Why Do Men Care About ‘Body Counts’ So Much?

I hate this term. I’d rather talk about being more sexually experienced or having had many lovers.

Many men have very strong feelings about dating women who have had sex with more than a handful of guys. They can have preferences, for sure, but what do those preferences say about them? Is this a good preference to have?

I am not here to call such men horrible, fragile or toxic, or talk about how this affects women. If that’s what you’re after, go read other authors.

I am here to say that the reason behind this ‘preference’ is a worry that’s just as valid as any other emotion. Many guys keep it hidden and suffer in silence. But as with any emotions, we need to take charge of it and be in control. I feel way stronger since I learned to do it myself.

This worry hides behind a veneer of ‘rationality,’ so I will start by stripping it away with logical arguments. By the end, you will see the truth underneath and know what to do.

Before I dive in, full disclosure. I have slept with a lot of people myself, I am part of a sex-positive community in the most sex-positive city in Europe, and I have been in long-term non-monogamous relationships for over a decade.

If this makes you want to disagree without reading, your choice. But my arguments are just as good, whoever I am. Some principles stay the same. They certainly allowed me to have great relationships and sex life, and they apply to people who want a traditional family just as much.

But as many young men apparently want non-monogamy, maybe you’re on board, too:

YouGov 2023, How many Americans prefer non-monogamy in relationships?

If you’re still reading, let’s go.


I stumbled upon this article recently and I think it’s a good case study. Like many in this discussion, the author makes some valid points. Many people on the dating scene seem like they’re chasing a unicorn and many of them are women. Many seem to have long and unrealistic checklists.

I would add that the commodification of dating championed by dating apps is the main culprit. Influencers who explicitly recommend it don’t help. People literally treat dating like shopping. It is not healthy.

Like many in this discussion, the author makes some pretty unjustified generalisations, too. Starting from the central one:

What do men expect from women then?
Don’t be a slut.


OK, let’s warm up on this one.

Do all men expect that?

Well, #NotAllMen. None of the men in my community do. Few in non-monogamous relationships do and trust me, there are many of us around the world (12% in the US). Many monogamous men also don’t think it’s appropriate for them to have any expectations in this respect, so they don’t.

Still, we can honestly say that many men expect that from women. I’d even say: the majority. Maybe 80%. Don’t quote me on the numbers.

(Note I am writing about the Global North here. In other cultures this will be different.)


The main argument usually goes: Women shouldn’t sleep around because one day they will wake up wanting a husband but no man — scratch that — most men won’t have them.

Applying it to all women is another generalisation. Let’s break it down.

Most obviously, only 87% of women are completely straight (Bailey et al. 2016), thus up to 13% can simply not care what men want.

Then, not all straight women want a long-term partner. Many genuinely prefer being single and the modern world makes this very easy. It’s hard to put a number on it as many say they’re OK being single but aren’t actually, but I’d wager some 5% is genuinely fine with it.

If about 20% of men don’t mind a more experienced partner, then about that many women will find partners among them. Maybe more, as men who are into non-monogamy are perfectly happy to date more than one woman.

Finally, a large portion of men who do mind, will cave in in the end. They don’t want to be lonely either. They might not like it but they’ll do it.

That means that most women have no actual reason to worry about ending up alone. Thus, if we’re honest, the argument should say:

Straight women shouldn’t sleep around because many of them will later want a partner, many of those won’t match with any of the men who don’t care about their past, and some of the other men will actually stay true to their resolve not to date them.

At this point, you can see how women might just say: thanks for the thumbs up, we’ll take our chances. Particularly if they’re smart, fun and hot, and thus might have the first pick of the men who don’t care.

But there is one more problem: using this argument makes you sound like you think you can tell women what they can and can’t do. Women don’t like that. Neither do men. Few of us humans like that. In fact, it’s just immoral.

Thus, most of the women who will want a partner, still wouldn’t want a guy who thinks he can tell them what they can and can’t do.

The sad truth is that most guys who say they’d reject a woman with a history will never get a chance to do that because those women will reject them first.


More generalisations, anyone? The Fit Stoic’s title states that ‘Don’t be a slut’ is ‘The Only One Big Requisite Men Expect from Women’.

Is it?

Don’t you want your partner to be, I don’t know, capable of secure attachment and honest communication, to find you attractive, to not be selfish or narcissist, to like similar things, to be smart, kind, responsible and independent, to be mentally stable, to have integrity… Should I go on?

Any and all of those things matter way more than the number of ex-lovers. Implying otherwise simply makes you sound like you don’t know what’s important in relationships. Women who do will avoid you.

But I’ll be charitable and assume that low partner number is just one of the things most guys want, not the main one. That could be a fair preference, right?

Peeling off the veneer

To answer this, let’s consider the reasons some men use to justify their preference, and what they say about them.

The show @Whatever is pretty much entirely devoted to the topic and this video offers a quick summary of the main reasons. Think what these reasons tell us about the guy.


Men have an evolutionary interest in ensuring paternity and thus want to prevent women they have kids with from sleeping with other men.

  • This doesn’t apply if you don’t want kids.
  • It doesn’t apply to past lovers — we can all count months.
  • It also doesn’t apply to present ones — we have contraception and paternity tests.
  • You can argue that recent technological developments don’t negate how men evolved to think, but there is good evidence that humans evolved to be polygamous and monogamy came with agriculture and the question of who inherits your stuff (Ryan and Jethá 2010). It’s nurture, not nature.
  • But even if it were, the history of humanity is a history of using our brains to transcend nature. It’s unnatural for humans to not die of infection, travel further than a few miles from where they’re born, or eat refined sugar. We can and do cope with all that, so this argument sounds like wanting to be stuck in the past.


Women who sleep around have a higher chance of contracting diseases.

  • We have condoms. The speaker dismisses this as guys routinely don’t use condoms. This sounds more like a reason to be annoyed with those guys, but I’ll turn a blind eye to this now and just say that:
  • We can test for STIs. It is perfectly OK to simply ask your prospective partner to get tested before you sleep with them. Open and honest communication is the cornerstone of successful relationships, so everyone should feel they can do that.
  • Even if the test comes back positive, we can cure or manage most diseases.

But to be fair, this is a solid reason to worry. If people who did in fact contract an incurable STI can’t find a partner because of that, it’s tragic. Still, this risk can be pretty much nullified by using protection. Abstinence will protect you 100%, but condoms are almost as good.

She’s Got Issues

Women who sleep around are likely to have drug problems, traumatic childhood, have been abused, etc. This makes them difficult partners.

  • Statistically, this effect exists. But the problem here is not the many partners — it’s all those other things. Promiscuity is merely correlated with the actual problems. So really, you’re speaking out against the wrong thing.
  • The question is: are you able or willing to support someone who has such problems? That’s your call. But if you are not, then you were never partner material for her in the first place, so she’s losing nothing.


I am honestly not clear what this guy is trying to say here (someone explain it to me?), but it rests on the assumption that reaching orgasm is the point of sex.

  • If you share this assumption, you have a very limited view of what sex is and betray yourself as a poor lover.


Not mentioned in this video but often brought up: relationships where partners had more lovers are more likely to break up, so they’re just bad investments. Statistically, that’s true. But is that a bad thing?

  • Most partners don’t leave on a whim. They leave because something doesn’t work. Would you rather be stuck in a dysfunctional relationship?
  • If the thing that didn’t work was fixable, then one or both of you should have fixed it. If you didn’t, then you’ve shown yourselves to not be open to improvement — not good partner material.
  • If it is just about sex and wanting to have more lovers, then enjoy the spoils of modernity! 55% of men under 44 already want non-monogamy, so at least for them this could be the solution.

It’s one thing whether those reasons are actually any good. I think they’re weak at best.

But the main thing is: most guys who bring them up only make themselves look outdated, not great at communication, focused on the wrong thing, selfish, unimaginative in bed, and not open to improvement.

I have a hard time imagining these guys rejecting sexually experienced women left right and centre, because women will rarely consider them in the first place.

Deeper than reason

But my main worry is that none of those really matter. People generally don’t get so passionate about rational arguments or argue so intensely purely out of concern that others might end up alone.

No, such a strong reaction indicates that this is caused by something much more primal than reason: emotions.

I have an inkling that this emotion is summed up in this gif:

Men who shun sexually experienced women worry that they will not be special. That someone might have been a better lover than them. That they will be not enough. That the woman will realise that and leave them for somebody better.

Behind the veneer of rational arguments is fear, plain and simple.

And we have a name for this gnawing fear that you’re not good enough: insecurity.

Men’s emotions are valid

What you are probably expecting now, is another woke person to come and laugh at you. Oh no, poor fragile insecure man, maybe if you were a better lover then she wouldn’t have left you!

Such a lazy reply also says something about the speaker. It says they are more interested in feeling smug and powerful than addressing the problem. What happened to ‘your emotions are valid?’

I think that it is perfectly understandable for men to feel insecure. I’ve got my life pretty much sorted yet still feel it sometimes.

The society puts massive pressure on us to find and keep partners. We’ve been taught to tie our self-worth with having a family we can protect and provide for. If I can’t find, keep, and satisfy a partner, I’m less of a man. Guys will laugh. People will talk. I’ll feel like a failure.

Those pressures exist because we hold on to old values and life scripts developed at a different time. Today, people don’t want to settle young — we want to learn, develop careers, enjoy life. Many of us don’t want kids, women don’t need protecting and providing, we’ve got contraception and medicine, and being single just isn’t as bad as it used to.

We should change the scripts we live by to match the changing reality — but it’s not easy. We grew up with and internalised them. Whatever we do, they still keep playing in the back of our minds. D.B. Sayers, Author Unredacted captured this perfectly in a recent comment:

We are stubbornly clinging to “our rock,” while someone on shore is shouting, “drop the rock, you’ll swim better.” To which, unfortunately, too many of us shout back, “but it’s my rock.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that you can drop the rock, update those scripts, and get rid of insecurity in the process. Because insecurity sucks. It eats us from the inside, it gets in our heads and makes us lose sleep.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — you could have a great relationship with a woman who has had more lovers, but this fear just gnaws on you and makes you do and say things you wish you haven’t said and done, and then… well, she leaves — except it’s not because of the past lovers, but because of all those things you’ve said and done out of that fear.

This video sums it up way better than I could:


But even when we rationally see that this is daft and we shouldn’t feel so insecure, it is genuinely hard not to.

It is hard to be in charge of our emotions.

Don’t run away from fear. Face it.

It’s much easier to just run away. To simply not date women who would ever put you in a situation where you need to look your fear in the eye and sort it out. It’s much easier to tell those women to not sleep around. Make it their problem, not yours.

But your emotions are yours to deal with. Nobody else will deal with them for you. Nobody has any duty to make sacrifices so that you don’t need to face your fears.

Asking women to not sleep around because it makes you feel insecure makes about as much sense as asking all handsome men to stop working out and dressing well. Or everyone who plays a game better than you to stop playing so well. Or more productive colleagues to stop working so hard.

No wonder guys hide under the veneer of rational arguments!

The truth is, your insecurities around dating, work or gameplay are something that you need to sort out yourself. A real man doesn’t run away from his fears. A real man conquers them.

So, can men have a preference for women who have only had a handful of lovers?

Sure we can.

Same as women can have a preference for six-feet-tall guys with a six-pack and a six-figure salary.

There’s no law to forbid it. It’s not immoral. But such preferences say something about the people who have them. The ’body count’ and ‘6–6–6’ preferences say that they care more about things that don’t matter than about those that do. It makes others question if they’re good partner material.

The low numbers preference strongly suggests that a guy is unable to conquer his fears and prefers to hide behind questionable ‘rational’ arguments which make him sound outdated, selfish, poor at communication, and not open to improvement.

Women see this and act accordingly.

Easier said than done!

In his conclusion, The Fit Stoic says:

This small essay isn’t meant to hurt or judge anybody. You can do whatever you want in your life, however I’m here to open eyes. If you do something, you gotta be full aware of the consequences of your lifestyle.

Right back at ya, brother.

My piece might sound like some tough love, but it is more love than tough. As I said before, I have no interest in man-bashing. I know that conquering this fear is really hard. You might want to do it but not know how to. I don’t judge anyone, but I do want to inspire guys to improve.

I don’t judge anyone because I used to have the same problem. I know exactly what it’s like. If you would like me to expand on this topic and offer some tips on how to deal with such fear, let me know in the comments.


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