Here's a post that's sure to raise some ire.
Ricardus and I were discussing men's tendency to want to sleep with sexually open women, but to date or settle down with or marry sexually conservative women - and how difficult it is actually figuring out how many partners women have actually had because of this. You see, women are acutely aware of this male bias against sexually experienced women when it comes to getting into serious relationships - and they do everything in their power to avoid getting pinned as such a woman.
"Everything in their power" here including, sometimes (okay, oftentimes), stretching the truth, leaving things out about their forgotten pasts, and, well, lying.
Of course, women don't think of it as lying. It's more like, "Well, I slept with that guy on vacation, so he doesn't count," or, "That guy was totally gross, I should never have hooked up with him... as far as I'm concerned, that didn't really happened."
It's a form of selective memory used by a woman to preserve her idea about herself as fitting perfectly into society's recommended mold: that of the "good girl" who doesn't give it up too often to men. Women who do part with their bodies too easily, society tells women, aren't valued as highly, so it's a big no-no.
But, well, women are people, and people like and want sex, and sometimes it... just happens. Of course, a woman doesn't want other people to know it just happened... at least, not as much as it actually has just happened... because that impacts her perceived social and reproductive value.
So, she stretches the truth, leaves things out, and, where necessary, tells a lie or two.
Any women reading this site may not especially like this article, but if you're a man who's seriously considering a relationship with a girl, and you want to know what you're actually getting instead of what you're being told you're getting... how do you tell who's whom?
Sex Partners: A Cover-Up
It can be very difficult to tell what's true and what isn't when it comes to how many partners a woman's had. She can tell you straight-faced and completely believably that she's only ever been with two men, or five men, or six men, when it's actually been a great deal more.
You're a lot more likely to get something closer to the truth out of her if she doesn't see you as long-term material (see "Telling Women You're NOT Boyfriend Material"), but even then, women are naturally good at guarding against the unlikely becoming likely - even if she thinks you probably aren't a guy she'll ever take home to mom and dad, she's likely to still fudge the numbers a bit when she tells them to, purely out of force of habit... and out of a desire to make sure that there's no chance her real numbers could some how get out and make their way back to her circle.
But wait, before I continue, let me address one thing:
Why should you care?
This is often a really heated topic everywhere I see it discussed: you'll find some people (usually mostly men) insisting that it really is important to know how many men a woman's been with, and others (often a mix of men and women here) protesting that it doesn't matter or shouldn't matter. People get heated and call each other nasty names and the debates get ugly.
Here's why I think this is something worth knowing for guys who want a serious relationship (emphasis on serious there) - it's the findings of a study by Lynn F. Cherkas of King's College, London, et al., entitled "Genetic Influences on Female Infidelity and Number of Sexual Partners in Humans: A Linkage and Association Study of the Role of the Vasopressin Receptor Gene (AVPR1A)."
“Our findings demonstrate that infidelity and number of sexual partners are both under moderate genetic influence (41% and 38% heritable, respectively) and the genetic correlation between these two traits is strong (47%).”
There was another study I heard of that tied a woman's likelihood of infidelity to her number of partners, rising with each successive partner until she hit eight lifetime partners, at which point her likelihood of infidelity had reached as high as it was going to reach. I can't find this study though, so I don't know if it's legitimate or not, and the more I think about it the more I think that it only seems logical to assume a woman who's been with 30 men is probably a lot more likely to stray than a woman who's been with eight. Until there's some solid research the jury's out on this one, though.
UPDATE: a 2007 study of American women, " Sexual infidelity in a national survey of American women: Differences in prevalence and correlates as a function of method of assessment.," discovered a 7% increase in infidelity risk per each additional partner (also, a 10% decrease in infidelity risk per each additional year of education) for women. This means roughly twice the chance of infidelity for a woman with 10 lifetime sexual partners than for a woman with one, three times the chance for a woman with 16 partners, and four times the chance for a woman with 20 partners. Thus (to our female commenters below), the importance of an article like this for men at all interested in monogamy.
Anyway, what's all this mean for a woman's male partner?
Well, this means that, at least according to the research we already have, the higher a woman's partner count is, the more likely she is to stray from her man... and thus, the more likely he is to get stuck with a lifetime of rearing another man's child under the false impression it's his (you may be surprised to know that 1 out of 10 children born in marriage in the United States are not fathered by the husband in that marriage), or carrying a permanent infection from one of his lover's new partners when he thought he was the only one and that she was safe (one of the dangers of sex, unfortunately).
That's a little doom and gloom for you, which normally I don't like touching on on this site, but it's there for a reason: I want to highlight why knowing a woman's partner count is valuable, because a lot of people get upset that you're even talking about this and tell you to stop.
They tell you it doesn't matter.
They tell you that you don't need to know.
They tell you to put it out of your mind and forget about it.
But any time people tell you something like this, they usually have an agenda.
My recommendation: any time anyone asks you to censor yourself or, worse, censor your thoughts, stop and ask yourself why they'd want you to do that.
I also want to give another warning though, while we're on the topic of warnings: do make sure you see things from the woman's perspective too. Especially on the Internet, people easily fall into the habit of demonizing one another, and lying's one of those things that's easily to demonize. Yes, women lie about their partner counts; and it's extremely, extraordinarily common. You could almost say it's universal, even among otherwise saintly and innocent girls.
Women aren't lying to you because they're tricky and manipulative. They're lying to you because they're scared: scared you won't think they're worthy of you. Scared you'll judge them as low value. Scared of social rejection.
This is preprogrammed protective behavior; women can't control it. It's like asking a guy how many girls he's slept with; it's almost automatic that he's going to exaggerate up because he's scared of being judged weak and undesirable. Well, women just automatically exaggerate down, because they're scared of being judged loose and undesirable.
But, as it were, how many partners a woman's had doesn't just impact how likely she is to stray. It turns out, at least from everything I've seen, that it in fact impacts a lot of other things in your relationship, too.
Teasing Out How Many Partners She's Had
So let's say you want to find out the truth: how many partners has your girlfriend had?
That's easier said than done.
Over the years, I've had a lot of experiences with a lot of different kinds of women, and I've had girls I've been with open up and admit to me that they lied about how many men they'd actually been with, and I've watched female friends of mine and observed their normal mating behavior over time. I eventually identified four personality archetypes when it comes to attitudes about men, sex, dating, and love, that almost every woman fits into. They are:
- Trusting / Naïve
- Curious / Inquisitive
- Angry / Cynical
- Confident / Self-Assured
And they progress in that order.
This is actually a more typically human pattern of adapting to something new than anything else; you'll see both men and women display similar personality archetypes about all kinds of things.
A new sales guy starts off naïve that sales is going to be a cake walk. As he gains experience, he becomes more curious about what makes sales work, and realizes there's a lot more to it than he initially thought. With time, he becomes cynical that sales isn't as easy as he thought and he doesn't get the results he thinks he ought to get; it's too confusing, there's too much going on, and it's not fair that it doesn't ever seem to go his way. Finally, he comes to accept that people are the way they are, selling is the way it is, and he learns what works, what doesn't, and how people think, and he works within that system to get what he wants.
And so it is with women and dating: and from what I've seen, much of the time these dispositions towards men, dating, and sex can be tied almost directly to a girl's number of partners, + or - two partners or so.
Guys go through this same thing with learning how to pick up a girl. Most of them either find a higher quality girl than they were able to get before and settle down in the first or second stage (these are the guys you'll hear announcing that they've found The One, and then you never hear from them again), or they take a stroll down washout lane in the third one (these are the guys you see cynically complaining that pick up doesn't work and it's all looks or money or status that women go for). Few men make it to the final stage, where they've accepted what they can and cannot do and know how to get the best results for themselves consistently.
But back to partner counts.
Here's the infographic I put together depicting how many partners a girl's had based on her attitude toward sex and love:
Let's go into some detail on each.
0 to 2 Partners: Trusting / Naïve
These girls are sweet, though I typically find them a bit too nice and trusting for my own tastes. I'm constantly afraid I'm going to hurt them.
They're basically playing love on "Beginner": everything's new and wonderful, and the emotions they feel at this stage are more powerful than they will at any other stage of their romantic careers, because everything feels so outside their control and left up to fate.
As a rule of thumb, the less control a person has over something, the more powerful around it his emotions will be (both the good and bad emotions); the more control over it he has, the less potent will be his emotions.
How do you recognize a trusting / naïve girl? She'll have the following characteristics:
- Very strong emotional attachment to you
- Falls head-over-heels in love with you extremely quickly
- Never takes charge in a relationship; lets you be in charge
- Never doubts you or suspects you of anything
- Believes everything you tell her
- Often seems shy or reserved
- Conservative - doesn't like trying new things
- Feels like sex is both naughty and exhilarating
- Has a lot of sexual inhibitions
- Sex equals love; the two are inseparable
The trusting / naïve girl's odds of cheating in a relationship are somewhere pretty close to zero. She's totally devoted to her man, he's the greatest thing in the world to her, and there's also a good element of guilt and fear mixed in: if she loses him, what if she never finds anyone like him ever again? And if she cheats on him, wouldn't it hurt him so much?
If you're going to date one of these girls, I strongly, strongly recommend only doing it if you're going to be very responsible with her emotions. Remember that her relationship with you is going to be one of the most formative events of her life, and at this point in her relationship career you're going to have a big impact on how her future relationships go.
I've mishandled things with girls like this a few times myself, and they count as among the few regrets I have in life. Don't hurt a girl - steer clear of trusting / naïve girls if you can't treat them very tenderly and manage their expectations expertly, and if you don't want something close to what they do, or what they think they do, anyway (serious, committed, everlasting love).
3 to 7 Partners: Curious / Inquisitive
Curious / inquisitive girls are probably my favorites. They're often likely to be shy excited girls, who are starting to break out of their shells but not totally broken out yet. Perhaps part of the reason I personally like these girls so much is because it gives me the opportunity to be their "guide," and that can be a lot of fun - you can easily be one of the most positive and influential figures in a woman's life if you reach her in this phase and guide her to more understanding of herself, her body, and romance in general.
These girls are more open than trusting / naïve girls are, but they lack the negative energy of the angry / cynical girls, and don't have the often capricious nature of the confident / self-assured girls. They come equipped with the following traits:
- Fairly strong emotional attachment to you
- May or may not fall in love with you quickly
- Attempts to take charge but relinquishes control easily
- May suspect you of things, but her concerns are easily assuaged
- Believes things you tell her at first, though questions them later
- Alternates between shy and excited
- Can seem conservative, but is testing the waters outside
- Sex is less naughty and less exhilarating, but still good
- Has fewer sexual inhibitions and is more curious
- Sex and love have an ambiguous relationship
The curious / inquisitive girl's odds of straying from her partner are significantly higher than the odds of the trusting / naïve girl's. She's also a lot more likely to have fast sex and casual sex, though she's still pretty reserved about these and doesn't actually want them (though she may well be very curious about them).
She will, however, sometimes put herself in situations where she can be quickly seduced, simply because she's curious to see what will happen. This can happen even if she's in a relationship, sometimes leading to "something happening" that she didn't intend to happen, and a lot of guilt because of it. Curious / inquisitive girls are the ones most likely to tearfully tell you about it if they cheat, seeking your forgiveness (trusting / naïve girls would probably be even more likely to do this if they ever strayed from their partners, but they pretty much don't do that... ever). They'll also worriedly tell you about a date they went on or a guy they kissed but didn't mean to much of the time if these things happen, because the guilt is eating them up inside and they can't contain it.
These girls are far more resilient than trusting / naïve girls, but you still need to handle them with care. They'll still tend to put a lot of trust in you, and it's easy to damage that trust - and them, and their future relationships - if you don't handle that well.
8 to 19 Partners: Angry / Cynical Girls
These girls are my favorites for quick pick ups, simply because of the challenge of getting hit with attitude throughout the entire pick up (it makes for a much more rewarding conquest when you finally get them), but I'd never enter into a relationship with one of them (and never have), simply because their views of men, sex, love, dating, and relationships are so warped by dashed dreams and bad experiences that their relationship baggage will eat you alive.
Here's the skinny on these gals:
- Very cautious and often love/hate emotional attachment to you
- May fall in love quickly, but will fight it the whole way
- Uses lots of drama and complaining to browbeat her partner
- Suspects you of things, and nothing can tell her otherwise
- Doesn't believe a thing you tell her
- Is angry, frustrated, cynical, or grouchy much of the time
- Sometimes tries to control herself, other times lets go with reckless abandon
- Sex is hedonistic and she has a love/hate relationship with this, too
- Has a few sexual inhibitions and some sexual preferences
- She resents that sex and love are not the same thing
Angry / cynical girls are basically girls who've "broken out of the Matrix" when it comes to the romantic fairy tale that everyone's fed since infancy about finding the Love of Your Life and everything being perfect and rainbows and gumdrops and butterflies and all that good stuff. They're realizing the real world is different from that... but they sure don't like it that way.
They haven't come to acceptance yet. They usually blame men for not giving them what they want, and for not appreciating the things they do for them. If an angry / cynical girl sleeps with a guy quickly and he doesn't want a relationship with her, she'll hate him for not seeing how amazing she is after she got intimate with him; if an angry / cynical girl dates a guy but can't get him to commit, she'll hate him for wasting her time or failing to deliver on what she perceived as his promise by dating her (whether such a promise was given or not).
Angry / cynical girls are more likely to stray from their partners than the two earlier, less experienced women, and while they'll feel guilt as well, they'll typically manifest it as blame instead of guilt. Rather than thinking, "I did something horrible to my man by cheating on him," they'll think, "It's my MAN's fault that I was driven to cheat! I'm INNOCENT! HE was failing to meet my needs."
And when you go on the Internet, it's the angry / cynical girls who are the ones that are the most vocal opponents of men asking women how many partners they've had. They've got something they want to cover up, and they don't want people digging (contrast this to the two earlier women, who'll feel either A) it's okay to tell the truth because they've had virtually no partners, or B) embarrassed that they've had a few "too many" partners, or contrast this with the last type of woman, who's comfortable with her sexuality and doesn't blame anyone else for the life she's chosen to live).
I highly recommend staying away from having relationships with women in this phase unless you want to spend most of your time dealing with another person's (your girlfriend's) relationship baggage and then getting blamed for it. Trust me... let these girls work out their issues with men, sex, and dating before you hop into a relationship with them. You'll be happier with any of the other three kinds of girls than you will be dating a girl like this. She feels bad about herself and the world, and she'll make you feel bad, too.
20+ Partners: Confident / Self-Assured
Have you ever gotten so good at something - an instrument, a video game, a sport, an art, or heck, even picking up girls - that most of the emotion went out of it and you just saw the Matrix for what it was? In other words... you saw everything you had to do, and were able to execute properly without worrying about the outcome? You knew that sometimes things went your way, and sometimes they didn't, and it was no big deal either way, because you knew how to get what you wanted to get in the end?
That's confident / self-assured girls. They are the connoisseurs of men among the female sex. They've paid their dues with men, and now they're ready to embrace men and dating and intimacy and relationships the way they really are, without putting any undue emotions upon them.
These girls can be a blast... if you can handle them. What's that mean? Well, here're their characteristics:
- No strong emotional attachment to you
- May get infatuated, but falling in love is rare and doesn't last
- Will constantly be in charge of the relationship unless you're an über dominant man
- Doesn't spend much time worrying about what you're doing
- Has a good instinct for if what you're saying is true or not
- Usually seems confident and open
- Liberal - loves adventure and trying new things
- Sex is hedonistic and she loves it for what it is
- Has virtually zero sexual inhibitions and strong sexual preferences
- Sex and love are totally separate and one doesn't need the other
Confident / self-assured girls are the most likely to stray from their partner because, to them, it's not really a big deal. After all... it's just sex! That's the mentality, anyway. Gone are the days when they thought sex was this super-important affair that had to be sacredly guarded. Now it's something done recreationally for enjoyment and new experiences and to let off steam.
They're also a handful in a relationship: they know exactly what they want, and they know exactly what buttons to push with a man to get it. And they're very willing to walk away and won't think twice about it; they might tell a guy they miss him once they're broken up, but there's a good chance they're telling three or four other guys the same thing at the same time.
I say that confident / self-assured women are a blast if you can handle them for these reasons; they're very positive people, very clear about what they want out of life, and they won't burden you with the neediness or the drama of the three earlier stages of women. But, you've got to accept that they're wild women; they didn't get to 20+ partners by accident. Even if they don't go out much, if you're with them long enough they're probably going to stray at some point, and you can't take it personal. And if you're not a master at relationship control, you're going to relinquish power to them at some point and they'll tire of you quickly.
There's no shortcut and no pretending to be at her level, relationship-wise; you've either got to be there, or you're going to have a fascinating-but-brief relationship with a woman like this, unless, that is, you do exceptionally well at not causing drama and at being her boy toy.
Closing Thoughts on Partner Counts
So what's the best kind of girl to date? How many partners should she have, and what attitude toward sex and relationships and men should she have?
That's going to depend on you.
If you want sweet and innocent, trusting / naïve girls are your hole-in-one bet here. But be prepared for long nights of staring into each other's eyes, and large amounts of emotional dependency. You won't be challenged much, which means your relationship will be both easy to manage and not very stimulating.
If you want peppy and you like the "teacher" role, curious / inquisitive girls can be a lot of fun. On the downside, they can still come off a little too trusting if you're more experienced than they are, and a little too conservative. Though, I find it rather charming, normally :)
If you want... well, actually, I can't think of anything you might want from the angry / cynical girls, unless you have masochistic tendencies. However, I do know a few guys who seem to be - well, not happiest, per se - but perhaps most addicted to the kinds of semi-abusive relationships they end up in with women like this. These are the women most likely to engage in hardcore "taming" of their man and who will hate him if he breaks and hate him if he doesn't. There's really no way to win here. Fun for challenging and rewarding hook ups, but not so fun if you find yourself dating them.
If you want crazy sex and as close to a drama-free relationship as you're going to get, confident / self-assured girls are probably the way you want to go. That said, you'd better be pretty confident and self-assured yourself, and you won't last long if you're the type who stays up late at night worrying whether his girl is splitting time with him and another fellow or not.
There's really no "perfect" woman out there, just like there's no perfect man out there for those women to date (no, not even you... though you can always get closer to perfection!).
There's just perfect enough.
Unless you're dating an angry / cynical girl, that is. In which case, all I can say is Godspeed, my friend. Godspeed.
Oh, and before you let me know how wrong I am in the comments - that, for instance, you're an extremely confident girl and you've only ever been with three men - stop and think for a minute if you match not the overall definition for confidence, but the one I defined above for confidence about men, dating, sex, and relationships.
I'm not saying that inexperienced women can't be confident. But I am saying they think and behave differently, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in not-so-subtle ways, than gals with a higher kill count do.
To your adventures,