Why should it matter how many people you’ve slept with?

The body count stereotype: when you first start talking to someone and they drop the number of people they’ve slept with. It has the potential to scare you away. But why is it so alarming to hear that someone has had sex with 20 or 30 people? Worse than alarm – that when a man says it he is praised, but when a woman says it, she’s deemed a slut.

This stereotype seems to hold the most importance in the eyes of college students, as they are young and judgmental. Body count is simply a way to size up another person’s attractiveness. It’s another element of sex that can be easily discussed and spread quickly among groups, which makes it a common yet controversial topic.

We are wired to crave routine and stability in our lives. Someone who has had multiple partners may seem inconsistent, unreliable and uncommitted. This can be a huge red flag, especially for someone looking to settle down. At the same time, the past is the past and every relationship is different.

The biggest unanswered question that arises when an individual reveals a high body count is whether or not he or she always uses protection. That he or she could have a sexually transmitted infection or sexually transmitted disease and be unknowingly transmitting it is enough to scare even the most adventurous partner away. This is why it’s imperative to discuss concerns about being tested with any partner.

Studies have shown that having multiple sexual partners may not be healthy. According to a study done by Psychology Today, the chances of developing a substance dependency is directly correlated with having multiple sexual partners. This was found to be particularly true in women. In addition to substance development, the study found that constant casual relationships do not provide emotional fulfillment, which could lead to self-medication.

But this doesn’t people can or should be judged on their lifestyle choices. Each person values sex differently and while many people reserve it as special, others enjoy the freedom of hooking up with multiple people.

The double standard that exists between men and women also heightens the impact of a body count. In today’s culture, a man who has slept with many women is seen as a conqueror and each woman, an accomplishment. For a woman, the more men she has slept with, with the more her reputation plummets, as she begins to be labeled as “easy,” “slutty” and lacking standards. It is blatantly unfair to judge one gender more harshly than the other, but there doesn’t seem to be away to fight the stereotype unless the body count number is ignored completely.

There is less double standard in couples that are of the same sex. This doesn’t mean body count doesn’t matter – rather, that there is less emphasis on the number and more on the amount of experience the other person may have. There can still be the same level of emotional distrust in a partner who has slept with multiple people, but the gender bias doesn’t exist as strongly in these scenarios.

We cannot control the past – not ours, not anyone else’s. It’s petty to attack someone for the excessive number or lack of sexual partners they’ve had. There’s no use in getting hung up over how many people your partner has previously been with. You can’t make that number go away, so why bother getting upset about it? To see sex and sexual activity as a person preference, rather than a point of respect or debasement, is simply a part of growing into an adult.

The editorial board can be reached at eic@ubspectrum.com.