how many is too many

Reader L. S. writes:

How many sexual partners is too many?

Dear L.S.:

Now there’s a question asking for judgment if I’ve ever heard/read one.

I’m going to take the grand old cop out on this one: Your personal sleep number is yours, and only you can determine how many partners is “too many” for you.

“Too many” is a very relative term. For many people, two partners is “too many”. For some others, hundreds might not be enough. Unfortunately, you may not know how many is “too many” until you’ve passed your limit. So perhaps you should decide before you start sleeping around if you’re ready to do so.

So how will you know what your personal sleep level is before you hit it?

Know thyself, amigo.

flames of love

If you are on fire, you may have had too many sexual partners. Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sex in our culture is chock-full of politics, religion, social pressure, and mixed cultural expectations. There’s a virgin-whore dichotomy for the ladies, and a stud-asshole complex for the gents. Depending on your social circle, you can be equal parts pariah and god(dess) for sleeping with fewer or more people.

My very first recommendation is to keep your decision to yourself, or at least to a very select few trusted advisors and friends. While I think we should keep our noses out of other peoples’ sexual business, this is not, unfortunately, how most of the country feels. Frankly, your sex life is nobody’s business but yours and your partners’. Don’t give the crazies the satisfaction of knowing what to label you if they feel the need to judge.

Next up, really think about it. How much do you care about a religion or other social order having a say in your sexual partnerships? If you are firmly of the belief that sleeping with someone you’re not married to is a sin in a higher being’s eyes, then you should probably not do it. Easier said than done for many, of course, but I think that feeling guilty about sex is quite possibly one of the worst things you can do to yourself, not to mention your partner(s). Search your soul on this one. While many people may not believe this, there are people in the world who go their entire lives with only one sexual partner. I can assure you it is usually a very conscious decision to do so.

If you don’t care so much about religious or social stigma, consider your own level of maturity on the issue, both emotionally, physically, and mentally. Are you prepared to deal with jealousy? Are you prepared to deal with STIs and safer sex? Do you believe monogamy is a virtue? Do you value quality vs. quantity? Do you get attached easily?

To be totally honest, I don’t think most people are capable of setting a number for themselves and saying, “Nope, no more, I’m not going to have sex with one more person.” For people who aren’t committed completely to abstinence until marriage, sexual partners tend to appear naturally. I know a few of my friends who would definitely wish for more sexual partners, too.

But you’ve got to watch out for your heart. The truth is that while monogamy may not be for everyone, “no strings attached” sex doesn’t work for everybody, either. In fact, I’d say it doesn’t work for a majority of people, regardless of how much they wish it would. Be honest to yourself.

If you feel like you’ve had “too many” sexual partners, slow down and ask yourself what it is that you’re going through. Are you caving to someone else’s demands for sex, rather than listening to your own needs? Are you trying to find validation in sex? Sometimes a bit of forced chastity can clear your head.

Otherwise, my call on this is that nobody can decide how many sexual partners is “too many” except yourself.

So there.


1 Response to “how many is too many”

  1. 1 DÄBé
    December 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    One has always been enough for me. I tried two once and it was just two distracting.. even disorienting. Kind of like trying to juggle while falling through the air.

    I really admire men who can please more than one woman at a time, but it just doesn’t seem like as much of a challenge for a woman to do the same for multiple men. Having said that, I did once see a movie where this girl satisfied about fifty guys, four or five at a time. That seems like a lot of work, though I will admit she did make it look easy. Imagine Willie Mays catching ten balls at once.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    After rereading your column, I am coming to the conclusion that you were probably not referring to multiple simultaneous sex partners. Clearly (?) you mean multiple partners consecutively, not concurrently. Right? If that’s the case, maybe you can do a column on that subject; I really would like to know how many you think is too many at once. But like you said, I guess it’s just a matter of personal choice.

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