Body count. The number of people you’ve slept with. The number of hook-ups. Is body count the proper term? At what point is your body count too high? At what point should you be concerned? At what point should you be concerned about your partner’s body count? Should you even be concerned? These are the questions I have… - Male, 2020

Body count, or the number of sexual partners that a person has had, is a cause of stress for a lot of people our age. As we grow into our sexualities it’s normal to wonder if our behaviors are normal and safe. Well we’re here to tell you that there’s no such thing as normal, and that you need to define what safety means for you!

The concept of body count is especially nasty in that it has the potential to make people feel self–conscious about their abundance or lack of sexual partners. You should be having sex with however many people you want to. That might be three each afternoon, one every semester-or-so, or none at all!  It’s up to you to figure out what’s normal, or comfortable, for you.

Our one piece of advice is to make sure you are thoughtful about what will make you feel safe, no matter how many people you’re sleeping with. For John, this means always using a condom, getting tested every three months, and trying to keep track of who he sleeps with in between testings, in case he needs to contact any former partners with uncomfortable news. For Hannah, this meant coming to the realization that people just saying they don’t have STDs in the heat of the moment, is not a form of STD prevention—but now she has a boyfriend, so who cares what she thinks! As far as concern over your partner’s body count, we think it’s probably none of your business. You can’t control how many partners your partner has had. You can only control how you choose to keep yourself safe, so go do some research and figure it out!

Hopefully we’ve relieved any qualms you have about your specific number of sexual partners. When you really think about it, the concept of body count is pretty stupid. What even constitutes a body? Do middle school hand jobs count, or only penetration? Penetration of what? See? Stupid!

Should I trust a guy who seems to not want anything serious (he's a senior with a well-known hoe-y reputation) but is incredibly sweet and hasn't done anything wrong (we go on amazing dates and actually have wholesome fun together)? How should I interpret this paradoxical situation? Does he actually like me or does he just want a consistent hook up? — Female, 2020, Heterosexual

It sounds like you’re having fun, which is great! You definitely shouldn’t let your perception of his reputation interrupt something that’s making you happy. However, if you know you want your relationship to be more formalized than it is now, you’re going to need to communicate that to him.

We’ve both been in situations where we were the younger partner in a (undefined) relationship and didn’t feel we had the bargaining power to communicate that we wanted more. If there’s one thing we could tell our past selves, it’s that it’s better to lose him altogether than stay in a situation that isn’t fulfilling your desires. We suggest you sit down and think about exactly what you want to get out of this, and be confident in communicating that to him. If it turns out he’s looking for the same thing, excellent! If not, we think it’s better to cut your losses than to convince yourself you want the same thing as him when you know you don’t. It’s ok to not be a Chill Girl!

By the powers vested in us, as Hannah and John, we officially declare you deserving of and able to reach for what you want and to walk away from what you don’t. Godspeed.