Dear Level

Do Not Ask a Woman How Many Sexual Partners She’s Had

It’s none of your damn business

Aliya S. King
Published in
4 min readFeb 26, 2021


Photo illustration: Save As/Medium/Getty Images

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting

Many years ago, I went out on a second or third date with a nice enough guy. I don’t remember his name or what he looked like. But I clearly remember why there was no fourth date.

We got to that part of the conversation where you go back and forth about… whatever. It starts with simple biographical details: college majors, first jobs, recent vacations. Then you get to the juicy stuff. Why did your last relationship end? What’s nonnegotiable in a date for you? Once the booze starts hitting, the questions tend to get more intense. Favorite place to be kissed? How long do you wait before —

And then, he got carried away.

This man looked at me and fixed his lips to ask: “So, what’s your number? You know — your body count?”

I nearly choked on my pinot grigio. “What did you just say?”

He chuckled. “I guess your number is high if you don’t want to tell me.”

At first, I thought he was asking about boyfriends. I’d dated about 5 or 6 guys at that point in my life. What did he care? And then, I quickly understood. His question was actually more hideous and invasive than I originally thought. He wanted to know how many sexual partners I’d had.

“Why on earth would you ask me that?” I asked, working out half the bill in my head.

“Are you offended?” he asked. “Like I said, your number must be pretty high.”

This was the ’90s — we had a long way to go with regard to sex positivity (and just minding your own damn business). But even for those uncouth times, this probing was a bit much.

I had honestly thought the idea of body counts had been done away with by the sex-positive millennials who brought my fellow Gen Xers out of the sexual Stone Ages.

The sad part is, I think I answered him. It probably wasn’t the real number; I knew I’d be…



Aliya S. King
Writer for

Aliya S. King is an author, freelance writer and editor.