Self-perception collided with list-provided factual reality when I spoke to Priscilla, a writer who lives in Chicago. “I have a list! I’d be down to chat under a pseudonym so my parents don’t know I’m a hot slut,” she began. “It’s truly just a list of names, years, and locations—‘Josh, Denver, 2014.’ I haven’t looked at it since I got together with my boyfriend five years ago, but I imagine I’ll review it someday to remember the spectacularly bad sex I’ve had over the years,” she joked, adding, “I do think it’s an objectively embarrassing thing to have, so I have it hidden in another old notebook tucked away in a box…I accidentally left it in a desk I sold on Facebook Marketplace last year, and I pleaded with the buyer until they let me come pick it up. I told them I needed some ‘important tax documents.’”

(Drew Barrymore (name not changed) also lost her list. Specifically, she left it at Danny DeVito’s house, and he apparently never found it. A list that, to hear her tell it, she made for no apparent reason one day.)

Priscilla added, “Also worth noting that I was raised in purity culture, so a decently long list feels like a fun ha-ha: gotcha! I’m fucking!”

The second time I spoke to her, she had dug out her list. “This is so funny, I did not remember doing this but I literally have everyone I have ever kissed romantically on here too, and I have little stars next to the ones whom I have shagged,” she told me. Far from the casual “name, date, location” she’d described earlier, her detailed list was titled “LOVERS” in all caps. And another hard truth: “I am less of a hot slut than I thought. Only 11 sexual partners! Loser shit!”

Embarrassingly enough, it took a health educator friend to remind me of the completely practical and unemotional reason that sexually active singletons might want to keep a list: STD tracking. This is the plot of Lovesick on Netflix, and just in terms of sperm transmission, also helpful in Mamma Mia. Candice, who suggested the STD practicality, added via text, “I cringe when I see people like [guy we both know] on [my list] lolllll…I do think there’s an aspect of wanting to document who I did this intimate act with. But then it makes me ask myself why I don’t document things like people I have deep convos with or who trauma dumps on me.”

While texting me, Candice was also meeting with her pelvic floor physical therapist, who apparently didn’t know people kept lists. You would think a pelvic floor physical therapist would advocate for some kind of…pelvic self-assessment. Alas.

We live in an age of logs. There are a hundred apps for keeping track of your calories and water intake, and unless you’ve taken the time to disable it, your phone is probably counting how many steps you take daily. I have a number of friends who keep lists of every country they’ve visited; sometimes, that’s their Instagram bio. With all that context, sex seems way too important not to keep track.

Elizabeth Logan is a Glamour contributor.

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