Body Count: Just a Number?

Body Count: Just a Number?

Exploring the taboos behind body count



When it comes to first-date conversation starters, the body count discussion is a common—albeit not-so-palatable—subject. As the colloquial term for how many people you’ve had sexual relationships with, body count is often an unspoken benchmark for someone’s so-called “date-ability,” but should it be?


Body count isn’t just an arbitrary number—it’s subjective. Does oral sex count? What about group sex? Does it have a tangible impact on future relationships? Find out what the public has to say.


RELATED: Sex on the First Date: Yay or Nay?


A shift in hookup culture

According to previous studies, sexual activity peaked among individuals aged 25 to 34 in the years 2000 to 2018. However, recent social overhauls (and circumstances like the pandemic) have made Gen Zers hesitant to engage in hookup culture, citing reproductive healthcare and deeper emotional connections as prime deterrents.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Emily Morse (@sexwithemily)


However, Millennials are not as conservative. According to makeup artist Cy (34), his above-200 body count are primarily hookups, along with participants Geo (27), whose body count is above 65, and Valerie (26), with a number in the same range.


Regarding whether they kept personal records of their body count, Valerie answers yes, for the “fun stories and sexual health.” While Geo was loyal to his little black book for some time, the tracking stopped after 50, other than for sexual safety purposes.


By comparison, 35-year-old HR head Tres, with a body count of roughly 60, perceives the act of tracking his body count as a void filler of sorts and now only prioritizes his sexual health.


RELATED: Sex in Relationships: How Much Does it Matter?


High or low: what do people prefer?

If you were a teenager in the 2000s and 2010s, higher body counts were “legendary”—at least for men. If you were a woman with a high body count, you may as well have been a social pariah. But does the same standard hold true today? It varies.


21-year-old Chloe's preference for a lower body count isn’t what you think. She explains, “I like teaching them what to do.” Conversely, 28-year-old teacher Haliya prefers not to take her educational skills into the bedroom, saying “I’m more into people who have had at least several sexual encounters—that means they already know what they like.”


As for higher numbers, 28-year-old policy researcher Angela is a believer. “People who are intentional about exploring sex and pleasure, and thus have higher body counts, tend to be more comfortable exploring sexual and relational experiences that go beyond the norm.”


@inkamagnaye Replying to @DogloverPH ♬ original sound – Spotify’s Sleeping Pill w Inka – Inka Magnaye


Are there benefits to knowing someone’s body count?

The short answer is sometimes. Angela suggests that it is beneficial for observing sexual safety. In addition, it helps her reflect on her sexual journey, “whether it be about how my time with them uncovered new ways of experiencing pleasure, or how they were instrumental in deepening my inner work on how I approach sex and relationships as a polyamorous person.”


25-year-old software engineer Michael further backs the sexual safety aspect of the body count phenomenon, citing an unfortunate incident with a former partner. “I got herpes from someone who was promiscuous and only sometimes engaged in safe sex. I wish they had made me more aware of their lifestyle and insisted that we have safe sex. It's more about knowing what someone's sexual lifestyle is like.”


Others, like 27-year-old business analyst Jed, aren’t so keen on body counts outside of practicing sexual safety. “I believe it’s immaterial. Although, personally, higher body counts are a turn-on for me.”


RELATED: Is A Friends with Benefits Relationship Sustainable?


Dismantling double standards

According to the CDC, men tend to have more sexual partners than women throughout their lifetime. By comparison, LGBTQ-identifying individuals often have the highest number of sexual partners, earning them an all-too-misogynist yet common promiscuity stereotype.


Chi is no stranger to these dangerous perspectives. “I have a friend who says he'd never date any woman with a body count over 10. When I asked him why, he couldn't really give me a proper answer. He has no body count limit for himself.”


29-year-old dietitian Naz identifies social media as the stereotyping culprit, claiming that “There is a lot of it.” 27-year-old self-identifying corporate slave Bibo says stereotypes are even worse in the Philippines. Sexual behavior remains primarily governed by religion and familial expectations, despite the Westernization of most metropolitan areas.


Despite the seemingly groundbreaking societal changes among Millennials and Gen Zers, Haliya says, “Most men perceive women with higher body counts too easy and prefer what they call a ‘virgin whore’—someone with less experience but still amazing in bed.”


Does your body count affect future relationships?

For the most part, using body counts as a determinant of relationship quality is often sexist. We already know that one’s number of sexual partners has virtually no impact on “tightness,” yet many perspectives remain archaic.


Ultimately, judgments surrounding body count result from deep-seated insecurities. Still, entering a new relationship with some knowledge of one’s sexual history can be relevant. Angela says, “For alignment of experiences to be explored, maybe, especially if the intent is to find partners with whom you share a somewhat similar level of openness to sex, [then discussing body count might be somewhat relevant].”


For Chi, discussing body count is a 50-50 occurrence. “It's only relevant if you consider it a personal boundary. But also, it's important to know why you have it as a boundary in the first place.”


The Bottom Line

Ultimately, body counts, like most trendy relationship must-knows, are losing on the relevancy scale. It may speak volumes about your relationship if you need to drop or skyrocket your number for approval.


Like many—but not all—things, body count is just a number. Nothing more than that.



Words Zoë Isabela Alcazaren

Share to


You may also like

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get weekly updates on trending topics

Ⓒ 2018 – 2023 Wonder ™ | All Rights Reserved


Discover More


Don't miss a thing

Stay up to date to the latest news and articles.