When it comes to how many partners your lover has had, don't crunch numbers, experts say.
With the release of the new film What's Your Number?, starring Anna Faris, who plays a woman who revisits 20 of her exes in search of love, Lavalife.com polled men and women and asked whether they would be comfortable dating someone who had more sexual partners than you. The results? Seventy-nine percent of men and 82% of women said yes.
"There's no point on dwelling on something you can't change and once you've established that your partner is not any kind of a health threat to you, your energy is going to be so much better spent on the here and now," says Kim Hughes, singles and dating expert for Lavalife.com.
But there is a downside. Playing the numbers game with your partner is not a positive move, says Dr. Teesha Morgan, sex therapist and couples counsellor, as it can create barriers in your relationship.
"I think once you learn their number, it only adds a label to a person and labels are for cans, not people," Morgan said. "Let's say your male partner quotes a number that's really high, how do you look at him? Like he's suave or a playboy, or he's not ready to commit. Therefore, you pull back and it changes the way you approach the relationship. That's for both men and women."
Having 20 or more partners split men and women in the Lavalife.com poll. When asked: "Your date has had 20 sexual partners, do you consider them friendly or promiscuous?" it was almost evenly split. Fifty-two percent of men said friendly, 48% said promiscuous, while for women, 53% said friendly, while 47% said promiscuous.
"I think for men and women, if someone's had more sexual partners than you, it can mean that they maybe have something to teach you," Hughes said.
Despite having some similar views on dating and past lovers, the poll also revealed that men and women recognize there is still a double standard, where men with many former lovers may be seen as a stud, a woman in the same position appears to be a tramp.
"Women are just known to play defense more, but it goes back to biology as well in the animal kingdom. Females were constantly having to be picky about our mates. Do they have good genetics? Is my child going to be strong?" Hughes said. "You throw things like religion and society on top of that over the years, and it's not something that's going to be easily dissipated."
Both experts agree the question should be avoided altogether, and if it's just your curiosity gnawing at you, squash it. Your only focus should be who you're with now.
"I don't think you should know your partner's number," said Morgan. "You should ask instead the number of relationships they've had. It tells a lot more about a person...how they'll be in the bedroom as well as their commitment level."
Hughes recommends redirecting the question and keeping in mind that your partner, like you, had a life before you came along.
"If you're not comfortable with it, then try to figure out why they're asking," Hughes said.
"Or, you can just be honest and if you're comfortable, then the ball is back in your partner's court. If they're freaked out about your number, or if they're really excited, then what does that say about them?"