Unless you’re married to your boyfriend or girlfriend from high school, chances are at a certain point you’re going to date someone who’s had sex with multiple people (and maybe, so have you). “Multiple” might mean somewhere between two and 20. Though there’s a pretty large margin between what we could be talking about, does it really matter?

For some of us, it does. Reasons range from moral boundaries to high numbers getting into “hoe” territory (that’s another post for another day). One of the main concerns many attribute to being wary of dating someone with quite a “few” sexual partners boils down to sexual health.

And while it’s true the more times you walk through a cow pasture you’re bound to step in s*it, can this old saying apply to sex? Does the more partners you have/have had raise your chances of getting an STD or have an unwanted pregnancy? In short, yes. But remember the same outcome can happen even if you’ve only had one partner. The key to prevention and leading a healthy sex life is about using protection, getting tested regularly, and practicing safe sex in general.

How can one approach a sexual relationship with someone they’re assuming (or know) has had their fair share of partners? Simple:

  • Avoid asking for a specific number. As the saying goes, “Don’t ask questions if you can’t handle the answer.” If your partner throws a number out there you aren’t comfortable with, you’ll never fully be okay about pursuing a sexual relationship with this person. Don’t ask for a specific number.
  • Instead, ask their testing history. Ask when was the last time they got tested. Ask them if it’s because they go get tested every few months, or was there a cause for concern. Ask the results: if there was anything that needed to be (and could be) resolved, was it taken care of?
  • Suggest Getting Tested Together. Go together. Get tested together. Get your results together. After you get the results, you can have peace of mind knowing you have the latest update on the sexual health of your partner (which is what really matters), and you can decide where you want to go from there.
  • Discuss Protection. If, after getting tested, you all decide to pursue a sexual relationship, discuss protection options. Birth control? Condoms? Dental Dams? Diaphragms? Figure out which method and combination of protection the both of you are comfortable with.

Transparency is the most important thing here, not the perfect number. Everyone’s definition of an “okay” amount of partners at any given age and stage of life changes, and the concept and importance of a “body count” is totally subjective. And even if you don’t listen to the first tip in the post and still ask for a number (and it makes you go “hmmmm,” like we said it might), remember you can’t change the past—for your partner or even yourself. All you can control is the present (and possible future), between the two of you. Being proactive is key to a fulfilling and anxiety-free sexual life.