My ‘Number’ Keeps Growing After 4 Years of Online Dating. Help!


Hi Evan,

How do you avoid putting “notches on your headboard” while dating, yet still enjoy a satisfying physical, monogamous relationship? I am a 52 year old attractive woman, and I have been dating online for about 4 years. I haven’t had a problem meeting lots of men with whom I have chemistry. While I don’t jump in bed with them right away, we will have sex once we get to know each other.

The problem is, most people will put their best feet forward in the beginning, and so you start having the physical relationship, then at about the 6 month mark, the red flags start glowing. You may find out his idea a good credit score is being one step ahead of foreclosure or you may meet his family and you realize you aren’t going to be happy listening to the banjo on the front porch.

While I think of myself as pretty discerning and have high expectations, I have taken your advice and widened my parameters. However, it seems in the last 4 years online dating is making me feel like an “Online Whore.” What’s a woman who enjoys a physical relationship and wants to be monogamous to do? Do I have to just think more like a man? It seems in this day and age, trying to wait for sex until you know someone thoroughly isn’t realistic. I am right now taking a vow of celibacy.

Frustratingly yours,

What you call being an ‘online whore’ is what other people, including myself, call ‘dating’


Great letter, Mary. The banjo part nearly gave me the chills.

However, based on your text above, it doesn’t seem to me that there’s ANYTHING wrong. What you call being an ‘online whore’ is what other people, including myself, call ‘dating’.

That’s right, Mary. Unless you still buy into Mom’s explanation of sex – ‘When a man loves a woman’ – intercourse tends to happen before marriage. It happens before the six month mark. It happens before the declaration of love. And hey, if you’re lucky, it can even happen before the entrée. Point is, you’re conflating two different points and coming to the wacky conclusion that a vow of celibacy is just the right tonic.

Yeah, I can’t think of a better solution for a sensual woman than to swear off sex.

Your issue isn’t with sex. It’s with your antiquated, double-standard view of sex. That’s right. You’re still obsessed with the number of people you’ve slept with, when, you know what? Nobody else cares. ‘Notches on the bedpost’. Not even GUYS talk like that anymore. If you sleep with men you’re seeing for two months, four months, or six months, you’re not a slut. You’re a normal, sexually active woman. And you need to stop beating yourself up on yourself for racking up numbers. See, unless you get hit by a bus, your number just keeps going up and up and up. …

So if you are a discerning dater and you commit to – and thereby sleep with – a new man every three months, what’s the logical conclusion? You’ll sleep with four men a year as long as you don’t have a long-term relationship. Do that over 5 years, and you’ll sleep with 20 men. Do that over 10 years, you’ll sleep with 40 men! That’s 40 penises!! Time to buy a new bedpost, or maybe use a softer material for easier carving.

So unless you want to stay with that banjo picker to keep your numbers down, I’m afraid you’re going to have to boff another guy someday.

I’m only teasing you, Mary, not because I’m not sympathetic, but because it’s impossible for society to move on from its double standards until its enlightened women do the same. Are guys ready to hear that you slept with 40 men? Nope. No way. No how. But it’s a shame because there’s nothing wrong with it. Not logically. After all, you could hypothetically have a series of serious one year relationships for 40 sexually active years, and still end up at the same number. 40. Which doesn’t make you loose, or a slut, or a whore, or any of the things you choose to denigrate yourself. It makes you human.

So unless you want to stay with that banjo picker to keep your numbers down, I’m afraid you’re going to have to boff another guy someday. And another. And another.

Thus, your real issue should be figuring out why it’s so tricky to find a keeper, not whether monogamous sex with a six-month boyfriend makes you feel icky.

Frankly, I’d guess that not having sex with a six-month boyfriend would feel a helluva lot worse.

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  1. 21
    Cornelius Prescott

    I think Mary has more serious problems than worrying about how many men she has slept with, if her reasons for breaking off a relationship with someone she cares about, after 6 months, are as trivial as a low credit score, or his family members. Mary’s position on love is the only red flag she should be concerned about. Just me.

    1. 21.1

      Having worked in consumer credit, there’s nothing trivial about a low credit score.

  2. 22

    @ Kim …well sure it’s perfectly fine to sleep with as many men as you’d like on an ongoing basis as long as they all know you’re sexually active with other men. The flipside to that lovely situation is how many people want to jump in bed tonight with someone who got laid last night ?? Men or women ?? Ladies ?? Do you want to be kissing a guy tonight who was “downtown” on a woman last night ??
    Same for guys ?? I’m not saying what’s right or wrong…I’m just saying these are things people that actually have feelings towards someone they’re dating think about. I don’t think most womens’s brains let them pull this off that easily.
    Back to the online thing though ….it’s just sooo easy now for women who never even used to go out in public to be approached to put up a profile and get 100 responses in 3 days. All of them basically saying the same thing in a round about way “I’d like to have sex with you if YOU deem me worthy”. Of course the numbers are going to go up just by convenience !!

  3. 23
    Evan Marc Katz

    Cornelius –

    How nice of you to join us! Long time listener, first time caller?


  4. 24

    Posts 8 & 9: that’s why there is a “know” in the biblical sense. 😛

    Just being facetious. 😉

    And thanks, Lance. 🙂

  5. 25

    Regarding high standards when “shopping” for a long-term partner, I say the fit has got to be right, and if it is not, 6 months is a good amount of time to get to know someone well enough to know whether they are right for you. It hardly sounds as if Mary is not open to accepting human “flaws” among her partners; she’s just not found a keeper yet.

    Being single is basically a B+ for me. If I am going to pursue a LT relationship with a man, I want the relationship to be an A.

  6. 26

    Wow…it takes 6 months for the red flags to start glowing? They usually arrange themselves for me on the first few dates. Personally I have yet to have a physical relationships with someone I have met on-line–what’s your secret to finding them?!? !

    Anyway, the last time I shared my “number” with someone was due to our being a physical relationship and deciding to do The Stranger (free paper in Seattle) sex quiz together, which included that question. My partner’s number was higher than mine, but not by much! A number is just a number, but you may want to hold off on sex early on (due to it’s blinding hormonal effects) and find out who you are really with first. It may suck to find out, oh, maybe they’re not someone you want to get naked with, but there ya go. I’m not sure you can be discerning and sleep with a considerable number of men you meet on-line, at the same time. Decide what is important to you. Do you want a LTR, or does the girl just want to have fun?

    Good luck!


  7. 27

    Commitment can be fantastic. Having had many previous partners is not as important as finding one who makes you happy.

  8. 28
    Tasha Patterson

    Through much of my live, even though I am still young, i’ve tried to seek love, with thoughts that, you should save yourself for this, “special person”. But of course you have all the things each perticular person wants in a woman, weather you want a pretty girl, a good personality, or a fun lover. But i’ve never come in contact with this, “true love bond”. Just a bunch of women and men looking. Saying to me, “Yes, i’ve been with that one, it was fun, but it didn’t work out.”
    We have come to a conclusion, that maybe, there is no true love.
    It’s just something people made up to give them reason to marry. A invisible bond between two human beings, believing that it would carry them through the thick and thin. But, there are challenges, there are mistakes. And different view points. What is love? people ask me.
    How can I be sure? What I can find is that people have sex, Sex and love are very different things. But they have a connection. Where love goes, sex lingers. Or some believe that sex brings forth love. But in other cases, it brings hardships. For sex, is the basis of life. There are some that don’t believe in God. Or any religion. They believe in Living, Loving and Laughing. But they believe in Love. But what is it? Where does it begin? Does the heart really serve a purpose other than to keep us alive? Or is it the brain, that comprehends our thoughts. Making us believe in this, “love”. I have seen highschool girls, throw away their virginity, in hopes of “love” and marrages. Their so young. And I have seen the tears. I was confused once. I didn’t understand what I was doing. I saw life brought into the world, a baby, but the mother was not ready. But she believed so much, that she would have no regrets, and that baby died. Their blind to see mistakes sometimes. They don’t know when to ask for help. When you give yourself to a man or women, should it not be forever, or is forever to long. Would you love that woman or man enough, to say no to even the most attractive man or woman, enough to never break your wedding promise, to stay true to that one you “love”. Some cheat. And others give up. And temptation could be behind all of it. Tempted to cheat, tempted to get love, tempted to feel sex. It’s in our nature as humans, to make mistakes, but with all the mistakes we have seen, where has the virgin gone, does she exsist anymore? or is a virgin just a guy or female that cannot get someone to sleep with them, or maybe, they believe. We all search for love. But in reality, it is we the humans that make love, not some magic bond. We must take it into our own hands, we have to understand what we want as individuals. Not base it off of luck of the draw. Sex is a very serious matter, but with it so open these days, we do fear the future of what is considered love. Perhaps, we shouldn’t teach ourselves to save anything. Maybe we are just animals and just have sex whenever, it is in our hands. So will you give yourself to any man or woman, and believe that its love. Only to be cast down, and then you get up, and try again, and again and again, until your “heart” can’t take anymore screw ups. Or do you believe you’ll just try until your inpregnated with a child or left with one, because you did not wait, did not wait for “love” to appear to you, the line between sex and love is strong, many challenges await a marrage, we all sin, but some prove to be stronger than the other, good luck with your life, choice is life, and you only get one, use it wisely.

    With love

  9. 29

    If you reach your hand out for a mans love, and you give him your body, Tell him this.

    My lover, after all this, i would like to know more about you, I am searching for someone, i can be with forever, and i you passed my “expectations”. So in order for me to know more about you, i will give myself to you, the final piece of me, and if you stay with me forever, when i am your wife, you can have it all the time, and tonight you get lucky. Although if you are the one, i am sad to say i cannot give you my virginity, but if this is “love”, should it matter?

    In the near future, the femensist and sexist both believe that, virginity won’t matter, and most women here will want to bear a child, but “moms explanation of love” is just a way to keep teenagers from having sex, then why not let them do anything they want. As long as you tell them to use protection, it should be okay, maybe if they see enough young teenage boys, they will find their love. We consider teenagers to be restless and young, but if you just sleep with a man or woman to find if you love them, then let my son or daughter be with who she/he wants. What examples do we bring to the table. Maybe when a daughter grows up, and comes to her mother pregent, that girl will say, mother, i tried to learn about a guy i think i loved, but the condom broke, and the mother will say, its okay my daughter, i did the same. Sex, it’s a toy for some, but with the movies and half naked women, it does give Modern Sexism a wall to lean on. But the movies arn’t all fake, sex is apart of many peoples lives. We sexists believe that there is a virgin, and like wise we portray it as a woman, and this woman, she wears a mask and shows no skin, but you can hear her voice and hear her opinion, and she is strong in the head, she knows what she wants, but she won’t take anything off for it, and there is the advarage woman, the girl who takes off her clothes sometimes, who shows her face, for attention, for love, for her own reasons. And she gives herself away many times, and eventually, she settles down, but she has flaws, and sometimes the woman divorces, but the virgin, she waits, and waits, until she finds that someone, and from that true love is born, but this will never be the case, human life, will always contain sex, the virgin, is forever gone, let the black reign seep into our minds, let our teenagers go out and get pregnent, because we, we, were no different. There is no such thing as love, but there is such thing as carring dearly for someone. Sex is not a sin. In todays world, it is the beginning of life, and it is the way life is lived. If you search of love and have sex to find it, why look for love at all. You can’t have sex when you first meet me, but in 6 months, you’ll get it.
    You are correct, numbers don’t matter. For once you’ve done it once, you will crave it forever, it becomes a part of you. It becomes a part of your life. A woman could have sex every night if she wanted to, a man could get lucky maybe every 2 months, Prostitution is that mans answer, it lives even as its illegal, and if that man is that desparate, we will seek one. Sex, will always be easy to get, depending on the person you want to be with, it will get harder. Our leader has many philosophys, some that arn’t even sexist at all. But I will always believe, that if a woman is portrayed on screen as a half naked tool. And will give herself away after a time line, or a mear test, we can not fill teenagers minds with lies of love, sex can no longer be forbidden to them. Adults have lied for a long time, imagines of love, that just turn to sex. In sex you search for love, or in love you get sex. Choose your path, give yourself to a man, whats one hit for a lifetime of love right?

  10. 30

    I think that numbers matter for many men – you just don ´t have to tell them!

  11. 31

    I am 50   and since I have divorced my about a year ago, I have slept with about 16 guy which I met online, I found that I am not attracted to men my own age and I have no intention of marrying again. My ex wanted me to be a frumpy housewife, fat and ugly while he used to look at TEEN porn on the net. I don’t think any woman should feel guilty about how many guys she slept with. I f a guy asks you, just lie about your number, remember, men lie all the time!

  12. 32

    @ Zann #11
    LOL… Slut proof after 50… OMG that was priceless!!!   I will have to tell my sisters about that.   I agree with Kim #14 that really is t-shirt worthy!

  13. 33

    Get comfortable with your sexuality. I’ve been married for nearly 30 years to a wonderful woman who has no desire. She checks all the boxes except one. At first I believed that as we grew older she would trust more and thus thaw. Nope her mother’s twisted christian values labeled intimacy as dirty and destructive. Therapy has not changed anything. Intimacy always felt one sided and I could tell she was doing out of duty. After a gradual decline of once a month it has been 2 years and she seems relieved that it’s over.

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