For the one night stands who were not mistakes

The fabulous Stuart F Taylor interprets a gang bang - MGM musical style!

To the one night stands. To the fucks who didn’t love me, or ever need me to love them: a heartfelt thank you. You were not mistakes, but memories.

“A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she’s a tramp.” ― Joan Rivers

I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve slept with. I know, that sounds dismissive of me. And weird, seeing as I used to explicitly number them. I reckon with a pen and paper I could sit down and write you a list, and count everyone up like gold coins in my purse, but off the top of my head I couldn’t give you my actual magic number. It’s not deliberate. I’d quite like to know it just for interest’s sake, so maybe I’ll do this exercise at some point: reminisce about the ones who dropped by only fleetingly, and remind myself of a few who stayed for breakfast.

How many people have you slept with? 

More than one, less than one hundred. 

I don’t think someone’s number matters, and I definitely don’t want mine to. It’s fun to know it, for navel-gazing reasons and reminiscence wanks and all that jazz, but there’s politics in the actual number, isn’t there? Especially if you’re a straight woman. There’s this idea that fucking somehow despoils you – diminishes and makes you smaller. As if the people who shag you rub something off, like waves on the sea eroding pebbles into sand.

OK, too poetic: it’s about stretching cunt, isn’t it? The assumption (along with the assumption that you and your men are all cisgender) is that penetrative sex will stretch you out. Make you ‘loose’ and therefore unpleasurable. Unfuckable. The idea is that the men who fuck you change you – make you different.

As a sex blogger, it’s my job to tell you that they don’t. That those who plough your cunt won’t alter you forever. But I’ll let you in on a secret:

They do.

The people who fuck me have changed me

Please don’t get me wrong: they don’t change you like that. One night stands are barely able to leave dents in my mattress, let alone permanent stretches in my cunt. But they have changed me nonetheless: in my heart. Where it matters.

Each one night stand, each casual fuck, each person who is willing to share their body and their time with me – all those people have shaped and changed me, whether they mean to or not. The ones who taught me good jokes or weird sex moves. The ones who reminded me, when I was down, that it was possible to have fun without backstory. The ones who brought tequila or dessert or sun dried tomatoes, and made me smile when the rest of my life was crumbling. And yeah, let’s face it: each person I slept with gave me a valuable token that I treasure to this day. Shiny and precious far beyond words and diamonds, that metaphorical token is etched with the legend ‘you’re worth fucking.’

How many guys have you banged?

How many do you get on a football team?

One night stands are not ‘mistakes’

The quote at the top of this article is a joke, but it’s funny because it springs from an awkward truth: there’s an idea that (for women especially), one night stands are usually mistakes. They’re the ones we couldn’t sink our talons into hard enough, for long enough, to turn them into ‘proper’ long-term lovers. They’re the ones we picked up drunk, then regretted the next day when we realised they didn’t suit us. But what if we accepted that some one night stands are just perfect for that precise moment? What if ‘one night’ was all we really needed then and there?

One night stands have changed me. They’ve added something to my life that makes it richer – stories. The good ones and the bad ones and the in-between ones: all of them bring memories, which make stories.

And as you can tell, I fucking live for stories. They are what make me ‘me’.

Dating during Covid is hard, but in the long-distant-past I’d collect these stories like tiny, shiny jewels. Some of these one night stands turned into longer affairs: a few dates, a few weeks, the odd shag when they happened to be in town. A fuck buddy dalliance that occurred on random Fridays, perhaps, or good friendships that I treasure to this day. Each fuck added a new story to the broader narrative of each of our lives.

How many people have you fucked?

Plenty, and never enough.

But to some people the numbers matter a lot more than the stories. Numbers matter to those men who ask me ‘how many?’ and expect a single-digit reply. As if the number of people I’ve fucked in the past makes them less special in the present. When we talk about numbers, and the fact that men are considered heroes if theirs is high while women are considered villainous sluts, I think there’s more to it than just the gendered bullshit: there’s the assumption that sex is something given and received. Taken or lost. That the more love others have ‘taken’ from me, the less love – the less me – there is to go around now.

That’s completely the wrong way round, no? Sex isn’t something taken, but added. An additional experience: like riding a rollercoaster or reading an awesome book. Laughing at a comedy show or getting lost halfway up a mountain on a hike in the pouring rain. Sex is an experience, and that experience will add a shiny new story to your life. And what am I but a walking bag of stories? What are humans, really, but a collection of atoms and stories?

Each fuck is a story that makes up part of who you are: a story you can tell to remind yourself of who you have been and what you have done and what choices went into creating the ‘you’ that exists in the present. And it’s a story you can remember, or tell, or try your best to forget – but the act of remembering or retelling or forgetting shapes who you are today too. You are your stories. You are your fucks. Even if they only happened once.


This post is written for the Quote Quest meme, recently set up by a lovely (and very talented) blogging colleague – Little Switch Bitch. I’ve been meaning to join in with it for a while but my schedule’s been a bit hectic and my life’s a mess. But this week’s one she specifically asked me to join in with, and the quote inspired me so here I am being a good girl and doing what I’m told. Also, you know, it was fun to reminisce about one night stands in the long-ago Before Times when we could fuck strangers without risk of Covid. Click the button below to see who else is joining in and writing using this quote as a prompt.



  • Amen Ra says:

    I’m an avid reader of your blog. Absolutely love your candid approach. I do have one gripe about this post though. As a man, I have to clarify why when you say “But to some people the numbers matter a lot more than the stories. Numbers matter to those men who ask me ‘how many?’” Men think “The reason we want to know how many is because we want to know who’s been inside this woman before, did they use protection, and is there a chance that “I” could catch something.” Speaking from experience, when you think you know someone well enough to shag them rotten multiple times and trust that they’re not out shagging someone else at the same time, then of course there is an air of suspicion. It is very easy for a woman to get laid because they own the doorway. Men have the key. Keys come a dime a dozen, but the doorway is sacred because it is viewed as the one that can get you into orgasmic bliss.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “Men think “The reason we want to know how many is because we want to know who’s been inside this woman before, did they use protection, and is there a chance that “I” could catch something.””

      Ah, my love. Two very important points here:

      1.Women need to care about this too. STIs can be transferred/caught no matter what your gender.
      2. More importantly, knowing who has been inside me before, or how many of them there have been, is not useful information when you’re trying to discern my STI status. The question to ask here is not ‘how many people have you fucked?’ but one of the following:

      ‘what is your STI status?’
      ‘How recently did you get a test?’
      ‘Do you use condoms with the people you’re shagging?’
      ‘Do you practice safer sex, and would you mind giving me a run-down of how you do that?’

      No one can guarantee zero risk during sex, but you can have sensible adult conversations about risk levels, tests, condoms etc in order to assess your best options. But in order to have those convos, you need to understand the facts: the number of men I have fucked will not tell you my STI status, the only thing which can tell you that is my most recent STI test.

      • Girl on the net says:

        *additional point*!

        If I were to shag a man who replied to my question “What is your STI status/do you practice safer sex?” with something along the lines of “Well all the woman I’ve slept with were virgins, so I’m safe!” I would run so far and so fast you would think I’d invented warp speed.

      • Strategist says:

        Great (possible) topic – how do you bring up this STI-conversation on a date? There was a time when I had sex with four different women in a single week and the last (and most serious one) said that this many partners made her a little uncomfortable. And actually it made me a little uncomfortable too. My strategy was (and is) “use condoms for vaginal/anal sex and hope for the best”, but it doesn’t eliminate all risks. I really should test myself for STIs sometime…

        • Girl on the net says:

          On a first date/first shag, I probably wouldn’t have the full conversation, I’d just go ‘do you have condoms you prefer?’ and if they said no or didn’t have any I’d grab one of mine. The actual convo I’d have a few shags in, if I intended to keep seeing them and wanted them to be someone I might not use condoms with. Then I’d just say ‘I’ve had a test recently, have you? Are you interested in talking about this more and potentially not using condoms at some point?’ But I’d only ever do that with one person at a time, and only if they were also not shagging anyone else unprotected. It’s not a hard convo to have for me, but I appreciate I’m quite direct about these things. If someone was offended by that chat or shocked by it, they probably wouldn’t be someone I’d want to have that kind of relationship with.

          • Girl on the net says:

            PS if you’ve not had a test yet, I recommend it. I am a big nerd about these things and kinda fascinated by how they test for different stuff. I’m in London and use this mail-in service: (though it’s an absolute fucker to get enough blood for so if you can do a clinic the blood samples are WAY easier if taken by a pro)

    • Jon says:

      “It is very easy for a woman to get laid because they own the doorway. Men have the key. Keys come a dime a dozen, but the doorway is sacred because it is viewed as the one that can get you into orgasmic bliss.”

      This is balls out one of the weirdest things I’ve read on this page. The level of objectification in it really makes me uncomfortable…

      • Girl on the net says:

        I agree. I was a bit too busy doing the STI thing but thanks for pointing this out. It’s creepy.

        • Tim says:

          Now I have “I’ve got the Key.. I’ve got the secret” stuck in my head. A musical STI if ever there was one. Wait is that what that song is about? 🤯

  • Numbers do not matter at all in the scenario you have suggested. An adult conversation about what level of precautions are taken and whether a recent sexual health screening has been done. I take issue with the attitude towards women portrayed in this comment.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Could not agree more, HCL. I’ve added a bit more detail on this because it does seem a bit odd and I wanted to do some more detail. Just commenting here to say thanks =) xx

  • fuzzy says:

    Great post, thank you. As someone whose numbers are so high that it runs the gamut from “liar” to “how embarrassing” to “shameful” to “get away from me”, I have to say that I long long ago figured out that the numbers game is meaningless in so many ways, especially in any sense where measurement is applied (good bad OR ugly).

    Where it is not meaningless is in exactly where you write.

    It is in our souls and it is in our harmony with the universe, in all the stories and memories as interconnections with other souls. One day all we might need is spirit, but in this world we need to touch flesh in our sharing. (Sharing is my favorite word for sex.)

  • Oxyfromsg says:

    Numbers are….just a way to trace memories both good and bad. They have no actual importance.
    For someone to care what your numbers are before they date you…well that would just be a red flag to me about what else they are going to think.

  • ftandhubby says:

    As always an interesting blog. I’m interested in my partners number, not for shame but as a matter of pride. I probably know her number and care more than she does. Each “notch” in her belt is a sign of her generosity with her body, her willingness to just have fun and on some level her desirableness to others….all of which I take pride in and enjoy. After all she may have had lots of fun fucking all those others guys but at the end of the day she chooses to be with me. As for my own number it’s much lower than hers, thats just the way it works but like you whether it was a one off or something a bit more, i appreciate everyone one of those people for what they were willing to share. Does anyone get to the end of this journey and wish their number was lower?

  • Tempe says:

    I once asked a previous (cis straight male) play partner, with whom I was and still am very close, what their ‘number’ was. He said at least 50. My own was early teens (I am a similar age to him, cis straight female). I remember finding that hard to hear and I wasn’t entirely sure why. Your post has made me reflect on it, and I realise that it made me feel a bit insecure, like he would have had loads of great experiences and, by numbers alone, I wasn’t likely to measure up to a lot of those. (I also felt a bit less special, but you already touched on that). Those aren’t necessarily fair or accurate conclusions to draw, but those were my thoughts and feelings nonetheless. Just thought it was an interesting additional point.

  • Phillip says:

    What a complex and thought producing post.

  • Alethea Hunt says:

    Lots of the things I tried to write but much better expressed. I’ve not made any mistakes, but I’ve had more than a handful of hook ups and one night stands because they were what I wanted and was content with at the time. Putting voice to the misconception that lots of sex makes you sexually less perfect, the idea of the perfect tight virgin cunt as the ultimate goal for any man, is important mythbusting and it feels weird to still be saying that in 2020. REgardless of gender, have the sex you want, when you want, on the terms you want (with a mask on, from behind, in groups of less than six as long as other rules don’t apply).

  • “villainous sluts” – when you put it that way, I wanna be one of those ;) LOL…

    Men can gang up, chat and compare numbers… I have in fact witnessed a conversation between a few guts that I went to school with and listened to them compare notes about a girl in my year, in such a tone that there would be little difference if they were talking about a footie match!

    One night stands weren’t really my thing – I prefered a friends with benefits kinda thing. Well unless he was an utter shit shag, well then, in the bin for him but overall, I don’t class as of them as mistakes…

    Thank you for linking up btw <3 xx

  • Fledawish says:

    “ Each “notch” in her belt is a sign of her generosity with her body, her willingness to just have fun and on some level her desirableness to others….all of which I take pride in and enjoy. ”

    That’s sweet.

    Weird that the count is on “different persons to have had sex with” as it says nothing about amounts of sex.
    Thinking how I enjoyed a certain sex blogger telling us about the variety of sex in a single relationship…

    • Girl on the net says:

      Yeah it’s weird – the ‘how many people?’ seems like an arbitrary thing to choose as the measure of how experienced someone is. It tells you about how sociable they are I guess? And possibly things about their culture/beliefs when it comes to promiscuity. But ultimately it’s not significant beyond the significance we place on it ourselves, iyswim.

  • NumbersGame says:

    I actually prefer women with higher numbers: many sexual partners implies much experience, so they are (hopefully) great lovers. Or at least might have experience with guys similar to me and how/where/when to touch. It also implies (as stated very well above): “sign of her generosity with her body, her willingness to just have fun” – so hopefully I have better chances to have sex with her (than with a less generous woman). My wife’s number is about 3-4 times higher than mine – and I’m happy with this.

  • Fledawish says:

    Oh my. There’s again so many assumptions in that comment. It’s been rarely casual sex that expanded my horizons. Exploring and wider sexual experiences happened in settings that make for “low numbers”.

    Generosity also isn’t an option for all of us. There are life choices that limit generosity as well as personality type.

    Or in simple words: my best sex happened either with somebody whose numbers were non existent or with someone on the other extreme (all over town). What both had in common? Curiosity and the will to set yourself open to somebody else

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ah yeah, good spot Fledawish! I instinctively find ‘generosity’ a weird word too because it implies sex is a gift given rather than a shared experience that’s of value to both (all) people involved. I think in terms of exploration different people have different ways of doing it – I can see how casual sex might be a better way to experiment for some people, but I think most of mine have happened in longer relationships when we’ve settled in and got comfortable enough to be able to explore weird and exciting new ideas.

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