I saw the movie ‘What’s Your Number’ last weekend and though critics panned it, I found it to be pretty enjoyable. In a nutshell, a young woman finds out about a study that says women with over 20 past sexual partners are highly unlikely to ever be married. Having had exactly that number of men, she vows to find “the one” amongst the men she’s already slept with. Hilarity ensues.

Without spoiling the film, I’ll share what inspired me to reference it here: the protagonist was not guided primarily by her own insecurities or concerns; rather, it was the discovery that her sister and some of their mutual friends had lower sexual numbers than she did that really freaked her out. That combined with pressure from her mother led her on a ridiculous journey that almost cost her the man who was actually a perfect fit for her.

I’ve expounded many times about the need for women to get over the hangups about numbers and why we need to chose sexual habits that allow us to balance happiness with satisfaction and safety, as opposed to worrying over keeping our total as low as possible. You should never, ever tell a man your number anyway…its none of his freaking business! All he needs to know is 1) if you’ve been having safe sex, 2) the results of your latest STD test and 3) when said test was administered. This film not only reinforced my belief in the aforementioned needs, but it also reminded me how girlfriends can do each other a lot of harm with some of our well-meaning romantic advice.

Over the years, a number of guys have told me that the ‘number’ hangup exists more in the minds of women than it does that of men, and that so long as a fella doesn’t have to hear details about his lady’s past in the street, its not such a big deal. But I still held on to that idea that men care a LOT. It didn’t guide my steps at all, but I held a certain resentment for this sexual double standard. While there are some guys who feel like a woman should keep her legs shut for “Mr. Right,” as he bangs his way through until he’s ready to settle down, it really doesn’t seem to be the widespread notion among men that a lot of us women seem to believe it is.

I would never suggest that we womenfolk need to obsess over the whims of men when it comes to ordering our steps, but I do believe that we have to be careful when it comes to taking certain advice from our girlfriends about the opposite sex without consulting its members. Its also important to be aware of our desires and personalities in a way that allows us to put our needs and inclinations before some societal notion about what a woman should or should not be. There’s women who find love after having 35 partners and women who kept it “modest,” only to die alone. And vice versa. There is no one set formula or list of rules when it comes to finding love. Let those who have lived and experienced things offer their advice, but don’t drive yourself insane trying to fit into a box that might not be your size.

Your walk may not be Cousin Carmen’s or Soror Suzie’s or Neighbor Natasha’s, so don’t allow them to have undue influence when it comes to how you live your life. Listen to their advice and adopt the pieces that work for you. Disregard the rest. If putting a mental chastity belt on makes you feel empowered and secure, then go for it. If taking a guy home from time to time is more your speed, get it how you live! Let discretion and safety rule, of course. Either way, make sure that you are the master of your fate and don’t let anyone steer you wrong.

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