In What’s Your Number?, one of this month’s must-watch flicks, Anna Faris’s character, Ally, cringes when a friend reports that once you’ve hit 20 sexual partners, your chances of finding “the one” rapidly decrease. Determined not to go over that number, she decides that she won’t sleep another guy until she’s sure he’s the one. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the average age for a young woman’s first romp is about 17 years old, while Statistics Canada pegs women’s average age at first marriage at 28, leaving the average woman with about 11 years on the solo scene. But what does your number really add up to?
Says Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of igniteyourpleasure.com: “Dating a lot of people can increase your success for finding a fulfilling long term relationship. It’s a numbers game.” As for having a higher number of partners, “the good is that you become sexually experienced, and get to know how to please and be pleased.”
FLARE spoke with three women about their numbers, their experience and their outlook on love:
“I have a low number because I am not someone who can have casual sex. I need to be in a relationship with someone I trust to get to a point where I feel comfortable with this person. I had an immature relationship in my early 20s and out of sheer curiosity, let this be the person I had my first sexual experience with. My serious relationship in my mid-20s proved more worthy of sex. It’s funny, I actually waited a long time with the second person because it felt more significant.
“I’ve been single for a little while now, and can definitely sense a long dry spell on the way. It’s hard to find a connection with someone, never mind one that will last. Pleasure is the added bonus, but for me, love is the key. My number might be low by some standards, but it suits me. A higher number would mean I have experienced more, but I’m not sure it would necessarily make me happier, or more apt to find another relationship sooner. I’m at the point where I’m only interested in dating someone if it has long-term potential, so hopefully my number will soon be on the rise.”
“I started having sex at a young age, and that has definitely contributed to my number. One night stands and casual flings would account for most, which is why I am not completely sure of my exact number. I have been sexually active for 15 years, and of that time have been in exclusive relationships for five years, so the way I see it, it really averages out to less than two people a year.
“Sex can be a way to connect with someone you love, but it can also just be a physical experience. From experience, I know the stronger the bond or intimacy, the better the sex is physically. I am comfortable with my number, but there are a few lovers that make me cringe in retrospect. But all of these experiences are part of who I am, and have helped me grow.
“Personally, I don’t care if my partner has been with one or 100 sexual partners themselves, which is probably why I am less concerned with my own. My ability to find a serious partner has less to do with my number, and more to do with my readiness and willingness to connect with someone.”
“I’ve had serious relationships, but have spent the majority of my adult life single. I studied abroad for three years, which is when I racked up the most partners. I attribute this to being young and carefree, with an invincible attitude, and to the anonymity of being in a foreign country where no one knows you.
“My views about sex have changed throughout the years. When I was in my teens I thought sex should be associated with love, but the more guys I slept with, it became more and more about personal pleasure. I used to view men as more disposable and didn’t think twice about having several partners and the effect it would have on my current situation. Now, in my early 30s, it’s a combination of the two: pleasure of course, but I attach a higher value on the guy and need to feel a little something more for him before I jump in the sack.
“I feel fine about the number of partners I’ve had. I don’t lose sleep over it or wish my number was any different—though I wouldn’t share it with a new partner because it doesn’t define who I am. Just as a low number can make someone think a certain way about you, so can a high number, and this is not an area in which I wish to be judged. I would be content if I found one solid partner for continuous romps. For me, my experiences were all about learning what I like, want and won’t accept.”
What’s Your Number? opens in theatres September 30
*All names have been changes