Un-Magic Number

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Remember that song from Aaliyah? “Age ain’t nothing but a number”? The opening lyrics to that classic are as follows:

Age ain’t nothing but a number
Throwing down ain’t nothing but a thang
This lovin’ I have for you
It’ll never change

Being honest is a good thing. In fact, being honest is a “must have” when it comes to any relationship. Having said that, I think another “must have” is discretion.

We all know the saying about how curiosity killed the cat. I’m proposing that curiosity can also kill what would’ve been a beautiful relationship. I know the lyrics reference age as the number in question, but it’s not. What is it exactly I’m talking about? Simple.

I’m talking about the number of people you’ve slept with.

There’s no situation I can think of that would ever make it okay to ask your partner. Don’t get me wrong. I think questions like “do you have any STDs,” “are you married,” “do you have any kids,” and “do you like watching CSI NY too” are perfectly legit questions.

Asking someone to tell you the number of partners they’ve had is like opening up the mother of all cans of proverbial worms combined with what Genie looked like when he was all warped after going to the Dark Side in Disney’s “Aladdin.”

It’s not pretty because once you know something, you can’t UN-know it.

Why do people want to know anyway? What exactly is in it for them? What happens if the number actually has a comma in there somewhere? Do you really feel good about the situation or your partner? What if you’re the one with the lurking comma in YOUR number? How is this ever supposed to be a win-win situation?

I know some of you are probably thinking, “I’m strong enough and secure enough with myself to know the truth! Lay it on me!” I don’t doubt that you are, but I’ll share my story with you, so hopefully you know what I mean.

My ex-boyfriend was obsessed with knowing my number. When I tried to tell him that I’m no blushing virgin, but I also don’t have a neon flashing sign above my head that reads “Open 24/7,” he didn’t take it too well. So I tried another tactic. I told him I have more than enough fingers and toes on my body to count them all with. I was hoping that would be good enough.

It wasn’t. After a few weeks of being pestered with this question (he was very persistent and I was getting rather annoyed), I finally caved in. I know. “What the hell was I thinking,” right? It was a mistake on my part to innocently believe giving him the number would squash the issue and we could move on with our relationship. It didn’t. All it did was make the situation go from Annoyingly Bad to Post-Apocalypse.

Needless to say, we broke up. We managed to stick it out for a year after that day, but it was never the same. I never knew when he would bring it up again and we’d start talking about it once more. Walking on eggshells around the person you’re in a relationship with is a crappy feeling.

While the number of people I’ve been with wasn’t a huge factor for why we ended things, it did play a significant role. He couldn’t get over it, and I didn’t like the way he made me feel when he would continue to bring it up. I didn’t like how the knowledge I gave him about me was used as a weapon. I’m also not proud of the fact I would lash out using that same tactic when I felt like I was backed into a corner and under attack.

Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.

So the lesson I learned from this is simple. When I’m with someone, I’m with them. Granted, to some degree if you really want to get technical, I’m with all the people he’s been with before, but if he’s a great man and an excellent lover, I should be thanking them for turning him into the person he is.

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  • I agree that the “un-magic number” is a potential can of worms, but my completely subjective assessment is that your relationship had other problems. I don’t believe that a simple revelation of the number, in itself, can be enough to destroy a relationship. It sounds like your ex had jealousy or trust issues going on there, and your “number” became an easy scapegoat to pin these issues on.

    For the record (and sorry if this sounds like bragging), both my girlfriend and I know each other’s numbers. In fact, we’ve had discussions about some of our previous experiences and how they’ve shaped who we are today. Even though there were some awkward moments at times, I think we understand each other so much better because of our openness and communication.

    Point being, I agree it’s a touchy subject, but by no means do I believe it must be completely taboo. 🙂

  • “When I’m with someone, I’m with them.” Exactly!

    My last boyfriend brought ALL of my ex’s into our relationship. I just wanted to forget about the past but he couldn’t stop grilling me about how I felt about the last guy I’d dated. I guess it didn’t matter to him that HE started having sex in 1968 when I was age four!! It certainly didn’t matter to me.

    I was in college in the 1980s, before AIDS. Regarding “the magic number”, anyone who predates AIDS should be given a “home free” card! (Besides, I can’t even remember how many its been, haha!)

  • Dennis – He wasn’t ever jealous. The trust issues…well…that was probably already there before I came on the scene. Regardless of what it was, my number definitely was an easy target. Dude, you’re totally bragging! But I’m happy you and your lady are able to handle it. 🙂

    Sherri – WOW!!! I totally don’t even know what to say to that one, girlfriend. But * high five * on the whole “When I’m with someone, I’m with them”. w00t!!

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  • I thought the magic number was “3”- which is the only correct response to this question.

    I hate you find out a guy has a “high” number but then you discover he *still* doesn’t know what he’s doing! haha.

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