When you tell people you're a sex columnist, be prepared for the I-think-I'm-so-clever quip, "How do you do your research? Sleep with a ton of people?"
Although that comment usually engenders an eye-roll on my part (followed by a nice-to-have-met-you brush-off), I started thinking: Was I, in some way, using my job as an excuse to sleep with people? And while my bedroom is by no means a revolving door, I will admit that over the year, I've conducted quite a bit of "research." Pondering my sexual statistics, I took pen to paper and did something I hadn't done since my early twenties. I decided to make "The List" -- you know, of all the people you've done it with.
Usually reserved for bad rom-coms, frat boys and women who are just becoming familiar with the idea that they will probably sleep with multiple people before finding "The One," The List actually taught me a couple things about myself that I don't mind sharing (heck, I've shared with you some of my steamy anecdotal "research," this past year, so why not?)
1.) I found that I started The List off knowing first and last names. I even associated memories -- jokes, scents, foibles -- with these people. Early on in The List, even if the sex wasn't the greatest, I had a lot of pleasant reminders of my sexual past. Sex doesn't always have to be remarkable to be memorable; sometimes, nostalgia makes it all the more romantic in your head. Remember: The List is for you, so that's all that really counts. Of course, the people with whom I've had long-term relationships have more memories and attachments that go along with their notch, but I found the early ones quite endearing.
2.) As The List grew, there are a were a couple men I knew by first name only. There were two whose names I couldn't remember at all.
3.) Making The List, I was very careful not to categorize the experience with some pithy one-liner that would sum up the person like, "The Twink" (a cherubic-looking, youthful, effeminate man). Lists scare me for this very reason. I wouldn't want to downgrade any of my experiences -- even the not-so-great ones -- to a number or self-referential nickname. Going forward in my dating life, I'm going to be extra careful not to do this with men. Putting labels on men has made me distant from them. I'm looking to 2013 to get rid of these types of labels and enjoy people for the experiences we share, which I hope to be more authentic.
4.) There was a time when I didn't really make well-informed choices. Having sex with someone because I was too drunk, too lonely or too embarrassed to say "no" comprised a handful of men on The List. Every person I choose to take to bed from now on is going to be a result of an informed choice.
5.) Kissing a woman is strikingly similar to kissing a man, though softer (cliché, but true).
6.) Sex outdoors is much more romantic in theory than practice.
7.) Work and play tend to mix. It's true, being a sex columnist probably does up my number. But I think it's more the fact that as a journalist, I'm constantly meeting new people and am confident enough to hold my own in a conversation. Sometimes, well, once or twice, according to The List, my interviews served as foreplay. This year, a very hot male model/boxer stated, "I'm not going to answer any more of your questions unless you kiss me." Now, when this happens, fellow journalists, the proper thing to do is walk out. Or you can be unprofessional and add another name to your list.
8.) I'm going to be honest: While writing The List, I didn't just think of men (and the woman or two) but their, er, parts. I'd be lying if I wrote genital aesthetic doesn't matter to me. That said, it doesn't matter all that much. When you really like the person, your connection is about so much more than flesh. While writing The List, I'd get a shudder of excitement when thinking about a person with whom I'd shared an intense connection. That type of chemistry is so much more important than size or shape, etc. And you can't really force connections; they're either there (and usually immediately) or they're not.
9.) I ended up knowing ahead of time that I'd probably end up sleeping with the majority of people on The List. I'm not saying I sat at home, geolocated them and then went in for the kill. Maybe I just felt it an hour or so before it happened; maybe I felt it the moment we saw each other. The point is, I'm pretty good at knowing when I want someone, and that person wants me back. You know? And that's really hot to me.
10.) There are a couple names I wish were on The List but aren't. 2013? You never know ...
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