I’m not a slapper, I’m just popular!

A few nights ago I watched the beginning of a TV programme exploring the pros and cons of being single versus being ‘settled’.

We were introduced to a woman in her late 20s who told us she had slept with 177 men. “Some people call me a slapper,” she said, “but I say I’m just popular!”

She regularly went out looking for men she wanted to sleep with and, if all else failed, she had a male friend she could always rely on for a “booty call”. Sex was important to her and, when asked what the worse thing about her lifestyle was she said: “when the men fall for me”.

The next night I met up with a friend who’s just met someone she really likes through online dating. We were reminiscing about dating from our younger years: the blind dates, the one night stands, the unhappy relationships that were allowed to continue for too long, and the absolute thrill of meeting someone you find sexy.

All of which got me thinking:

Have I had enough sexual partners?

I haven’t slept with 177 people. But I have slept with more than 7. A few have been one night stands; most were in the context of a relationship – even if they started off as a one-nighter. Some were passionate encounters full of lust and roaring orgasms; others were awkward, fumbling, and unsatisfying.

Of course, before I can work out if I’ve had enough, I have to figure out what counts as a sexual partner? More than a kiss? Skin on bare skin? Touching each other’s genitals – what if only one of us does the touching? Do there have to be orgasms – what if only one of us comes? I know there doesn’t have to be penetration – that definition is way out of date. And what about masturbating together but not touching each other?

I wonder what criteria the woman with 177 lovers used when she was keeping her tally. Even the notion of keeping a tally of that size fascinates me. When I count up my sexual partners I invariably end up counting on my fingers, desperately trying to remember names and occasions, and often forgetting at least one person completely. I know I would struggle to remember 177: unless I kept notches on my bedpost, or a running count in my diary. So I do wonder, at what point did she go from counting up to – let’s say – 20 on her fingers, to counting 169, 170, 171…?

The question of “have I had enough” is a little bit academic for me at the moment (and the foreseeable future) as I’m in a committed, monogamous, long-term relationship. The good news is: this doesn’t stop me exploring more of my sexuality – it’s just that I get to do it within the relative comfort and safety of having a known partner. That said, there are still lots of surprises and new territory to explore. After all, sexuality – both mine and my partner’s – is never static.

Sometimes though, I can’t help but wonder, if my circumstances were different, how many more notches would I add to my bedpost?

Leave a comment


  1. Growing up in a conservative environment that linked a woman’s value to her purity (i.e. lack of sexual experience), I have only recently begun to fully explore my sexuality. I lost my virginity at 28 to a one night stand and I think I have mixed feelings about the fact that I *don’t* feel guilty about how I had great, fantastic sex with a stranger. How fucked up is that?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anna! I really enjoy reading your blog and your work on feminine sexuality.

    • sexualself

       /  June 25, 2012

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. It’s great to hear women’s stories: to know how we’re shaped by our backgrounds but also the choices we make to see things differently – based on our own truths.
      Glad to have you visiting the Ladygarden! x

  2. I don’t find it odd that she has managed to keep a tally of her lovers. I’ve had less than 177 partners but more than the average for sure. Initially I kept a list that included contact information in case an STD ever popped up so that I could contact anyone relevant (I was playing pretty safe but condoms don’t protect from everything). Eventually it just felt like the list was something I wanted to be able to look back on and have a giggle over. While I’m presently quite contentedly celibate while dating long distance, I still like having my list!

    • sexualself

       /  June 29, 2012

      Mmm, reminiscing over past lovers … I’ve kept a diary most of my adult life and some of my encounters have been captured there. I wonder about all the ways we look back on our history: to giggle over, to mourn, to celebrate… All of it shapes us. Thanks for sharing!


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