Sunday, April 21, 2019

What's Your Number?

In the quaint old days, when a man asked a woman for her number he meant her telephone number. The same applied when a woman asked a man for his number. How formal can you get?

Now, when a couple exchanges numbers, they are divulging their sexual histories. As Carolyn Hax explains to a man who unfortunately told his new girlfriend his real number, exchanging numbers is a dreadfully bad idea. I would say first, that it is none of anyone’s business and second, that you both should learn to keep secrets. Isn’t it better to pretend that he or she is so incomparable that he or she feels like the only one.

Anyway, what kind of man keeps count? In his mind, on social media, on his bedpost.  As it turns out, that kind of man is the kind of man a woman cannot trust. As you will see in the letter, the man proclaims that he is totally and utterly trustworthy, but he keeps in touch with an old flame. He is planning to have dinner with her when she comes to town. When his girlfriend expresses her disapproval he backs out, but still, he feels put upon and distrusted.  He proclaims his innocence and declares that he even allows girlfriend to look over his shoulder when he videochats. 

He thinks that this makes him especially virtuous. It might also be a prelude to a threesome.

Without further ado, here’s the letter:

She's recently become very jealous and untrusting of me, though. An ex of mine from college was coming to town for work and wanted to get together for dinner. This was a relationship that ended amicably and we remained good friends. I have no romantic feelings. My girlfriend is aware of all of this, she's been in the room when we've video-chatted.

Around the time my girlfriend got jealous, we got on the subject of how many people each of us had been with. She was shocked by my number. So dismayed she refused to tell me her number.

Since then she's been very apprehensive toward me. She didn't outright forbid me from seeing my ex, but told me that she was uncomfortable with it, so I didn't go. She now constantly wants to know what I'm doing and who I'm with, and though she's timid about it, is clearly upset if I socialize with any women.

I want to confront her about this, especially because I have not given her a reason to distrust me, but I fear that would drive her away. I want to work at this relationship, and I want her to be able to trust me, I'm just not sure how.

Aside from the fact that his girlfriend has learned that he keeps a count, something that does not make her feel extra special, I would point out that his large number tells her that he is a player. Does this give her reason not to trust him? Of course, it does. Only a fool would think that a player is suddenly going to cease being a player.

And, girlfriend is apparently not a fool. 

And he did not get to be a player if he was totally trustworthy? By definition. His protestations of innocence notwithstanding, he is not as innocent as he thinks. He might not have shared spit recently with his ex-girlfriend, but current girlfriend understands that people can cheat by establishing an emotional connection, without any bodily fluids being exchanged. Our player boyfriend does not understand this, but his ex- certainly does.

If girlfriend is surveying the videochats she can tell whether there is an emotional connection. And besides, young and na├»ve masses, what difference does it make that he has the best of intentions. Do you really believe that his ex- has similarly noble intentions? And that she wants to have dinner with him alone because she wants to catch up? His failure to understand the dynamic makes him easy prey. 

So, Hax thinks that his task now is to manage his girlfriend’s insecurities. It takes a woman to disbelieve another woman. And to disrespect that other woman’s understanding of the situation.

You will have noted that my own view accepts that his girlfriend has reason to distrust him.  And to doubt everything he has told her. She might have thought that he is great in bed because he really, really loves her. Now she has discovered that he has been training for just such a moment for years.  After all, players will say anything. The problem is not her insecurities. The problem is his bad character. She would do well to move on.


UbuMaccabee said...

He’s just hiding in plain sight. No man is virtuous where sex is concerned. We’re all players, just some get more opportunities than others. She’s a little fool to think otherwise. The only things that can restrain a healthy mans sexual drive is a fear of God and the fear of death.

cj said...

Never, ever, ever reveal the number of your past sexual partners unless you past affects the now or the future. Examples would be have the responsibilities of having a child, or having an incurable communicable disease like HIV. Revealing your "number" is part braggadocio (or shame) and/or part shaming of the current interest - I've had more partners and you're a novice, I've had fewer partners and you're a shameless slut (male or female).
My Ex told me her "number" and I should have run fast and hard (I never told her mine). We married, but I was reminded of her "number" almost weekly, for 14 years. I still don't understand here motivation, and don't care. It was the regular recitation that grated.

whitney said...

No sane woman lets another woman hang around with her man. That's just how it is. And they're still quite a few of us that know that. Probably the same the other way around but I'm not going to speak for men

Sam L. said...

Do you mean to tell me NOW that I was supposed to keep a tally? After all these years?
Now that my memory comes up 404 all over the place? Dang! And Drat! I am, like SOOOOOO bummed.

Anonymous said...

Rather than admit his desire for other women, and too weak to argue from his own principles, he has borrowed a club from popular culture (to whom he obviously subscribes for his thoughts) and is bludgeoning her with it, popular culture being an approver of all condemnation of anything that looks like jealousy.

If he wants women, fine, but if he wants a relationship, find someone who is like-minded. Leave everyone else alone.

threeLegDog said...

Men's and women's "numbers" are not comparable. For example, a woman's ability to pair-bond goes down as her count goes up. Men just gain experience.

In this story, more likely the GF was shocked when she heard BF's count because her's was very likely much higher than his. (Woman are notorious for under-reporting, or not counting certain sexual activities as a "real" number.)

As far as the "I'm just friends with a past BF/GF - get over it" line, you should slowly but surely eject that person from your life and instead find someone totally committed to you.