
lol @"I get emails". one of them was mine!
Ridiculous. Two "i's."
Take Dan's advice and allow your boyfriend to have a past. There is NOTHING, not one thing, that he can change about it. Knowing this, you should recognize that the only thing YOU can change about his past is how you react to it. You have a couple of paths: 1) slut shame him (if not out loud, then silently, in your heart, like a disease) for having slept with more men than you have. 2) accept him for who he is: a clean, loving man who appreciates you. Ask yourself this: which path is healthier, emotionally, for you? That's the path to take.
I always like to think of it the way Dan suggests that CAN does--as a compliment.
I have a FWB who is a bit of a participant in the porn industry. I can't help but feel incredibly flattered that he has sex with people who do it for a living all the time and he still thinks I'm sexy and good in bed.

I'm old and overweight--could easily be insecure when I compare myself against some of his other partners.

I just kicked over one of the best relationships of my life because "too many emotions make my head explode." An unsolicited word from one in the "two many to count" corner?

I was a serious bisexual party boy back in the day, as well as an occasional sex-worker. One of the most commonly used options, that I don't approve of personally, is when the "How many?" question comes up, don't answer it in some way or lie. If you lie, then gradually include more bits of the truth until you hit a wall or someone dumps you. But you have a relationship where he's willing to be honest with you, and deal with how you feel NOW. I kinda think this dude likes you enough. The question is, do you like him enough?
Sounds like two young, pretty boy homos with all focus on physical perfection and none on compatibility for the long haul.
Just wait until monogamy gets tossed into that fray.... oh to be 23 again-not. I give 'em 20% odds they last another year.
I had this same issue with my first boyfriend. He had dated and slept around, I hadn't. The simple answer? GET OVER IT. If the rest of your relationship is good, what does it matter?
Your boyfriend is contaminated. Leave him before your head explodes from all these emotions.
The LW should also be reminded of the fact that there are plenty of 23/24 yr-old gay men out there who might think that his 8 or 9 sex partners is slutty when compared to their own 3 or 4. It's a relative game the LW is playing and it really really isn't fair. My recommendation is actually to the LW's boyfriend: if you read this letter and recognize the writer as your bf, then drop him because he's a petty, insecure bitch.

Advice to the LW: In 5 or 6 yrs, after your "head count" has moved into the 30's or 40's (and it will, trust me), someone is going to slut-shame you for it and you are NOT going to be happy about it or about his choice to call you out on it. Think about it.
Seems a similar situation that many straight women find themselves in once they're over 25. It still bothers my husband that he wasn't my first (I was his). We met when I was 23 and he was 28. It's really irritating to be on the other end of the LW's insecurities.
Also, "too many to count" might not actually be that many. My number is somewhere in the twenties, but I only know that much because I had to start keeping a list. It gets a little difficult to figure out just how many different one night stands one had if one tends to go for the same kinds of guys and there were plenty of them, you know?
I never got the need some couples have to reveal their 'number' to each other. I've been with my partner for nearly two years, and neither of us has any idea how many lovers the other has had. If I had to guess, I'm probably the more experienced of us - but neither of us really care in the end. We're together, we're happy that way, and we've got good chemistry. We sometimes mention exes or previous partners in passing, but it's never been part of a 'big reveal!!'

I think the only time I ever cared what a partner's number was, was when I was with a virgin.
Oh boy, the lines are already being drawn ("slut-shamer!"/"tramp!"). There's actually a third possibility (no knowing your BF, this may or may not apply).

Humans suck at numbers.

Really. I know there will be people who jump in and argue, but at a very fundamental level, manipulating numbers (especially counting) is tough and most people aren't very good at it. Don't believe me? Picture how much space a million dollars in $100.00 bills looks like. Got it? Sure? It's about the size of a regular brown paper grocery bag with handles. (See… for the informative graphic--also for a more relational representation).

There's an apocryphal tale about "primitive tribes" who count: one, two, a few, many. The story is probably not true, but the principle is. He may not be able to give you number not because the total is more numerous that the grains of sand on the shore but because he hasn't kept track. It may not be important to him. He may not be sure what to include (Do quick blowjobs count? Does it matter if he came? If the other guy did?). He may have been in and alcoholic haze and lying in a sex club sling for 6 months, but presumably that would have come up in conversation by now.

I get your issue, but it is your issue. If his past is a dealbreaker, so be it. You can't alter his past, you can only decide how it impacts you and the relationship in the present.
Sluts are way better in bed. I'm a proud slut and happy I can't count the number of guys I've been with.
@ 1 has it right, Dan has it wrong. It's not "slut shaming" when it's simply a feeling, and one he's trying to overcome.

Bad, bad form, Dan. You shouldn't answer these when you're grumpy. Hopefully, the guy will take the good advice (which your option one was) and come out of this not feeling like an ass - a feeling someone seeking your advice should NEVER have to feel.
Mr. Vel-DuRay and I had an old-fashioned courtship: he picked me up late one Sunday night at The Cuff, and just sort of hung around. Ten years later, he's still here. He has a past, I have a past. Monogamy isn't a real big priority (it's right there with dusting the outlet covers and vacuuming out the nail holes). For the most part it works.

My advice would be relax, and don't be a drama queen about your boyfriend's experience, or your lack of experience. Life has much more pressing issues that need your attention.
@21, perfection.
I will never ever answer that question. Ever. Not even in girltalk.
@14 has it down cold. My number is my number, but I have been on both ends of this ("scoring" higher and lower in different relationships), and really in the end it is just bullshit and an unhealthy thing to dwell on it. Consider it a compliment -- he's got taste & experience and is choosing you, and just don't think about the rest of it. Unless you want to sabotage this relationship and land on the other end of this equation in a few more years :-P
"Grossed out"??? Why, because he has... Germs or something? Or ... Oh good lord, get over your self. People have sex, and lots of it. Ain't nothin' wrong with getting some action (consensually speaking, of course).
@ 20: You might be surprised how often the person seeking advice *IS* an ass. Sometimes it just has to be pointed out.

So far maybe LW has only been insecure and hasn't made an ass of himself, but he will if he doesn't get a handle on his insecurity. Being chosen by an experienced partner can be an ego boost (provided they're not in "retirement mode" while you're still looking for new experiences). I'd also suggest getting over this queasiness and judgment by remembering that you like your partner because of who they are (right?), and they are who they are because of what they've done and what they've experienced. So all that fucking that makes you feel uncomfortable and inadequate also made them who they are. Do you like that or not?
I get the "feeling insecure because your number is lower", mostly because I've been there. It's hard, it happens, it happens on the other side too (insecure because your number is "too high").

But the whole "germy germ GERMS" thing is pretty lame. He got tested. He was CLEAN. I know sometimes it's hard to get rid of an idea like that once your mind grabs hold of it, but, honestly, you gotta just work on it, because it's pretty unfair.
the question of how many sex partners we've had has already come up.
"It" didn't "come up." You brought "it" up. Take responsibility for having asked a question you weren't prepared to have him answer—one that plenty of reasonable people would consider intrusive.

It sounds like this happened very recently, so give it some time. If you still feel the same in a couple of weeks, talk with him about it. In a way that doesn't put him on the spot again to give you a figure.
CAN being insecure about his boyfriend's sexual experience is understandable. He should get over it, but understandable. The key part of that letter for me was the end, where he said he's "grossed out" and doesn't even want to kiss his boyfriend because of it. They're both tested and disease free, but he's so disgusted by his boyfriend's sexual past that he can't even kiss him? He sounds like either a sanctimonious prick (two hands worth of partners by 23 years old isn't exactly chaste) or pathologically insecure. Either way, his boyfriend with the innumerable partners should run for the hills.

Maybe one day CAN will meet the gay virgin he's looking for, and he'll be equally disgusted by what a big slut CAN is.
Doesn't matter how many cocks he's sucked, CAN. The important thing is whose cock he's sucking right now.
Well, not exactly RIGHT NOW. You know what I mean.
Actually 10 (two hands) is not that little a number. If the LW had had only 2 or 3 partners, his gross-outedness would at least be slightly understandable. Plus, I'm sure many people stop counting after 5 because after 5 counting becomes an effort, so not being able to come up with a number doesn't mean 1000 or something.
I personally call slut on CAN for having 6-9 partners at the young age of 23. What a slut.
The most bothersome thing to me is that he used "nauseous" instead of "nauseated". I know it has become to use nauseous in the sense of nauseated, but it still bugs me.
Not being able to list them does not necessarily imply an enormous number. A few relationships interspersed with with some hook-ups over 6+ years could be a fairly reasonable number, yet still hard to nail down due to the not-so-memorable hook-ups.

//also you can count pretty high on two hands if you know binary ;)
nauseated. NOT naseous. I hope. Look it up.
I do not condone slut shaming, but I understand why it makes people uncomfortable if there is a huge disparity of sex partners.

I don't think the uneasiness always comes from just a notion that a lot of sex equals sluttiness equals bad, but perhaps an implied notion that sex, for a "slutty" person, might not be as "special" as you think it is for you, if you do not consider yourself to be free lovin' (no matter how many or few partners you've had in practice). And if they don't treat sex with the same reverence you expect/want it to be treated with, this clash of values might cause conflict, or perhaps you might worry that you are not as special to them as they are to you, if for you sex signals love, and for the other person it doesn't necessarily imply that.

I think there is also just a fundamental feeling that what you can get for free ain't worth having, and likewise for what someone else has already had and discarded. Petty and irrational? Certainly. But it's human nature. At least we have progressed past the point where if a woman wasn't a virgin before marriage she was ruined for life.

The LW should talk to his bf and perhaps a therapist to explore his emotions and try to work past them, if he wants, or conversely find someone whose attitudes more closely align with his. Of course though even if he waited for the 20-something virgin, the virgin might be "disgusted" at his having had 10 odd sex partners, which is why I think he should try to work past his feelings, first.
And once again we see that Mr. Savage can be judgmental and counterproductive, just like the conservative guys.

The guy was asking for help. He knows he shouldn't be treating his boyfriend like crud for having been around the block a few times. He was asking how to fix it, and no recommendations were made on that score. (If I knew of one, I'd make one myself, but I don't.)
@34 lol
@37: Dan did give a recommendation, and it was a good one. Here it is:
"If you can't help but think about it, CAN, try to think about it differently: your boyfriend has been with a lot of guys. He knows from men. It sounds like he can have his pick. And he picked you! You can either will yourself to accept the freakin' compliment already or, if you just can't stop slut-shaming your boyfriend, you can do him the favor of breaking up with him."

The boyfriend couldn't change his past if he wanted to--and he may well not want to. It is up to the lw to change his attitude if he wants to stay with this guy. This is good advice.
Why the fuck do people ask about the number of partners?

I've never discussed past relationships with my fiance in anything other than generalities. She hasn't either. Who she fucked before she met me is none of my fucking business.
"with the gays"?????

Somebody needs a spanking.
Add me to those whose total is probably around two-handsish but doesn't really care to sit around tallying up "my number". What is this, junior high?
I've always preferred to think in terms of the yield rate. If I, back in my 20s, got hit on by a thousand men in a year (roughly 3/day), and only accepted the advances of 15, then that actually counts as being more selective than someone who got hit on by one person and had sex with one person.

I mean, Harvard's freshperson class is larger than some entire colleges. It's still very competitive to get in.
"Who she fucked before she met me is none of my fucking business."

Say what?!? Personally, I take an interest in the interesting and important things that happened to my husband before we met - where he went to school, family holidays, and yes, how his sex life developed.
Mrs. seandr had 16 before I came along, which was way more than I had. We used to joke about getting me a jersey with the number 17 on it. I always took it as a compliment that the count ended with me.

LW's anxiety boils down to irrational jealousy, insecurity, or sex-negativity, none of which are particularly endearing or useful attributes. His feelings are understandable given that he's a relationship newbie, but he needs to get over them.
Thus sayeth @44:
Personally, I take an interest in the interesting and important things that happened to my husband before we met - where he went to school, family holidays, and yes, how his sex life developed.
Strange. I can actually hear Admiral Ackbar in my head.
I like how everyone insists that anybody can dump anybody for any reason. Because they're short, because they have a funny laugh, because they're too old, because they live too far away, etc. But being a whore is somehow sacrosanct. I wonder why that is.
@47: You can dump anyone for any reason you like, partnerships are never obligatory. But if you think your partner is a "whore" because they were lucky enough to have more sex than you, then they're morally required to dump you, because you're a piece of shit.
I hate these letters because as a boring old hetro I imagine being young and gay as awesome (besides the bullshit bigotry that is, sigh): the person you want to do is also a dude who thinks like you? Genius!!! Let's play XBOX, fuck each other silly, order takeout, then play some more! (lather, rinse, repeat).

Alas, apparently being in a gay relationship can be just as mundane as hetero. Lame.
Dan's answer seemed a tad defensive.

Totally tangential to the main point, but "one, two, many" counting systems are not apocryphal; they have been documented in languages from Australia, New Guinea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Micronesia and the Amazon. Some of these languages do go a bit beyond two (up to three or four, say) before jumping to "many," and many of them allow for the expression of higher numbers via equivalence, even if they don't have specific words for those numbers; for instance, a speaker of Mabuiag might hold up seven fingers and say "this many." That's a comparatively simple example, however -- in many cases, speakers of "one, two, many" languages don't rely solely on digit tallies, but also use systems of tallying body parts that may reach as high as thirty or forty. For instance, in a system where the nose is the twenty-eighth body part, one can point to the nose to indicate "twenty-eight," even though no actual word for twenty-eight exists. Moreover, the use of numerical cycles -- e.g., "ten tens" or "two twenty-eights" -- is a standard strategy in many languages with limited number words. In other words, it's not as if speakers of "one, two, many" languages regard everything beyond two (or three, or wherever their numbers cut off) as equally "many."

. . . oh, wait, was I supposed to be commenting on the letter? Man, I got nothing. If CAN were concerned about what his boyfriend's high partner count says about his ability to remain in a monogamous long-term relationship, I could sort of sympathize, but the whole "physical revulsion" thing is way over the fucking line. At least I can point to this letter the next time an evo-psycher tries to back up some bullshit gender-essentialist argument by claiming that, liberated from the shackles of female pickiness and frigidity, all gay men live in a magical wonderland of constant casual sex.
Doesn't sound like CAN is slut-shaming. He feels privately uncomfortable about his boyfriend's inability to count his sex partners, but he's not calling him a slut or telling him he's a horrible person for all that sex he had in the past. I think it's everyone's right to be as promiscuous as they want without feeling ashamed, but the idea of dating someone who's fucked 100 people doesn't appeal to me personally. I'd be friends with that person, I just wouldn't necessarily want to sleep with him, but I know that about myself.

The boyfriend can't change his past and doesn't have anything to be ashamed of. For both their sakes, CAN should get over it or bail.
I couldn't tell you how many sex partners I've had, either. Not because it's an exceptionally high number; it's just not something I've chosen to keep track of. I don't think it's an especially useful number for me to know, and I don't think that it's anyone else's business.
Letter writer: you have risen to the top of my list of people who a) are not confirmed Republicans and b) I want to kick in the genitals so badly that my toe itches.
People who obsess about their partner's previous sex buddies are shallow morons.
And so are those who validate such self-defeating "feelings".
LW: Watch Chasing Amy. Then watch it again. And again.

To the folks here arguing a right to know on the grounds that it's the same as knowing other things about your partner's past, like family history or travel experiences, you're failing to acknowledge that the needing to know a number is 1. a character assessment, if not an inquisition, and 2. a bad one at that. How many partners someone has had tells you very little about how they treated those partners, i.e. whether or not someone was GGG or coercive/frigid/manipulative/selfish/unskilled or any other possibility that would make them a less than ideal partner.

I think it's true that you learn about someone's sexual history as a result of knowing them, but "demanding" to know it as a number and then holding that number against the person if they're honest and you've deemed it too high? That's some serious insecurity that will doom the relationship.
What bugs me is people who say, "I know it has become to use..."

Sometimes it's not the number of people but rather the individuals in question. Mrs. J's first husband really made my skin crawl. I go with Dan's advice to not think about it. Why torment yourself and ruin your sex life?

It's fine that part of you thinks this is icky but just let it go.
Part of the problem with hiding the number of priors is being unable to recall wonderful stories in which they play a role.  With any luck most of them were people that played some kind of important role in one's life, and their part makes up the whole along with everyone and everything else.  

I have asked my wife if it bothers her talking about my previous relationships, long, long ago.  She got over it, and time is best at proving which things matter the most.  It doesn't hurt that most of the stories are pretty funny, or informative.  Now those stories, and people, are a part of her past as well (not unlike the friends my wife had in high school, for me).  I think it was important to have asked, however.

CAN will have to decide if his monogamous (I presume) relationship is less livable than his partner's past.  I can't speak for CAN's partner, but 24 was about when I felt like I was capable of maintaining an LTR.  As it turned out, I was right, and glad of it 28 years later.

56: I seem to recall that as the number of sex partners a woman has before marriage goes up, so too does the likelihood of eventual divorce. If you get up to something like 15 partners, your divorce rate gets into the 80s, IIRC. Too lazy to look it up, though.

Anyway, my point is that people using sex partners as a proxy for something may have more validity than just the "ick" factor some people experience when they hear their partner's high school nickname was "fingercuffs."
@59: correlation does not equal causation.
There's a difference between serial "dating" and attending regular gang-bangs, going to bathhouses, etc. If you recognize your partner as a human being -- even if you have a lot of them -- and interact with them on that level, not just as a piece of meat, then you are a lot healthier than someone who is just a life support system for a cock. If you're trying to form a solid long-term, potentially monogamous relationship then you have to keep this in mind.
@51(echizen_kurage), and I can't help mentioning that the language family I work on (Cariban languages of lowland South America) is a "one-two-many" family of exactly this kind. In fact, I'd go even further and claim that it's not simply that they don't have words for numbers beyond two, it's that even the words for "one" and "two" aren't really numbers in the sense that they are not specifically used for counting, but have other (often more frequent) meanings and uses. The Tiriyó word for 'one', /tëinken/, means also 'alone', 'by itself', 'without help'; the Tiriyó word for 'two', /ëëkënë/, also means 'as a pair', 'in pair(s)', 'with each other, together'.

In other words, in some languages (e.g., Indo-European, Austronesian, etc.), counting is a specialized function with specialized vocabulary, corresponding to a specifically felt cultural need (counting). Said languages usually have a specific word for 'counting.' In other languages, there are words than can be used for counting, sort of -- 'alone', 'in pairs', and then a bunch of phrases based on the fingers of one's hands and feet -- if need be, but they're not specialized for it, because there is no urgent cultural need for counting; and, as one might expect, there is no specific word for 'counting' in said languages. (In Cariban languages, they use a more generic verb that means 'evaluating', 'measuring', 'checking the quality of' something to also mean 'counting' when necessary).

So, in a sense, it's not that speakers of "one, two, many" languages think that anything beyond two is "many" -- of course they can see the difference between three and four and five. It's simply that they don't think this difference is very important and usually don't talk about it, because it doesn't play an important role in their culture. Just like certain shades of color might not play an important role in our culture, so, even though we can see they're different shades, we don't have specific names for them.
I can count my "number" on one hand. The guys I have been with? They've all lost track. It has honestly never occurred to me to be squicked out by this for any other reason than the risk of disease. Heck, I get a kick out of it when a guy I know is very experienced completely comes to pieces because of something I did to his dick.

I think CAN needs to relax, live in the moment and maybe get in touch with those other emotions he is avoiding (and apparently replacing with nausea and OCD) because they make his head explode. A few sessions with a good shrink might do him a world of good.
@49 - I can still vaguely remember when I was young and gay (still gay, just not so young anymore), and I can assure you, it WAS awesome. There are the occasional guy like the letter writer who have hang ups, but I can assure you that for those of us who knew enough to enjoy what we had it was totally awesome.

As for the letter writer, I don't want to put him down, but the problem really is his and facts are facts. Either he is going to get over his hang up about this or he will end up sabotaging his relationship and in search of his magical gay, non slut, unicorn who is as in to him and doesn't think that someone who needs two hands to count his sex partners isn't a gross, disgusting slut.

When I first met my partner we both experienced the same thing. Our friends came running to "warn" us about each other because we were apparently sluts. Now amazingly my friends didn't realize I was also a slut, and his friends didn't realize that he was also a slut. They all seemed to know that the guy their friend was dating was a slut however.

He said to me, "so my friends tell me you are a slut". I told him, "my friends say the same thing about you, although the term they used was 'whore'. No wonder you're so good in bed."

We are going on 17 years together, happily monogamous. In that time all those friends who warned us about each other have gone through numerous, and sometimes very messy, relationships. I only have a general idea of how many guys I have slept with, and I have never asked him how many he has slept with. But I have absolutely no regrets.

For one thing, I know exactly what I am missing. There isn't anything I can think of and say "gee, I wish I had a chance to do THAT before settling down", because I have done everything I wanted to try. I know from experience that what I have waiting for me at home is worth more to me than anything I am giving up because I have had the experience.

For another thing I don't regret it because it WAS AWESOME. I had lots of sex with lots of hot guys. It was fracking fun. It was hot. It was exciting. It was AWESOME.

Now I may be a little more uncaring about this stuff than most. I once dated a guy who did porn and it honestly didn't bother me. But porn actors aside, ditching someone because of how many people they slept with in the past is shooting yourself in the foot. You have a right to do it, and if you want to do it then go ahead. However I can't see it as anything but short sighted and something that the person actually will one day regret after years of failing to capture their hot, virginal gay unicorn.
@ 59: I have two (female) friends who married their first. They're not religious, just found what they wanted the first time out. I have one who is a serial monogamist, and has had a few relationships, and a couple of flings. Other than that I cannot think of anyone who had less than 15 partners by the time they were married, Assuming loss of virginity at 17 (the average age in the US for females), and marriage at 26 (average age for women in the US) that's about 1 1/2 partners per year. Not exactly a gang bang.
@56 YES YES YES. Go watch Chasing Amy, then go watch it again.
Ran into a similar issue when I first started dating my husband - I could NOT count my partners on both hands, or on both hands and both feet, nor did I care to try. This made him uncomfortable, at first. Then he had the epiphany of: I stopped at him. All that "experience" and I wanted HIM. Past did not matter, the present did.
Also as somewhat of an aside: am I the only one who relishes the idea of a partner with more/lots of experience? Why the hell would I want to date someone with little or god forbid NO experience? That sounds like a nightmare.
I understand the need to know as much about your partner as you can (I happen to think that knowing and understanding -- putting in perspective -- is part of loving; it's difficult to love what you don't know). I'm not even against wanting to know a specific number of past partners if this makes you feel that you know/understand the person you're with better with this number than you would without it.

But in most cases, those who want to know the number still have something of a "slut scale" in their mind. If this guy/gal has had 'too many partners', then this is bad. They'll jump to the conclusion that said person is unreliable, or incapable of true commitment, or will dump them after a week of hot sex, or something like that. They're afraid of being dumped, so they try to find out information that will allow them to assess the risk of being dumped.

Which I think is not the right way to go about relationships. It's more about our fears and insecurities than about the other person's capacity to really love us.
Fortunate -what a beautiful and hilarious story! I was a happy slut too, but as a straight woman, the fact was often met with less enthusiasm! Thanks for that, it was adorable and warmed my heart!
@67 - "They're afraid of being dumped, so they try to find out information that will allow them to assess the risk of being dumped."

That makes sense and I am sure plays into the thinking of many people. I certainly always assessed the risks of dating certain people based on what I perceived to be the likelihood of them dumping in the future, and that has resulted in certain attitudes about dating that seem to upset some people.

I think anyone should be able to not date anyone for any reason. Dating is the one area that I think people should get a pass on the 'asshole' label for being discriminating in ways that would definitely earn them that label in any other circumstance.

However that doesn't mean that such discrimination isn't shooting one's self in the foot.

So I definitely don't think the original letter writer is an asshole for feeling how he does. But one thing does jump out to me. He is specifically citing feeling nauseous and grossed out by his boyfriends past, to the point he doesn't feel comfortable kissing him. That isn't fear of getting dumped. That's seeing his partner as "unclean". Which of course doesn't make any sense at this point because despite that they were both tested and are disease free, if there were any mythical slut cooties out there he's already got them. They say that when you sleep with someone you are sleeping with their whole past. Well, the letter writer has already slept with this guy's past. It's kind of late to get squiked out by it now. It's a done deal. The cooties have been passed.
Yeah. He just needs to grow up.
when i was your age i dumped a girl because she had about 30 and i only had about 10. for some reason i thought it was gross. how foolish i was. now im upwards of 100 and dont ever ask anyone anymore.
@59 and 65 - Most of my friends are above 15 past partners but not yet married - should I tell them to close their legs now or is the damage already done? ;)
Hey, stop unfairly attacking CAN already! He did not call his bf a slut. He identified the problem as being with himself, and he asked for help getting over it. A lot of people seem to be missing those crucial points! Even Dan unfairly accuses CAN of slut-shaming, although at least he gives him the good advice to be flattered by the attentions of someone who knows enough to know why you're the best!

A lot of times people with anxiety (sometimes OCD, but even with milder anxieties) about themselves can fixate on something like this and have a hard time getting it out of their minds. The solution is seldom just to stop thinking about it. Rather, you have to face your fears directly. CAN should think about what he's really afraid of here. Is he worried about his boyfriend dumping him? About not being experienced or good enough for his boyfriend? About somehow being exposed or compromised? Whatever the fear may be, he should embrace it head on. Those things we're afraid of can indeed happen. The question is whether we want to go on living and enjoying our relationships despite the fear. It sounds like being with his boyfriend is good for CAN, and well worth risking lots of these fearful consequences. If it's not worth the risk after all, then he'll know.

And really, if he continues to obsess about things like the possibility of disease even after they were tested, or about other things that he thinks are irrational but he can't get them out of his head anyway, he should go talk to a counselor about it. It's a perfectly normal thing that happens to a lot of people, especially those who tend to get freaked out by things (like CAN, for whom lots of emotions are too much to handle sometimes).

I feel bad for CAN because he's being sincere and his problem is totally understandable, and he's not hurting anyone, and yet so many people here just jumped all over him like he did something wrong. Good luck, CAN, I think you CAN get past your fears and enjoy your boyfriend.
@72: My apologies, I was attempting to refute 59's ridiculous claim.
I guess I wasn't clear enough that almost all of my friends including myself have had more than 15 partners. We have. We are also married to men who don't give a shit, like most men of any maturity.
59 is either trolling or misguided. I hope that clears it up. Please don't lump me in with him/her/it.
Not even God can change the past.
Imagine one partner is susceptible to smooth talkers and has 15 one-night stands before he met you. So he's only had sex 15 times. Now imagine you have had 9 lovers. And you've had sex with each lover about 190 times.
Now who is more sexually experienced?

How about you just care whether the relationship is working out compatibility-wise... Sheesh.
Regarding sluttiness: I'm 27 (female) and really don't like relationships for similar reasons as the LW.
However, I do like to get laid occasionally, which means, I've been going out on weekends specifically to find someone nice and good looking to hook up with ever since I was 17.

I never counted, but after 10 years of sleeping with someone new every other weekend, my number is probably around 200 to 300?
Yes, the number of partners I've had sounds intimidating, but remember:
I have sex once or twice a month. That is not much.
I may have slept with more men than all of my girlfriends combined, but all of them have had a lot more sex than me, because they are serial monogamists and get to fuck their SOs daily if they want to.

So - the numbers don't mean shit.
Is it less slutty to have had sex 20 000 times with just 2 different partners than to have sex 300 times with 300 partners?
I don't understand the difference. You're okay with him not being a virgin, but you're not okay with him having a past?
Good gods, he sounds like my ex-husband. He freaked OUT when he found out my number was well into double digits and never wanted to hear so much as a name, even of my two very long-term partners, ever again. Very different from my real husband (my now husband). Neither of us much cares about counting up the numbers, what we want to know is all the hot nasty details of the fun stuff. ;-)
I guess that one of the things we should learn about ourselves early in life is whether or not knowing the personal number of our partners is going to bother us. If it will, then don't ask. I find it kind of adorable to think of my sweet husband's younger self and the hi-jinx that he used to get up to. He sees it the same, which makes us pretty compatible even though there is a big disparity in our numbers. (I'm in the 15+ club, and going on 15 years of happy marriage, so that shoots another hole in @59's theory.) So if the LR can't get past it he should at least remember this in the future. That he is a "please don't tell me your number, it messes with my head" sort of a person.
I don't answer the "how many" question, ever. There is no correct response.
@80: Same here. It's just unneeded trouble. Especially if they're really interested in knowing. Wanna spill your guts to me? Fine. I don't care. I've got nothing to say on the subject though.

And about the LW, this just seems like another case of internalized sex-negativity: This idea that sex is this "dirty thing". I am sometimes ambivalent about ridding myself and others of this belief though, because it is precisely the belief that sex can be a "dirty" thing that makes it so much more exciting at times... Can y'all tell I'm a conflicted fuck?
Somebody's "number" is only one factor in a very complicated relationship equation. It's not everything there is to know about your partner, but it's definitely not meaningless either. A small number is no garuntee of fidelity or even that they will be disease-free (I got herpes from my 2nd partner when I was only 16). Not to mention that lots of people lie about these things (my partner at 16 didn't say he had herpes and I only found out about another partner's herpes b/c I disclosed first. I'm pretty sure he would've never told me if I didn't bring it up). At least if someone tells you about their past or their scary herpes or whatever else you think is so wrong with them, you know they're willing to talk honestly about things that paint them in an unflattering light. That person you think is so pristine, good, perfect and supposedly disease-free might have never been to get tested in their life and be lying to you for all you know. An honest slut is better than a liar anyday, b/c at least you know what you're getting.
@51 & @62 Thanks for adding the details.
@59 As long as you're advising others to look shit up, why don't you try Virgin/Whore complex?
I can't help but wonder how much overlap there is between the "the past is the past, pay it no mind" crowd, and the people who keep complaining that Dan is biphobic/fatphobic/transphobic/etc.
I've decided I dislike "with the gays" enough to conclude that we just have a bit of bi homophobia here - perhaps or perhaps not more rare than gay biphobia, but, like the Mediterranean Sheerwater, not often seen around these parts. Interesting.

And, for Mr Married, this is largely the sort of thing I mean when I say I don't belong here. Far too often I'm all alone out on a limb of my own. It's not always pleasant. If I were a character in Greek mythology, I should be Cassandra.
The problem is CAN's. The boyfriend is apparently soft-spoken on the issue as CAN would certainly complain if the boyfriend were bragging, throwing it in CAN's face, or comparing CAN's performance with his past lovers. If CAN can't get over it, the problem is going to be an issue over and over again. Because lots of guys could tell you how many sex partners they've had when they're in their teens or early twenties. But thirties? Forties? I lost count sometime *after* I was 24, that's for sure.
65/"My apologies, I was attempting to refute 59's ridiculous claim."

My stray thought was that if there is a relative tendency for people with high counts to have higer rates of unstable marriage relative to people with lower numbers, well, that may be a significant variable for people considering long term relationships. Those people may not be able to express this calculation directly, but it could be there. Ridiculous? Not when you consider how people make decisions every day.

BTW, telling me about your friends does not refute much, except a claim you have no friends. Which I am sure you do...have friends, that is.

Even if the survey data showed what I recall (again, I qualify it with IIRC), it is kind of like any other data: it is how lives play out generally, not an indication of how each life plays out.

I would close by suggesting we all avoid viewing sociological data we don't like the way a fundamentalist views evolution evidence. People need to stop being upset about such stuff it if upsets a worldview. Instead, think of it as, "hmm, interesting thing the human creature, when viewed as a group." Like any herd, we are fascinating both in the aggregate, and as individuals. You can take that stuff and spitball it for fun, like this, in an completely no-stakes way of thinking about how well you really understand the human condition. Great stuff. But only if you let it in to wander about the brain.
@86, I've never had the impression that you're "far too often on a limb of your own," but maybe I wasn't paying proper attention, Mr Ven? To me, you seem like a person with interesting opinions (and a literary enciclopedia of quotations and references to refresh the local imaginary).

Mr Ank - Kind of you, but I am used to being alone in my particular perspective.
@90, Mr. Ven,

While you may feel alone in your opinions, they are neither unwelcome nor unwanted. I have learned a great deal about myself and how I fit into the world from frequenting this site. It is telling that as a straight male WASP, married forever to the same person, I feel more in common with you all than the herd. The herd is filled with bullies certain of their destinies, guaranteed of dry rot and an inability to appreciate change. I want to assert my uniqueness, and still not end up alone or bored to immobility.

Well I can count the number of men I've slept with on one hand. The one I'ma slap you with, idiot. It doesn't fucking matter if you're both disease-free! Get the fuck over yourself. Counting on two hands is probably vomit-inducingly high to some people.
The voice of youth.

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