Around a decade ago, just before Millennium Eve, an ex asked me how many people I had slept with. Not wishing to lie, but not wanting to reveal the truth, I asked relationships, flings or one night stands? And he stated relationships. Phew!
At the time, I wasn't so comfortable openly being such a harlot. I'm still not at times.
Worryingly though, I'm wasn't sure I could actually remember all my past liaisons, relationships - yes, flings - most (there were always one or two that were forgotten), one night stands - maybe, if I thought long and hard.
As such, the (first) list was born. Scribbled on a piece of paper duly folded and hidden behind the cover of my diary, a list of men I had been involved with, not all sexually, but intimately.
There was a code indicating the acts we have done together, whether it was a snog, masturbation (on me), masturbastion (on him), oral (on me), oral (on him) or penetration, it was noted.
A few years later and a different ex, a jealous and possessive ex found the list. This particular ex found it difficult to comprehend that I had been intimate with a man other than him, never mind a list of them.
The list was destroyed along with the rest of things pertaining to my past that bothered him. Diaries, letters and photos, all gone. I thought that my actions would show how much I loved him and placate his inner-anguish but it just fed his control over me.
Earlier this year the (second) list was born. This time it was harder to recollect former lovers, never mind the specific acts we shared.
The list is by year and with each year that passes, the count starts at one again. The code is more simple than before. A name in bold denotes a relationship and asterisk indicates a one night stand or one-off.
Every now and again, I will recall a lover that I hadn't remembered and have to add him and a new total is calculated.
How many people one has slept with shouldn't be judged as negatively it is. I still think a more dangerous question to ask a partner is 'How many people have you truly been in love with?'.