Do the notches on your bedpost really matter?
Deirdre Reynolds asks if comparing your 'magic number' with your partner is ever a good idea.
Girls reputedly half theirs and guys double it -- so go on, be honest, what's your Magic Number?
It's the ultimate 'kiss and tell' question we all secretly want to know about our partner, yet never want to divulge ourselves: How many people have you slept with?
But now a new movie has reopened the double-standard dating debate about the number of notches on a gal's bedpost -- and how many is too many.
In rom-com What's Your Number?, in cinemas now, Anna Faris plays Ally -- a twenty-something singleton who goes into meltdown after discovering she's had twice the national average of sexual partners.
Convinced she's no longer marriage material, Ally goes in search of her past 20 boyfriends, hoping to rediscover that one of them is 'The One' -- the best ex of her life, if you will.
Stateside, the chick flick hasn't gone down too well with the critics. "I know I'm a guy, but who cares how many people so-and-so has slept with?" dismissed Chicago Times movie critic Michael Phillips. "To have the entire movie hung up on this issue ... feels all wrong."
But is it really such a ludicrous premise for a film?
"I totally understand why people get hung up on their magic number and that of their partner -- because I've often been curious about it too," says Anne Sexton, Hot Press sex columnist. "Around 75% of the men I've dated have asked me about my magic number, while fewer than 25% have asked me how many times I've ever been in love.
"Personally, I think that information is much more important in a relationship."
Rightly or wrongly, the magic number is still a burning issue for young female moviegoers today, according to Faris.
"I only have two [exes]," says the actress (34), who's married to co-star Chris Pratt. "[But] I think there is a bit of a moral identity, as women, that is somehow linked to the number of people we've been with and how much experience we have, and whether or not we should feel guilty for those experiences.
"It's a fun conversation to have sometimes, unless you're asking your husband how many people he's been with."
Having kissed the frogs to find your prince, is it a good idea to open The Ex Files?
"Never," says marriage therapist Owen Connolly of Counsellor.ie. "Discussing your magic number with your partner is a total no-no. When two people commit to each other, they have to draw a definite line under all previous relationships.
"Nowadays, people are sexually active much younger -- so by the time they're ready to settle down, a person's 'magic number' may be higher than ever.
"For guys especially, finding out that their girlfriend has more sexual experience than them can lead to problems.
"They can torment themselves wondering if they live up to her previous lovers or, worse, use it as ammunition later on during a row.
"I'm very much against the idea of revealing how many people you've slept with to your partner," adds psychologist Owen. "Anyway, it's irrelevant -- all you need to know is that this person is the one for you, and you're for them."