Lessons In Mattress Maths

Posted on: January 17th, 2012 by Joy Niemack
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It’s not the number of sexual encounters you’ve had that matters, it’s how you feel about them. Find out why here…

Recently, I found a cocktail serviette shoved into an old diary. On it was the list of guys I’d slept with up until that point in the late Nineties. I remember the night a friend and I helped each other tally our totals. (“What about the waiter at that wedding in Cape Town?”) To fit my list, I had to write on all four squares.

Yes, I know.

Let’s just say that the total was more than my age at the time… Sure, I had a lot of fun, but in my twenties I was a premature hooker-upper, ever hopeful that sex would lead to love. Occasionally it did, but mostly it didn’t.

Evidently I needed to learn that lesson many times over. Still, I don’t regret any of it (and the sex was always safe). I can’t regret something I learnt from.


  1. The “Slut” Stigma
  2. Coital Calculations
  3. Your Number’s Weight
  4. Are You Lying Down?

The “Slut” Stigma

17494-benefits2-7334.jpgMany of us do the tally but are not as comfortable with the bottom line. (Take, for example, Anna Faris’s recent rom-com, What’s Your Number?, in which she plays a woman about to date her twentieth guy. Freaked out by what she feels is too high a number, she sifts through her past to see if she missed The One.) Fact: 35 percent of Women’s Health readers have lied to a partner about the number of notches on their bedpost. “In SA, the more sexual partners a man has had, the higher his social status; with women, it’s something to be ashamed of,” says WH sexpert Dr Elna Rudolph. “These societal views discriminate unfairly against women.” While guys are applauded for having slept with a lot of women, our culture is still not ready to consider women interesting and powerful for having a high number. And while having a low tally carries less of a stigma, women with very little experience – for reasons other than making the conscious choice not to hook up – might not be bragging about that either.


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