Q: What should you do if you feel self-conscious about the number of people you've had sex with? Should you ask someone how many people they've had sex with?
A: The number of people you've had sex with is really just your business. If you feel uncomfortable sharing that with others, then you don't need to; even if it's with someone that you're currently having sex with. You really shouldn't feel any guilt or shame about "your number," because there is no right or wrong number to have. People vary in the number of sex partners they have in their lifetime from zero all the way to a hundred or more. How many people you've had sex with depends on many factors, all of them in your past. It may be that none of these factors define you as a person now. Instead, it's best to concentrate on what type of person you want to be at this time in your life, and have your current lifestyle reflect that.
If a partner is insistent on knowing "your number" and you don't wish to share that information, then it's up to you to set proper boundaries with that person. For example, you could simply say, "I don't want to talk about that." If they continue to insist, you can say, "That's something I don't want to share. If you want to be with me, then you need to respect that." It's perfectly within your right to say this.
On the other hand, if you're concerned about how many sex partners your partner has had, then just try your best to let this go. Take the above information and apply it to that person. How many sex partners someone has had doesn't necessarily reflect the type of person they currently are. Too many people get hooked on "numbers." In the end, it doesn't really matter, as long as a person has been responsible and has protected themselves physically and emotionally. It's important to respect people's autonomy and allow them have the type of sexual lifestyle that makes them happy.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.