Sexual Partners, Does that Number Matter in Non-Monogamy?

Does the number of sexual partners matter to me the non monogamist as much as it did in my monogamy?
When I was monogamous, my number of sexual partners mattered to me, a lot.  It was a point of pride knowing that for the majority of my first relationship we were each others one and only sexual partner.  And after a few break ups, it mattered to him that we were even in the number of partners we had.  It was a strange hinge that kept us connected through the good and bad times.  My number of partners meant something to me in monogamy, and even more early on in my non monogamous journey.  I even kept a little black book.
I took a look in my book the other day, and while it brought back a few smiles, it also reminded me about what keeping track actually meant.  It was a way of keeping tabs on myself, and my body.  And I went on to realize just how blurry the people on that list are and why I have let the book collect dust.  It actually became hard to keep track of who was an actual number or not.  For example, do I count the non-consensual mistake that happened one Stampede morning?  Does someone taking advantage of me really constitute a sexual partner?  That one was tough to write down.  Or how about all the members of a foursome.  I was not physically intimate with the woman of it, other than kissing and some light petting.  So does she make my list? 
These blurred lines will become more and more frequent as time goes on.  And I guess there is a symmetry to getting older and putting more emphasis on how you feel rather than the year on your birth certificate.  But I cannot help but wonder, if I had remained monogamous, would that number have the same importance as it did early on.  Or is the putting away of the list linked somehow to me being non-monogamous and truly OK with it.
Or is there perhaps a third option?  And that is me growing up, and breaking free altogether with the notion of sluttiness.  I have shifted my frame of mind into a sex positive understanding of myself and those around me.  People’s sexual wants and desires are their own to explore and feel.  Just as mine are.  So what good does it do to allow my number to keep real estate in my head?  I cannot remember the last time I asked a person what their number was prior to making out or whatever could follow.  The number itself doesn’t matter.  Where my concern lies, is on safety, cleanliness and how the person will treat me.  None of those things are determined by an arbitrary number of sexual partners.
So here I find myself, no longer keeping track.  The numbers no longer matter to me.  This shift in thought was gradual, and then all but forgotten.  The focus has shifted from the mere number towards building real and solid foundations.  Towards finding a couple that really suits E and my lifestyle for more than a date or two.  A couple that wants us, as much as we want them, regardless of what is kept in a little black book.

Safe Sex, Before and After

Whenever you are sexually active there are risks, I go into a little more detail here.  One added element to being in an open relationship is that there are more parties involved when it comes to said risks which can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  A few months ago, E and I invited someone to share an evening with us.  The three of us had the safe sex talk, and all disclosed our STI and STD status’, along with the dates that we were last tested.  It is an easy talk to have, especially knowing that once the talk is over the fun can really begin.  Our evening ended up being quite an adventure, and we concluded the night on great terms.  The side lament to the night was that his partner was not ready herself to be involved in a more open lifestyle, but the door is always open to them.

Now fast forward to the new year and an email I received while out and about with E.  The gist of the email was that his wife was having some feminine issues, mixed with the help of the most trusted medical expert Google, could be connected to an STI.  My initial reaction was extreme annoyance that I was being asked if perhaps there was something that was not disclosed during our safe sex talk.  There are risks of course in being sexually active, and of course it is natural to assume that sometimes people lie.  And sometimes, people just flat out do not know that they have anything that could be shared between partners.  Again I was momentarily miffed. 
Once I talked the email over with E though, I came to realize that I was put off by his partner using the internet to self diagnose and not that he was confirming any changes to my sexual health.  In fact, I was reassured that we had met someone who was upfront and willing to ask the tough questions. He made the right call in emailing and I know that the email must have been incredibly difficult to write, especially with his partners health in question.  Safety in my books, should come before pleasure, and is incredibly difficult to rectify if it is only an after thought.  And as I found out, is a lot easier to deal with knowing that you did everything you could in the first place, conversation and prevention. 
I have learned a few surprising things during this experience, while also reinforcing what I already knew about E.  I am so grateful to have the partner that I do, one with whom I can openly discuss the tough stuff, and will remain objective even during the hard times.  And while E and I know we are both incredibly selfish and cautious with our bodies, a stranger does not.  Even with safe sex awareness and prevention there are always risks.  There is no such thing as 100 percent safe sex, and we are prepared to have the conversations when the need arises.  With that being said, the minor risks or occasional uncomfortable email would not ever be a reason to avoid a healthy sexual appetite.  

Picket Against Vasectomies Today!

I have heard quite a few radio ads as of late, trying to sell vasectomies as a quick and painless procedure for men.  Vasectomies are the number one method of male birth control and the ads are run at all hours of the day.  I have not heard any media discussion or any church groups that are working together to ban the airing of these ads.  Nor have I read any discussion that is working to force these doctors that provide this service to add in health warnings that vasectomies do not prevent STI’s or STD’s.  The men and their available method of birth control, is simply left alone.  Men do not need a referral from their doctors in most cases to book an appointment, they can simply make an appointment over the phone and ‘snip snip’ their boys no longer run the risk of creating babies.  

Where are the protests?  Where is the public outcry that governments should regulate the male body? 
Parents are free to choose to circumcise their baby boys, and grown men are free to choose to get a vasectomy or a circumcision.  Men have the freedom of choice when it comes to their penis.  Doctors may choose to council their patients out of having a vasectomy if too young but these are individual decisions without regulation or restriction from the government.  The responsibility lies in the highly educated medical professional making a recommendation to his patient and patient doing what he feels is right for him, nothing more and nothing less.  

In case anyone may be making the wrong conclusions from the above, let me be clear that I think all of the above is perfectly acceptable.  Men should be free to make their own choices with their own bodies free of government regulations and restrictions.  Men look to the medical professionals to perform a required service when they have worked towards an educated decision for their own bodies.  There is no counseling required, just a few waivers and paperwork followed by a quick in and out.  

Maybe this is in part because vasectomies are not being blamed for the disintegration of our society, or the demoralizing about what sex’s true purpose is.  Men are not being hounded and picketed for making a choice that stops the creation of life.  They are not murders for failing to allow their millions of swimmers from reaching their targeted goal.  Or perhaps the media just forgot to report on all the religious rights who are trying to end vasectomies today.  Just something to think about if you have ever tried to restrict a woman from doing what she feels is necessary to ensure that she prevents procreating when the time is not appropriate.  Men have freedom of choice, and woman should have no less than equal consideration.

Fantasies Sometimes Have Hidden Costs: Blood Donations

When I had the opportunity last summer, well to be accurate, when I created the opportunity last summer to hook up with two guys at the same time, I was over the moon.  It was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and after the weeks of planning and hard work setting it up, well I am still a little speechless over how well it turned out.  I was diligent in my planning, and I screened the participants thoroughly and assessed my risks versus pleasure.  I took careful care of my body before and after to ensure I minimized any foreseen physical risks.  You cannot 100% eliminate all risk, but you can certainly ask questions and be as informed as possible about the pros and cons.
There is one aspect though that I did not even consider in the cons section and have only been made aware of it over 6 months later.  And that is ‘blood is in you to give’, unless of course you engage in high risk sexual activity.  Any and all male to male contact, even with a condom, is considered a high risk activity for the risk of HIV/AIDS, and therefore gay men are ineligible to give blood.  Also females who have any sexual contact with a partner who has had previous male to male contact are temporarily deferred from giving blood.  My little fantasy  had the unforeseen potential to temporarily blacklist me from helping others by giving blood and could have potentially blacklisted the gentlemen who were right along with me had they engaged in any contact with each other and not just maintain all their amazing focus on me…
This makes me very angry, to the point that I can pointedly say that law is created out of hate and fear and not education.  All the blood donated is tested and screened, so if it is clear of disease why should it not be used?  Many others are outraged about this as well, thus there is a change that is currently being proposed.  And that is if you do not have any male to male contact for a minimum of 5 years then you may be eligible to donate.  However it still means that gay men are not allowed to donate, even if they have been completely monogamous with the same partner for over 5 years.  The risks of transmitting AIDS/HIV is deemed too high to potentially allow into the public, even if it was a matter of life and death.
Please see below for a direct quote from Canadian Blood Services;
3. HIV High Risk Activities:
There are a number of high-risk activities for acquiring HIV/AIDS that can indefinitely defer people from giving blood. People who have taken money or drugs for sex, since 1977 cannot give blood.
All men who have had sex with another man, even once, since 1977 are indefinitely deferred. This is based on current scientific knowledge and statistical information that shows that men who have had sex with other men are at greater risk for HIV/AIDS infection than other people.
Intravenous use of illegal street drugs/narcotics also constitutes a HIV high risk activity and results in indefinite deferral.
8. HIV High Risk Activities
Being the sexual partner of someone who has participated in high risk activities (other than the sexual partner of someone who has tested positive for HIV) will result in a temporary deferral.

Online Dating in My Youth

My first real foray into sexual exploration was through none other than the internet.  This was back when the internet was rather new and there was dial-up.  Home computers had no cameras or picture messaging options so imagination was needed.  I remember setting up my first profile for a chat site in which you had to list your age, height, hair colour and male or female.  Your profile had a little avatar which you could design a bit to suit your personality at that moment.  I was either 14 the first chat site I went on, or I lied and said I was 14 because to this day I still know my original online nickname.
These online sites were at first a way to simply chat with new people as I was a bit reserved at school and did not have a knack for making a bunch of new friends at once.  Once I gained a bit of confidence I discovered that you could chat while playing games, which I spent hours upon hours doing.  Oh yes, I was that girl who flirted while playing cribbage online.  But I also found that there were private chat rooms where things could get a little bit naughty.
Each time I logged on, I actually felt myself get a little bolder and braver.  The first time I was asked what I was wearing, I typed pj’s and then quickly logged off.  I later went back online and told the guy that the dial-up connection went down.  It was an excuse I would often use in the next year or so every time I felt things were going too far.  But as I said, I was using an online personality and I discovered I could change it at will.  I was flirting with a few guys at once, using different versions of me with each one.  Pushing boundaries and testing their reactions.  If I said one thing, would it turn a guy on?  If not what could I say that would get him going?  It was a major place for me to play, and explore my likes and dislikes as well as safely discover the likes and dislikes of men.
My parents were always curious as to why I never brought guys home.  Why I never dated, so much so that they were convinced I was gay.  How could I have possibly admitted that I was dating tones of guys online?  Back then that would be inconceivable.  I did not even admit this to my friends. It is not common place to admit that any sexual exploration was done through an online forum especially at the time I know I was doing it.  
Even today the idea of dating online still seems taboo.  Just last week I received a cartoon whereby they discuss the myth and reality of how people meet.  If the couple says “we met through friends” reality is they met at a bar.  “We met at a bar” reality is that they met online, and finally if they say “we met online”, then she’s a hooker.   Yes I laughed, but still I have always and will continue to tell people that E and I met online.  Why, because I think it is important in our sex negative world to show that relationships and not only booty calls are found online.  It is was and is still not common place to admit that any sexual exploration was done through an online forum especially at the time I know I was doing it.