Question: How willing are you to share your “number,” a.k.a. the number of people you’ve slept with? Not so much, right?
Truth is, women still hold back on opening up about sexuality to avoid being judged in a society that remains largely patriarchal, a society that continues to celebrate men for sexual experience while condemning women for the same. (Proof: In a similar article we did with male respondents, only three men used fake names; the rest used their real names. In this article, all female respondents opted for fake names.)
Here, we got eight Pinays to spill not just their numbers, but their attitudes toward their numbers, the troubles their numbers have gotten them in, and more.
Meet the women:
Dolly*: 21, in a relationship, has slept with 1 man
Toni*: 29, married, has slept with 3 men
Jam*: 26, in a domestic partnership, has slept with 10 men
Anne*: 33, married, has slept with 12 men
Ursula*: 35, in a relationship, has slept with 20-30 people
(3 women, the rest men)
Stef*: 27, in a relationship, has slept with 30-40 people
(5 women, the rest men)
Daisy*: 23, in a relationship, has slept with 45-50 people
(1 woman, the rest men)
Maria*: 25, in a relationship, has slept with 74 people
(53 women, 21 men)
The women we talked to think the average number for Pinays is around five to 20.
Toni, who thinks Pinay’s average is from one to five, believes that Filipinas are still conservative when it comes to sex. “Giving it to someone is not entirely easy for Filipinas to decide on,” she says. Jam holds the same view, with four as her bet for Pinays’ average number.
Anne, Ursula, and Stef peg Pinays’ average at somewhere from five to 15.
Daisy, who is at 45 to 50 partners at 23 years old, has a more liberal view of Filipinas’ sex lives. “I personally think it depends on the age,” she says. “For women my age, I would say the average is around 10 to 20. This is a time to be alive and enjoy our sexuality and discover.”
Dolly and Maria, although at opposite ends of the spectrum at one and 74, respectively, both feel that there is no standard number for Filipinas. “As a Filipina woman myself, I think your number is whatever you’re comfortable with,” Maria says.
It’s not uncommon for women to lie about their numbers to avoid judgment.
Dolly, who was at zero until recently, had no qualms saying she was a virgin in the past because she had promised herself that she would wait until marriage. Now that she has earned her first point, she doesn’t reveal her number anymore “just because I’m still trying to live the words I swore by.”
Anne, who has had only two boyfriends but 12 sexual partners, admits to fibbing. She says, “I lie to all of them; I tell them they are my first non-boyfriend lay. And when I’m asked how many exes I’ve had, I tell them the truth: one. Even my second boyfriend who is now my husband believes that he’s only the second guy I’ve slept with!”
Toni, whose number is three, normally doesn’t share her tally to stave off judgment, and also because she feels like her number is way below others’ anyway. “Sometimes it feels like I did not make the most of my single life and that I have a boring one in the eyes of other people,” she says.
Ursula admits to opening up about her number if the person asking is open-minded and not judgmental. Otherwise, she gives a safe answer by saying she doesn’t remember the exact figure.
Jam, Stef, and Daisy are all confident about their sexuality and don’t mind revealing their tallies, although Stef admits to giving a guy a lower number once because she “didn’t want him to feel bad that his number was lower.”
Maria, who has racked up the most sexual partners, has lied about her number multiple times, giving only a range of five to seven when asked. “There’s always this view that if you have sex with a lot of people, you’re a slut,” she says. “I just don’t want to be judged for something I do intimately or in my personal time.”
When faced with other women’s digits themselves, these girls hold off on judgment.
Even though she has the lowest count among the girls, Dolly doesn’t pass judgment on women who have made it to the higher ranges. “People have sex for different reasons and according to what they believe,” she says. “Others do it for fun while some do it to express love. There are just too many reasons and factors to consider.”
“The number of people that someone has slept with, high or low, has no bearing on what I think of him or her as a person,” Ursula says. “Maybe I would just assume that the one with the higher number is more sexually adventurous.”
Stef doesn’t care one way or another whether other women’s numbers are high or low. “As long as they do it safely and they enjoy it, and they don't fuck married or taken guys, all good.”
For Jam, just the fact that women are now more in touch with their sensual selves should be celebrated—whether their numbers are high or low. She says, “We women are now freer to express ourselves and are not afraid to actually ask for what we want in the bedroom.”
For her part, Toni tries not to be a judgy tita when she learns about other women’s numbers. “I will not be a hypocrite and tell you that I don't negatively judge women who have higher numbers, in the same way that I will not deny that I think those who have lower numbers had a monotonous life,” she confesses. “But I am also quick to watch over my thoughts because, at the end of the day, if it made you happy, if you're okay now, then we're all happy.”
The girls are unanimous: It’s unfair that women are condemned for having higher digits while men are celebrated for it.
“Although we live in a time where there have been so many advances in the lives of women, women’s pursuit of sexual satisfaction seems to be a taboo still,” Jam says. “As a woman, more so a human being, I will do what I please with my body and demand not to be looked down upon. Men get to talk about it during rounds of beer, why can’t we?”
Ursula cries foul over the double standard, too. “Women are still slut-shamed if they admit to sleeping with lots of people,” she says. “Enjoying sex for sex’s sake shouldn’t strictly be for men, you know.”
“There’s so much shaming and sabotaging women’s sexuality and this gives us feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and shame when we should be feeling the opposite—bliss, orgasms, etc.,” Stef complains.
Maria blames her decision to keep mum on her number on this this double standard. She says, “I don’t say my number out loud because people are going to be like, ‘ay, mabaho na pekpek niyan,’ or ‘cheater siya kasi ganito ganyan,’ or ‘sex lang naman habol ng babaeng ‘yan, sana naging pokpok na lang.’ It’s really degrading; even if you don’t want to listen to the comments kasi ‘di naman ganoon, it still affects you at the end of the day.
“On the other hand, ‘Pag lalaki ka and you’re sexually active, it’s like showing na gwapo ka, or malakas appeal mo at iba pa.”
When it comes to exchanging numbers with an S.O., the women are divided.
Dolly and Toni would want to know, with Toni going so far as to say, “I love discussing even the nitty-gritty details of it!” She continues, “It may sometimes give me insecurities, but I’m all for complete and detailed information.”
While Jam at first wanted to push the issue of exchanging numbers with her current S.O., his refusal to give in has helped her become more accepting of a serious partner’s relationship and sexual history. “At the end of the day, all the other numbers will not matter,” she says. “What matters is what is now and whether or not you want and choose to stay with that number. It’s now about choosing to be in the relationship you’re in and not letting numbers get to you.”
The same way she keeps her real number a secret from her husband, Anne says she’d rather not know what her hubby’s count is. “Our insecurities might get the better of us,” she reasons. “It’s better to know that we are the only one for each other right now.”
While the rest of the girls would share their numbers with their S.O. when asked, they think it’s not important to trade tallies in the first place.
“Honestly, I’d rather it not be a thing,” Stef says. “My partner and I only revealed our numbers when we got ourselves tested, because we were starting to date exclusively and wanted to have unprotected sex.”
Maria thinks people’s sexual pasts are overrated in a relationship. “You’re in a relationship to have a clean slate and not look back on what happened in the past,” she says.
Their sex numbers have brought some of these women love troubles.
Dolly, who until recently was saving herself for marriage, reveals that her being a virgin made a guy hesitant to date her. “He had done it with all his exes, and that made him think several times before going for me,” she shares.
Jam’s number has presented problems even before a relationship could take off. “Some guys are not so accepting of women who have high numbers,” she relates. “They will always end up using the numbers to win arguments and feel bad about themselves, then eventually make me feel bad about myself.”
Daisy reveals that a guy had judged her for her digits in the past, and that she ended up bailing. “Let’s just say I’m not dating that person anymore,” she says. “I can’t stand judgmental people. Women always have roles to fulfill and reputations to keep and protect; I call BS on that.”
For Maria, a serious relationship went sour for the same reason. She shares, “Feeling niya pag ‘di kami magkasama, may nilalandi or may kasama akong iba na dadalhin ko sa kama. Nakakainis lang ‘yung ganun.”
For these women, sex in a relationship with one partner still trumps no-strings-attached sex with different partners.
“I just do not like the thought of sharing my body with everyone,” Dolly explains. “Whenever I have sex, I feel like I am giving a part of me to the other person, and I don’t want to give that around.”
Toni reveals, “Let’s just say I’ve had the best of both worlds, at a single period of time, and while it gives you the thrill of a lifetime, it’s mentally disturbing and the guilt stays forever with you.”
Jam feels the same about casual sex leaving a bad taste in the mouth. “I will always find myself feeling bad after a no-strings-attached thing,” she admits. “I am a person who will want deeper connections eventually. I feel like I’m already at that age and have reached a number where I can say, ‘Hey, I am not here to play games.’”
For Ursula, she simply outgrew the appeal of NSA sex. “Back when I was younger and more adventurous, I didn’t mind the no-strings-attached arrangements,” she says. “I’m done with that phase so I’m monogamous now.”
While Stef prefers exclusive sex with an S.O., if she’s single, she’s all for the NSA booty with different partners. “It’s like food; you don’t know what you’ll be in the mood for on a certain day,” she shares. “If I’m single and I have NSA sex, I usually keep a roster of four to seven guys.”
Maria is also quick to point out that once she’s in a serious rel, she’s not looking elsewhere for satisfaction. “Basically my motto in love and relationships is if I’m in a relationship, I won’t have sex with other people except that person,” she reveals. “But if I’m single, go lang ng go.”
High or low, the women have no regrets.
Save for Anne, who for religious reasons wishes her 12 had been down to one instead, all the girls we talked to are fine with the numbers they’ve racked up.
“I’m happy not because my number’s low, because if it were higher I think I’d still be happy,” Toni clarifies. “More like, I’m happy because I know I did it with people I wanted to do it with, with our without emotional attachment.”
For her part, Jam is happy with her number, because ultimately, her number is all her doing. She says: “It’s not like all the numbers were meaningless. Most of them were the best people that have been part of my life; I had deep connections with most of them. It was my choice to end up with this number. I was not at all forced into it. It was all me exploring my sensual and sexual side, which happens to us especially in our naïve and young years.
“Ika nga ni Katy Perry, ‘No regrets, just love.’”
*Names have been changed