Ask Anna: My fiance thinks my 'number' is too high

Anna Pulley, Tribune News Service on

Published in Lifestyles

Dear Anna,

My fiance (39M) is struggling with my (37F) past romantic experiences. There have been four people in my past, making him the fifth. We've been together for a decade and have a child together. He has never been with anyone but me, which could be why he feels this way. I've been feeling shamed by his words — he says things like I've "been with too many men," my "mileage is high," and that he should have "checked my history" before getting involved.

I know some friends have had dozens of partners, so having been with five people seems relatively low, right? Is he overreacting? Should I feel ashamed? I'm unsure of how to proceed and need advice. — Not Understanding Man Being Extremely Rude


The insecurity and judgment you're experiencing from your fiance is astounding. You’ve been together 10 years (and have a child!), yet suddenly he’s upset that four other people have seen you naked?

Let’s get the obvious thing out of the way first and foremost: There is absolutely no place for "slut-shaming" in a healthy, respectful relationship. Each one of us has our own unique journey, and that includes past relationships. Nobody has the right to shame you for yours.


According to a study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the average number of sexual partners for American men and women in their lifetime is around 7.2 and 7.9 respectively. The fact that you've had four past partners is, statistically speaking, below average.

But more importantly, it shouldn't matter whether it's statistically high or low. Each individual's sexual history is their own personal business.

Your fiance's comments are not just hurtful, but they also convey a concerning sign of disrespect and lack of understanding. It's a form of control and manipulation wrapped in the guise of insecurity and gender double standards — and it's unacceptable.

If I had to guess, I’d say his hurtful comments are a form of juvenile pouting, of him getting “cold feet” and wanting a free pass to have sex with other people before you get married. Or it could be a midlife crisis. Or both! Otherwise, why bring it up now? If you’ve known him for 10 years, then your past sexual history is not a surprise to him.


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