Lying to your lover is pretty much the death knell of any relationship. Once you take honesty out of the equation, you are pretty much living on borrowed time. But lying is exactly what Daily Mail sex expert Tracy Cox says you SHOULD be doing when it comes to your "sex number" -- meaning the number of sex partners you've had in your life.
Women should never, ever tell their man how many people they've been with, according to Cox, since his definition of "promiscuity" is "sleeping with men other than him." But she says if pressed, a woman should always say she's been with 10 people. Period.
And yet, is that true? Is lying by omission REALLY the healthiest way to tackle this dicey subject?
"Dr. Romance" Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and the author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, says no.
"Men and women don't need to tell all on the first meeting or date, but I think before you get to sex, honesty is the best policy," says Dr. Tessina. "Maybe that will slow people down a bit and give them a chance to get to know whom they're about to have sex with. I think it's completely unfair to marry someone who doesn't know your secrets." Indeed.
We asked eight men what they think when women reveal their actual "sex numbers" and the answers both surprised and moved us.
1.) "It would be extremely hypocritical of me to judge any woman by the number of men she's been with, considering what I did in my 20s and early 30s. Simply put, sex is a good thing. More people should have at it. Those who aren't committed to somebody else should never feel ashamed for having sex with as many people as they want as long as those people are doing it safely, both physically and emotionally."
-- 35-year-old father of one
2.) "I don't really think in terms of numbers ... I have always preferred 'experience' and 'skills' to purity. For me it is more about sexiness, sensuality, openness, and very few limits. Guess that's why my wife and I are a perfect match."
-- 39-year-old father of three
3.) "Ten isn't a big deal if she's 30, but if she's 20, then maybe. But in general, more means she has some experience and comfort and knows what she likes (and what to do!)."
-- 45-year-old father of two
4.) "Personally, I don't care. If I were dating today and the number were high, I would just chalk it up to: 'She likes sex, that's good news for me, and we should probably get tested before we fool around.' I'd be more freaked out by a very low number than by a very high number. That's a huge change from when I was younger, when I would've flipped that statement."
-- 32-year-old man
5.) "I would say that there isn’t a straight cut-off. It would depend on the woman’s age, if she had a bad period in her life, etc. I think you should judge the person for who they are and who you think they will be in the future more than who they were."
-- 37-year-old father of three
6.) "It all depends on their age. If a woman is in her late 20s or older, it's one thing. When the number starts to approach the 20s is when I would start to wonder. Before I met my wife, I had been with many more than her, and it certainly would have been a double standard if I questioned a woman if they were over that number, too."
-- 43-year-old father of two
7.) "I could not care less about their numbers unless it's really egregious like 50. Here's what counts to me -- can you name everyone on your list? THAT tells me if you take sexual intimacy seriously or not. In the past few years I've been involved with women with numbers as low as 3 and as high as 18. Having too low a number can be a negative as well -- lack of experience and naïveté are possible in such a situation. I don't have any deal breakers."
-- 39-year-old father of one
8.) "Triple digits would be impressive. As long as I'm the only one sleeping with the woman at the time, and she is STD-free, I say women are entitled to try to have as much sex as they want (just like we men seem to do). No deal breaker for me. I'm more interested in health. The more practice, the merrier. I also don't think any number is too low, although if they've had zero partners, I'd find that odd."
-- 33-year-old man
And there you have it. Eight men. No judgment. Why do we women feel like we need to chase these invisible standards then? We are allowed to explore our sexuality and not feel that we will be criticized for it, right? Besides, who would really want a man who has a dealbreaker that stringent anyway?
And, really, honesty is what makes things hot.
"Sexual honesty leads to sexual satisfaction," says Dr. Tessina. "Couples who can talk about their sexual needs and wants become more effective at pleasing and enjoying each other."
Did you lie to your partner about your sexual "number"?