Number of Sexual Partners – What’s the Average?

Imagine you’re on a date with a person that interests you more than any other you’ve ever dated. You are fascinated with their physical appearance, or with their intelligence, and you admire the way in which they are so open towards you. The date is going really well. The communication flows effortlessly, and after all the general topics have been discussed, it’s time to push the boat into deeper, more exciting waters.

Curiosity

Because sex is an important part of any healthy relationship and you feel that the moment is getting closer, it’s time to get to know the intimate details about your partner, to see if you are sexually compatible. After discussing your preferences and defining your differences in bed, the question you’re particularly interested in is hanging in the air: how many sexual partners have they had?

And you’re not being provocative, either. First of all, you’re being responsible, as you want to keep yourself healthy. However, you’re also a bit worried that you might not like the answer coming out of your partner’s mouth. What if they had more sexual partners than you had hoped? Does that mean that they will find you inexperienced enough to be with?

And if they said they never had a sexual partner before, could you believe them? Are they fabricating the truth just a little bit, are they downplaying the number or are they boasting? Another important question is, what is the average of sexual partners, and if so, did your date pass that number?

Let’s not forget that as awkward as you might feel while waiting for the answer, your partner feels the same way. They’re waging their answer, trying to satisfy your curiosity, and sometimes that isn’t easy. When they tell you the number, will you think of it as being too high or too low? Will they lose your respect? Will you be intimidated by them? Obviously, the question of an average number of sexual partners can cause much trouble and additional stress on both sides.

We must emphasize that there is no right answer to this question, though, because of the various factors involved, most important of which we will explain in a moment. Let’s start with our culture and upbringing.

Men vs Women

We are born and raised in different cultures that have their own sets of rules about what’s right and what’s wrong, so it isn’t difficult to assume that the roles given to us by others will also determine our sexual behavior, at least to some extent. Generally speaking, men are considered more adventurous, more outgoing and their curiosity is instigated by others in their surroundings. As their hormones start to kick in, they tend to be more sexually active than women, especially in their teenage and young adult years.

Women, on the other hand, are considered to be more nurturing, the ones that keeps the family together and use all that the man brings to keep their family safe, healthy and happy. When they reach their teenage years, they are taught that the best sexual experience is achieved when they are in a loving, stable relationship. They’re also taught that they should act moderately and be mindful of the clothes they’re wearing and the way they’re behaving so as not to attract unwanted attention from men.

Whereas men are considered powerful, popular and attractive when they often change their sexual partners, women are almost regularly labeled as promiscuous and a slut in the society for doing the same thing.

While it may have been easier to determine the average number of sexual partners in the past, things are getting more complicated. As people get older, a lot of them become more relaxed with their sexuality. They are becoming more open to exploring their sexual feelings towards both genders, so the number of available partners increases.

What Does The Statistic Say

That all being said, we would like to give you some statistical numbers, just so that you can have an idea of why determining an average can turn into such a daunting process and the one that will probably leave you dissatisfied.

No pun intended. The thing is, not every survey necessarily focuses on the same age group and it doesn’t require the same parameters in order to conduct the analysis. Also, even if the survey is completely anonymous, there is no guarantee that the person will be more prone to tell the truth.

For example, National Survey of Family Growth by the National Center for Health Statistics from Hyattsville, Maryland, has compared the data from 2002., 2006-2010, and 2011-2013. The objective was to determine the number of sexual partners men and women have had in the past 12 months, under the stipulation that they had at least five partners.

The results have shown that 5.2% of men have had five or more sexual partners of the opposite sex in 2013.

Comparing it with previous years, it is clear that the percentage is steadily increasing. As a comparison, 2% of women have had five or more partners in that year. However, if we compare it to the 2002., that number is lower by 0.4%

Another study, by the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL), have determined that in the same year (2013.) the average number of sexual partners for women is 7.7 and 11.7 for men. Keep in mind that NATSAL didn’t specifically ask for the number of sexual partners to be at least five or more. They simply looked for the average. On the other hand, NATSAL uses a much more complicated tools for analysis.

Results from few other studies:
Health Survey for England 2010
– the mean number of sexual partners for men is 9.3 for and for women 4.7
Mosher WD, Chandra A, Jones J – Sexual behavior and selected health measures: Men and women 15–44 years of age:
– Men 30-44 reported an average of 6-8 female sexual partner
– Women 30-44 reported an average of 4 male sexual partners in their lifetime in their lifetime
Jean M. Twenge – Changes in American Adults’ Sexual Behavior and Attitudes, 1972–2012, study:
– Baby Boomers had 11 sexual partners on average, generation X 10 and millennials, are projected to have 8 partners, according to this research.
study sex partners

Cheat Sheet

If the statistics is making your head spin, there is a much more simple, general suggestion that the average number of sexual partners can be determined in the following way: if you’re talking about a female partner, multiply whatever number she tells you with 3. That probably stems from the idea that women often (although certainly not always) downplay their sexual experience so as to keep their dignity and avoid being called names. On the other hand, if you ask a male partner that same question, take the number they tell you and divide it by three. The reason is that men usually boast more about it is because the society accepts it as normal.

Of course, this “cheat sheet” is just a suggestion that doesn’t have to have anything with the truth. In fact, in most cases, if we ask with the intention to get an honest answer, the number we hear is probably the honest one, and then we can decide how to act on it. We all have to individually decide if the number we hear from our partner will make us stay or leave.

It’s All Good

The most important thing to remember is that any number of sexual partners in our life, no matter how high or low, is all right. It is here to teach us something. It is here to teach us about the most intimate part of ourselves.

With every sexual partner that we have had, we have learned more about ourselves, and have gained valuable experience in knowing what we like and what we dislike during sex. And if our partner can’t deal with it… well… there’ll be someone else who will. Someone who will be even more compatible than everybody else. That’s the best part.

In the end, it all comes down to the person, and there is no way to say what is “normal” or “average.” For some, five sexual partners can seem too much, and for some is too little. It is always the personal feelings that counts. Sometimes it’s easy to forget or difficult to accept that we should never be ashamed of anything that made us who we are today.

But we’re all afraid of being judged. We’re all afraid of being left out or being made fun of. Perhaps that’s why we often feel the need to fabricate the truth.

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