I have a terrible competitive streak. One time, I slammed my friend’s head against the floor during a drunkenly heated game of Egyptian Ratscrew. That’s the worst it’s ever gotten. I swear. For the most part, I’m just you’re standard hates-to-lose kind of girl. Sans the physical violence. I just enjoy the rush of competition, and above all, winning. I’d like to think that I have a good handle of my competitiveness. But like most traits, it’s an all-inclusive package that affects more things in life than you’d care to admit.
During my first relationship, my boyfriend’s sex number was higher than mine. We openly discussed it—purely as a topic of conversation. I knew that it was nothing to worry about and that his previous conquests should have nothing to do with me. But, my competitiveness quietly went into overdrive as it flooded my subconscious with questions.
Should my number be higher? Were those other girls better than me? Does his number make him the winner in this relationship?
As a sex novice, I had an overwhelming amount of questions with little to no answers for any of them. It was unnerving. And competitiveness mixed in with insecurity can evolve into a very interesting force. The results are hardly ever flattering.
Even when my first relationship ended, the questions regarding my practically nonexistent number still nagged away at me. I began to wonder just how below average I was. So I asked around. When I brought up the topic with my girlfriends, it seemed like most of them were ahead by a few points—just enough to make me feel inadequate.
That information wasn’t enough for me. I had to know how the other team was doing. So I would ask the guys I dated. After a few drinks around the second or third date, I would always find a way into the topic and gather their stats. Across the board, their numbers were much higher than I expected. Answers ranged from 10 to 150. Either way, all of them beat me.
I was starting to feel like sex was a high school competition. And I was that nerdy kid with sport goggles, knee socks, and bad asthma who was desperately trying to catch up to everyone else. At least that’s what the numbers made it seem like. I was a sexual loser. And like most losses, it never sat well with me.
The more I thought about it, the more I felt my competitiveness kicking in. I knew I could play the game just as well as anyone else. I could hook up with someone if and when I felt like it. I could brag about my sexual conquests like they were no big deal. I didn’t have to let feelings or emotions get in the way of sex like some other losers. So I put my new game plan to the test. And sure enough, my number went up. I took note of the results and felt myself catching up to everyone else. For a moment, I’d think about my stats and smile. I was no longer the young, naive, and inexperienced girl. I was a sexually empowered woman. And I didn’t have to feel ashamed whenever the topic of experience was brought up.
Except I did. Somewhere between getting my number higher and hooking up with another what’s-his-face, I stopped bringing up the topic of sexual statistics. I didn’t want to talk about it. And if it ever came up in a conversation, I’d shy away from my answer. Because even though I had what I once deemed as a winner’s number, I had absolutely nothing to show for it.
There was no medal or prize for my achievements. There was no “congratulations” from my friends or the men I actually took an interest in. And there was certainly no relationship. It turns out that I was competing in a game that I had made up all on my own, and as far as I was concerned, I didn’t want to play anymore.
So I called off the competition. I stopped treating sex like a game. If I slept with someone, I would do it because I genuinely wanted to be intimate with them. I wouldn’t do it for the sake of a number. And certainly not for bragging rights. My number is my business. It’s not like it’s anything for me to regret or be ashamed of. It’s just something that’s personal. And it’s definitely not meant to be a casual discussion topic on a second or third date.
Having a high number doesn’t make you experienced or sexually empowered. Experience comes from the quality of your intimacy. Through that, you’ll know what you like and don’t like. And, if you get good at it, you’ll know what other people like and don’t like.
To the same point, you don’t achieve sexual empowerment through the amount of people you sleep with. You become sexually empowered when you develop the ability to say “yes” or “no” to sex as you please because you’re fully aware of your self-worth. Sure, your number of sexual partners can play a hand in these things. But as the saying goes, quality over quantity.