By Ally Lopez > Senior > Journalism > University of Maryland, College Park; Photo by AR > Sophomore > Graphic Design > UMBC
As you accumulate credits throughout your college career, stop to consider another number you may be building upon: your sexual partner count. But as these four years are largely spent experimenting, it’s often difficult for us students to know – realistically – what does promiscuity mean for a relationship? How many partners are too many?
“Generally speaking, someone who has a high number of partners would be thought to be a little more of a risk-taker, and puts a higher priority on having sex without it being a component of a relationship,” said Sherry Henig, Ph.D, a psychologist in Plainview, New York. “An individual with a lower number, in general, probably is more cautious and attaches more importance to sex in a relationship.”
We all (should) know by now that the best way to avoid acquiring a sexually transmitted infection is to abstain from sex altogether, especially considering the statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that sexually active adolescents and young adults are at higher risk; however, we all know, we rarely take this suggestion into true account.
Henig added that “because of the prevalence of STDs, I think for the most part I would imagine that the emotional effect would be pretty uncomfortable. The more sexual partners a person has, the more likely they are to contract a sexual disease.”
University of South Florida student Matt Burrows agreed with this sentiment. He described the issue of high sexual partnership with an analogy: “Think of it like this: a key that opens a lot of locks is considered a master key, while as a lock that can be opened by a bunch of keys is, well, a crappy lock,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”
The effects are not only physical, however. Henig added that in some young adults, high partnership in their experimental years can come back to “haunt them.”
“It may be in the back of their minds indefinitely,” she said. “They may forever wonder what it meant that their partner had to have so many hook-ups, and they may perpetually have difficulty feeling secure in the relationship.”
While it is important to keep in mind the potential for catching some serious cooties from promiscuous lifestyles, don’t feel immediately ashamed by your hook-up ways. Henig said after awhile – especially if you enter a committed relationship – the guilt may lose its resonance. Students also believe there are some perks to having a high number.
“Experience is a boost to your self-confidence,” said Burrows. “The ability to sexually please your partner only comes with practice whether it comes from them or someone else. Once you know you have that power of pleasure, it can only get better from there."