A variety of partners?

Originally Published: September 13, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: January 25, 2013
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Dear Alice,

Is it okay if I like to have sex with a lot of females? This question is from a male. I am a young man and I am wondering about the likelihood of this habit extending into my married life (if I get married).

Dear Reader,

It’s likely that most people have some idea of what number of sexual partners they’re ‘okay’ with, both for themselves and for their partners. This number could differ greatly from person to person — one person’s way too many is another person’s not many at all. Does it feel okay to you to like having sex with a lot of different partners? Why or why not? What number of sexual partners do you think is normal to have? What values guide your decision? Are you worried about what your future partners might think of your proclivity? Are you talking about during one session or one partner at a time?

There are a variety of differences among people’s thoughts, desires, and behaviors, and yours could change in the future — so it’s difficult to say for certain whether your current habits would extend into your potential married life. If you think you would like to have sex with a lot of women due to curiosity, desire for variety, or wanting to experiment with or experience many women, this does not necessarily have an impact on your future wedded bliss. Having had many partners in your life doesn’t mean that you can’t remain monogamous during marriage — if that’s what you want. If and when you marry, you can make a conscious decision to maintain a monogamous relationship. Perhaps after experiencing a variety of female sexual partners, you may decide to choose to be with only one person who chooses only to be with you.

On the other hand, you may decide that variety is what you enjoy most. There are many people who choose to maintain, and even cultivate, that variety after marriage, either consensually (i.e., open or polyamorous relationships) or non-consensually (i.e., cheating). You might reflect on some of the following questions: Are you okay with your partner having other partners? Would you consider being in an open relationship? Would you be okay with cheating on your wife?

If you are not talking about a desire, but rather a need or compulsion for a series of partners, or if you do not feel in control of your sexual behavior, you may want to consider counseling, therapy, or a 12-step group to explore your feelings. If you’re a Columbia student on the Morningside campus you can check out Counseling and Psychological Services, or Mental Health Services on the CUMC campus, to speak with someone.

In the end, you are in control of your life and your choices, and only you can decide what okay means to you. But regardless of how many partners you pursue in your life, please think about using safer sex techniques!

Alice