Does “Body Count” Really Matter In a Relationship?14 min read

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Sex is arguably the most emotionally charged activity most people engage in legally. It’s primal, personal, and requires crossing many boundaries to experience. Barring abuse, it involves knowing someone intimately in a way most of the world never will. So, it’s understandable that we attach great significance to it. When you learn that someone you’re attracted to has had many sexual partners, it can be disconcerting. You might question how special you are to them if they’ve shared this intimate act with so many others.

Assuming you’re not very promiscuous yourself, it can make you wonder how something you think of so highly (or have put so much effort into experiencing) is so common and perhaps inconsequential to them. You worry you might just be a number in their streak. You worry you’re being too emotionally invested in the relationship. 

It is easy to intellectually argue that “body count doesn’t matter” and that “it is just a number”, but it really does matter to people (to you); otherwise, these difficult feelings and questions wouldn’t be in the picture. 

The question of body counts can stir up a whirlwind of emotions, judgments, and insecurities. But should it? Does this number really hold the weight you give it? Should it determine the course of your relationship?

In this blog post, we will dive into the most pressing questions about “body count” and uncover truths that might just refine how you view sexual history in relationships.

What Exactly is “Body Count”?

“Body count” in the context of dating and relationships typically refers to the number of people someone has had penetrative (vaginal or anal) sexual intercourse with. It usually does not include other types of sexual activities like kissing, intimate touching, foreplay, or dry humping. However, being just slang, it is subject to ambiguity, as some people may also consider things such as oral sex and fingering as part of body count.

So, to clarify, in this content, the phrase “Body count” will strictly be used to refer to the number of people someone consensually went all the way with to have full penetrative vaginal or anal sex with. As such, abuse or rape will not be counted as part of body count.

Why Do People Care About Body Count?

Body counts, with emphasis on numbers, can be either high or low, though what is considered high or low depends on whom you ask. Furthermore, how different people interpret these numbers can vary (from positive to negative). To illustrate, here are a dozen reasons people care about body counts:

  1. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): One of the first things that comes to mind when you start hearing high numbers (especially when it gets to double digits) is STIs. While medical advances have reduced some risks, the lingering evolutionary psychology still makes people naturally wary of partners with extremely high “body counts.”. However, modern medical tests can effectively manage this concern.
  2. Risk of Infertility: With higher body counts comes worry about the fertility of the person. Are they impotent? Have they damaged their ovum (perhaps during abortions or perhaps a disease has eaten into it)? It’s better to have open conversations and medical checks if planning to conceive. Sexual history alone is an unreliable indicator.
  3. Concerns About Commitment and Relationship Stability: It is logical to think that those with higher body counts are more inclined towards casual sex, making it harder for them to commit long-term or increasing the temptation for infidelity. However,  a person’s current values, goals, and actions are better predictors of relationship stability than just their “body count.”.
  4. Inexperience in Relationships: One may worry that someone with a sparse sexual history could be inexperienced in relationships (including having sex), which may result in potential challenges in the long-term. However, personal growth, emotional intelligence, and a willingness to learn (as the years progress) matter more than sexual history.
  5. Perceived Low Mate Value: Having very few sexual partners in the past may be interpreted as a low “mate value,” because if others rarely chose the person, then there must be something wrong – perhaps, something you’re missing or blinded to. But, alternatively, it could reflect high standards or a focus on other aspects of life.
  6. Values and Lifestyle Compatibility: A big difference in body count may also signify incompatible values, attitudes towards sex and relationships, and general lifestyles that may cause issues in the long run. However, open communication about needs, boundaries and shared future goals is crucial for genuine compatibility.
  7. Insecurity and Ego Issues: For some, a higher body count, especially among women, can trigger feelings of jealousy, ego-threats about measuring up to past experiences, and insecurity about commitment. But, these are issues to be worked on on a personal level.
  8. Concerns About Sexual Appetites: Similar to ego issues, some people may worry that someone who has a higher body count may be harder to satisfy sexually. Yet, more sex doesn’t make it harder to be satisfied in the future, besides, sexual compatibility depends more on communication and mutual understanding than past experience.
  9. Social Implications: Higher body counts, especially if they live within the same (small) city, raise the chances that they have slept with friends, family, or colleagues, which may lead to potential awkwardness and complications. But, honest pre-disclosure, respect, and trust can mitigate these situations.
  10. Biases and Judgments About Character: Many people still make sweeping generalisations and character judgments when it comes to higher numbers, especially towards women, such as thinking them “cheap”, “loose”, “cold”, “wild” or “emotionally unstable”. Recognising and challenging these biases is crucial for fairness.
  11. Concerns About Emotional Baggage: Some people may also worry that a partner with many past flings may carry more unresolved emotional baggage that could impact the current relationship. Yet, individuals can resolve past issues and bring valuable lessons to new relationships.
  12. Concerns About Negative Energies and Unclean Spirits: Many people believe that when you have sex with someone, there is a sort of spiritual exchange that also happens. Some even believe that unclean spirits and negative energies can accumulate as the body counts increase. These are mere beliefs, as there is no scientific evidence for such.

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Why Is Body Count Viewed Differently for Men and Women?

On the macro – cultural and societal – level, there is a clear double standard when it comes to sexual behaviours: when men have high body counts, it is seen as an achievement or at least overlooked. But women are often judged increasingly harshly as their body counts rise from zero. This attitude is promoted and reinforced by religions, laws/rules, songs, movies, books, etcetera.

It is no surprise. Patriarchy has always been the norm, with women often considered property by their Fathers, and later (after marriage) by Husbands. So, it makes sense that they are seen as things to be acquired and whose worth depends on usage. But, this mentality is harmful, outdated, and is gradually being phased out.

Interestingly, despite these pervasive societal narratives, research shows many individuals do not actually hold such harsh, double-standards when asked directly. Their personal beliefs tend to be more progressive. It further highlights that when choosing a long-term partner, having 3-4 partners is considered optimal, while having zero past partners (being a virgin) or having much higher numbers, say 9 and above, is seen as less desirable for both males and females.

Will a High “Body Count” Make My Partner Insecure?

[Harsh] judgments often reveal more about the person judging than the person being judged. Nevertheless, if a partner feels particularly insecure about this issue, it may be time to have a talk.

There are many factors that influence the importance attached to body counts. For instance, having many recent sexual experiences may be viewed more negatively for long-term potential compared to the same number of partners spread over many years ago. And, sex with people within the same social circle may also be more off-putting than, say, sex with people in a different geographical location and social circle.

Insecurities can stem from a lot of places, but it is always important to maintain open and honest communication so that everyone can make informed decisions about the relationships. Agreeing to disclose information that could impact your life now, without digging for unnecessary details can help.

It’s okay to prefer partners with fewer past partners, but this is no guarantee that they are objectively a “better” option. Choosing someone based on a lower body count to avoid feeling insecure does not necessarily address the root of those insecurities. It’s far better to focus on building trust, communication, and mutual respect in a relationship, rather than relying on avoidance. If insecurities are not addressed from their root, they rear their heads in other aspects and continue to add friction and pain to the relationship.

Should I Tell My Partner My “Body Count”?

In relationships, honesty and respect are key. Now, even though your body count is deeply personal information you can keep to yourself, and shouldn’t be pressured into disclosing, you should contemplate the reason why you’re keeping it private.

Perhaps you don’t feel your partner would understand, or you’re embarrassed about it. Your partner’s reasons for wanting to know may also matter – is it coming from insecurity, judgement, or a sincere desire to understand you better? Of course, there are countless reasons, and not all have a negative sentiment, but ultimately, you need to think hard about it.

Healthy relationships are built on open communication, trust, respect, and love. If you withhold information that could influence your partner’s decisions, it’s essentially like making those decisions for them. A truly compatible partner should be okay, or at least come to terms with the reality of who you are – to love your authentic self, past, present, and future – not a curated version.

Furthermore, the people you’ve slept with and when may also inform their decision. If you’ve been intimate with anyone in your partner’s close circle, it might be best to disclose, as it directly impacts their life. Also, if most encounters were when you were much younger with different values and interests, that context could be critical.

A high number isn’t inherently wrong. But if it remains a problem for your partner despite clarification, it may indicate more serious issues needing to be addressed – like conditional love, your inability to be honest, or other incompatibilities.

While keeping the details private could be okay in a casual dating scenario, for someone you’re committing to long-term, such information might be significant. It may require reassuring your partner. However, this doesn’t mean divulging unnecessary details of each encounter.

Of course, you still have autonomy over what you share. But understand that feeling uncomfortable doesn’t always mean something is bad or toxic. Sometimes, the vulnerability to have these conversations cements trust and accountability.

Get Over The Sexual History: Their Past Experiences Have Also Shaped Them To Be The Person You Admire Now.

So many, many years ago when I was very religious, I was particularly concerned and sometimes vexed with how many sexual partners someone had or if they had any outside of the person they married (and if the sex was strictly within the marriage). As such, I would be offended when I heard even a preacher confess that they had many sexscapades before “repenting.” I was a virgin then, and would feel utter disgust when I saw fellow Christians so much as have a girlfriend. Yes, I was that hardcore, zealous and judgmental.

Back then, you can clearly understand why the number of people someone has had sex with in the past would be a huge deal (if not the only deal) if we were to date.

However, as time went by and I grew out of my religious mentality, I came to the realisation that we are all animals driven by biological imperatives like eating and mating – it is how we survive as a species. All other things are just an elaborate attempt to sophisticate this basal nature.

With that acceptance of our natural desires and drives as human beings, I stopped being so harsh in my judgments and my standards became more realistic. I understood that not only do we enjoy sex, it is something we feel almost compelled to indulge in. We are so inclined to have sex that mere images on a flat screen can arouse us.

I turned 26 last year, and have had sex a couple of times over the years. And even though my body count is currently below 3, it has not been because I was a saint or have high self-control, but because of my circumstances and interests. If I were richer and had access to the sort of girls I preferred when I was much younger, I would have probably had a higher body count. Though now, my interest is more towards ladies whose values and vision align with mine and who are interested in a longer-term commitment.

That last point is very important. And it is important to always ask yourself if at that moment, you love them as whole, complex individuals who are headed in the same direction as you, or if you’re still stuck in the past – wishing to control their actions or change what can’t be. The truth is, their past experiences have also shaped them to be the person you admire in the present.

Body counts are just like footprints – they tell tales of the past but are not very great indicators for the future. Sex may suggest a person’s values and interests at the time, but values, interests and perspectives can radically shift across different life stages, just as I’ve personally journeyed from rigidity to a more nuanced understanding over time.

Remaining open-minded and unconditionally loving while upholding one’s personal boundaries is the balance to strike when considering a long-term partner. Prioritise aligning with someone who shares your core values, life visions, and commitment levels in the present, rather than dwelling on their past sexual experiences.


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Dick David is a freelance SEO content writer and editor with over 7 years of experience in content writing, digital marketing, and sales. He is the founder of Pawns Digital Agency. Throughout his career, he has authored over 4 books, published hundreds of SEO articles attracting thousands of monthly visitors, ghostwritten numerous works, and edited hundreds of content pieces across various industries. Currently, he works with Robert Taylor Media and has also worked with Tobi Digitals and Branditechture Design Agency, among others.

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