I Asked My Guy Friends: Why Do Men Care About A Woman's Body Count?

Although we don’t write about our sexual history in our dating profiles, it’s undoubtedly a quality that many people care about when seeking a long-term relationship. It has the power to influence the size of our individual dating markets and rule us out as a potential suitor for many singletons.

By Rebecca Hope6 min read
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Darya Chacheva/Shutterstock

Often, men with a high number of sexual partners will look for a woman with a low body count when settling down. They don’t feel their number matters and only a woman’s does. It’s a sexual double standard that has prevailed despite feminism’s best efforts to eradicate it. 

To determine why men care, I asked my guy friends if a woman’s sexual history affected their interest in a woman. And if it did, why. 

Here, we explore the top four reasons why men care about a woman’s body count, as well as if there's any validity behind their claims.

Why Men Care About a Woman’s Body Count

1. Sexual Jealousy

A few of the men I asked felt they judged a woman on her body count because of sexual jealousy. “It’s difficult to love a woman as your wife if you know there are 50 guys still walking this planet who’ve [had sex with her],” one man, in his mid-20s, said. 

Another man in his 40s said, “I don't like the idea of going out together and constantly bumping into her ex-partners – probably because it's human nature to compare. And the idea of someone else being intimate with a loved one is awful.”

Interestingly, both of these men had some of the highest body counts of the men I spoke to. One claimed he’d slept with around 50 women, whereas the other claimed 80 or more. Not only that, both of these men said that a woman's body count only matters if they were in a relationship with her. If they're having casual sex with a woman, they don’t care about her body count. One even claimed the “sex is much better” with women who have a higher number of sexual partners.

It seems that despite many men believing a high body count “degrades” a woman, they will still take part in the “degrading.” These kinds of men perhaps lack integrity, although one did admit he feels conflicted when engaging in hookup culture due to his views. Ultimately, he revealed, he lacks the self-discipline to completely withdraw from casual sex when single.

2. Female Sexuality Is Worth More Than a Man’s

This was an uncommon answer among the men I asked, but it’s a view regularly shared on Twitter. One of the men in his mid-20s said, “Female sexuality is generally more valuable than male sexuality because it’s harder to obtain. So if a man sees a woman degrading her own sexuality by making it easier to obtain, that lessens her value.”

3. Comparison to Previous Partners

Two of the men I asked cared about a woman’s body count because of comparison. The implication was that if a woman has dated “high value” men in the past, the men worry that she may be less satisfied with them in comparison. One guy in his late 20s described it with this hypothetical situation: “Say she dated Chris Hemsworth and slept with him, and then [she dated and slept with] another guy similar to Chris Hemsworth. Then she meets me [sighs]. Obviously, I ain’t gonna be lasting long, am I?”

If a woman has dated a particularly “high value” man, she may be less satisfied with them in comparison.

Comparison to previous partners is a common aspect of relationships. Men compare themselves to their girlfriend’s exes, and women do the same. So it’s no surprise that a man may be fearful that they won’t be able to compete with a woman’s past sexual partners. In fact, this occurrence is in line with Darwin's theory of sexual selection, wherein success in competitive situations with other men essentially allowed our male ancestors to overcome their reproductive rivals and attract more mates.

4. An Evolutionary Instinct

Continuing along the lines of biological instinct, I also found that when men worry about a woman's body count, it could be the result of what biologists call “mate guarding.”

Sherry Argov, author of Why Men Love Bitches, talks about men placing women in two categories: good time only and worthwhile. This is a result of what evolutionary biologists call “paternity certainty.” Paternity certainty refers to the degree to which a male is certain that his girlfriend’s or wife’s offspring is genetically his own. All females can be certain of maternity (that their child is their own), but no male can ever be 100% certain of paternity (unless tests are done after birth).

Men who want to be fathers and are looking for a wife are concerned about the welfare of their offspring and will devote their lives to ensuring their families are protected. However, in our evolutionary history, men who unknowingly committed to raising children who weren’t genetically related to them were at a disadvantage. 

Therefore, men who behaved jealously could deny rival males the opportunity to mate with their partner, which gave them greater paternity certainty and confidence their children were their own. This biological mate-guarding instinct is part of what feeds the sexual double standard.

How Many Sexual Partners Are Too Many for Women?

A common answer I found among the guys who care about a woman’s number of sexual partners is that they’d prefer the woman has slept with less than 10 men. 

One of the men said he’d prefer a virgin or less than five sexual partners because, according to him, after a woman has slept with five men, it becomes harder for women to "pair bond." In turn, he believes this may create a greater likelihood of divorce. 

I found this fear of a woman with a high body count being unable to pair bond a common theme, with another guy expressing his concerns: “If a woman has slept with 100-plus men, I would think she isn't a girl that can settle down and find happiness. Her past would indicate she has put herself in plenty of positions to engage in sex with men. This alone means I probably wouldn't trust her the same as I would a girl who's only been with, say, three men who have been boyfriends.”

Does Having More Sexual Partners Affect Pair Bonding in Women?

A neuroscience and behavioral science researcher who goes by Alex DatePsych argues that there isn’t “a single paper advancing the hypothesis that sex harms a [woman’s ability] to pair bond.”

Alex argues that both promiscuity and pair bonding are largely determined well before a person’s first sexual encounter because we are a product of nature and nurture, our DNA and our experiences. For example, a dopamine receptor gene has consistently predicted promiscuity in both men and women with no sex differences.

Both promiscuity and pair bonding are largely determined well before a person’s first sexual encounter.

“Both promiscuity and pair bonding are largely determined well before a person’s first sexual encounter. Approximately half of the variance is genetic, while the remaining half is formed from early nonshared experiences,” he writes.

He continues: “A sensible hypothetical mechanism for ‘pair bonding damage’ from frequent casual sex is absent. A person who has sex with 10 people in a month did not form a bond with each of those people. The mere fact that they had sex with so many people in a short period of time shows the opposite: They did not form a bond with any of them. It’s even possible that this person may have never formed a lasting long-term relationship in their entire life. Extreme promiscuity is a symptom of the inability to bond, not a cause of it.”

While there isn't a lot of data about the correlation between the number of sexual partners and the ability to pair bond specifically, there are a number of studies relating the number of sexual partners to the longevity of and happiness within a marriage. According to an article from the Institute of Family Studies, "Does Sexual History Affect Marital Happiness?", there does appear to be a direct correlation between a person's body count and marriage happiness. "The data show that people with 21 or more partners lifetime are almost twice as likely to be unhappily married as are people with fewer partners: 5.3% of respondents with 21+ partners aren’t happy in their marriages, compared to 2.8% of those with 20 or fewer partners."

The research goes on to say, "women who’ve only slept with their spouses are, at 65%, most likely to report very happy marriages." And the number declines from there, modestly, but by a statistically significant amount.

Do Women Care About a Man’s Number of Sexual Partners?

Out of the women I asked – all in their late 20s – I found a mix of answers. Some women don’t ask and don’t want to know, with one saying, “I don't care about a man's body count, and I'd never ask a man for his. I think, for me, it leads to overthinking and feeling jealous, so I’d rather not know. It doesn't change how I view a guy, and I think a guy being bothered about my body count or asking me is a bit of a red flag; they're usually asking to judge.”

Another felt it would be hypocritical to have an issue with the number of women a man has slept with, saying, “I’m not really too bothered because I think it would be a bit hypocritical to be bothered about their number but then have slept with multiple people. I wouldn’t appreciate being asked, and I also wouldn’t ask someone else. It doesn’t seem relevant to whether I like someone or not.”

One difference I found when asking men and women is that, out of the women who did care, those women also felt they could get over a high body count after getting to know the guy. 

“I want to say I don't care, but there's this underlying stigma that goes with a high body count. It makes it seem like the man is going to be non-committal, play games/mess around, or just won't take you seriously. Of course, this is a load of rubbish, but it's hard not to think this way. Also, with a higher body count comes a higher risk/probability of STDs, so I'd be worried about that. However, beyond a first date, as a relationship becomes more serious because you like the guy, the high body count thing becomes pretty irrelevant, and I really wouldn't care the longer I'm with him. It's more the initial impression.”

Do All Men Care About the Number of Men a Woman Has Slept With?

In short, no. There were quite a few men that I asked who didn’t care about the number of men a woman had slept with at all. One guy, in his early 30s, said: “I don't have a clue about [my girlfriend’s] history, nor does she mine. I've never asked, and neither has she. I just don't think it's of any relevance to me.”

Another of my friends, in his mid-20s, shared this sentiment, saying, “I’m not [bothered] about a partner’s body count. That’s nothing to do with me. It’s her life, her past. ... For me, someone’s body count isn’t anything to do with her worth; it’s literally just the number of people she has slept with.”

Another male in his mid-30s who estimates that he has slept with around 100 women, said, “I always ask, but I don’t care. I’m just nosey.”

Closing Thoughts

In an ideal world, the same standards would be applied to both men and women. But men and women are distinctly different, and so there will always be a bit of hypocrisy. Men are inherently jealous creatures, which appears to be at the heart of many of the reasons why guys don't want to settle down with a woman who has a large body count.

At the end of the day, it's not necessarily the number that matters, but the duration of each relationship that matters. If women use and dispose of men as easily as Kleenex, that could spell trouble, not just in terms of body count but also in terms of commitment. But if a woman has a number of long-term relationships under her belt, then her body count perhaps has less to do with the inability to settle down and more to do with finding the right man.

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