Avatar photo

By Hein Kaiser


This is the ideal number of sex partners you should have, according to a survey

Some surveys have shown we are having less sex than a decade ago, yet the ideal number of partners has climbed.

How many people have you had sex with?

It’s one of the first questions any potential lover asks that can either trip up, enhance or delay getting between the sheets.

And according to a survey by naughty website Illicit Encounters, most fib about the number of notches on their bedposts anyway.

According to around 1 000 men and 1 000 women interviewed, 67% of the fairer sex massages the truth on the side of conservatism, while only 13% of guys inject some imagination to their magic number.

Overall, it seems, the survey said people believe a solid number of lifetime sexual partner count of 13 is tops.

But reality is slightly different to the Illicit survey as the 2019 Journal of Sex research in the United Kingdom showed.

It published a study that showed men are more likely to exaggerate the number of sex partners that they have had.

Men reported 14 partners, against women at half of that in the journal’s report. Men also tend to exclude oral sex partners in their bed-count while women are more likely to consider it a form of intercourse.

Over a stretch of 12 months, men and women each reported an average of 1 sexual partner annually.

ALSO READ: Three sex questions you should ask your partner for orgasm success

But it’s all very curious.

What is clear is that since a 2016 survey about the ideal number of sexual partners by the Journal of Sex, where it found that three was the magic number, the jump to 13 playmates a few years later represents a giant leap.

Add to that a growing trend amongst millennials resorting to mutual masturbation sessions instead of penetrative sex, and getting a grip on actual behaviour becomes increasingly complex and difficult.

Some surveys have shown we are having less sex than a decade ago, yet the ideal number of partners has climbed.

Franklin Weaux, co-author of the book More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory, answered a Quora post about whether it really matters how many sexual partners a person has had.

He said that it does: “I like knowing everything about people I love: their favourite movie, their favourite band, what they studied in school, what their past relationships looked like. You can’t love someone you don’t know. It’s not about insecurity or judgment: “Oh my God, you slept with five people? You slut!”

“’Oh my God, you slept with my friend Bob? How can I ever trust you and Bob again?’ That sort of nonsense is silly. It’s about wanting to understand how a person I love came to be this wonderful, magnificent person she is, what life experiences led her here.”

But the truth may be elusive.

In a CNN interview with various sex therapists, the conclusion seems to be that people either inflate or minimise the number of sexual partners out of shame or embarrassment.

Either way, women might underreport out of fear of being judged negatively, and perhaps lower numbers make their current partners feel more special, while men tend to overreport in order to be considered more favourably, as more conquests could mean a man is more likely to be considered a stud.

According to the piece, the social norm that women are not supposed to enjoy or expose their sexuality as men do, who are encouraged to be more sexual in their behaviour.

“Instead of discussing a number, you should be talking about what you know you enjoy sexually, what you’re curious about and what you might want to explore in terms of sensations, types or scenarios, monogamy/non-monogamy and your top erotic triggers,” sex therapist Sari Cooper said to CNN.

Read more on these topics

Health relationships sex