Here's why you really shouldn't tell your partner how many people you've had sex with

Oh to be young, and to feel love's keen sting.

Would it be fair to say that dating in the 21st century is something akin to navigating a particularly troublesome level of the beloved noughties computer game Crash Bandicoot?

I think it would, I really think it would.

To extend the metaphor arguably past breaking point, one must manoeuvre their way through soaring highs and crushing, snake-pit-filled lows. We must battle the elements, love rivals, and the ever-present sense that one is about to say something so utterly absurd or offensive that one's prospective partner will visibly shudder before making their excuses.

Before we even get to the stomach-churning reality of a first date, there is the necessity of endlessly swiping left and right in a kind of vague stupor, based on nothing more than a cursory glance at someone's online dating profile.

Let's assume, though, perhaps optimistically, that you have navigated every digital hurdle placed in your way and actually managed to secure yourself a real-life date with a real-life person, what happens next?

Well, ideally, you find out that you have plenty of common ground, similar interests and share a vaguely erudite worldview.

These seemingly disparate elements, coupled with a visceral attraction, might lead you both to the happy conclusion that it's worth giving it a go together. As a couple.

If you do find yourself headed down this particular path, though, the obstacles, if anything, become greater still. One of the most commonly asked questions between new partners is surely that most fateful, potentially thorny one: how many sexual partners have you had?

Although the answer is rarely palatable, still we ask, drawn by some irrepressible need to know that can do us no good. Yet still, we wonder.

I am here to tell you, though, that very little good can come of answering that question. First and foremost, the reasoning behind the asking plays a big part in this conclusion. Your prospective partner might be hoping to ascertain some idea of your sexual prowess when they ask you how many sexual partners you have had, and we all know that profligacy is not necessarily a harbinger of skill.

If the questioner is hoping to gain an idea of the health implications of sleeping with the questionee, then there are clear benefits to answering, and answering honestly.

Which leads us neatly on to the second point; people - men in particular - are prone to lying about the number of sexual partners they have had. In fact, data suggests that men tend to exaggerate how sexually prolific they are, while women tend to downplay their number of sexual encounters.

So even if you ask the question, the chances of you getting a truly honest answer would appear to be relatively slim.

Perhaps the most compelling argument against telling your partner how many people you have slept with is the insecurities that your potentially dishonest answer might lead to. Having a particularly high number rattling around in your head could lead to doubts and misgivings about one's own sexual prowess; after all, the only thing the number of your partner's previous sexual encounters can tell you is what they were like in the past, not how they are now, and, specifically, with you.

By all means, practice safe sex and be open and honest about getting tested and checked for sexually transmitted diseases, but don't obsess over things you cannot control; case in point, your partner's prolific - or sparse- sexual history.