Sex by the numbers: This is how many partners men and women average in a lifetime

Who do we consider "promiscuous"? Who has the "right" amount of experience? A comprehensive sex survey answers all

Published June 18, 2016 3:00PM (EDT)

  (<a href=''>oleg66</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>/Salon)
(oleg66 via iStock/Salon)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.


Sex is a sticky enough subject as is. But complicating matters is the idea that, in general, we need to partner up to get the deed done. There are those who stick to one lover and there are others who opt for more. Unfortunately, some see sex as a numbers game, and a high score doesn’t always get you a winning ticket.

According to a survey of more than 2,000 people in the U.S. and Europe, men believe women who have had 14 partners or more are “too promiscuous.” Women thought the same of men who have had 15 partners or more.

The survey, conducted by SuperDrug Online Doctor, found men to be more likely than female participants to inflate the number of sexual partners they’ve had. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to deflate the number of partner’s they’ve bedded. The majority of both genders (67.4 percent of women and 58.6 percent of men) claim they’ve never lied about the number of people they’ve slept with. Whether or not that’s a lie is up to you to decide.

On the other side of the spectrum, men believe 2.3 partners is too conservative, while women think 1.9 is the threshold for too few.

According to the guys surveyed, the “ideal” number of partners for women is an average of 7.6. Women answered similarly, citing 7.5 partners to be a good number to cap it at. Interestingly enough, women reported having had more sexual partners overall than men, with an average of 7 to date. The men surveyed averaged about 6.4 partners.

Other interesting findings are listed below:

  • 31.2 percent of female participants feel it is appropriate to share details about sexual history within the first month of meeting a potential partner. 33.8 percent of men feel the same.
  • People from the U.K. lead the way with the most partners, averaging seven sexual partners. Respondents from Italy averaged only 5.4 sexual partners
  • People in first-place Louisiana averaged nearly six times as many sexual partners as residents of bottom state Utah: 15.7 compared with 2.6
  • Over half of respondents said they would be very unlikely to walk away due to a partner’s conservative past, and another 15 percent said they would be somewhat unlikely. Only 8 percent reported they would be somewhat or very likely to end a relationship due to this issue
  • Of people with 15 or more sexual partners, 13 percent reported having ever been diagnosed with an STI—the highest proportion.

The survey does reconfirm findings in previous research, which suggests that millennials are actually having less sex than the generations that came before them. Gen X-ers bed an average of 10 people throughout their lifetimes, while the baby boomers are believed to have had up to 11 partners.

By Carrie Weisman

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