You have one. I have one. Your boyfriend has one, your sister has one, and even your Mom has one (though I’m sure she pretends it’s a very, very short one.)
You know what I’m getting at here: the list of how many people you’ve slept with. And unless you’re one of the handful of people I know whose lists consist of two or less (just like mine, right?) you will one day need to get it out of your head and onto a notepad. Or excel document, like my friend suggested last night so he could cross reference age and race and number of instances and – again, this is HIS list, not mine – add ratings so he can do further analysis. Is it any wonder my friends are geeks?
People’s opinions on the list vary; some choose to disclose when in relationships while others prefer to stay tight-lipped on the subject. Because, though societal norms dictate otherwise, it really doesn’t matter even though most people think it does. I won’t go down that whole double-standard road but suffice it to say that factors like long-term relationships and how long you’ve been sexually active and morality and age and Methodist mothers who somehow successfully incite Catholic guilt all play a factor in your list and its length.
Now before I continue, note that there’s nothing overly extraordinary about my list; if a "normal" list was ever created, it’s probably mine. Not freakishly high, not freakishly low, somewhere in the (again, sorry to use this) societally-deemed acceptable range for my age, etc. And that’s all I’ll say there. (The end, Love Aubrey.) But in talking with friends about our lists and the creation therein, I’ve come to a lot of conclusions about both the process and the variations of said lists which I will share with you now.
First, there are always, ALWAYS, multiple versions of the list: the socially acceptable one, the one
you are comfortable with sharing, and the REAL list, the latter being the one
you’re most averse to create. For some reason, there is always the person (or people, in some of your cases) that you don’t count. Now, it’s pretty clear to me that if the penis was inserted into the vagina (in this case, we’re discussing vaginal sex only; sorry, anal/oral lovers, this is MY post and not yours) then it would be deemed as ‘sex’ and thus would need to be added to the list. Get out your nail files, ladies, it’s time to add another notch on that ol’ bedpost. However, for some reason that isn’t the case. Whether you’re embarrassed to admit that you had sex with that person because they were fat/ugly/in a relationship with someone else/your friend’s brother/related to you, or you weren’t sure if you actually had sex (and you adhere to the "if you don’t remember it, it didn’t happen" rule), you still had sex. Sorry, that’s just how it is. Yet these people are only found on the last list – the REAL list – and just by willing it so you can often times remove them from your mental list. Denial…not just a river, you know.
Then there’s the second list: the one you’ll disclose under duress. Many times this is said as an estimate ("it can be counted on two hands") but be forewarned: if you hear an ‘estimate’ know that the moniker is just another way to say "I’ve slept with a lot more people than this." Because really, you can count to fifty on two hands, you know, you just have to keep counting. Depending upon the questioner or recipient of said information, this list can be more or less accurate, save for those people you choose to not count and rounding up or down depending on your gender. (Girls, down. Guys, up. Obviously.) If the person you’re having the conversation discloses their (comfortable) list with you and yours is somewhat similar or, as a girl, quite less, you’re more likely to disclose the real (fake) number. However, if (as a girl) yours is more and you’ve already agreed to have this conversation, the only recourse (at least, the only recourse *I’ve* ever heard about) is to lie. Helpful tip: low, prime numbers are good. Multiples of five sound fake.
The last list is the "pie in the sky" list, the one that comes out when you’re drunk and you wonder "how in God’s name did I decide to pick the number eight?" This is a completely arbitrary list, and no validity should be given to it whatsoever. This list changes depending on the number of beers you drank, who you’re hanging out with, and what your mind (on that given moment) decides is an inoffensive number. I’d guess that 90% of the time this list is ten or less. The point of the list isn’t to convey anything, it’s more used as a litmus test to see what other people will believe which will later influence list number two. If the level of incredulity dissipates between four and seven, well, I’m guessing you may stop at "six" for your comfortable number, at least for the time being.
The most important point to reiterate here: EVERYONE has a fake list, not just girls. It may be off by one, or you really might be confused about that New Years Eve in NYC a few years back, but both guys and girls have at least one REAL list and one FAKE one. No arguments; this is my website and I am omniscient in its domain.
Sometimes the actual list creation can be tricky once you’ve decided to suck it up and finally make your REAL list. This can involve statements like "Oh shit. Pete. TOTALLY forgot about him" and may lead you to do things including (but not limited to): review your Christmas Card list for any former suitors who have somehow slipped your mind, IM your friend requesting the name of her boyfriend’s random friend who was in from out of town, and realize that you have a predilection for men with the name "Rob" with various number of "B’s" in their names. Totally fictionalized actions, of course…I am the queen of creative license.
Once the "REAL" list has been created, however, it may cause you concern. Don’t worry – there’s NOTHING wrong with only having slept with three people. They were hot! They were (relatively) good in bed! They adored you! Likewise, if your list spans an entire page in a legal pad, you might just be a single guy (or gal) who likes sex. A lot. And hey, as long as you’re cool with it (and safe) go forth and consummate.
Because, really, that’s what it all comes down to: being comfortable with yourself, with your sexuality, with what feels like a good decision in the moment or in the long term. Whether you’re saving yourself for marriage or you’ve made your way through your entire (new) friend circle, know that the whole stigma associated with the list and its inherent suggestion of promiscuity is based on societal norms, whatever those are, since – as evidenced above – everyone lies, and there are many, many versions of each story.
And just remember: PRIME NUMBERS.