Volume 3, Number 2
A Question Best Left Unasked...
By Fiona Jane
We were lying in bed, just another peaceful morning together, when the Pandora's Box of developing relationships was opened. A sensible question, I guess but in no way was I expecting our tangled doze to be interrupted by "how many people have you slept with?"
I think he just meant to slip it in to our quiet time together so that wasn't confronting or demanding. To pretend that it didn't mean much, didn't matter much. To show that the answer wouldn't please or hurt him.
My brain raced frantically to come up with the "right answer" while decidedly UN-casual voices argued in my head. Tell him the truth. It won't matter if I lie, as long as I tell him what he wants to hear. Did he remember me talking about ex-boyfriends? What if he thinks it's too many or too few? Even worse, what if he thinks I'm lying?
Instead of waiting for consensus, I went with the old stalling tactic. I rolled over, smiled lazily at him, and said "Why?"
Inside, of course, I wasn't taking this whole scene so calmly. I knew that the best defence is supposed to be offence, but why should I be defensive? I hadn't slept around. I felt like having a fight about it and scarily, I didn't know why. I wanted to yell "Why are you asking me? What made you bring that up now? Won't you love me anyway, no matter what the answer is?"
He smiled back and said "I guess it doesn't really matter, I just thought how beautiful you looked and wondered how many people had seen you like this" Just like that. My anger disappeared, and I thought about it rationally.
Why had I minded that he'd asked me? I guess I had pictured the worst; disappointing someone that I cared about by something done before we'd even met each other. I'd imagined recriminations and reprimands, but they'd never eventuated.
"I've slept with eight people," I told him, "how about you?"
He looked at me sheepishly and said "Um, I guess about 20. No wait, maybe 25" This didn't exactly instil a great sense of confidence. Didn't he know? I know when, why, where, with who, and especially how many people I'd slept with.
In fact, not only do I remember every major event in my sex life (give or take a few of the $1 drinks at Archies), so do my friends. While at times I regret the fact that so little has been kept sacred (like for my 21st speeches), it definitely keeps me grounded at those times when I get carried away about a "fantastic" past love.
I start to reminisce about how he was sexual magic and made me feel amazing - when one of my friends will pour cold water on my fantasies by reminding me of the truth. "Sure," they'll say "he was good at xxx, but remember when he was trying to --- but he had it all wrong and he nearly..." Oh yeah, that's right. Suddenly I remember everything just the way it was... and laugh.
No-one has a perfect record of past sexual partners. Between my close friends and I we.ve had many a night on the cheap white wine laughing about the guy who didn't even give his partner a chance to say his name before he'd come, the girl who wouldn't admit she'd had sex with one of our friends, or the (very bizarre) shape of certain ex's anatomy. (Hi Peter)
Nobody I know, except my twelve year old cousin Tim, expects their new love to be a virgin. These days it's a rarity to meet someone who hasn't had sex with a few different people, be it for love, curiosity or just old fashioned rolling-in-the-dust, do-it-in-the-road lust. The way things are going, even Tim is going to find it tough!
If I can comfortably tell my friends all about my sex life (and no, Bek, I'm not going into anymore details than that!!) then I guess I should be able to tell someone I'm in love with.
Jodi, don't be ashamed that you've only slept with twoish people. Suze, admit that you just don't know and just don't care. And me, well, I'll just stick to my eight... no matter how many I get up to!