Studies Answered: How Many Sexual Partners Is "Too Many"?

According to studies, society views people who have a substantial number of sexual partners negatively. Researchers have conducted several studies to observe how people view sexual promiscuity. The research shows that people have an idea of how many sexual partners are "too many," but finding out the exact number can be complicated.

Stewart-Williams, Butler, & Thomas conducted a study that examined the relationship between the number of sexual partners and attractiveness. The study found that the number of past sexual partners a person has had has an effect on whether or not another person would find them attractive or not.

Couple whispering in living room | Source: Unsplash

Couple whispering in living room | Source: Unsplash

These studies have shown that people who’ve had “too few” partners can be perceived negatively by people. But at the same time, people who’ve had “too many” partners can also be viewed negatively by people. So the question is, how many sexual partners is too many? 

The Average Number Of Sexual Partners In The U.S.

In the United States alone, the average number of sexual partners for both men and women is 7.2. This is according to a recent survey done by Superdrug. The survey was done by asking more than 2,000 people about their sexual experiences and histories. 

Couple at Guajome Regional Park, Oceanside, United States | Source: Unsplash

Couple at Guajome Regional Park, Oceanside, United States | Source: Unsplash

In contrast, the average number of sexual partners changes dramatically depending on which state you’re from. For instance, people in Louisiana had 15.7 sexual partners on average, while people in Utah averaged around 2.6.

However, context is important, and it’s worth noting that around 62% of people in Utah are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This church is known for promoting abstinence and is against sexual intercourse before marriage. 

How Does America Compare To The Rest Of The World?

Unsurprisingly (or surprisingly, depending on your personal belief), when you compare America to other countries, they have a higher average when it comes to sexual partners. One of the closest countries to the U.S is the U.K., with an average number of seven sexual partners, while Italy averaged around 5.4.

However, since not every country has the same beliefs and cultures, it’s not easy to gather this type of information, and comparing these numbers with other countries was next to impossible. It's also important to take into a variety of factors when observing these numbers.

How Accurate Are These Numbers?

All of these numbers are based on the fact that the subjects of the survey were candid. However, most of the time, when it comes to sexual history, people don’t tell the whole truth. It could be because they’re embarrassed, ashamed, or just aren’t comfortable talking about it. 

 

In fact, according to Superdrug, around 41.3 percent of men and 32.6 percent of women admitted to lying about their sexual history. Generally, men lie and increase the number of sexual partners they’ve had because of their pride.

While women are more likely to decrease the number of sexual partners, most likely due to the fear of being judged. A small percentage of people increase or decrease their number depending on the situation. 

Crunching The Numbers

According to data recorded by the CDC between 2011 and 2015, women between the ages of 25 and 44 had a median of 4.2 sexual partners. In contrast, men in that same age group had a median of 6.1 sexual partners. While another study conducted in 2015 said that Millennials have an average of eight sexual partners. 

In 2018, NectarSleep conducted a survey and found that men had an average of 26 sexual partners before settling down with a single partner. In contrast, women had an average of 19 sexual partners before settling down.

What Is The "Ideal" Number Of Sexual Partners?

Back in 2004, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a report saying the ideal number of sexual partners for maximizing happiness in a year was one.

In 2018, a survey conducted with around 2,000 subjects found that the “ideal” number of sexual partners a person can have is three. In the same study, they found that men who were in their 20s believed that a woman who’s had seven or more sexual partners was too promiscuous. In comparison, women of the same age believed that ten or more partners were too many for a man.

Men kissing woman on forehead while laying in bed | Source: Unsplash

Men kissing woman on forehead while laying in bed | Source: Unsplash

In 2017, a Superdrug survey found that men believed the most sexual partners a woman can have are 14. They also believed that three or fewer partners were “too low.” On the other hand, women felt that 15 was the limit and two or a few was “too low” for a man.

Does Society Have A Double Standard?

Research shows that society views women who have had a high number of sexual partners as less confident than those with fewer partners. Another study claims that women view women who’ve had a higher number of sexual partners as “less competent, emotionally mature, and dominant.”

Romantic couple flirting | Source: Unsplash

Romantic couple flirting | Source: Unsplash

In 2019, a study found that society viewed women who’ve had multiple sexual partners more negatively than they did with men who had similar sexual experiences. It’s important to know that while many people hold this belief, there’s no scientific basis for them. Sexual experience has nothing to do with competency, intelligence, or overall ability. 

When Should You Disclose Your Sexual History With Your Partner? 

Over 30 percent of the people who took part in the Superdrug survey believe that you should start talking about your sexual history within the first month of your relationship. The idea is to clear everything up early on in your relationship so that there are no unwanted surprises later.

In total, 81 percent of people who took part in the survey believe that you should talk to your partner about your sexual history within the first eight months of your relationship. It’s best to discuss your sexual history, get tested, and take the right steps to protect you and your partner early on. 

As it turns out, there is no "ideal" number of sexual partners a person can have. Everyone's perception is different, so as long as you talk about it with your partner and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, then your sexual history shouldn't affect your current relationship.

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