“Promiscuity is the practice of having casual sex frequently with different partners or being indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners.”
The article goes on to break out male/female promiscuity. I probably don’t have to go much into the difference that society has created. Women are sluts, men are studs. I’d say most of us grew up with that programming. The word started being used in reference to sex in the 1850s, and for me, just hearing it triggers a gendered response: the word refers to women. Women get shamed over their sexuality, men get attaboys.
My personal narrative is not divergent of that. I was raised in a masculine, macho way where sex with a woman was a golden ring and the more you got the higher your standing. Mix that with a lot of experiences that shunted my ability to acknowledge my emotional side, and I grow into a man with no emotional connection to sex. As I get older, I’m more aware of myself and have opened up, I’m less insecure and less likely to just sleep around, but in my 20s and early 30s it was a different story.
The Sex Number
I can remember being a young man and this being a huge deal. The higher your number, the more manly you are. Most guys go through a phase where they just straight up lie about it, and everyone knows that everyone is lying, but nobody cares, because it’s cooler to just go along with it. Calling someone out on lying opens you up to being called out for your lie, so it’s better to just maintain the facade.
The last time I cared enough to sit down and try to figure out my number, I was probably 24 years old. The number was in the 60s at that point. Now, I can only estimate, because I don’t really care to put too much thought into it, but I’m gonna say that it’s firmly over 100 today. I’m feeling a rush of anxiety just writing that, because of what that high number actually represents.
I’ve always been very insecure. Introverted, quiet, shy… debilitatingly so. It has always prevented me from meeting people, making friends, or having any sort of meaningful relationship. It has always been too scary to open myself up and risk being hurt or embarrassed. Terrifying.
Being insecure, I’ve always needed validation. To this day I catch myself fishing – for kudos, compliments, attention, etc. Sex has always been a single serving of validation for me. It proves that I have worth. 90% of those sexual encounters were one night stands. 5% were people I even dated casually. 3% of them involved a relationship that lasted over a month. All of those sexual encounters were like crack hits that kept me going until the next time. I can even remember being at bars and flirting with women, and getting to the point where I KNEW I could have sex with her, and feeling that same sense of validation. I’m good enough because someone likes me enough to fuck me.
This has been a huge part of my self-exploration over the last couple of years. I choose to not repeat these patterns anymore, though I’m aware it’s deep programming, and not a switch I can flip.
Men today need to get in touch with themselves on an emotional level. Men need to reach out to other men for love and intimacy. Learning to be intimate and emotionally expressive all the time will help us to commodify sex (and women) less. It will help us be the kind of men that we need to be if we’re going to stop rape and violence. It also feels really good, like playing with kittens, when you connect with somebody; and it stays with you – it doesn’t fade away the next day like the sex high does.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, and about your experience, in the comments below. Thanks for reading!