How do you measure the life of a woman or a man: in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in…the number of sexual partners? We are told age is just a number, size doesn’t matter, but for some reason, the number of sexual partners a person has is seemingly not just a number and does matter.

I learned the term “body count” in high school from the very official and valuable Urban Dictionary. Body count refers to the number of people you’ve had sex with. This magic number can be interpreted in a positive or negative way. For some, this number is an accomplishment, but for others, it can be insecurity. One of my friends has said, “I don’t want to have sex with him because I do not want to increase my body count.” There are a lot of reasons not to have sex with someone, such as not feeling comfortable. But, if you have a desire to engage in sex with a new partner, should this number get in the way?  

When my friend said this, she was concerned with how she would feel about herself. It is also possible for us to feel vulnerable to the opinions of others regarding our sexual activity. Some girls may be worried that people will label them as a slut for having too many partners. On the other hand, if a girl has zero or few partners, they could be worried to be labeled as a prude.  

The same goes for boys. Boys can be praised for having a high body count, but can also be perceived as players who do not treat girls well. So what meaning can we draw from this number? Can we define someone based on this number? How does your number compare to the people around you?

If you’re looking to uncover meaning from this number, you can stop deciphering the code right now. It is impossible to define someone based on the number of sexual partners they have. There is no sex scale that says if you have over six partners, you are officially in the slut zone. This number is a very personal thing and there are many factors that determine how this number differs amongst people. 

Comparing someone in a long term relationship who has one partner with someone who has five different partners does not reveal anything about their sexual experience. Someone can have five partners, but only five actual sexual encounters. Someone else can be in a monogamous relationship for three years, have one sexual partner only, but have five times the amount of sex as that other person. So if you’re trying to compare someone’s experience, this number is a faulty indication.  

Another factor that affects this number is the age at which someone loses their virginity. If you start having sex at a younger age, it is likely that you may have a higher number of partners than someone who started having sex two years later. That doesn’t make you more promiscuous; it just means you had more time to meet new people in new places, and have new sexual partners!

Lastly, having a relatively high body count doesn’t mean that those experiences weren’t meaningful or that you’ve slept around more. Someone can have two partners, but they were both one-night stands, and someone else can have six partners that they were intimately involved with or knew well.

Your number is personal to you and is not an illuminating indication about who you are. Your body count shouldn’t matter to you or anyone else. As long as you’re having consensual and safe sex, then don’t get caught up in the number. You are in control of your own body, so do what you desire. You can have meaningful or casual sex. You can engage in a monogamous relationship or have multiple partners. Whatever feels right and works at your phase of life is a valid decision.

Don’t judge others for their number, and definitely don’t judge yourself. Let’s save the counting and comparing of numbers for the math classes we’re attempting to pass and the budgets we’re struggling to manage.  

COVER PHOTO: Dalya Meyer